After four decades of featured background singing with icons like Luther Vandross, The Rolling Stones, Chaka Khan, Tina Turner, and Nine Inch Nails, Lisa Fischer set out to take center stage with her own humble, heartfelt song.
The 2013 Best Documentary Oscar-winning film “Twenty Feet from Stardom” altered the course of Lisa’s musical journey, telling her story, with clips of her legendary duets with Sting or with Mick Jagger on “Gimme Shelter,” left audiences eager to see and hear more.
Lisa set out on her own, reinventing classic songs with her co-conspirators JC Maillard and Grand Baton.
While Lisa’s range is legendary, her greatest gift is the ability to connect, to reach the hearts of her listeners. Raised in the Fort Greene neighborhood of Brooklyn, she emerged from New York’s fervent studio scene in the early 1980s, sang for two decades with legendary vocalist Luther Vandross, and released “So Intense”, earning her first Best R&B Performance Grammy with “How Can I Ease The Pain”. She joined the Rolling Stones for their 1989 Steel Wheels tour, and continued to grace their stage for the next 26 years.
Her passion for constant growth and experimentation has led to recent collaborations with Sting, Bruce Springsteen, Michael McDonald, YoYo Ma, Anna Deavere Smith, the Seattle Symphony, the National Philharmonic, and others.
American singer, guitarist, and actor Corey Glover is most famous as the frontman of the Grammy Award-winning rock band, Living Colour, but he is also a once-in-a-lifetime multi-disciplinary artist. He seemingly does it all, from music to acting and dabbling in everything in between.
He has teamed up with the funk band Galactic and the rock group Ultraphoni. More recently he formed a metal project called Disciples of Verity, whose album Pragmatic Sanction was released in 2020.
As an actor, Glover played Francis in the 1986 war movie Platoon, starred in a short-lived television series called Signs of Life, and co-headlined a national tour of Jesus Christ Superstar. He sang “Superstar” at the 29th Kennedy Center Honors.
Trumpeter and vocalist Jennifer Hartswick is an original member of the Trey Anastasio Band and has recorded/shared the stage with Herbie Hancock, Phish, Christian McBride, Tom Petty, Aaron Neville, Carlos Santana, The Rolling Stones, Big Gigantic, Dave Matthews, and countless others.
Her live performances are renowned as spontaneous, joyful, and contagious—a celebration of musical collaboration. Whether she is wailing on the trumpet or singing an intimate vocal solo, her performance is all part of a single seamless instrument, one that is played not only with astounding technical proficiency, but also with sensitivity, conviction, and heart.
A singer of ironclad capability, creative drive, and irrepressible panache, Jazzmeia Horn has emerged as a breakout new talent in a formidable jazz-vocal tradition. Each of her three albums has garnered Grammy Award nominations. Her latest album, Dear Love, is her first big-band effort. She’s also collected top honors at the 2013 Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Vocal Competition and the 2015 Thelonious Monk Institute International Jazz Competition.
Horn’s talents emerged in Dallas, Texas, and blossomed at an arts-focused high school. Through determination and inherent skill, the young singer moved to New York City, raising funds through performance to attend The New School. The following years, living in the city and touring the world, revealed a restless aesthetic development that’s defined her still-burgeoning career.
Horn wrote a book, too. Through My Eyes: The Jazzmeia Horn Approach offers methods for singers to use their voices to sing as well as advocate for themselves. Her online teaching work has bloomed into a self-supported community of singers who offer tips and feedback through a private Facebook group.
Performing since she was 14, Shenel Johns has developed her own eclectic style, counting among her influences Ella Fitzgerald, Abbey Lincoln, and Sarah Vaughn. She has shared the stage with music royalty including Curtis Fuller, Hank Jones, Dionne Warwick, and Sheila Jordan.
Returning recently from Qatar where she served a musical residency at Jazz at Lincoln Center Doha, Shenel next honoured Billie Holiday as part of JALC’s New York production of “Billie and the Boys.” And she has performed a tribute to another of her idols, Lena Horne, at New York City’s famed Appel Theater.
A native of Hartford, CT, Shenel has studied performance with such jazz legends as Rene McLean, Jimmy Greene, and Nat Reeves. She graduated from the Jackie McLean Institute at the Hartt School of Music with a bachelor’s degree in music management.
Praised in The New York Times as “a singer with a strong and luscious tone,”Alicia Olatuja combines the earthy with the sublime, bringing a grounded relatability to genres as lofty as classical, as venerated as jazz, and as gritty as R&B.
Her latest release, Intuition: Songs From The Minds Of Women, celebrates the artistic output of noted female composers—a carefully crafted statement of female empowerment at a pivotal moment in our cultural history.
