Iconic Jazz Living Legend “Sweet Papa” Lou Donaldson and Award Winning Theatre Founders Val Gray and Francis Ward Receive Benjamin Banneker Lifetime Achievement Awards at WIC’s 2nd Annual Benjamin Banneker Jazz & Poetry Fest Co-Hosted by GWU


Washington, DC, Feb. 10, 2014 – The Washington Interdependence Council, administrators of the Benjamin Banneker Memorial, is presenting its Second Annual Benjamin Banneker Jazz & Poetry Fest in partnership with George Washington University at its Jack Morton Auditorium on Thurs., Feb. 27, from 7-10 p.m. followed by a VIP Reception at Tony & Joe’s Restaurant in Georgetown. A very special Black History Month Celebration, this event will pay homage to iconic jazz legend, “Sweet Papa” Lou Donaldson, who will receive a Lifetime Achievement Award in the Jazz category; and Chicago’s Kuumba Theatre Founders, Val Gray and Francis Ward, will also receive Lifetime Achievement Awards in the Spoken Word category. Lou Donaldson is an honored NEA Jazz Master. Val Gray Ward founded Kuumba Theatre in Chicago in 1968 along with her business partner and husband, Francis Ward, whom she refers to as her “Rock.” The renowned Chicago theatre company is the recipient of 21 Emmy Awards for their heralded musical production of A Stroll Down 47th St. Dr. Ben Vinson, III, Dean of GWU’s School of Arts & Science; Peggy Cooper Cafritz, Founder, Duke Ellington School of Arts; and Dean Cibel, Co-Owner of Tony & Joe’s Restaurant are serving as Honorary Co-Chairs.


The Benjamin Banneker Music & Poetry Fest is a community service event and its 2014 Annual Black History Month celebration. The program line-up is comprised of an exciting mix of world class jazz and spoken word artists including DC jazz diva, Sharon Clark, a celebrated world class jazz artist known for her extraordinary riffs and range as a classic jazz vocalist. WDC Jazz Society Founder, George V. Johnson, Jr. is performing and serving as MC. They will be joined by Thad Wilson, Orchestra leader and Founding Producer of DC’s hot Jazz in the Sculpture Garden. He will lead the Benjamin Banneker Jazz Quartet which will pay homage to “Sweet Papa” Lou Donaldson as one of the Founding Fathers of Bebop; and the Wards, Founders of Chicago’s Kuumba Theatre. DuPont Circle’s Black Fox in-house jazz artist, Aaron Meyers, will round out the musical offerings along with the multi-talented musician/composer Bill Davis & Chicago’s Fanta Celah who will provide the entertainment at the VIP Reception following the main event at Tony & Joe’s waterfront restaurant in Georgetown.


Chicago’s Def Jam & BET poet extraordinaire, M’Reld Green, will feat her hometown Lifetime Achievement Award recipients, Val Gray and Francis Ward, and will be joined by DC’s own, Collective Voices, along with poets Shelly Bell and Rashid White as well as other surprise VIP Guests and presenters.


Founded in 1996, the Washington Interdependence Council, are the administrators of the Benjamin Banneker Memorial & Institute slated to be erected along L’Enfant Plaza/Banneker Overlook Park.


Companies, groups and/or persons interested in supporting this event should contact the Washington Interdependence Council at 202.387.3380 or order tickets on-line at www.bannekermemorial.org.


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