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This Week's Art Porter Music Education Benefit Concert

Thanks to an organization known as Art Porter Music Education Inc., Little Rock’s first week of August has become synonymous with jazz…and A Work of Art, its signature fundraising concert performance. Two years due to the covid-19 pandemic, despite the fact that the week was interrupted.

Held to coincide with the late namesake Art Porter Jr.’s birthday, the event featured pianist Jeff Lorber, saxophonist Euge Groove, and Washington-area saxophonist Marlon Devine from Little Rock.

Founded in 1993 as Art Porter Sr. Music Education Inc., the mission of Art Porter Music Education is to honor the late classical/jazz pianist, educator, and television producer Art Porter Sr. and his son, the late jazz saxophonist and It’s about preserving the legacy of recordings. Artist Art Porter Jr. — hails from Little Rock and, according to the organization, “both dedicated their lives to music education, performance and community service.”

Art Sr. produced “The Minor Key” for AETN, a program that showcases Arkansas talent. And he organized the Art Porter Singers, who continue to perform under the direction of Sterling Ingram. Art Sr. He died in 1993.

Art Jr., who also played drums and piano, recorded ‘Pocket City’ (1992), ‘Straight to the Point’ (1993), ‘Undercover’ (1994) and ‘Lay Yourself Yours’. was an international artist with five albums. Hands on Me” (1996) and his posthumous “For Art’s Sake” (1998). In 1996, died in a boating accident in Thailand.

“Their love for this community has always been reciprocated and is why doors of opportunity continue to open to us,” said the organization’s executive director, Benita Porter-Browning, of her father and brother. “We are an extension of what they started….”

Jazz fans in Arkansas will have another chance to enjoy music and contribute to the cause during A Work of Art. This week’s schedule:

  • Monday: Kickoff, noon, Little Rock School District Boardroom, 810 W. Markham St.
  • Tuesday: Music Minors, Noon, River Market Pavilion, 400 President Clinton Avenue.
  • Wednesday: Euge Groove, 7 p.m., CALS Ron Robinson Theater, 100 River Market Ave.
  • Thursday: Merlon Devine, 7 p.m., Mosaic Templars Cultural Center, 501 W. Ninth St.
  • Friday: Porter Players, 7pm, White Water Tavern, 2500 W. Seventh St.
  • Saturday: Jeff Lorber Fusion, Great Hall, Clinton Presidential Center, 1200 President Clinton Ave.

The event is free on Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays.

Yuji Groove shaping young musicians

Art Porter Music Education focuses on scholarship and mentoring programs, awarding nearly $70,000 to students pursuing music-related careers.

It took the planning team nearly a year to shape the activities of A Work of Art. “So it’s not for the faint of heart, but it was the most rewarding job I’ve ever had,” says Porter-Browning.

Ingram, the organization’s president, would agree.

“When you look back at how far we’ve traveled as an organization, it’s amazing how far we’ve traveled,” says Ingram, recalling the early days when the board met at Porter’s House on Howard Street in Little Rock. .

“At the time, no one knew how far we would grow,” he says. “We were committed to preserving the rich memory of art. All board members had a personal relationship with art and wanted to contribute to the foundation in any way they could.”

From the outset, the organization was able to bring out “top-notch” talent for its fundraisers, Ingram adds.

Many were connected to Art Jr., including notable artists such as Ramsey Lewis, Will Downing, Piece of a Dream and Alex Bougnon. Some have returned for repeat performances. (It was for his Art Jr. that Jazz his pianist/composer Lewis agreed to narrate the documentary “A Porter, Sr.: A Music Treasure”, which premiered on his AETN in 1996. .)

“Will Downing is always a crowd favourite,” says Ingram. “Women love him.”

[RELATED: Jeff Lorber Fusion jazzes up Art Porter benefit]

relationship capital

Art Porter Music Education’s growth and development owes much to the partnerships and community support the organization has had over the years, Porter-Browning says. These include:

◼️Arkansas Jazz Heritage Foundation, first partnership. The Foundation presented its first Lifetime Achievement Award to Art Sr. in 1993 and established the Arkansas Jazz Hall of Fame in 1994. Ingram is the current director. “So we are in a symbiotic relationship with each other, with full support for our like-minded efforts,” she says.