Olatuja’s vocal excellence stunned a global audience during the second inauguration ceremony for President Barack Obama with a soaring featured solo during the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir’s rendition of “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.”
Since the historic performance, opportunities to expand her repertoire and earn fans have snowballed. Olatuja has performed extensively with The Juilliard School’s various jazz ensembles, shared the stage with Chaka Khan, BeBe Winans, Christian McBride, Dr. Lonnie Smith, Billy Childs, and others. She has appeared at national and international music festivals with her own band, earning accolades from fans and the press.
Originally from St. Louis, Missouri, Olatuja sang in her church choir and in various school ensembles. She received a Master’s degree in Classical Voice/Opera from the Manhattan School of Music in New York City, leading to performances in regional theater, opera companies, gospel conclaves, and jazz festivals across the globe.
Scott Sharrard is a Grammy-nominated guitarist/singer and songwriter widely known as the lead guitarist and musical director of the Gregg Allman Band. A prolific songwriter and talented singer, he has also released several soul-influenced albums of his own including three with his first band, The Chesterfields, followed by three solo albums and, including the eponymous release, Scott Sharrard & the Brickyard Band.
In 2020, Sharrard was announced as a new member of the legendary Rock and Roll band, Little Feat on guitar and leads vocals.
A Michigan native, Sharrard began his musical career studying jazz in high school and earning his stripes by playing and singing with local and visiting leading musicians. He moved to New York City and eventually garnered critical praise for his live shows and studio recordings in New York City and with The Band drummer Levon Helm in the Hudson Valley area.
Sharrard is a passionate educator of all styles of American Roots Music. Through online courses and private lessons, he has been hard at work finding new ways to connect with fans of guitar playing, singing, and songwriting all over the world.
South African jazz vocalist (now based in Harlem) Vuyo Sotashe was the first male singer ever to place in the prestigious Thelonious Monk Institute International Jazz Vocal competition—and that’s just one of the many honors he has collected in the early days of a promising career.
Since moving to the United States in 2013 as a Fulbright Scholar, Sotashe has performed with celebrated jazz legends including Wynton Marsalis, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Jimmy Heath, George Benson, Al Jarreau, Barry Harris, and Winard Harper. He has appeared at Montreux Jazz Festival, Monterey Jazz Festival, Cape Town International Jazz Festival, Newport Jazz Fest, Joy of Jazz, and Arcevia Jazz Festival.
Described as “a bright tenor that can easily spring from sonorous depths to the full-bodied top of his impressive range” (Atlanta Journal-Constitution), Vuyo made his off-Broadway debut in the Public Theater’s production of Black Light.
Brianna Thomas is an American jazz singer, vocalist, composer, songwriter, band leader, and percussionist. Raised in Peoria, Illinois, she moved to NYC in 2007 to attend The New School University and has since established herself as a talented vocalist on the contemporary jazz scene. Since graduating in 2011, she has since performed with jazz greats Wycliffe Gordon, Wynton Marsalis, Russell Malone, The Legendary Count Basie Orchestra, and longtime hero Dianne Reeves. Thomas has also performed nationally and internationally ranging from the Women in Jazz Festival at Jazz at Lincoln Center to the prestigious Montreux, Umbria, Bern, and Sochi Jazz Festivals. She is compared to Sarah Vaughan, Betty Carter, and Dianne Reeves singing ballad standards, cabaret music, Scat singing, and blues. Captivatingly unique, Thomas’ sound moves in tones ranging from sweet invitations to assured convictions, establishing a personal and classic quality that leaves listeners swooning after her performances.
Paine The Poet was raised in Columbus, Ohio, and currently resides in Virginia. While serving an 8-year sentence within the Virginia Department of Corrections, he began to use poetry as a method of healing and connecting with others who have suffered similar trauma. His work attracted the attention of the institution and soon he was developing programs for the community. Upon his release from prison, Paine traveled the open mic circuit which would set the foundation for his career as a spoken word artist, activist, public speaker, and entertainer.
Using his gift of poetry, Paine articulates distinctly emotional experiences in the criminal system through crisis intervention and youth mentoring.
Paine has taught various workshops and after-school programs and participated in panel discussions and fundraisers on mass incarceration, prison reform, social justice, disenfranchisement, and education. He has performed at the U.S. Capital and the 2018 NFL Honors Awards. His acting credits include the role of Jahlal Mahad in the 2021 film, American Skin. In 2021 Paine wrote the opening for the ONLY airing of TIME Magazine’s Person of the Year ceremony awarding Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. Paine released his first musical project in 2022.
Meet radio personality, writer, and artist advocate and our concert host, Keanna Faircloth.
