By Vivian Shipe
KNOXVILLE, TN — The weather was beautiful with a hint of Spring in the air. The crowds that flowed into the Knoxville Museum of Art were happy; all on one accord. Their
mission: to enjoy some of the finest women musicians from the region. The Friday night jam session, the first of a two day event did not start until 6 pm. However, by 530, the venue was already half full and would reach maximum capacity within 30 minutes of the show. The steady flow of followers of these fantastic musician’s and singers would continue all day and into the sunset on Saturday at the Knoxville Center Mall. The weekend featured jazz singers, musical instruments of all types, original compositions, poetry set to music, a group performance and introduced one of Knoxville’s finest drummers; a rarity in the field, Faith Harris who turned it out on Saturday with her fantastic drumming skills.
The Women in Jazz Jam Festival (WJJF), celebrates women in jazz. Every year, under the direction of founder Kelle Jolly, the festival promotes women and allows them to network and gain experience. According to Jolly, “ the Women in Jazz Jam Festival is a model that can be used worldwide to create a pipeline for opportunities in jazz for women and girls.”
In keeping with this vision, the Saturday event featured young students performing clarinet and flute ensembles who are in the 7th and 8th grades from West View Middle
School, and Lincoln Heights Middle School from Hamblen County in Morristown Tennessee.
When asked about her vision going forward, Kelly said, “We have to create space for us to nurture each other. WJJF has been that space for four years.”