Jazz Foundation of America Assembles Industry Leaders to Support COVID-19 Relief Efforts

The Jazz Foundation of America, the country’s foremost charitable foundation dedicated to the support of jazz and blues artists, has has been hard at work in their efforts to lift musicians from the financial strain set upon them by the COVID-19 pandemic. Last month, they held #TheNewGig, a star-studded online benefit concert featuring new and archived video appearances by Bettye LaVette, Wayne Shorter, Sonny Rollins, Herbie Hancock, Donald Fagen, Elvis Costello Jon Batiste and many more. Keegan Michael-Key, one half the comedy duo Key and Peele, served as host, and Steve Jordan, drummer for the John Mayer Trio, served as Artistic Director.

Today the JFA has announced the formation of a coalition of record labels, online platforms and charitable foundations with the explicit mission of providing funding for the organization’s COVID-19 relief efforts. Blue Note Records, Concord Jazz, Mack Avenue Records, the Verve Label Group and Warner Music Group are among the many prominent labels to lend their support to the JFA’s cause, along with Amazon Music and Apple Music. To date, the foundation has raised more than $1 million. Below is the full press release for the JFA’s announcement, and here is how you can make a donation. The #NewGig concert can be streamed here:

THE JAZZ FOUNDATION OF AMERICA ASSEMBLES INDUSTRY CONSORTIUM TO SUPPORT ITS COVID-19 RELIEF EFFORTS

Labels, Online Giants, and Charitable Foundations Step Up to Support Musicians in Need During the Health Crisis

New Initiative Follows the JFA’s Successful Online Benefit Concert “#TheNewGig”

Broadening its efforts to aid musicians following the collapse of the live music business in the wake of the international pandemic, the Jazz Foundation of America has assembled a consortium of record labels, online music outlets, and charitable foundations to provide donations for its COVID-19 Musicians’ Emergency Fund.

Blue Note Records, Concord Jazz, Mack Avenue Records, the Verve Label Group, and Warner Music Group along with Amazon Music and Apple Music, have contributed to the 31-year-old non-profit organization’s COVID-19 Musicians’ Emergency Fund, which has raised more than $1 million since its inauguration in March.

The JFA brought its fundraising efforts to the public nationwide with “#TheNewGig COVID-19 Musicians’ Emergency Fund Concert,” an online benefit this month featuring performances by Elvis Costello, Sheryl Crow, Robert Cray, Donald Fagen, Herbie Hancock, Patti Smith, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Stanley Jordan, Ivan Neville, Kim Wilson, Angelique Kidjo, Milton Nascimento, and other notables.

JFA executive director Joe Petrucelli says of the consortium initiative, “We deeply appreciate the commitment of these companies to channel their resources to support vulnerable artists through the Jazz Foundation’s relief program at such a critical time.”

Denny Stilwell of Mack Avenue Records spearheaded the effort, convening biweekly meetings of industry executives starting at the beginning of April to address the urgent needs facing musicians.  Stilwell says, “These are unprecedented circumstances that call for extraordinary actions and creative solutions. It’s heartening to see jazz industry leaders come together like this to support our creative community. It’s important to us all, and we want to make a difference.”

According to Blue Note President Don Was, “We are proud to have contributed to the COVID-19 Musicians’ Emergency Fund and will continue to bolster jazz musicians through this time of upheaval and a future of uncertainty for live performances. These musicians are so deserving of our support, and there’s lots more to come.”

Petrucelli notes that donations to the COVID-19 Musicians’ Emergency Fund have not been limited to corporate contributors. “Supporters to date include institutions like the Herb Alpert Foundation, the Howard Gilman Foundation, and other major donors and arts philanthropists addressing profound need in the jazz ecosystem; plus thousands of individual fans from around the world showing their compassion for musicians through grassroots donations to #TheNewGig.”

While the JFA has been best known in the past for charity events like its celebrated “A Great Night in Harlem” concerts at the Apollo Theatre in New York (which was postponed this year) and its intimate shows at Herb Alpert’s venue Vibrato in Los Angeles, the organization may have attained its most visible success on a national level with the three-hour online benefit, hosted by Relix, which was helmed by Grammy and Emmy Award winner and “Great Night” artistic director, Steve Jordan.

“#TheNewGig concert felt like a triumph artistically and emotionally, and it was a great success as a fundraiser, helping us reach a significant milestone for the COVID-19 Musicians’ Emergency Fund,” says Petrucelli.

“However, an immense amount of work remains to be done, and the tremendous response we have received to date only scratches the surface when you consider the thousands of musicians and families in economic freefall across the country who are now in need of emergency financial support for basic necessities like groceries and utility payments.”

Next up, plans call for an album benefiting the COVID-19 Musicians’ Emergency Fund that will feature music supplied by the JFA’s consortium partners and other industry sources. Details will be announced in the near future.

Petrucelli concludes, “The Jazz Foundation has been a resource for musicians in crisis since 1989. We are dedicated to these artists for the long haul and honored to be joined by our generous consortium partners on the road ahead.”

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