Wilmington counts down to annual jazz festival [video]

(Nichelle Polston/WHYY)

(Nichelle Polston/WHYY)

Next month marks the 60th anniversary of the death of jazz musician and well known trumpeter Clifford Brown. The Wilmington native died in a tragic car accident at the age of 25.

His music however lives on today at the DuPont Clifford Brown Jazz Festival (June 21-June 25), a yearly event that features national and local artists.

One local artist scheduled to take the stage at Rodney Square is Maya Belardo.

“It’s an honor, I’ve been going to the festival since I was a little girl, its unreal, and I’m real excited,” Belardo said.

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Another local favorite on the roster is Nadjah Nicole, a former contestant on the show, The Voice.

“I’m just ready. I’m always ready to perform,” Nicole said.

The jazz festival is a Wilmington tradition where local and national artists even perform some of Brown’s compositions.

“Every year there’s always something unique. I think one of the things about the jazz festival is we try to get a really diverse mix of performers and artists from the entire jazz genre from straight ahead to smooth to a little neo jazz,” Kenny Briscoe of the Wilmington’s Cultural Arts Affairs Department said.

The city also partners with the Delaware Jazz Alliance to help find local talent. In fact, the festival is one of the largest free jazz events on the east coast. But there’s more to this event than the concerts. Officials are also encouraging attendees to participate in the events surrounding the huge festival.

“Well, I think it’s amazing that we have so many people come from all over and convene in Rodney square for the jazz festival and everybody is really taking advantage of everything downtown Wilmington has to offer,” Briscoe said.

As people come out to celebrate jazz music, Nicole calls it a type of music that allows her to release all kinds of emotions.

“It’s kind of how I’m able to process things and how I’m able to get through my day, and how I’m able to speak when words aren’t really there,” Nicole said.

Meanwhile Belardo also has high hopes for this year’s festival and its audience.

“My goal is to have the younger generation know about jazz so I’m hoping maybe seeing a younger face they might want to come see and be interested and hopefully jazz as much as I do,” Belardo said.

For more information, you can go online to see the full list of performers and other events including the “Sax in the City” fundraiser that helps with the annual festival.

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