Magic City Smooth Jazz to play for Mother’s Day

Published 10:21 pm Friday, May 11, 2018

By Oniska Blevins | The Selma Times-Journal

Magic City Smooth Jazz will perform a concert at the Riverfront Amphitheater in Selma Sunday for Mother’s Day at 6 p.m.

A nonprofit organization, Magic City Smooth Jazz’s mission is to enhance cultural activities through various styles of jazz in the state of Alabama.

Executive director of Magic City Smooth Jazz Bernard Lockhart said the jazz concerts started small in 2010. The first five concerts were to gauge community response. After the overwhelming response, the concerts rose in popularity across the state.

“Today, we’re doing almost 28 concerts across the state of Alabama,” Lockhart said.

Since then, the organization has hosted over 90 free concerts to the public and has presented more than 275 emerging and established artists.

“They are free for one reason, to increase accessibility,” Lockhart said.

The organization wants the communities to to be able enjoy the concert without the financing strain of having to pay for a ticket.

“We don’t want ticket prices to be a barrier for any families to come,” Lockhart said.

The organization also provides all of the equipment and lighting needed by the artists.

The featured jazz artists are Cashmere Williams and Dee Lucas.

“They are two very smooth, very seasoned professionals,” Lockhart said.

Williams started in his musical career in the church at seven years old. The father of one, he is now a songwriter, producer, author and two- time Alabama Music Awards “Best Male Jazz Artist” winner.

After hearing John Scofield’s “Blue Matter” album, Williams became intrigued by jazz.

The Tuscaloosa native is no stranger to Selma and has connections with people in the city because of his history with gospel music.

“I have history with Selma. I’ve played in Selma before,” Williams said.

He said as an artist, he is excited for the community to hear how he has grown within his music.

“I am looking really forward to introducing people to my new record,” Williams said. “It’s a new sound it’s an upbeat EP.”

Lucas, a native of Tanner, is a self-taught soprano saxophonist. He is a father of two and now lives in Atlanta with his wife of more than 22 years.

After being in the band Xpressions for three years, Lucas went solo in 2004.

“I picked up a saxophone for the very first time at the age of 28,” Lucas said.

Since embarking on his solo career, Lucas has released seven albums.

The contemporary jazz artist draws his inspiration from famous African-American jazz artists such as Grover Washington Jr., John Coltrane and George Howard.

Lucas believes a great deal of music is influenced by a person’s culture and history.

“I’ve always wanted to come and perform in Selma because Selma has a richer history,” Lucas said.

Community leaders share Lucas’s enthusiasm about the concert.

Sheryl Smedley, executive director for the Selma and Dallas County Chamber of Commerce, said this is a great opportunity for the city of Selma to really enjoy some good tunes on Mother’s Day weekend.

“Part of the creation of the Riverfront Park was to have an entertainment venue for professionals to come and perform in our city,” Smedley said. “It’s open to the public, so come on down.”