"Beyond the Blackberry Patch" to Tell Story of King-Lincoln District

A project commissioned by the Jazz Arts Group seeks to help tell the story of the historic King-Lincoln District and its contribution to jazz and jazz history in Columbus. The project is called, “Beyond the Blackberry Patch.”

When the Jazz Academy opened its doors in May 2009, it became an instant resident of an area inspired by rejuvenation, the King-Lincoln District. A strong desire to become a contributing neighbor led the Jazz Arts Group to commission acclaimed trombonist and composer, Wycliffe Gordon, to create a 90-minute piece of music for ten musicians to tell the story of the neighborhood. Eight Columbus City Schools in the district were invited to participate by helping Mr. Gordon with his research. Their study of their own neighborhood, its past, present, and future, has resulted in a working title for the piece – Beyond the Blackberry Patch.

The Blackberry Patch is a folkloric name given to the area where many settled during the Great Migration. A once-thriving neighborhood and hotbed of African American culture on Columbus’ near east side, it is an area that has been through difficult times. Its future is uncertain, but the re-opening of the Lincoln Theatre (home of the Jazz Academy) has created a spirit of hope and revitalization.

The project is managed by Jazz in Schools Director, Judy Shafer. Designed in three stages, the process is being followed by governmental and business community members, the school community, and the arts community. The stages include: research and composition; presentation; and documentation. Mr. Gordon has interacted with eighty teachers at the Academy and has visited six of the eight schools involved to interact with their students. Much of the research on the past and present periods has been completed and during school year 2010-2011 the focus is on the future. The presentation will take place in early March 2012 at the Lincoln Theatre. (Full Story)

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