Bill Kurtis is a journalist, producer, and author who has more than 40 years of experience as an award-winning journalist. Under his own production company, Kurtis Productions, he created Investigative Reports, Cold Case Files, and other programs for the A&E Television Network. As a producer, Kurtis earned two Emmy Award nominations for Cold Case Files for Outstanding Nonfiction Series in 2004 and 2005.
T'Keyah Crystal Keymah is best known for her acclaimed work on three pioneering television shows; In Living Color, Cosby and That's So Raven, Disney Channel's #1 hit. Alongside Raven~Symone, T'Keyah plays the character of Tanya Baxter, but millions of children worldwide just think of her adoringly as Raven's Mom. She is also the voice of Bumblebee on the WB's animated series Teen Titans and Trixie's mom, Mrs. Carter on Disney's American Dragon.
Richard Steele is currently a program host and interviewer on Chicago's WBEZ 91.5 FM. For over 30 years, Steele has been one of Chicago's most visible television and radio personalities. In addition, he has co-hosted several Chicago Jazz Festival and the Chicago Blues Festival radio broadcasts, and during his 10 year involvement, these Grant Park festivals have been heard on over 100 stations. The "Real Steele" also maintains an ongoing relationship with African American arts organizations such as ETA and the Black Ensemble Theatre. Steele resides with his wife of 39 years on Chicago's south side.
Kurt Elling is the preeminent young male jazz singer today. Nightmoves, Elling's first recording for Concord/Universal will propel his career to new heights. This follows a ten-year stretch that saw Elling earn seven GRAMMY nominations for six Blue Note albums, six consecutive years at the top of the Down Beat Critics and Jazz Times Readers' polls, three Jazz Journalists' Association Awards for Best Male Vocalist and the Prix Billie Holiday from the Academie du Jazz in Paris.
Dee Alexander is one of the most gifted and respected female vocalist today. Though her talents can span every music genre, her true heart and soul are experienced in their purest form through Jazz. From a soft, sultry traditional ballad, to a contemporary Jazz-Funk groove; from a high flying swing, to a scat-filled romp, Dee Alexander delivers on each and every note with a style and grace that is truly her own.
Terisa Griffin has shared the stage with some of music's biggest names such as Isaac Hayes, Diana Ross, Ashford & Simpson, Roberta Flack, Jerry Butler and Patti LaBelle. Terisa has written, produced and starred in a series of One Voice, One Woman shows. Terisa's debut CD, Songbird (2001) received rave reviews while her recording, My Naked Soul (2006) continues to be a favorite on radio stations nationwide.
Crossing over for a singer whose foundation resounds jazz was a relatively rare phenomenon back in 1994 when Jackie Allen recorded her debut album Never Let Me Go. Twelve years later, with Tangled, her remarkable Blue Note Records debut and eighth CD — Allen continues to explore soundscapes that pay homage to both standby and contemporary standards while crafting originals that richly complement the covers.
Bobbi Wilsyn is an Artist-in-Residence at Columbia College Chicago teaching music and as a singer-actress, Wilsyn has appeared in several musical productions including BEEHIVE, SOPHISTICATED LADIES and Sheldon Patinkin's, I DIDN'T KNOW WHAT TIME IT WAS. She has gained international recognition as the featured jazz-blues vocalist with the CHICAGO JAZZ ENSEMBLE founded by the late William Russo, the ORBERT DAVIS QUINTET and the THOMAS GUNTHER SEXTET.
Emmy award winner and international vocalist, Joan Collaso, was born, raised and is living in Chicago. Joan’s flowing sensual melodies, colorful improvisations and soulful stylings capture your ear, her spirit will capture your heart. She blends the textures of Jazz, R&B, Blues and Gospel in a way that gives her a distinct sound. While Collaso trail blazes her musical talents and performances all over the world she also weaves her extraordinary skills in her community. As an advocate for social justice Joan has written, produced and performed, for school age children and families, musical plays that teach history and promote education, courage and love.
A Chicago native, Maggie Brown studied music, theater and voice at Columbia College, Chicago. She has performed locally and internationally in her dynamic one-woman show, LEGACY: Our Wealth of Music. In 1995, Maggie launched her own independent label, Mag Pie Records. Her debut recording, From My Window, was nominated by the Chicago Music Awards for Best Jazz CD. Her most recent project is a live concert recording of Maggie and her legendary father, Oscar Brown, Jr. entitled We're Live.
The Soul Children of Chicago is one of the most celebrated youth choirs in the world. Under the direction of Walt Whitman, they have produced five albums, performed all over the world hand have won the prestigious Stellar Award. Other credits include performances with Harry Belafonte, Neil Diamond, Gladys Knight, Stevie Wonder, Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, Yolanda Adams and Garth Brooks. They have also performed for Presidents Bill Clinton, George Bush, Sr., Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon.
