In honor of Black History Month, Idyllwild Arts Academy announces its annual Black History jazz concert, which is free and open to the public, and will take place at the school’s stunning campus on February 17 from 7.30pm to 9pm (Lowman Concert Hall, 52500 Temecula Road #38, Idyllwild, CA).

The event is the brainchild of Idyllwild Arts iconic Jazz Program founder, Dr. Marshall Hawkins and Dr. Daniel Bassin (IA Director of Orchestra) and will be hosted by the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging Board. The theme of the event will be the “Replacement of the Drum,” reflecting both the hardships and triumphs black Americans have experienced in the United States when drums, a principal form of communication in Africa, were taken away during slavery. Africans in America had to fashion different types of drums and percussion instruments from whatever materials they could gather, profoundly reinventing and reshaping music for generations to come.

The concert will feature Dr. Marshall Hawkins Seahawk Modern Jazz Orchestra (MOJO), which he formed in 2002, joining the school’s own Jazz and Classical music students, faculty and alumni along with a plethora of professional performers for this highly anticipated event, including jazz artist Sherry Williams, jazz musician Bob Boss, vocalist Yve Evans, Nigerian artist Najite and Latin percussionist Ray Gonzales.

Listeners will be taken on a journey from Africa where music began with the drum through the new world and into modern music, showcasing the unifying power of music.


Hawkins credits numerous talented black women as nurturing his talent over the years, including legendary artists Shirley Horn and Jeannie Cheatham who will be honored at this year’s concert.

Hawkins, who was self-taught, won first place honors at a talent show playing upright piano at age 12. In 1964 Marshall began studies on the String Bass. In the late 60s and 70s Hawkins traveled throughout the United States, playing bass with legends such as The Miles Davis Quintet (with Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, and Tony Williams), Shirley Horn and Roberta Flack before forming his own quintet. In 1978, he moved to Idyllwild and founded the jazz program at Idyllwild Arts Academy, which has since become world renowned, mentoring hundreds of talented young people and enticing famous musicians over the years to impart their wisdom in the form of masterclasses. He has served as the School’s Musical Director for over 30 years and in 1994 he co-founded the popular yearly fundraiser, Jazz in the Pines. Marshall has been deeply committed to teaching the uniquely American art form of jazz through a unique holistic approach that combines theory, improvisation and practical, incorporating all musical styles.

Now 84 years old, Dr. Marshall Hawkins continues to teach while working on his autobiography. He is also the subject of a documentary, currently in the works, which will showcase his musical legacy.

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