"Without music, life would be a mistake.
Friedrich Nietzsche (1844 - 1900)

The Savannah Music Festival, ten days and nights of stirring and soulful musical events under moss-coved oaks and over cobblestone paths in gracious Savannah, Georgia, is now in its 14th season.

Savannah's first Music Festival, in 1989, presented winners of the most prestigious international music competitions -- classical artists just setting foot upon the world stage - in intimtate historic venues including churches and synagogues throughout downtown Savannah. In year two, jazz artists were invited to perform. And in 1994, the concept was further expanded to include the American Traditions Competition for Singers, a weeklong event now drawing contestants from across the country and assembling a world-class panel of judges. Now under the direction of Rob Gibson (founding Director of Jazz at Lincoln Center!), the Festival is broadening its artistic reach to include blues, bluegrass, zydeco, gospel and more.

With more events than ever before, the 14th Annual Savannah Music Festival promises to be the most successful yet! In addition to a series of jazz on film educational events, concert talks and youth concerts the following are among this year's offerings:

  • BACH FOREVER! (Five different programs)

  • THE NIGHT SHIFT (A variety of genres with performances by Cyrus Chestnut, Kristina Beaty & Friends, Cool John Ferguson, Drink Small, ARTillery Punch, Wycliffe Gordon, Marcus Roberts and Rosie Ledet)

  • THE ART OF SOLO PIANO (Three separate concerts featuring Tien-Yi and Shih-Yi Chiang, Roberto Plano and Gilles Vonsattel respectively)

    For tickets and more information, call the Savannah Music Festival offices at (912) 236-FEST.

The Savannah Music Festival culminates March 9 in a free, day-long outdoor concert SOUL OF THE SOUTH, bringing together artists from Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Louisiana, and North and South Carolina to perform an array of traditionally-southern musical styles including blues, jazz, gospel, and Zydeco.

Finale headliners are the internationally-acclaimed Blind Boys of Alabama, who received a Grammy Award for Best Traditional Soul Gospel Album for their CD "Higher Ground" at the 45th Annual Grammy Awards Feb. 23. The group also appeared on A&E's "Breakfast with the Arts" Feb. 23.

In addition to the Grammy Award, "Higher Ground" was named "Best Gospel CD 2002" by Amazon.com, and the group will be inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame at the Dove Awards show in Nashville April 10. For 2003 tour dates for the Blind Boys of Alabama, visit http://www.blindboys.com.

The Blind Boys of Alabama will join a number of other regionally recognized artists with traditionally Southern musical styles in Savannah's historic Forsyth Park March 9, from 2 to 8:30 p.m. The concert is free and open to the public.



Doc Lawrence

SAVANNAH, Ga. With their Grammy award for “Higher Ground”, the Blind Boys of Alabama have at last gotten the recognition long postponed. Few gospel groups provide the harmony, rhythm and background excellence that has become the Blind Boys signature. It’s quite fair to call them peerless.

After hearing them as a child on black radio stations, I finally saw them in the 1980’s at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival on a day that also featured Bob Dylan, Ray Charles and Clarence “Gatemouth" Brown.” Later, they were on stage at Alabama’s fabulous Kentuck Festival for the Arts in Northport. That day, they seemed to own earth and heaven.

My favorite memory is the evening four years ago at Atlanta’s Rialto Center for the Arts, a production sponsored by the House of Blues. Legendary blues singer and virtuoso guitarist Buddy Guy opened for the Blind Boys. Memories are still fresh of a few thousand kids on their feet clapping and joining the incomparable James Carter and his fellow singers praising God like they were powered by a V-8 engine.

The African-American churches of the south gave America the foundation for the greatest music the world will ever know. Blues, jazz, bluegrass, country and rock are rooted there. The Blind Boys prove this in the first bars of any song. They make us forget our woes while honoring their religion and spreading the good news.

Opened 2003 Festival

SAVANNAH, GA The concert version of "Porgy and Bess", George Gershwin’smost famous work, kicked off the 2003 Savannah Music Festival, an eclectic series of musical adventures running each Spring at various venues in Georgia's historic First City.

Memorable songs from Gershwin’s beloved creation, notably the lullaby "Summertime", have become standards for jazz improvisation, This presentation of the maestro's "folk opera in three acts" (which harks back to Bizet's "Carmen") featured the internationally acclaimed 80-voice Morgan State University Choir and renowned soloists including Arthur Woodley and Kishna Davis.

Gershwin stipulated in his estate that English-speaking countries may only produce "Porgy and Bess" with an all-black cast. The Savannah Music Festival was pleased to adhere to his wishes and bring such an acclaimed choir and soloists to the region.

More music?

Hank Ballard, creator of The Twist

St. Louis Opera Theatre

Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra on tour

Music Giant Chet Atkins

Freddy Cole

Waylon Jennings

Elvis Presley

Ab the Flagman's group The X-Miss Americas

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