US jazz vocal protégé Alexis Morrast
Get ready, jazz lovers. The highly-anticipated jazz fest, With A Little Help From My Friends, is starting at Artscape Theatre on Tuesday at 7.30pm.

The partners and sponsors for this year’s event are the Community Chest and Institute of Jazz Studies - Rutgers University, Newark.

The annual fundraiser is focused on creating authentic collaborations between the Jazz Yard Academy and the Delft Big Band, with the addition of some of the Cape’s jazz legends, who will be performing original compositions next to up-and-coming young talent.

Community Chest chief executive officer Lorenzo Davids says: “This initiative talks to the core of what Community Chest stands for, inspiring young people to become actively involved in creating their future. We are proud to be associated with this project.”

We spoke to With A Little Help From My Friends organiser, Joey Fourie, to find out more about the concert.

How did the Institute of Jazz Studies get involved with the project?

Wayne Winborne as the executive director of the Institute of Jazz Studies at Rutgers University is a great supporter of the work being done to preserve the legacy of jazz in South Africa. His vision is in tune with that of Joey Fourie, producer of the upcoming show to preserve the art of jazz and empowering young jazz artists.

Why do you think people look forward to the concert?

The concert is more than just mere entertainment. It is an experience with significant substance, as it sends out a message of support to our youth. It showcases young people and their talents, bringing smiles to communities ravaged by poverty, unemployment and gangsterism. A glimmer of hope.

This concert stands out as a result of an authentic collaboration between legends of the Cape jazz scene and young people who aspire to play music with, and alongside them. This year, we have collaboration between our local musicians and an international star as well.

The producers simply want to inspire our youth.

Can you tell us more about US jazz vocal protégé Alexis Morrast?

This 16-year-old is a star in the making. She’s a real phenomenon, a singer and songwriter who began singing in church at the age of three. She sang her first solo at the church at the age of seven in the adult choir. Born and bred in Newark, New Jersey, Alexis has performed on several stages - the US Open in 2013, the 2015 Central Jersey Jazz Festival in New Brunswick and NJPAC with Christian McBride, among others.

After her breakout performance at the world-renowned Apollo Theatre in Harlem, New York, she emerged as two-time Amateur Night winner. February 2017 saw Alexis back on the Apollo stage,where she was named the winner of Showtime at the Apollo, hosted by Steve Harvey and nationally televised by FOXTV.

How did you meet her?

It was through the help of Wayne Winborne - executive director of the Institute of Jazz studies - that Oddsocks stumbled upon Alexis, whose talent for her young age is quite extraordinary.

The institute also seeks to foster greater music and cultural exchange by presenting emerging and established American jazz musicians in Cape Town.

What makes her so special?

The fact that she has accomplished so much and is only 16 is quite an achievement.

Apart from starting her singing career at the age of three, as I mentioned she has shared the stage and collaborated with jazz greats.

In her young music career, she has also been fortunate enough to work with Dionne Warwick, Lala Hathaway and Danny Mixon. Studying under Conrad Herwig. she took part in several jazz events.

How can people contribute to Community Chest if they can’t attend the concert?

They can contribute through the following bank account: Bank: FNB; name of account: The Community Chest of the Western Cape section 18A; account number: 62033296551; branch: Adderley Street; branch code: 201 409; global number: 250 655.

Please use “Youth Jazz Development” as a reference.

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