It’s Black Music Month! June is a month for all Americans to focus on and celebrate the creativity and influence of black artists in music and culture.
From the anthems chanted at protests, to classic rock and modern Jazz, black musicians and artists have influenced every facet of music and culture in America.
Formerly known as African American Music Appreciation Month, Black Music Month was created by President Jimmy Carter in 1979 to honor the impact black music has in our society and culture in America.
Though our specialty at KJEM 89.9 FM is Jazz, which was created by African American artists over 100 years ago, we also want to point out other genres created by black musicians: Gospel, Folk, Blues, R&B, Hip hop/Rap, and Rock and Roll (among others).
At KJEM, we focus on the music. Black Music Month is a way to highlight and celebrate black music. And, especially with the Black Lives Matter movement, it is also a timely month to learn more about the racial history of the music and radio industry, from Jim-Crow era segregation of “white radio” from “black radio” to the role radio played in the Civil Rights movement.
American music (and radio) would not be what it is today without the enormous contribution of black artists, musicians, performers, DJ’s, emcees, radio station owners, producers and distributors.
KJEM is proud to be a member of the African American Public Radio Consortium and offers their programs Cafe Jazz (Fridays at 7:00PM) and Cool Jazz Countdown (Sundays from 7:00PM to 10:00PM).
Listen to KJEM on 89.9 FM on the Palouse, online at KJEMJazz.org or on the Northwest Public Broadcasting app. You can also tell your Smart Speaker to “Play K-J-E-M”.
Do you know a young person who loves music and wants to learn more about it? The Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz is offering FREE educational online courses for grades 4-12 throughout the summer. The courses will cover jazz, it’s history, and interesting tidbits that make jazz the very special art form it is today. This is a fun way to celebrate Black Music Month this June. Students will learn from a diverse group of world-class musicians about one of the genres African American artists created. For more information, visit the website link below: https://hancockinstitute.org/jazz-in-america-summer-sessions/
Before the evening concert began Friday night at the Lionel Hampton Jazz Fest, the atmosphere was filled with excitement. From every corner of the waiting area there was energetic chatter and laughing from the festival goers, from small children all the way to festival goers who have seen more than their fair share of jazz.
I too joined in on the excitement and quickly chose a decent seat in the bleachers, where I would be able to see and hear everything. Not too soon after taking my seat, I noticed a small collection of podiums to the side of the main seating area and went to take a look. Appropriately, the festival had set up some of the Lionel Hampton’s belongings, as well as items from other famous jazz musicians like Al Grey and Ray Brown.
The show began with a striking compilation of quotes by and about Lionel Hampton concerning the spirit of jazz in Idaho, and how it thrives wholeheartedly at the University of Idaho. One of the lines from University of Idaho President Scott Green stood out: “(It’s) What the University of Idaho is all about”. This close bond between jazz itself and the University truly demonstrates how powerful jazz culture is on the Palouse, and why it’s the perfect place for the festival.
Soon after President Green’s speech the music begins. The University of Idaho Jazz Choir delivered the first performance of the night, as they rushed the stage and aisles, forming neat lines and groups singing a variety of songs. They kicked off their set with a compilation of popular tunes, including mixes of Drops of Jupiter by Train, Space Oddity by David Bowie, the well-known lullaby Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star, and The Final Countdown by Europe. Though a wide selection, especially for a jazz choir, the combination of voices along with the on-stage musicians resulted in some beautiful harmonies.
By the end, a massive group had formed on stage, each student contributing to a powerful wave of music and voices that started the evening festival with a bang.
After the choir performance, the audience was introduced to Pat and Amy Shook, a pair of very talented musicians, who also happen to be married! One song, which the Shooks wrote themselves to honor the Apollo missions was haunting in its performance. Sharp notes from Pat’s saxophone and reverberating tones from Amy’s bass resounded throughout the hall, forming an eerily realistic feeling of what it might feel like to be in space. On top of it all, the choir’s repeated chanting of “From the Earth to the moon,” and a countdown from ten to one combined for a unique, dramatic piece.
The set continued, as Mr. and Mrs. Shook took turns leading the other musicians and choir from song to song, including Lemon Twist, Three in One, Chapel of Love, and Bitter Sweet.
After a brief intermission, we were treated to performances from the top two placers in the high school vocal competition. The first performer, Angelina Lowe, sang A Sunday Kind Of Love by Etta James, and she did so beautifully. With only a few instruments beside her, it amplified the intensity of her gentle, yet powerful voice.
Performing after her was Dominic Nye from Edmonds, Washington. With incredible control of his voice, he sang Joy Spring by Clifford Brown and Max Roach with ease. Even as he did so, the quick lyrics did not sound rushed or degraded, rather, they were soothing. Dominic ended up winning the top scholarship, but both artists were celebrated for their incredible talent.
Then, it was time for the well-known quartet Vertical Voices to take the stage. With sound reminiscent of acapella, they used their voices to simulate most of the music during their performance, while the actual instruments took more of a background role.
The Vertical Voices performed several songs in their set, such as New Day, First Train Home, Magnolia, Here Comes the Sun, and Sky Blue. Friday night came to a close with their performance of Time-Line.
All in all, the first evening of the Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival was a fun time for jazz fans and Moscow community members. Celebrating Lionel Hampton and the jazz genre as a whole, the festival in Moscow continues to serve as a place for jazz fans to come together and experience a weekend of music.
At the end of the school year, all of us at KJEM 89.9 FM bid farewell to our graduating staff members, Andrew Swanson and Katherine Barner.
Andrew Swanson began working at KJEM in Spring 2018 in our Operations and Production department. He hosted his own show, titled The Hip Joint, featuring a mix of fusion and other modern jazz. Andrew was instrumental in producing KJEM Live, our live show last November that celebrated our 5th anniversary. His favorite part of his KJEM experience was sitting down to interview Snarky Puppy band leader Michael League. Now that he’s graduated from WSU, he hopes to find a job in audio and video production.
Katherine Barner has been KJEM’s Marketing Manager since the spring of 2018. If you’ve seen a KJEM social media post in the last year, it was written by Katherine! She also found opportunities for KJEM to interview high-profile artists like Snarky Puppy and Banda Magda. Katherine took on a huge role in planning and executing KJEM’s Jazz Night last April, a community event that featured local artists. Katherine hopes to work in Public Relations now that she’s finished her degree at Washington State.
I’d like to personally thank Andrew and Katherine for all they’ve done for KJEM. It was a pleasure working with both of them, and I’m proud of how much the team accomplished during their time at the station!
Today, we’re also proud to introduce two new KJEM staff members for the 2019-2020 school year.
Riley Hoover will take over as the new Operations and Production Manager. Riley is a music major at WSU, and he brings a great passion for jazz that is perfect for KJEM.
Valerie Rice is our new Assistant Program Manager. Valerie has been around the Pullman area for most of her life, and now she’ll get to help bring great jazz to the community she knows so well. We’re excited to have both of them on board at KJEM!
We have another great year ahead at KJEM. I’m excited to see what new projects and ideas the new team comes up with!
45th Street Brass perform their song PBMJ at John’s Alley in Moscow. KJEM also had the opportunity to interview band leader Peter Daniel before the performance. You can find that interview by clicking on the JEM set tab or scrolling down the news feed on the main page.