Hampton Jazz Festival Marks 50th AnniversaryBy Carolyn Alston, Special to the Peacemaker / June 29, 2017
HAMPTON, VA. – The 50th annual Hampton Jazz Festival opened Friday, June 23 with a packed house at the Hampton Coliseum. The first night of the festival, which continued through Sunday, June 25, was at attendance capacity, according to Hampton Coliseum marketing manager Kiara Warren.
The Hampton Jazz Festival began in 1968 as a one-time benefit celebration commemorating Hampton Institute’s 100th birthday on the campus at Armstrong Field. The festival moved to the Hampton Coliseum in 1970. Over the past 50-years the festival has brought the best of jazz, pop, blues, gospel and R&B to the Hampton Roads area. The three-day event attracts more the 25,000 music lovers and has become the largest social event around the Hampton peninsula area.
Performers during the three-day festival included saxophonist Gerald Albright and guitartist Jonathan Butler. Brian Culbertson, performing on trombone and keyboards, received a standing ovation. Saturday’s performances included the West Coast Jam featuring Norman Brown, Richard Elliot and Rick Braun. High Point, N.C. native Fantasia Barrino performed a tribute to the late soul great, James Brown. She sang Brown’s “It’s a Man World” along with her hits “Free Yourself” and “Truth Is” which was No. 1 on the charts for 14 weeks.
Saturday night concluded with the mighty O’Jays. Sunday continued with pianist Ramsey Lewis, a soulful Pattie LaBelle and the legendary Maze with Frankie Beverly.