◼️ Jazz in the Park. Sponsored by the Little Rock Convention and Visitors Bureau, this series of jazz performances usually takes place at Riverfront Park on Wednesdays in April and September. Jazz in the Park “was the perfect match for us,” says Porter-Browning. “Our volunteers run the event and receive a portion of the drink sales. It’s not really a job because we love connecting and networking with a wider jazz audience.”

◼️The Little Rock School District’s Fine Arts Department, directed by Danny Fletcher, “has been able to thrive with a music minor summer program,” says Porter-Browning. offers a unique opportunity to be mentored and share the stage with national recording artists who continue to be in awe of their talents.”

Of course covid-19 tried to throw a monkey wrench into everything.

“Everything was shut down, and APME was no exception,” says Porter-Browning. However, the organization had promised to award annual scholarships. She would like to thank all her supporters, including those who have continued to send her donations during these two years.

These donations help fund programs such as Minors in Music, a spin-off from the TV show The Minor Key. Provide performance and development opportunities for music students through workshops. Musical and educational relationships with professional musicians and educators. and a community service component. Also beneficial is Young Emcees, a program created to give underserved youth the tools to express themselves creatively and build their communicative confidence.

Photo Scholarship winner Gabriel Wade will play trumpet in a concert featuring recording artist Will Downing to mark the end of Art Porter Music Education Arts Week. The concert was He on August 3, 2019 at Wildwood Park for the Arts in Little Rock. (Arkansas Democratic Gazette/Helane R. Williams) scholarship recipient

Some of our scholarship recipients have gone on to notable careers. Porter-Browning names Korey and Eric Fells. Brother, pianist and Little Rock Parkview alumnus.

Musician and audio engineer Corey Fels studied at Berklee College of Music in Boston and has toured internationally with artists such as British singer-songwriter Sam Smith, Paloma Faith and Hope Tara. He also served as keyboardist for Sevrina His Carpenter on ABC’s “Good Morning America” ​​concert his series and Kanye His West’s first “Sunday Service”.

Eric Fells graduated from Berklee in 2019 to focus on writing and filmmaking. He has agency deals with Fox Network, BET and Netflix to produce sheet music, jingles and movie trailers. He, too, has worked with West and other musicians, including his gospel duo Mary Mary and music legend Quincy Jones.

Gabrielle Wade, 20, is a Minor in Music alum and 2019 scholarship winner.

Wade fondly recalls Minors in Music as “learning the music that was part of the jazz idiom, becoming familiar with it, and beginning to learn improvisation and singing, and providing the opportunity to perform in between.” [A Work of Art] week. … Wade, also a Parkview alum who plays trumpet and piano, remembers being “definitely overjoyed” to win the scholarship.

He is currently a fresh graduate from the University of Arkansas at Monticello, earning a Bachelor of Music degree in three years instead of four with an emphasis on jazz studies. He is headed to Northern Illinois University for his master’s degree in the same field and hopes to earn his teaching credential.

“I am so grateful to Art Porter Music. [Education]says Wade, who will turn 21 on the day of the Rover’s performance. He gives credit to all the teachers and mentors involved, as well as Porter his Browning. art porter. ”

One of Wade’s most memorable memories from the program: bring food and more. ”

He has stated that he would not mind at all reaching out to help future students of Art Porter Music Education.

“In impact [of] Being in Miners in Music…and the impact it has had on my musicianship, I definitely want it back.

Artworks 2022 Music Festival

  • ◼️ Art Porter Music Education presents A Work of Art 2022 Music Festival featuring Euge Groove, Merlon Devine, Jeff Lorber
  • Monday to Saturday, various places
  • Individual ticket: $45-$65 regular and featured concert VIP.$130 VIP pass to all 3 featured concerts
  • information: artporter.org