Jhonson jazzes up concert series
Acclaimed jazz keyboardist Gail Jhonson will bring the sounds of Philly to ASU’s Downtown Phoenix campus as part of the Green Jazz Series.
The series, sponsored by Arizona State University Online and the Herberger Theater Center, helps low-income families adapt to a “green” lifestyle. Jhonson’s concert takes place at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 1.
The second of six concerts that will run through April 2009, the Green Jazz Series combines the blue sounds of jazz with “green concepts” for sustainable living. Flautist Althea Rene kicked off the series on Sept. 4.
Proceeds from the concert series will support the Green Survival Initiative (GSI), a Phoenix-based sustainability project. Through the use of cost-effective green technologies such as compact fluorescent lights, low-flow shower heads and water heater blankets, GSI seeks to mitigate increasing energy costs for approximately 7,000 low- and fixed-income households in the Phoenix metropolitan area.
“We’re hopeful the concert series will help shift the awareness and culture of green living while helping low-income households,” said Mernoy E. Harrison, Jr., ASU Online and Extended Campus vice president and executive vice provost. “The premise is that jazz is the bridge between music and sustainability.”
The initiative will help low-income families make the conversion to a sustainable lifestyle.
“The GSI recognizes that there is a cost to convert to a green lifestyle and those who need it the most might not be able to make that conversion,” said George Brooks, publisher of Southwest Green Magazine, who is an event sponsor. “We believe that once these conversions are made, each household could save anywhere from $300 to $500 annually.”
An educational component is also incorporated into the concerts, including information booths and promotional giveaways.
Born and raised in Philadelphia, Jhonson began her musical quest at the age of 10. Proving to be a gifted pianist, she advanced quickly, and by the age of 14, landed several jobs playing keyboards with local rhythm and blues and funk bands. She later enrolled at Berklee College of Music in Boston, where she received a bachelor’s degree in music composition.
Jhonson’s first big break came in 1985 when she toured with Morris Day and the Time. She eventually moved to Los Angeles and collaborated with recording artists Vanessa Williams, Norman Brown, Bobby Womack, Jermaine Jackson, Pink and Peabo Bryson.
Breaking out on her own in 2004, Jhonson’s Keep the Music Playing CD received international acclaim and strong support within the music industry. A year later Jhonson became the musical director for artist Norman Brown on his Summer Storm Tour. Signing with NuGroove Records in 2008, the label produced Pearls, her latest musical release.
Jhonson said the concert series falls in line with her professional and personal beliefs.
“Jazz musicians have always been sensitive about issues relating to the world around them, and many artists I know have adapted to a green lifestyle,” Jhonson said. “I’m proud to be associated with an organization that gives back to the community because I’m all about giving back.”
The Green Jazz Series was conceived and produced by Brotha Love Productions.
What: The Green Jazz Series concert featuring Gail Jhonson
Where: Herberger Theater, 222 E. Monroe St., Phoenix
Tickets: Tickets cost $40 for VIP seats, $20 for general admission and $10 for ASU students with a valid I.D. Call the Herberger Theater box office at (602) 254-7399 or visit www.HerbergerTheater.org.