Keanna Faircloth is entering her 20th year as a radio personality, writer, and artist advocate. From 2019-2022, she served as the host of Afternoon Jazz on WBGO 88.3 FM in Newark, NJ. While at WBGO, Keanna created and produced the widely acclaimed interview series, The Pulse. Most recently, she has signed on with Yamaha as the Artist and Media Relations Representative for jazz and classical piano.
Keanna got her start in jazz radio during her Sophomore at Howard University as an intern at WPFW, where she quickly became a regular on-air host. She would remain a fixture on the air there for 16 years. In 2018, she created the podcast Artimacy where she has interviewed artists like Robert Glasper, Dionne Warwick, Wynton Marsalis, Melba Moore, and countless others.
The culmination of her radio work led to being named a “Future African American Leader in Radio” by Radio Ink Magazine in 2019. She has amassed literally hundreds of interviews and hosts festivals both nationally and internationally– from the DC Jazz Festival to the NYC Winter JazzFest, to JazzFest Berlin. Keanna has been featured in national publications, and has been published by WBGO, WRTI, The New York Times, and NPR Music. Keanna is also a contributor on NPR’s New Music Friday edition of All Songs Considered, and a music contributor on NPR’s Here and Now.
We enjoyed dinner and a unique live concert featuring contemporary artists performing a tribute to civil rights icon and High Priestess of Soul, Nina Simone. 100% of ticket revenue and sponsorships provided unrestricted funds for JusticeAid’s 2023 grantee partner, Black Voters Matter.
As an organization at the nexus of justice and the arts, JusticeAid fittingly saluted Nina Simone, who is considered to this day one of the most significant voices of the civil rights movement. She sang to share her truth, and her work still resonates with great emotion and power.
She was one of the most extraordinary artists of the 20th century, an icon of American music who used her remarkable talent to create a legacy of liberation, empowerment, passion, and love through a magnificent body of works. She earned the moniker ‘High Priestess of Soul,’ for she could weave such a seductive and hypnotic spell that the listener lost track of time and space as they became absorbed in the moment.
Born Eunice Kathleen Waymon in Tryon, North Carolina, on February 21st, 1933, her prodigious talent as a musician was evident when she started playing piano by ear at the age of three. After graduating valedictorian of her high school class, Eunice received a scholarship to study classical music at Julliard before applying to the prestigious Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia to continue her classical studies. The school denied Eunice admission—a rejection, she claimed, was based solely on her race and which had a profound impact on her for years to come. Determined to continue her concert training, Eunice took on a stage name, Nina Simone, and performed jazz, blues, and folk music in nightclubs to support herself. Although she never intended to be a singer, she was expected to sing to keep her job.
The rest is history.
Simone released her first album in 1957, scoring a Top 20 hit with the track “I Loves You Porgy.” In the 1960s she befriended artists and intellectuals like James Baldwin and Langston Hughes and others looking to connect with their African heritage. This prompted her involvement with the Civil Rights Movement, culminating with the release of the iconic protest song “Mississippi Goddam” in 1964, a reaction to the 1963 assassination of Medgar Evers and the Birmingham church bombing that killed four young African American girls.
Simone continued to speak out forcefully about the African American freedom struggle. She won wide acclaim both for her politically motivated songs and covers of popular songs. As attention to the Civil Rights movement declined in the 1970s, Simone left the U.S., attributing her move abroad to what she saw as the worsening racial situation in the U.S. She settled in France where she experienced mental health and financial issues, though she enjoyed a career resurgence in the 1980s. Simone died on April 21, 2003.
In 2008, Rolling Stone named Simone to its list of the 100 Greatest Singers of All Time, and, in 2018, Simone was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
Each year JusticeAid leverages the community-building power of art and music to transform awareness into action in the fight against injustice. This year, JusticeAid has chosen to partner with grantee partner Black Voters Matter (BVM).
BVM’s work includes increasing voter engagement, advocating for policy change, and building development infrastructure for voter mobilization by building power in marginalized and predominantly Black communities.
BVM’s work is guided by these 5 core beliefs: understanding, respecting and supporting local infrastructure; supporting individuals and organizations that are striving to obtain social justice 365 days a year; reaching out to rural counties and smaller cities/towns that are often ignored by candidates, elected officials, political parties, and the media; using authentic messaging; and recognizing the leadership, talent, and commitment demonstrated by Black women in particular, and investing in them so that they can flourish and multiply.
100% of your contributions through the end of October 2023 will support Black Voters Matter.
JusticeAid is a nonprofit charitable organization recognized as exempt from Federal income tax under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.The fair market value of each ticket is $150. Please consult your tax advisor on the deductibility of your contribution.