Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Kebbi Williams talks Music in the Park

Posted By on Tue, May 14, 2013 at 3:28 PM

  • Carrie Tumlin
This Sunday, May 19, Grammy-winning saxophonist Kebbi Williams presents the latest installment of his free concert series, Music in the Park. Established in 2011 and held in Atlanta's West End neighborhood, MITP (which is also a nonprofit organization) brings industry veterans (like Ken Ford, Russell Gunn, Lil' John Roberts, and Darryl Reeves) together with young musicians to perform in front of audiences that aren't often treated to free, live music. We caught up with Williams and chatted about the past, present, and future of the series.

What was your original inspiration for starting Music in the Park?
Originally we started doing Sunday Jazz concerts at my home in the West End in 2009. We involved multiple music acts and food in my backyard. I found a grant opportunity from the city of Atlanta Office of Cultural Affairs. I applied and was granted a small individual artist grant. I took that and created an all-day event for the West End community. That was 2010, and I was recently reacquainted with an old friend of mine, Miguel Atwood-Ferguson. Miguel was doing very well and gaining steam in Los Angeles as a new modern composer/arranger. Miguel and I met when we were young at the Henry Mancini Institute. I was in college and he was a high school prodigy. I thought it would be a fabulous idea to bring modern orchestral concepts to a neighborhood that rarely if ever gets live free progressive orchestral/band concepts.

How has the community reacted to the series?
Our West End community has been extremely appreciative. Howell Park where we decided to have [past concerts] was a park where many at-risk youth and underexposed neighborhood members frequented. So It was great for the community to experience the gift of awesome music and inspiring youth.

How have the professional musicians who take part in the series felt about working with student musicians? For instance, what have the adults picked up from the young players?
All of our professional musicians and international stars were super excited to hear the youth. They also were awakened to how much the youth really love and appreciate their contributions to the world and the need to share their gifts to the next generation. Lots of times professionals are more worried about personal fame and advancement, forgetting the incredible importance of giving back, so that great music can stay alive and healthy.

What do you want the event to look like five years from now?
A major multimillion-dollar festival that can afford to bring the best that the world has to offer to Atlanta and our youth, as well as bringing international youth in and exporting our advanced youths around the world.

What do you have planned for the May 19 edition?
A 60-piece orchestra performing original music from Miguel Atwood Ferguson and myself. A few youth ensembles and five stellar local acts including: 4th Ward Afro Klezmer Orchestra, Faun and a Pan Flute, the Marcus Lewis Big Band, Khari Simmons and Jiva, and the Indie Revenge.

Free. 3 p.m. The Wren's Nest, 1050 Ralph David Abernathy Blvd. 404-753-7735.http://www.musicintheparkatl.org.

Music in the Park - Donation Video from MusicInTheParkATL on Vimeo.

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