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Over 1,100 middle and high school students attended the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz performance at the Bologna Performing Arts Center on April 8. Students and teachers traveled from several counties to attend the performance, including Bolivar, Coahoma, Grenada, Hinds, Humphreys, Lee, Sunflower, and Washington. The performance featured jazz icon, 14-Time Grammy Award-Winner, and NEA Jazz Master Herbie Hancock, internationally acclaimed jazz trumpeter and Grammy winner Ingrid Jensen, blues vocal sensation and former winner of the Monk Institute International Jazz Vocal Competition Lisa Henry, renowned music educator Dr. J.B. Dyas, and six student musicians from the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts. Local Mississippi students were given the unique opportunity to learn the fundamentals of Jazz in an interactive and immersive environment.
During the high-energy performance, the musicians played various styles of jazz and spoke with the students about what jazz is, why it is important to America, and how a jazz ensemble represents a perfect democracy. Throughout the presentation, the student musicians and guest artists provided further insight into important values that jazz represents: teamwork, unity with ethnic diversity, the correlation of hard work and goal accomplishment, and the importance of finding a passion for something early in life and being persistent. The local students in the audience learned a great deal from the student performers, and left the theater with the knowledge that it is never too early or too late to learn the art of Jazz.