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If music comes up at all, it’s usually spirituals or maybe gospel, but jazz and the civil rights movement?

Actually, the two have a long and intimate relationship.

Jazz legend Billie Holliday’s 1939 song “Strange Fruit” about the lynchings in the south could be considered the beginning of the Civil Rights movement as Holliday used her unique voice to speak out about the crimes.

And jazz icon John Coltrane, it’s said, wrote his song “Alabama” about the 1963 bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, which took the lives of four children.

It’s in that light that the city of Scottsdale is hosting local jazz musician William “Doc” Jones for a free concert entitled “Dear Martin” a tribute to King through the eyes of a musician at the Scottsdale United Methodist Church, 4140 N. Miller Road, Thursday, Feb. 23 in honor of Black History Month.

“Jazz is triumphant music,” Dr. King said at the opening of the 1964 Berlin Jazz Festival.

Everyone remembers the speeches, but Jones said he felt a calling for several years to pay tribute to Dr. King from a musical standpoint.  click here the arrow

“All my concerts are important, but this one is special to me because of the content of the message,” said Jones, who is the executive director of the International Jazz Day AZ Foundation.

The concert is a fitting tribute given that Scottsdale and the notion of inclusion aren’t often put together either, said Scottsdale Diversity Director Jackie Johnson said.

“This is a chance to tell our own story, in our own words,” Johnson said.
It’s important to get the message of inclusion out to the community, she said.

“At the heart of inclusion is respect, understanding, listening, and stability,” she said.

Which is why getting the message out as much as possible is so vital.
“The more we express it, the more we will embrace it I hope — not tolerate, but embrace it,” Johnson said.

The event will also include spoken word, pictures of jazz greats from a local artist and a short video connecting jazz with the Civil Rights Movement.

The concert was originally scheduled for the city-owned design studio on East Indian School Road but was moved to the neighboring church due to a large interest in it. Tickets are available here.

That’s not the only event the city is putting on to commemorate Black History Month.

Also on Feb. 23 at 5 p.m., the Scottsdale Civic Center Library, 3839 N. Drinkwater Blvd., will offer a free presentation on the history of the Underground Railroad, which helped enslaved people escape to freedom, and the Overground Railroad, which allowed work and travel under Jim Crow laws.

If you missed the Community Celebrating Diversity MLK Celebration in January, you can watch a video of the event, featuring keynote speaker Dr. Benjamin Chavis of the National Newspaper Publishers Association, at select times on Cox Cable channel 11 and on the Scottsdale Video Network live stream.



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