The August Wilson African American Cultural Center, one of the largest non-profit cultural organization in the country is presenting the first-ever Pittsburgh International Jazz Festival Live Online, a free special event that will stream live on Saturday, June 20 at 12 pm.
A signature program of the Center, the Pittsburgh International Jazz Festival, is curated by AWAACC President and CEO Janis Burley Wilson, who created the event in 2011. She spoke with WBGO News Director Doug Doyle.
"Because it's the tenth year we had a lot of special things we wanted to do to celebrate the anniversary, but never imagined we wouldn't be able to do those things in person. In a very short window of time we had to scrap all of our ideas, learn how to pull off a festival online. We had to contact all the musicians and started to review all our archived footage that we've taken over the last ten years, edit all that done and try to find pieces that people will remember and enjoy."
Burley Wilson says she's immensely grateful to their sponsors, musician Sean Jones, and the rest of the incredible artists for joining forces to create a digitial celebration and bring jazz directly to audiences around the world.
"We also wanted to find a way to make people feel as if they were a part of it, not just watching it on their screen, and so we'll have an after-party with two deejays and it will be virtual dance party in people's homes. They can lock in through Zoom and become a part of a celebration because we want people to engage."
Burley Wilson is looking forward to the global event.
"We're very excited, whenever you can connect with the artists social platforms. We also work with JazzCorner.com which has 436-thousand followers. The festival will be available through the Pittsburgh International Facebook page, you can also access that through our website, the August Wilson African American Cultural Center has a YouTube channel. We'll be on instagram, so there's a lot of options."
The virtual event, in collaboration with award-winning musician Sean Jones, will feature legendary jazz musicians from around the world, including Jones, Lakecia Benjamin, Dianne Reeves, Laurin Talese, Jeff Watts, Brett Williams and many more.
In recognition of the PIJF's 10th anniversary, AWAACC has launched a fundraising campaign to support the next 10 years of the cultural organization.
Click above to hear the entire interview with Janis Burley Wilson.