The countdown to a season of free concerts under the stars in Chattanooga is underway. Jazzanooga, along with its community partners Urban League of Greater Chattanooga, Chattanooga Convention and Visitors Bureau, Bessie Smith Cultural Center and The City of Chattanooga Office of Multicultural Affairs, has officially announced the lineup of artists who will headline the 2018 Levitt AMP Chattanooga Music Series on the Lawn of the Bessie Smith Cultural Center each Thursday beginning at 5:30 p.m.
from Aug. 23 to Oct. 25.
This is the second year in a row that Chattanooga has been selected as one of 15 small to mid-sized towns and cities across the nation to win a Levitt AMP Grant Award of $25,000 in matching funds to present a free concert series by The Mortimer & Mimi Levitt Foundation, a national funder of creative placemaking that empowers communities to inject new life into underused public spaces through free, outdoor concerts. This year, the series will feature a diverse lineup of high caliber talent spanning genres like Blues, New Orleans Bounce, Jazz and Afro-Latin.
Here is a review of the 2018 Levitt AMP Chattanooga Music Series Main Headliners:
Aug. 23 - THE PEDRITO MARTINEZ GROUP
This dynamic band is led by an acclaimed musician who plays a dynamic mix of traditional Cuban rumba, Afro-Latin jazz, and Spanish flamenco music. Pedrito has recorded or performed with Wynton Marsalis, Paul Simon, Paquito D’Rivera, Bruce Springsteen, and Sting and has contributed, as a percussionist and vocalist, to over 50 albums. He has released two albums with the Afro-Cuban/Afro-beat band Yerba Buena. Martinez issued Rumba de la Isla solo and the self-titled Pedrito Martinez Group albums in 2013. Both were widely acclaimed by critics. The latter was nominated for a Grammy.
Aug. 30 - THE BAYLOR PROJECT
What is "The Baylor Project?" A husband. A wife. An astonishing debut.
The Baylor Project featuring Jean Baylor and Marcus Baylor highly anticipated collaboration is steeped in the heart and soul of Jazz. As the children of Pastors, Marcus and Jean's musical roots were planted deep within the church, and it was there that the road was paved for the influence of gospel, blues, soul, and jazz to make its mark. Their debut CD "The Journey", released on their own label, Be A Light, topped the Billboard Jazz Chart at Number 8 and a year later garnered 2 GRAMMY® Nominations for BEST JAZZ VOCAL ALBUM and BEST TRADITIONAL R&B PERFORMANCE, solidifying The Baylor Project as an undeniable force.
Sept. 6 - BIG FREEDIA
Big Freedia, known as the Queen of Bounce, is a New Orleans-based rapper and ambassador of Bounce music. A vibrant twist on hip-hop, Bounce music is characterized by call-and-response lyrics over rapid-fire beats and booty-shaking. In 2015, Freedia collaborated with Beyonce on the Grammy-nominated single, “Formation.” Big Freedia’s single “I Heard” was released in February. Freedia’s first LP, “Just Be Free” was named one of the ‘best electronic releases of 2014’ by Rolling Stone and was critically acclaimed in outlets such as Pitchfork.com, SPIN.COM, USA Today, and consequenceofsound.com
Sept. 13 - KEVIN WHALUM
The younger brother of noted jazz saxman Kirk Whalum, vocalist Kevin Whalum grew up in Memphis in the shadow of Olivet Baptist Church, where his father, the Rev. Kenneth T. Whalum, served as pastor. He later moved to Nashville and appeared as a guest vocalist on brother Kirk's noted 1997 release, The Gospel According To Jazz, Chapter 1, and as part of Kirk's band at that year's Stellar Awards. Kevin now has three solo albums under his belt: the self-produced solo debut, Timetable (2002); the George Duke-produced, One Life To Love (2008); and his self-produced, I Live For You (2016). Although Kevin eschews any effort to force him into a category or genre’, he freely admits to defining himself as “primarily a jazz vocalist who just happens to be a Christian.”
