Black Tennis Hall Of Fame And Partner Black History Museum & Culture Center Of Virginia Enjoy Live Jazz At Freedom Friday Event With Surprise Visit From Jazz Great James "Plunky" Branch

Black Tennis Hall of Fame Executive Director Shelia Curry and world renowned Jazz great James "Plunky" Branch.

On Friday evening, June 7, 2019, the Black History Museum and Culture Center of Virginia (BHMVA) held their monthly Freedom Friday Live Jazz event, which occurs on the first Friday of each month. Admission is free, you have the opportunity to view the museum's exhibitions, be a part of special activities and entertainment, as well as enjoy good food and beverages. 

Executive Directors Shelia Curry(L) and Adele Johnson(R)
Adele Johnson, who was appointed Executive Director of the BHMVA this year on January 1, is working in such an incredible way to not only preserve Black history and tell our stories, but also to incorporate present day communities inside of historic events utilizing new methodologies. One of those new ways is Freedom Friday.

At the event you enjoy live Jazz programmed by Richmond Jazz Society featuring some of the area's most popular artists with up-and-coming young lions making a name on the Jazz scene.

Michael Hawkins (L) and Ayinde Williams (R)
Last night's event showcased Michael Hawkins, one of Virginia’s premier bassists who has toured the U.S. with internationally acclaimed pianist Cyrus Chestnut. Hawkins performs straight-ahead and contemporary Jazz as an accompanist and, as leader of his own ensembles.  Performing alongside Hawkins was a young and accomplished pianist, Ayinde Williams who has attended the Manhattan School of Music and Virginia Commonwealth University.

The two musicians played current and classic music that set the room on fire, put all of us jazz lovers in that very cool "jazzy mood" and took us to musical places that we had not been in awhile. They were absolutely fantastic. 

The great surprise of the evening was the presence of world renowned and Richmond, Virginia hometown favorite James "Plunky" Branch!  Mr. Branch is a jazz artist whose music has traveled the world and is a favorite therein.  Even though the famed jazz musician did not take the stage, the audience was no less delighted to have him within our midst.

As we were talking, Mr. Branch shared with me that he is a Richmond Tennisbum team member and that he loves playing tennis... who knew!  He also shared with me that he had been playing tennis at 7:30am on Friday morning, and that the Richmond Tennisbums had topped their age division in the United States Tennis Association (USTA) and gone to the nationals.  An article on the 11-member team was posted in the Richmond Free Press.

What a night. A great evening was had by all, and every chance that I get on the first Friday of each month, I'll be headed back to Freedom Friday.
 

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