top of page

Celebrating the 20th Annual Jazz Appreciation Month - "Ellas" Edition

Updated: May 4, 2021

The Stories Behind the Songs

Jazz Saxophonist
Jazz Saxophonist

April is Jazz Appreciation Month, also cleverly called as "JAM."The Smithsonian's Museum of American History held the first JAM twenty years ago and has continued the tradition annually since. The intention behind JAM is "to stimulate and encourage people of all ages to participate in jazz—to study the music, attend concerts, listen to jazz on radio and recordings, read books about jazz, and more."

To mark the 20th Anniversary of JAM, the Museum of American History is focusing on the impact the women have had on jazz. Although jazz headliners may have been mostly men in the past, more and more women are taking center stage. As of 2019, about one-third of jazz recording released feature a women-led album. On this year's poster, by Duke Ellington School of the Arts in Washington, D.C. sophomore visual arts student Naa Anyele Sowah-de Jesus, they are highlighting the career of pianist, singer, songwriter, storyteller, and civil rights activist Nina Simone. This month, the museum is hosting several online events to celebrate JAM, many of which are free of charge. Upcoming online JAM events include NEA Jazz Masters's performance on Thursday, April 22, 2021at 7 p.m CDT watch online here; Keeping the Rhythm: An Exploration of Women Drummers on Friday, April 23, 2021at 6 p.m CDT register here; and finally, The Soulful Shirley Horne on Thursday, April 29, 6 p.m. CDT, in this event, Howard University Assistant Professor Jessica Boykin-Settles will share about vocalist Shirley Horne's life and music purchase tickets here.

Jazz is truly an American art, with a rich history that includes a diverse group of Americans from all walks of life. At Perennial Music and Arts, we're celebrating by listening to and learning about some influential jazz songs that have become standards and their composers/performers too. In this second post of two, we are going to focus on three "jazz ellas," Ella Fitzgerald, Nina Simone, and Toshiko Akiyoshi. In our last post, Celebrating the 20th Annual Jazz Appreciation Month - Fellas Edition, we focused on three legendary jazzmen, Jelly Roll Morton, George Gershwin, and Duke Ellington.

Ella Fitzgerald's "A-Tisket, A-Tasket"