Sept. 20 - JASON ESKRIDGE
Jason Eskridge was born and grew up in Rockwood, TN. After high school he attended college at Tennessee Tech University, where he played football and received a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering. He accepted a post-graduate engineering job in Huntsville, AL, but couldn’t shake his passion for music. So he packed up, left Huntsville, and moved to Nashville, TN where he currently resides. Since moving to Nashville, Jason has worked either as a background vocalist or opening act for countless award winning acts such as Zac Brown Band, Lyle Lovett, Randy Travis, Jonny Lang, Keb Mo’, Nicole C. Mullen, Marc Broussard, Robert Glasper, and Toby Mac. He has also been featured as a guest vocalist on numerous projects. He has also had the opportunity to take his music abroad to South Africa, Amsterdam, India, and England. Jason‘s latest release Live in Nashville, featuring a thrilling cover of Sam Cooke classic “A Change Is Gonna Come”. He currently host a bi-weekly soul music series in Nashville and tours regularly while prepping his next indie release on his label Rustic Soul Records.
Sept. 27 - CHANTAE CANN
Chantae Cann is the charismatic influence with a voice that transcends through time. With the release of her debut album "Journey to Golden" in March 2016 at #1 on the iTunes Jazz Charts and #7 on the Jazz Billboard Charts. Chantae Cann’s second studio album (Sol Empowered) released on Oct. 13, 2017 earned the #8 spot on the Jazz Billboard Charts. Influences like Bobby McFerrin, Haitus Kyote, Chaka Khan and countless others help shape the sounds that you hear throughout her music. Chantae’s music blends the exploratory sounds of Jazz with the feel good vibes of Soul, which makes for a mixture that is quite enticing. It is her heart’s desire to simply inspire, uplift and encourage the lives of others through music.
Oct. 4 - Deaconbluz AND The Holysmoke Band
Deaconbluz and the Holysmoke Band is one of the few remaining Blues bands in the Southeast who play traditional Blues dance music. The band, composed of professional musicians, has been performing since 1997 under the direction of Clark “Deacon Bluz” White, (B.A., M.A., Ph.D.).
An event with Deacon Bluz and the Holysmoke Band is truly one to remember. You will be out of your seat dancing and line dancing to the best in live Blues music. From Delta Blues to Soul Blues to Zydeco to Chicago Blues to Funk Blues to old school R and B, to Blujazz Americana, Deacon Bluz and the Holysmoke Band, know how to make it jump.
Oct. 11 - INGRID WOODE
Ingrid Woode, a Cincinnati, Ohio native, is a multi-instrumentalist and vocal musician. Influenced by years of exposure to a diverse collection of artists, Ingrid found her unique soulful sound through songwriting, composing, recording, producing, and performing her increasing catalogue of original music. She is a classically trained violinist and plays all instruments used to record her compositions. Ingrid Woode has written for Grammy Award winning vocalist Lalah Hathaway and Queen Latifah who had her self-produced song “Fair Weather Friend “added as a bonus track on Latifah’s albumPersona on iTunes.
Oct. 18 - JOHN BOY & SURROUND SOUND
The Surround Sound Band is 15-piece ensemble led by Award Winning Producer from East Atlanta, Georgia, John Boy on the Track, also known as "The Wobble Man". Consisting of vocalists and lyricists, bass, percussion, Quads, guitar, and to top it all off, a 5-piece brass section the will blow you into the air moving and grooving away. John Boy and Surround Sound have been compared to the likes of Cab Calloway, Lil Jon, and Earth, Wind, and Fire combined!
Oct. 25 - SEAUX CHILL
Seaux Chill’s journey as an artist didn’t start when he first put out music. His journey can be traced back further than his roots as a pastor’s child or his first seat in front of the piano as a child. Seaux Chill’s art is the culmination of all those aspects in his life, which creates the musician here today. It is his unique personality, which is bringing together the community of musicians that he has behind him. His unique ability to bridge jazz, church, and hip-hop evokes a mix of harmony that calls attention to his communicative musicality. On his new record, “Freedom Ave.,” he transcends the borders of his influences and creates a wide expanse of sounds that cultivate a spontaneous rhythmic combustion.
The public is invited to bring their own picnics, blankets and lawn chairs to the concerts, which will have an open lawn setting. Food vendors and children’s activities will be on the site.
For more information on the full schedule of performances, parking information and vendor opportunities, go to https://www.jazzanooga.org/levitt-amp-cha-music-series