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Not Just a Church

December 16, 2017
Thinking About Jazz
The Jazz Baroness
Aaron Myers, presenter

Born Joseph Goreed on December 12, 1918 in Cordele, GA to Willie Goreed and Ann Beatrice nee Gilbert he emerged to be one of the greatest of all American jazz singers.  At age three his mother and grandmother took him to Chicago where he grew up on the South Side and attended Austin Otis Sexton Elementary School and Englewood High.  As a teenager he joined the gospel group, the Jubilee Boys and performed in Chicago churches.  He toured with the Basie Band in the 50’s and toured and recorded with other musicians as his solo career flourished.  Williams appeared in movies and TV, especially Cosby Show and Sesame Street.  Later he was a regular attraction in Las Vegas, at festivals and cruise ships until his death on March 29, 1999 at the age of 80.  D.C. area vocalist Aaron Myers brings this lively discussion and performance footage on one of America’s greatest singers of all time.  Free admission; lunch, door prizes and great conversation are all free.

2017 TAJ Events

February 25th
Nat King Cole:  Unforgettable
Nathaniel Adams Coles was born in Montgomery, AL in 1919;  at the age of 4 his family moved to Chicago.  His father was a minister; his church organist mother taught him to play at an early age.  Popular on radio from the late 30’s, Cole had his first radio show in 1946 and his TV debuted in November 1956, running throughout 1957.

April 29th
Ella Fitzgerald:  Celebrating 100 Years
This marks the 100th birthday of the First Lady of Song, Ella Jane Fitzgerald, born April 25, 1917 in Newport News, VA.  After an unstable childhood, Ella won Amateur Night at the Apollo at age 17 then joined the Chick Webb Orchestra where her reputation grew.  Her solo career began in 1942 and she became distinctive for her vocal versatility.  She received many awards for her life-long work.

June 24th
Chet Baker:  Long Road to Recovery
Born Chesney Henry “Chet” Baker, Jr. on December 23, 1929 into a musical family, both parents nurtured his musical pursuits.  In 1946 he left school to join the U.S. Army and its Band.  1952 was his breakthrough year as he performed with Charlie Parker on his west coast tour and later joined the Gerry Mulligan Quartet.  After struggling with drug addiction he made a resurgence in the late 70’s and early 80’s.

August 26th
Carmen McCrae:  The Singer’s Singer
Considered one of the most influential jazz vocalists of the 20th century, it was her behind-the-beat phrasing and her ironic interpretations of song lyrics that made her memorable.  He was highly influenced by Billy Holiday but found her own distinctive voice, recording over 60 albums and touring widely.

October 28th
The Jazz Baroness:  The Patron of Jazz
In one of the most unusual narratives in jazz history, Baroness Kathleen Annie Pannonica de Koenigswarter was born into the Rothschild family, married a French diplomat and found beside him in the French Resistance during WWII.  In 1951 she heard and committed herself to pursuing Thelonious Monk and the bebop movement sweeping through western culture.  She was patron and friend to a great many American jazz legends.

December 16th
Joe Williams:  Every Day I Have the Blues
Born Joseph Goreed on December 12, 1918 in Cordele, GA, his family moved to Chicago at age 3 where he grew up on the South Side.  In the 30’s he sang with Gospel groups around Chicago.  In 1937 he began singing professionally with various mid-west bands.  It was with the Basie Band that he acquired national prominence from 1954-61.  After this he worked as a solo performer and toured the world and recorded extensively.


Thinking About Jazz is a public service brought to you by Southwest Renaissance Development Corporation (SRDC)--a cultural ministry arm of Westminster DC. 

This free educational experience happens every other month from 1-3pm  on the 4th Saturday (except December).  Each one focuses on a different giant or genre of jazz and features vintage video footage and select audio recordings delivered by experts in the subject matter.

The material along with Q & A allows participants to go deeper into the history, stories and power of the art form and those who have created it.

Light refreshments are served and door prizes are given.

  • Rev. Brian Hamilton, President
  • Lloyd Jordan, Chair
  • Dick Smith, Jazz Night Program Director

Marilyn Abraham, James Besley, Yolanda R. Coleman, Vyllorya Evans, Gwen Fleming, Wilma Goldstein, Sue K. Gresham, Blanche Hamilton, Alicia Hetzner, Donald Roe, Tangela Roe, Brenda Wilder, Von Deleah Williams
The Thinking About Jazz Committee
holds a planning meeting the last Saturday of January, March, May, July, Sept, Nov, 10am to noon at Westminster.  You are invited to join this committee!  Check the calendar for the next meeting.  You will enjoy your welcome to the committee and the opportunity to be part of planning another great Thinking About Jazz event.