In Celebration of the Human Voice - The Essential Musical Instrument
Howard University's premier vocal jazz ensemble, Afro Blue was formed in the spring of 2002. Since its inception, this dynamic jazz choir has quickly gained national attention.
In 2003, Afro Blue received the Downbeat Magazine Award for Best College Jazz Group. The following year they received another Downbeat Award for Outstanding College Jazz Choir. In 2007, Howard University graduate student Quincy Phillips also won a Downbeat Award for Best College Jazz Arrangement for his treatment of the Dietz and Schwartz standard "Alone Together," which he arranged specifically for Afro Blue.
Afro Blue has performed at many prestigious venues in and around Washington, DC, including the Library of Congress, the Carmichael Auditorium at the National Museum of American History, the State Department, the Lincoln Theatre, the Warner Theatre, the Japanese Cultural and Exchange Center, Twins Jazz Club, and HR-57.
Afro Blue has the distinct honor of being the first jazz choir from an Historically Black College and University (HBCU) to be selected to perform at the International Association for Jazz Education Annual Conference, an honor they have received twice (2004 and 2007). A major highlight for the group has been the development of a very special performance relationship with world-class pianist and Howard University alumnae, Geri Allen. Afro Blue has performed the debut of her piece "For the Healing of the Nations: A Sacred Jazz Suite for the Victims and Survivors of 9/11" in September 2006, in Camden, NJ, and again in October 2007 in Atlanta, GA. In addition, they appeared with Geri Allen, Ron Carter and Jimmy Cobb in a 2006 performance at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. Most recently, Afro Blue was selected to perform their rendition of "Lift Ev'ry Voice and Sing" (also referred to as the "National Black Anthem") in September 2007 at the Congressional Black Caucus Awards Dinner.
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Review: One of America's elite Collegiate Vocal Jazz ensembles, 9-strong, mixed-voice Afro Blue, under the direction of Connaitre Miller, has collected six DownBeat Magazine Student Music Awards in their seven years of existence. These included "Best College Vocal Jazz Ensemble in" in 2003 and 2009. Director Miller has arranged four of the 15 tunes here, which are almost all a cappella. Several favorites are a striking arrangement of "The Star Spangled Banner," Marvin Hamlisch & Alan & Marilyn Bergman's "The Music of Being Free," Luis Bonfa's lovely "Gentle Rain," Henry Warren & Mack Gordon's "There Will Never Be Another You," sublimely arranged by The Real Group's Anders Endenroth, a jazzy arrangement of Rodgers & Hammerstein's "The Surrey with the Fringe on Top," Billy Taylor's title tune and James & John Johnson's "Lift Ev'ry Voice And Sing" (The Black National Anthem). Afro Blue is a poised, polished ensemble, with a clean, professional sound, cutting-edge arrangements and excellent song selection. Treat yourself to "It's a Matter of Pride," by one of the best Collegiate Vocal Jazz ensembles America has to offer, and enjoy!
Songlist: The Star Spangled Banner (The National Anthem) , Whisper Not, The Music of Being Free (Introduction), The Music of Being Free, Sometimes I'm Happy, Blue In Green, Gentle Rain, There Will Never Be Another You, Nobody Knows The Trouble I've Seen, Autumn Leaves, The Surrey With The Fringe On Top, Lost At Sea, If You Really Are Concerned Then Show It, It's A Matter Of Pride, Lift Ev'ry Voice and Sing (The Black National Anthem)