Since 2001, NEJEF has created an environment for Jazz lovers across New England.
The Salem Jazz and Wine Festival in 2001 was just the beginning for NEJEF founders. Since then, the foundation has produced over a dozen Jazz Festivals and events for New England communities.
New England Jazz Productions Founder and Artistic Director Stephen Bourassa, CEO and co-founder Susan Workman, Administrative Executive, and co-founder Susan Parks, and Board Members Maureen Reilly and Kristen Nguyen created New England Jazz Enrichment Foundation, April 2013 after recognizing the need for more free music events throughout New England Communities.
Starting in 2008 under the Mayor's Block Party Program, the Newton Jazz (and Wine) Festival provided an afternoon of free music to Jazz lovers, outside of the New Art Center at Washington Park. From 2011-2013 the communities’ response was nothing but support and growth. By 2014, food and craft booths were added along with a second event that showcased at the Newton Veterans Memorial Auditorium with the signature performance, Patrice Williamson’s ‘Celebrating Ella’. Five vocalists regaled a packed house with their favorite selections from the Ella Fitzgerald catalog. This is where the first NEJEF educational scholarship was introduced and awarded to 16-year-old vocalist Cassandra Pearl Wise.
“Our dream was to become a large-scale event bringing thousands of people into the Newton community to celebrate the finest Jazz and Wines that New England has to offer.”
In 2010, seeing the growing interest in and success of the Newton Jazz Festival, the Newton Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs asked NEJEF to partner in producing Newtonville’s Village Day, which evolved into the Newtonville Jazz & Street Festival, attracting an average of 3,000 attendees each year through 2017.
Due to the overwhelming response from the community, the need to raise funds to produce these events and the passion to expose people to Jazz music and support local musicians became the driving force for the foundation. NEJEF was created out of a necessity to expand the jazz music community by seeking generous sponsors and creating fundraisers, to allow for scholarships, awards, educational programs and more! The New England Jazz Enrichment Foundation provides performance opportunities, venues and educational programs for the youth that see music as an avenue to better their lives and progress in their future goals.
Events cost money to produce and artists need to be paid for their talent as this is their livelihood. NEJEF has created a way to incorporate bringing in revenue for hard-working artists and having a free community event that brings together different cultures and backgrounds, but unifies a love for a language anyone can speak… Music!
“Our dream was to become a large scale event bringing thousands of people into the Newton community to celebrate the finest Jazz and Wines that New England has to offer.”
Music is a universal language that is understood by all, connecting diverse ethnic and cultural backgrounds with a shared dialect.
The New England Jazz Enrichment Foundation will provide music venues and educational programs into communities and provide music scholarships to
young and old that see music as an avenue to better their lives and progress in their future goals.
NEJEF seeks to continue the conversation by presentinglocal, regional and national jazz artists throughout the communities of New England.
2013 Newton Jazz Festival Committee with Karoun restaurant owner John Eurdolian.