Read about the art by Romare Bearden

JusticeAid Spring Benefit Concert for SMYAL

Monday, May 16, 2022, 7 PM  |  City Winery  |  25 11th Avenue, NYC 10011  |  Google map

“I need a little sugar in my bowl and a little hot dog in my roll.”

Bessie Smith

JusticeAid invites you to enjoy a unique live concert hosted by Emmy Award winner Mark Ruffin, featuring contemporary artists performing a tribute to the irrepressible jazz and blues vocalist Bessie Smith, Empress of the Blues. 100% of ticket sales and sponsorships will provide unrestricted funds for JusticeAid’s 2022 grantee partner, SMYAL (Supporting Mentoring Youth Advocates and Leaders).

SKIP TO TICKETS
MEET THE ARTISTS!
ABOUT THE SHOW

Y’all made it possible for me to start being who I am now.”

Tessa, SMYAL Housing Graduate

JusticeAid invites you to enjoy a unique live concert hosted by Emmy Award winner Mark Ruffin, featuring contemporary artists performing a tribute to Bessie! Empress of the Blues. 100% of ticket sales and sponsorships will provide unrestricted funds for JusticeAid’s 2022 grantee partner, SMYAL (Supporting Mentoring Youth Advocates and Leaders).

As an organization at the nexus of justice and the arts, JusticeAid fittingly salutes Bessie Smith, who used her magnificent voice and theatricality to pioneer the genre of blues music and propel it into popular culture. Her music empowered women to be fearless, to express their sexual freedom, and to understand that a working-class woman doesn’t need to alter her behavior to be worthy of respect. Indeed, her songs still live and breathe because they are relevant today. 

Jazz and blues vocalist Bessie Smith (1892 – 1937) was among the most famous and highly paid black entertainers of the 1920s and 1930s, eventually earning the title “Empress of the Blues.” She was an important influence for countless female vocalists, including Billie Holiday, Aretha Franklin, Nina Simone, and Janis Joplin. Her popular hits like “Down-Hearted Blues,“I Put a Spell on You,” “St. Louis Blues,” and “Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out” have been repeatedly covered by legendary artists through the decades, and will be the cornerstone for our upcoming concert. 

Smith began singing at a young age when she joined the touring company of the legendary Ma Rainey. She soon emerged as a formidable blues singer at a time that coincided with the birth of the commercial recording industry. Her wrenching blues expressed the harsh realities experienced by the Black underclass in the Jim Crow era. A pioneering artist and leading figure of the Harlem Renaissance, Smith defied racial barriers through the force of her indomitable personality and self-confident artistry. She composed many of her own songs, and when she sang the blues, she sang of the American Black experience – suffering and joy, betrayal and courage.

Smith recorded 160 songs while with Columbia Records, until in 1931, the effects of the Great Depression made it difficult for the record company to survive. Although no longer as prosperous as she had been, she still worked fairly regularly adapting her powerful voice to the new swing music.

Smith died tragically on September 26, 1937 from injuries sustained in an automobile accident. In 1989, she was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame under the category of Early Influence.

Bessie: Empress of the Blues salutes Smith for bringing the blues to national prominence without compromising her status as black queer women.

Mark Ruffin has spent his entire adult life bringing jazz to the people. He’s a two-time Emmy Award-winning broadcaster who’s written over 600 magazine articles on music. Before rising to prominence in North America, Ruffin was a presence in Chicago jazz radio for over 25 years, where he was also Jazz Editor at Chicago Magazine from 1982 to 2007.

Ruffin was the co-host of the popular public radio series, “Listen Here,” the producer of the first five years of the nationally syndicated Ramsey Lewis radio program, and an original staff member of Oprah Winfrey’s station, “Oprah Radio.”

Since 2007, Ruffin has been the Program Director and On-Air host for Sirius XM’s Real Jazz channel. He’s also produced several albums, including recordings by René Marie, Giacomo Gates, and George Freeman. His debut book Bebop Fairy Tales: An Historical Fiction Trilogy on Jazz, Intolerance and Baseball is a collection of three novellas that combine the themes in the subtitle.

SMYAL (Supporting and Mentoring Youth Advocates and Leaders) supports and empowers lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) youth in the Washington, DC, metropolitan region. Through youth leadership, SMYAL creates opportunities for LGBTQ youth to build self-confidence, develop critical life skills, and engage their peers and community through service and advocacy. Committed to social change, SMYAL builds, sustains, and advocates for programs, policies, and services that LGBTQ youth need as they grow into adulthood. Learn more about SMYAL here.

TICKETS & SPONSORSHIPS

Please consider a table sponsorship (10 tickets per table) for your law firm, company, or group of friends! Download opportunities here or contact me. Thank you!

Jenny Chandler, JusticeAid Managing Director
INDIVIDUAL TICKETS

$250-$1000

  • Sparkling beverage and hors d’oeuvres; three-course dinner with assorted beverages (wine, beer, sodas, juice); coffee/tea.

  • Seated at tables of 10; we will attempt to group all requested parties at the same table.

BUY TICKETS
SPONSORSHIPS

$5000-$25,000

  • Sparkling beverage and hors d’oeuvres; three-course dinner with assorted beverages (wine, beer, sodas, juice); coffee/tea.

  • All sponsor tables include 10 tickets and name recognition.
  • Champions of Justice sponsors are front and center, close to the stage ($10,000). Defenders of Justice ($7,500) sponsors receive prime seating and Trumpeters of Justice ($5,000) sponsors are also close to the stage.

SPONSOR
JUSTICE ALLY

$250+

  • Can’t attend but want to lend support? Contributions of $250 and up will receive recognition in the program.

DONATE

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 $250. Please consult your tax advisor on the deductibility of your contribution.

LISTEN TO THE MUSIC!
PAULA COLE
VALERIE SIMPSON
TERRI LYNE CARRINGTON
NONA HENDRYX
MADELEINE PEYROUX
ALLAN HARRIS
MORLEY
CHRIS BERGSON & ELLIS HOOKS
SAMARA JOY