Ari Brown is a popular tenor saxophonist/pianist is an important member of the Chicago avant-garde jazz scene, and a veteran sideman. His technique and traditional jazz chops are excellent and highly expressive on both of his instruments. Chicago Reader critic Peter Margasak calls Brown a terrific saxophonist with a deep understanding of both Bebop’s complex rhythms and the wild expressionism of Free Jazz.
Ernest Dawkins is one of Chicago's premier jazz saxophonist whose music reflects his extraordinary talent not just as a musician, but a composer as well. He has recorded eleven CD's and is the founder and leader of his own group, New Horizons Ensemble. He holds a Masters in Music Education from Governors State University, University Park, Illinois and has studied music at the Vandercook School of Music in Chicago, as well as the AACM School of Music. Dawkins currently serves as Chairman of the AACM, the oldest musicians collective of its kind in the United States.
A widely praised soloist (Chicago Tribune), Nicole Mitchell is one of few African American women to take the path as a creative instrumentalist, composer and bandleader. As an exciting younger member of the AACM, she has performed with world-renowned musicians including George Lewis, James Newton, Leroy Jenkins, Ari Brown, Jeff Parker and Malachi Flavors. Mitchell issued her solo debut Vision Quest in 2001. Her latest release is titled Hope, Future and Destiny (2005). As a jazz flutist, Nicole has been Down Beat magazine Critic's Poll winner for Rising Star Flutist from 2001 – 2005.
Reginald is a premiere pianist/composer of Semi-Classical Music, Ragtime, Latin American and early Jazz & Blues styles. He is also an educator on ragtime music across the U.S. Reginald was first introduced to the sound of Ragtime in the seventh grade (1986) with a school performance of The Entertainer from an assembly program ran by Orbert Davis. He immediately made a mission to find out all there was to know about Ragtime and taught himself to play piano on a small Casio keyboard. He recorded his first demo The Strongman in 1992 and got signed to Delmark Records. In September 2004, Reginald received the prestigious John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Fellowship Genius Grant award.
Zim Ngqawana's style is rather difficult to define to a single label or genre. With an avant-garde approach to his music he pools his vast knowledge of traditional African music with his equivalently awesome knowledge of jazz to interpret and adapt these classics into new and inspiring interpretations. His music furthermore contains elements of bop, funk, Indian and Western classical music, samba, tango, vocal chants — highly percussive and often danceable.
Brandon McCune was born in 1976, this Chicago native makes his home in Newark, NJ. His musical studies began at age three, when his parents enrolled him in the Suzuki Method of Classical Piano. For the past eighteen years, Brandon has been an experienced professional musician (pianist, organist, drummer, trumpeter, bassist) and vocalist, serving as a principal music instructor, composer, counselor, arranger, and performer with a special concentration in jazz, classical, and gospel genres.
One of the most virtuosic and emotive voices of contemporary jazz violin, Zach Brock has followed a path which embraces not only jazz, but also classical, world, and popular music. From critical acclaim as a bandleader to international exposure in collaborations with Stanley Clarke, Snarky Puppy, and Phil Markowitz, Zach continues to gain admiration from both jazz purists and music enthusiasts alike.
Marianna Soroka, an amazing Polish percussionist was featured in the performance of Orbert Davis' Chicago Jazz Philaharmonic Chamber Ensemble performance at the Chicago Jazz Festival in 2011.
Willie continues to be one of Chicago's most in-demand pianists for visiting artists. He has performed several times at the famed Chicago Jazz Festival, to rave reviews, and has been the featured pianist on impresario Joe Segal's Jazz Cruises, where he has shared the stage with Clark Terry, Louie Bellson, and Red Holloway, among others. He has also performed with fellow pianist Marian McPartland, both in concert and on her well-loved NPR show, Piano Jazz. 2001 saw the release of their album of duets Ain't Misbehavin' on the Concord label. His performance is straight-ahead, and utterly stable — with dense chords, percussive attack, and flying solos — echoing the artistry of McCoy Tyner.
Tre Dumas is a tap dancer and choreographer from Chicago, IL. Mr. Dumas received most of his early dance training and his first teaching experience at Tommy Sutton's Mayfair Academy of fine Arts on Chicago's south side. He's a graduate of Clark Atlanta University with a B.A. in Mass Media Arts with a concentration in Speech and Theatre Arts. Since 1995 he's taught and performed regularly at various festivals including the Chicago Human Rhythm Project, the L.A. Tap Fest, the St. Louis Tap Festival, Maui Tap Experience, Detroit Tap Festival, Calgary Tap Summit, Chicago Tap Summit (which he co-founded), Vancouver International Tap Dance Festival and Columbus Taps among others.