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  Sweet Lu, internationally known jazz vocalist and song stylist, is April’s featured artist at First Church.

  First Friday at First Church is a gathering of incredible jazz musicians, most of whom live and work in Atlanta, who enjoy performing for an audience replete with jazz enthusiasts on the first Friday of each month.  If you are looking a place for jazz, this is where you can catch some of the best jazz you will hear – anywhere.  The monthly concert is held at 6:00 p.m. at The Commons, located on the campus of First Congregational Church at 125 Ellis Street, NE; Atlanta, GA 30303.


The 2018 line-up of performers includes some of Atlanta’s most prestigious jazz musicians. The featured artist for April is Sweet Lu Olutosin, vocalist, lyricist and composer, who appears on April 6, 2018.  Like many African American artists, Lu grew up in the church and his first introduction to music was as a member of the gospel choir.  “Music hath charms to soothe the savage breast, to soften rocks, or bend a knotted oak.”  says William Congreve.  Sweet Lu has embraced, embodied, internalized this philosophy unflinchingly on his journey to becoming a top 20 international jazz recording artist. Whether it is headlining at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C or, playing the Teatro Rendano in Consenza, Italy,  Lu’s performances can be life changing.  He believes it is his duty, his mission to share his God given talent with the world and to use the idioms of jazz, blues, and gospel to provide a spiritual healing.

“Olutosin is masterful, filled with ideas within his phrasing, and deeply rooted in blues. The soulfulness of his well-rounded masculine voice is a beacon in the male jazz vocal idiom. One voice I hope to hear for many years to come,” H. Allen Williams from Jazz Times tells us.


Jazz artists for the remainder of the season include Ernest “EC3” Coleman III, jazz drummer, band leader and composer, May 4;  Lester Walker on Trumpet, June 1;  Chris Burroughs, a jazz drummer with Afro Cuban rhythmic sensibility, July 6;  Mace Hibbard, Grammy award winning saxophonist/ composer/educator, August 3; the Orquesta Macuba, Band performing with a full brass section, full percussion section and a full rhythm section with vocalists, September 7;  Don McIntosh, trumpet solo artist, October 5;  and Joe Jennings, saxophonist and leader of the “Big Band” closes out the season on November 2, 2018.

This jazz concert series, known as “First Friday at First” is a part of the “Jazz Ministry” at First Congregational Church and is held on the first Friday of each month.  Sponsored and hosted by First Church, the program is under the supervision of The Reverend Dr. Dwight Andrews, pastor of the church and a jazz heavy-hitter master saxophone player in his own right.

First Friday at First is the creation of Dr. Andrews, who is an accomplished musician and composer.  He is also an Associate Professor of Music at Emory University. He was the first Quincy Jones Visiting Professor of African American Music at Harvard University for 1996-1997. He was awarded the Yale Divinity School’s prestigious Lux et Veritas Award, and was the Distinguished Visiting Scholar of the Arts for 2015-2016 at Spelman College.   As a musician, Dr. Andrews has appeared on over 25 jazz and ‘new music’ recordings. He is recognized for his collaborations with playwright August Wilson and director Lloyd Richards, having served as musical director for the Broadway productions of Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Joe Turner’s Come and Gone, The Piano Lesson, and Seven Guitars, and the Broadway revival of Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom featuring Whoopi Goldberg and Charles S. Dutton. He provided the music direction for the Broadway revival production of A Raisin in the Sun, starring Sean Combs, Phylicia Rashad, Audra McDonald, and Sanaa Latham.

Atlanta does have a jazz community.  It is an interesting mix of dedicated people from many back-grounds who are committed to the culture and who enjoy listening to the mellow sounds of the saxophone, the bottom tones from the bass guitar, the glare of the trumpet, and more.  And you can find these people on  first Friday nights  at First Friday at First where they congregate and talk about jazz.


The public is invited for superb evening of outstanding music, a full course dinner, fun, and fellowship. Individual tickets are $15.00 each; prices for dinner range from $4.00 to $7.00.  For further information and to purchase tickets, please contact First Church at 404-659-6255 and ask for the church administrator during regular office hours.


First Friday at First – Where Atlanta goes for great jazz was originally published on atlantadailyworld.com

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