ARTISTC DIRECTOR, Sweet Baby J'ai
Sweet Baby J’ai is a multi-award winning, critically acclaimed singer, composer, arranger, educator, actress, writer and the Artistic Director of the Palm Springs Women’s Jazz Festival. A creative force on the music scene for over two decades, she tours the world with her genre-defying work, which both embraces and expands jazz tradition. She has worked in various festival capacities, including talent buyer for major music events throughout the country.
Recently honored as a Living Jazz Legend by the Los Angeles City Council, J’ai brings a new perspective to programming choices featuring some of the world’s most visible, high level jazz artists. By bringing together a carefully crafted, eclectic selection of exceptional performers, her Women in Jazz All-Stars always produce memorable and unexpected surprises!
Message from Artistic Director:
I would like to welcome you to the 2017 Palm Springs Women’s Jazz Festival. We are excited to be celebrating our 5th Anniversary. This is an important anniversary as this year I have expanded our mission of preserving and fostering an appreciation of jazz and blues music and providing employment for female musicians by introducing our new Jazz at Sundown Concert Series. These popular concerts are designed to introduce our audiences to extraordinary talent throughout the year.
In keeping with my firm commitment to making jazz accessible to everyone, I have also added a Meet the Jazz Master question and answer session with our Jazz Master Honoree. The Jazz Master discussion provides another educational component to the festival with an opportunity to learn more about the creative choices artists make.
Coming soon will be the PSWJF Women’s International Film Festival dedicated to screening films written, directed, or produced by women. The Film Festival will provide a platform for filmmakers to inspire and educate audiences by sharing their unique stories and experiences.
The Palm Springs Women’s Jazz Festival continues to bring you some of the best jazz and most compelling groups ever formed. Each year I put together Women in Jazz All-Star ensembles that perform with our headliners. The musicians and artists don’t usually meet until we go in to the rehearsal hours before the show. This is a master class on music and musicianship. It creates one-of-a-kind, fabulous performances with combinations of artists that audiences only see at our festival.
I grew up in a city rich with jazz and blues history. Kansas City was home to jazz legends like Count Basie, Charlie Parker, Mary Lou Williams, Julie Lee, Ben Webster, Lester Young and many others. I once lived on Ella Fitzgerald Lane in Charlie Parker Square so I am thrilled to bring you part of my hometown experience. This year I am introducing Sweet Baby’s Place, a jazz club like setting where jazz veterans along with today’s rising stars pay homage to the Golden Age of Jazz with tributes to Sarah, Ella, Miles, Monk, Rollins and more.
Contemporary jazz continues on Saturday night with Jazz + Blues = Soul to keep you engaged, your head bobbing and and your feet tapping, as well as this year’s Tribute to the Divas Sunday Brunch with soul-stirring homages to gospel greats Mahalia Jackson, CeCe Winans, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Mary Mary and others. We keep bringing you the best in the land – Terri Lyne Carrington, Carmen Lundy and Patrice Rushen on our first festival, Diane Schuur, Nona Hendrix Jessy J and Maysa recently.
Legendary jazz vocalist Dee Dee Bridgewater described the Festival as, “A jewel of festivals…one of the best times I’ve had.” This year is no exception - once again, you have my personal guarantee that the 2017 Palm Springs Women’s Jazz Festival will delight and amaze you, and leave you on your feet.
I hope that we can continue to inspire you to lend your support in preserving this great American art form. We are all in this together making history and memories. On behalf of our staff, our Board of Directors, our artists and the many participants that make the notes soar, I thank you!
Sweet Baby J’ai