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JazzFest Goes On... The Ladies Of Jazz Fundraiser at Seville Quarter
Phillip Makselan, BellaMagazine.com
The ladies of jazz: Sharing their love of music with others
The 31st annual JazzFest is set to take place in Pensacola's Seville Square on April 5-6 with a variety of artists and culture the entire family will appreciate.
In preparation for the big event, the Jazz Society of Pensacola held a "JazzFest Goes On ...The Ladies of Jazz'' fundraiser at Seville Quarter with performances by 10 amazing, local women who each have their own love of the genre.
The Jazz Society's mission is "to provide a social forum for jazz performance, education and enjoyment for listeners and musicians."
Crystal Joy Albert has been the Jazz Society of Pensacola president for the past six years, but her involvement in the organization spans nearly 20 years.
When performing, she loves the communication and "the way people get a chance to listen to what I have to say."
"It's special because not many people get that chance," Crystal says.
Tara Leigh, an established vocalist in the Pensacola and surrounding areas, is vice president of the Jazz Society of Pensacola.
"I love performing, I've been performing my whole life," Tara says.
Tara enjoys seeing the people dance and feeling the music with her. She believes in the mission of the society and says her involvement in the organization is for the love of jazz and bringing good music to Pensacola.
"It was my great pleasure to produce our fundraiser 'JazzFest Goes On ...The Ladies of Jazz','' Tara says. "This event, as well as others held throughout the year, helps fund our wonderful Pensacola Jazz Festival held in old Seville Square. This year's festival will be held on April 5-6, and as always is free and open to the public."
Vivian Lamont, who has been with the Jazz Society of Pensacola for around 20 years, performs two to three times a week at various spots around town.
"(Singing) is part of my life, it keeps me perked up," Vivian says.
Rosie Butler has been in the music business with her husband for quite some time and says joining the Jazz Society, "was a natural thing when we moved to Pensacola."
"It's my life," says Rosie, who has performed professionally since the age of 14. "It's not a hobby — it's what we do."
Kathy Lyon moved to Pensacola nine years ago, and when she found the Jazz Society, she has worked with the organization to boost jazz in the area.
Kathy's favorite thing about performing is "the energy of connecting with people," she says. "Being on the thin ice with the musicians in the sense that we're all improvising and exchanging energy."
Gwen Lanier says her first experience with the Jazz Society of Pensacola was at the group's Monday Night Jam, and it's been a "wonderful way to network and find a whole new community."
"What I like about performing is that music makes people feel better and I feel that everyone's called to do something to make the world a better place,'' Gwen says. "I feel like that is my contribution to helping everyone else be a better who they are."
Deborah Krantz "Tomato," having relocated to Pensacola over 10 years ago, began going to some of the jam sessions held by the Jazz Society and got involved with the organization more in-depth as the years passed.
"I just love singing,'' Deborah says. "I'm from New Orleans, so I've always loved jazz."
Erma Granat got involved with the Jazz Society through Joe Occhipinti, a jazz enthusiast and principal member of the early Jazz Society of Pensacola.
Erma has been performing for roughly seven years. When asked about what she loves about performing, she says, "the people's reaction, when they get into the music.''
Donna Blackmon began singing with Al Martin and decided she wanted to join the Jazz Society of Pensacola, and it took her a little while to get the nerve to join, but it's a good thing she did.
"I love the rush that everybody gives you (while performing), those wonderful accolades."
Saundra Daggs began singing with Joe Occhipinti's Big Band over 20 years ago, met other musicians, eventually became part the Jazz Society of Pensacola.
"I love to make the music come alive," says Daggs, who enjoys bringing the lyrics to the people and the energy exchange she feels with an audience.
• Pensacola JazzFest: 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, April 5-6, Seville Square, with the gazebo as the main stage. Seating is provided, though many attendees bring lawn chairs and picnic baskets, or purchase food from one of our quality food vendors. JazzFest is a free, family-oriented festival that celebrates all types of jazz. The music will include a variety of jazz styles, presented by prominent national, regional and local artists, as well as area college and high school jazz bands. A "Kids Jam with Harmonicas and Kazoos" will be each afternoon. An arts and crafts exhibition enhance the festival atmosphere.
• The Jazz Societypresents jazz events throughout the year with regular first-Monday Jazz Jam and third-Monday Jazz Gumbo.