Your gift to Jefferson Center makes a difference in:

  • Underwriting the cost of putting extraordinary performers and rising stars on stage
  • Creating life changing opportunities for our youth by allowing them to work side-by-side with creative geniuses like Chris Thile
  • Helping to maintain the centers facilities such as our performance, rental, and special event venues
  • Maintaining our education classrooms and equipment
  • Supporting Music Lab students by offsetting program expenses

Jefferson Center is dedicated to serving this community in so many ways. Your support is essential to efforts like our experiences with Esperanza Spalding.

Dylan Locke, Jefferson Center Artistic Director

Years ago I remember pitching Esperanza to the Jazz Touring Network in New York City. I brought samples of her videos and music to the annual meeting and the entire room of arts presenters were immediately taken by her, just like I was. The Jazz Touring Network put together a block tour with Esperanza and Jefferson Center took the lead on presenting the tour.

When Esperanza came to Roanoke for the first time, we had just launched our Music Lab program. Still an unknown artist, but young and hungry, Esperanza came in three days early and ready to take on the world. She spent a great deal of time with our after school arts education programs, including the Sisters of the Circle where she gave the teenage ladies participating inspiration to believe in themselves as young women. At the young age of 23, Esperanza was able to connect with the Sisters on a peer to peer level. She gave the young women perspective on setting goals and proved through her own life experiences that those goals can be accomplished with hard work and perseverance.

Esperanza also agreed to a very early morning with the Patrick Henry High School jazz band, showing a willingness to work with local young musicians that I had never experienced before. We arrived at 7:30am to work with the group, play a few tunes and talk through improvisational skills building and other valuable lessons.

Maybe most amazing of all was Esperanza’s willingness to stand shoulder to shoulder with me during the Music Lab’s grand opening and fundraising event. With the future Grammy winner by my side, I told those in attendance that our Music Lab was going to connect young musicians in this community to amazing artists like Esperanza when they perform at Jefferson Center. She didn't have to do that, but from her first visit to Jefferson Center Esperanza has strongly endorsed our efforts and given them value and worth.

When Esperanza returned for her second appearance at Jefferson Center, her career had skyrocketed after a seemingly unthinkable, but entirely deserved award. Esperanza, a jazz artist, won Best New Artist at the Grammys! I remember watching that night and being thrilled that she had won because I knew that she was the real deal, she cared deeply about the music, and about the success of community centers like Jefferson Center.

Her third appearance in 2012 proved that success had not lessoned her passion for supporting our programs. In true Esperanza fashion, she took time following her incredible performance to chat with a number of fans and Jefferson Center supporters, allowing us the opportunity to connect this community on a personal level with one of the jazz world’s top artists.

Esperanza’s three visits to Jefferson Center were amazing experiences for our community and I'd like to think they were meaningful for Esperanza as well.

She continues to amaze the world and Jefferson Center will always be proud to be among the first to have hosted Esperanza and connect this community and our region’s young musicians to one of the most creative and talented artists out there!

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