2019 Annual Benefit Concert
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Our 2019 Annual Benefit Concert features two of the most exciting names in music for one night only: multi-GRAMMY-winning artist and songwriting icon Valerie Simpson and saxophonist, vocalist, and bandleader Camille Thurman.
Together, we will honor leaders in the jazz community:
Legends of Jazz
Saxophonist and NEA Jazz Master Benny Golson
Jazz & Community Leadership
Harlem School of the Arts
U.S. Representative the Hon. Adriano Espaillat
Corporate Leadership & Community Service
Sullivan and Cromwell
6:00 pm VIP Reception
7:30 pm Awards Presentation and Concert
Valerie Simpson is half of the songwriting-performing-producing entity formerly known as Ashford and Simpson. Their award-winning collaborations began 4 decades ago and she along with her late husband Nick Ashford have penned classic hits such as, “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” “You’re All I Need to Get By,” “Reach Out and Touch Somebody’s Hand,” “I’m Every Woman,” “Ain’t Nothing Like the Real Thing,” “Solid,” “Your Precious Love,” “I Don’t Need No Doctor” and “Let’s Go Get Stoned” among others.
She serves on the board of the ASCAP Foundation where an award has been established to aid struggling songwriters called the REACH OUT AND TOUCH AWARD, which honors Nick Ashford. Valerie owns and runs a popular New York Westside Music Club and Restaurant called The Sugar Bar where young writers-singers-musicians have a platform to perform. Valerie has toured with Dave Koz as a special guest and this year with Paul Shaffer & the Worlds Most Dangerous Band. Her Music is in constant demand and four Ashford & Simpson songs are now featured in the Broadway hit MOTOWN-The Musical, which is touring the country. “IM EVERY WOMAN” is featured in THE BODYGUARD, the play, which is currently on tour. Most recently, Valerie, as performer, was also featured in New York’s CHICAGO, The Musical on Broadway for a limited engagement in the role of Mama Morton–adding yet a new, exciting dimension to a diversified career.
Camille Thurman has been acclaimed by Downbeat Magazine as a “rising star” singer with “soulful inflection and remarkable, Fitzgerald-esque scat prowess” and hailed by All About Jazz as a “first class saxophonist that blows the proverbial roof of the place”. She has been amazing audiences throughout the world with her impeccable sound, remarkable vocal virtuosity and captivating artistry. Many have praised her vocal abilities to the likeness of Ella Fitzgerald and Betty Carter. Her lush, rich & warm sound on the tenor saxophone has led others to compare her to tenor greats Joe Henderson and Dexter Gordon.
An accomplished performer and composer, Camille has worked with notable Jazz and R&B icons such as George Coleman, Roy Haynes, Dianne Reeves, Wynton Marsalis & the Jazz At Lincoln Center Orchestra, Buster Williams, Charles Tolliver, Jack DeJohnette, Dr. Lonnie Smith, Terri Lyne Carrington, Jon Hendricks, Harry Connick Jr., Audra MacDonald, Diana Krall, Pattie LaBelle, Gladys Knight, Chaka Khan, Louis Hayes, Russell Malone, Nicholas Payton, Jacky Terrasson, Janelle Monae, Alicia Keys, Lalah Hathaway, Jill Scott and Erykah Badu among others.
Benny Golson is an acclaimed musical artist who is at home in nearly every idiom of modern music. He is a composer, arranger, lyricist, producer and a saxophonist of world note. His influence has had an impact on jazz, middle-of-the-road, and on motion pictures, television and records.
Educated at Howard University, Mr. Golson began his jazz career in Philadelphia, his home, later shifting his activities to New York City where he began to gain fame as a saxophonist with bands such as those of as Dizzy Gillespie, Art Blakey, Earl Bostic, Lionel Hampton, Benny Goodman, The Farmer/Golson Jazztet and even his own group.
He moved to Hollywood for a few years, at which time he wrote scores for major television shows, the Academy Awards, and feature films in Paris, France, and Germany. Mr. Golson also writes music for national radio and television spots for some of the major advertising agencies in the country.
In 1987, the State Department sent him on a cultural tour of southeast Asia to New Zealand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Burma and Singapore, after which Philip Morris International sent him on assignment to Bangkok, Thailand to write music for the Bangkok Symphony Orchestra.
In addition to being a lecturer at major universities, Mr. Golson is an international recording artist who has recorded over 30 albums under his own name and innumerable ones with other major artists. A great number of these major artists continue to eagerly record his songs, many of which have long since become jazz standards.
U.S. Representative Adriano Espaillat proudly represents New York’s Thirteenth Congressional District. He was sworn into office on January 3, 2017, during the 115th Congress. Congressman Espaillat was born in the Dominican Republic in 1954 and came to the United States with his family when he was nine years old. He grew up in the Washington Heights neighborhood in New York City and is the first Dominican- American to serve in the United States Congress.
Congressman Espaillat currently serves as a member of the influential U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee, the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, and the House Select Committee on Small Business. He is a member of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) and serves in a leadership role as CHC Freshman Representative to the Democratic Caucus. He also serves as Chairman of the CHC Task Force for Transportation, Infrastructure and Housing.
A steadfast champion for working- and middle-class, Congressman Espaillat is a staunch advocate of a fair living wage, immediate and effective investments in affordable housing, meaningful criminal justice reform, infrastructure improvements, expanded youth programs, and better educational opportunities.
Throughout the tenure of his career in public service, Congressman Espaillat has been a vocal advocate for protecting tenants, improving schools, and making serious, smart investments in economic development, job creation, and environmental protection. Prior to coming to Congress, he served as a New York State Senator.
Prior to entering elected office, Congressman Espaillat served as the Manhattan Court Services Coordinator for the NYC Criminal Justice Agency. He later worked as Director of the Washington Heights Victims Services Community Office and as the Director of Project Right Start.