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Jazz House Kids Spread Holiday Cheer, and a Message of Mentorship, on The Pulse


Jazz vocalist Melissa Walker founded Jazz House Kids 18 years ago, after her voice was severely affected and silenced for over a year due to an allergy. She had been pondering a way to give the gift of jazz to young people, as she strongly felt the guidance she received coming up was key to her navigating the business.

After being hired by WBGO to give a one-time jazz workshop for kids, the rest was history. Jazz House Kids was born, and is now the sole organization in New Jersey providing jazz education, mentorship, and apprenticeship programs to school-aged youth. In its short history, JHK has yielded more than a few jazz musicians that are responsible for furthering the jazz tradition, including Immanuel Wilkins, Matthew Whitaker and Julian Lee.

On this special holiday edition of The Pulse, current students and alumni of Jazz House Kids, accompanied by Ted Chubb, Director of Cultural Programming, talk about their musical journey with JHK and jazz education in the time of COVID. And to top things off, they spread good tidings of comfort and jazz with a performance that features a few holiday favorites, exclusively for WBGO.

Jazz House Kids Student/Alumni WBGO Pulse Band

Jalin Shiver - alto saxophone (20, Newark, Jazz House Alumni, NJCU)

Jacquie Lee - violin (15, Montclair)

Ellah Brown - guitar + vocal (17, Rutherford)

Ben Collins-Siegel - piano (13, Maplewood)

Destiny Diggs - bass (19, West Orange, Jazz House Alumni, MSM)

Ben Schwartz - drums (15, Maplewood)

Keanna Faircloth is a Washington, DC native and comes to WBGO getting her start on-air at WPFW 89.3 FM in 2003, most recently as the host of Late Night Jazz: The Continuum Experience. She is a graduate of Howard University having majored in Music History with a minor in Classical Piano. Keanna has written for NPR Music, and worked for Radio One as an on-air personality, producer and voice-over talent. She is also the creator and host of Artimacy Podcast, where she has interviewed artists like Wynton Marsalis, Matthew Whitaker, Jonathan Butler, and Dionne Warwick. As a result, she was recognized by Radio Ink Magazine as a 2019 African American leader in radio.