By Tribune Staff
NASHVILLE, TN — One of the summer’s premier events will be held once again this weekend. The annual Jefferson St. Jazz & Blues Festival will be held on te campus of Fisk University. It gets underway at 5 p.m. Tickets are now available., Proceeds for this year’s event will go to benefit the organization J.U.M.P, With over 180 business, partner and individual memberships, JUMP works to keep the community alive and thriving toward the advancement of Jefferson Street.
As a celebration, JUMP launched a day long music festival to celebrate the spirit of Jefferson Street and bring together the community showcasing local businesses and culture. The Jefferson Street Jazz & Blues festival is the largest annual public community music festival in North Nashville and Middle Tennessee, and is designed to attract residents and visitors to historic Jefferson Street. The first festival was held in 1994.
From the 1940s through the early 1960s, Jefferson Street was one of America’s best-known districts of jazz, blues, and rhythm and blues. Famous African American musicians played regularly in the clubs from Little Richard and Jimi Hendrix to Ray Charles, Fats Domino and Memphis Slim. Nashville artists, many with hit records, made the district their home.
Jefferson Street was jumping! But when Nashville desegregated in the 60s and the construction of an interstate system through North Nashville began, the golden era was over. Jefferson Street Corridor was bisected by I-40, closing businesses and cutting off traffic to its remaining business community. With desegregation, black customers began shopping in other areas leaving this once vibrant area a collection of struggling businesses, boarded-up buildings, cracking sidewalks and damaged streets from the abandoned trolley that once ran through the middle of Jefferson Street.
Then, in 1994, a group of people who believed in Jefferson Street came together in a partnership to revitalize the historic community. From these tiny pilot programs came the Jefferson Street United Merchant’s Partnership (JUMP), a not-for-profit organization whose mission is “advocating for community, economic, and workforce development.”
This year’s festival features the popular area vocal group Higher Ground, the legendary R&B and soul ensemble The Manhattans, smooth jazz saxophonist Mike Phillips and the main headliner blues great Bobby Rush, one of the mainstays of Chicago Blues.
Performances begin at 6 p.m. For ticket information or more details visit www.nashvillejazzandbluesfest.com