Jazz Empowers Officially Launches, Names Charter Board Members
Despite research outlining that music education contributes to an increase in college entrance exams, GPAs and school attendance, fewer than one-fifth of all Metro Nashville Public School students have taken at least one year of it. A new nonprofit hopes to change that and is working to implement jazz programs in seven schools for the 2015-2016 academic year.
Jazz Empowers, the Nashville-based effort of Andrew Johnston, founder and executive director, aims to overcome education inequality and poverty through jazz education. It will offer after-school programs in low-income communities where students learn jazz in both big band and combo settings, increase their academic performance in core subjects and develop professional and leadership skills. Following rehearsals, students will also receive one hour of tutoring and homework help from volunteers.
“The Jazz Empowers approach is innovative because there are no other programs in the country devoted solely to developing world-class music educators who spend an extended period of time working with impoverished students for one specific school,” Johnston said. “There are an abundance of music education programs, but very few produce significant social change because they spread their resources too thinly. We are committed to getting every one of our students out of the harmful and seemingly endless cycle of poverty.”
Jazz was formed by great American musicians who grew up in poverty, Johnston also said. He believes jazz is the nation’s most prized cultural contribution to the world, and by getting involved in it, students will receive an education that helps them compete in the global economy.
Because a jazz band does not need as many members as concert or marching bands, Johnston believes recruiting enough students for an after-school program is feasible. Jazz instruments are also among the least expensive—and most popular—so securing equipment should be easier than what it would take to launch programs focusing on other types of music.
Jazz Empowers’ charter board members were recently named as well. Serving on the board are:
• Caldwell Collins, an attorney at Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz, PC. She concentrates her practice on products liability and mass tort litigation, health care litigation and business litigation. Her pro bono work has included representation of victims of domestic violence and service as a guardian ad litem for underprivileged youth. She is a graduate of Washington University in St. Louis School of Law and Vanderbilt University.
• Frank Giovetti, who devotes his time to the progression of his musical ability and development as an artist and songwriter. He holds a Master of Business Administration from Lipscomb University. He has experience within hospitality, healthcare, administration and sales.
• Dr. Jeanne Gilliam Fain, associate professor in the College of Education at Lipscomb University, where her primary research and teaching interests are classroom-based research, literacy and linguistics, and international, informational and global texts. She
holds a bachelor’s degree from Grand Canyon University, a master’s degree in elementary education and English as a second language from Arizona State University and a Ph.D. in language, reading and culture from the University of Arizona.
• Ann Dee McClane, director of marketing and business development for Bone McAllester Norton PLLC, a midsized law firm in Nashville. She received her bachelor’s degree in public relations from the University of Central Oklahoma and a Master of Science degree in mass communications from Middle Tennessee State University.
• MarQo Patton, who is a Music Industry teacher at Pearl-Cohn Entertainment Magnet School. He received his bachelor’s degree from Fisk University, where he toured with the Fisk Jubilee Singers for three years. He received his Master of Education degree from Lipscomb University.
• Cameron Pirkle, a Lipscomb University graduate who received a bachelor’s degree in Financial Management and Accounting. He currently serves as Assurance Staff for Ernst & Young LLP in Brentwood.
The organization is working to recruit talented jazz musicians to work full-time in these after-school programs. Instructors will be required to sign a three-year commitment. Participating students will commit to a full year of after-school rehearsals three days a week, as well as sectional rehearsals and private lessons two days a week.
For more information on Jazz Empowers, including how to get involved, visit www.jazzempowers.org.
ABOUT JAZZ EMPOWERS
Jazz Empowers offers world-class after-school programs in low-income communities where students learna bout and play jazz in big band and combo settings, increase their performance in academic core subjects and develop lifelong professional and leadership skills. We believe that all children in low-income communities have a right to achieve an education that helps them compete in the global economy. This helps to drastically decrease poverty rates in America and has a great impact on strengthening our nation’s economy and social structure. We also believe that jazz is America’s most prized cultural contribution to the world, and it is imperative that our children have the opportunity to