“Queen of Soul” Aretha Franklin will headline the 10th Indy Jazz Fest, returning for the first time since her sensational performance in 2002. The American Pianists Association, which has produced the event since 2003, announced the headliner alongside the mayor and corporate sponsors on Thursday, Feb. 7 at the Artsgarden. Franklin is slated to perform on Saturday, June 14.
The festival also picked up some sponsors this year. Kroger Central Division Manager John Elliot announced that Kroger has become the title sponsor for the event, which will now be known as the Kroger Indy Jazz Fest presented by Coca Cola.
Helen Small, CEO and president of the APA, announced that they had exceeded the fund-raising goal for the festival of $425,000, raising $600,000 in total. Seven new sponsors have committed themselves to the event this year, bringing the total number of sponsors to 30.
“I want to encourage all citizens of Indianapolis to come out and enjoy the Indy Jazz Fest,” said Mayor Greg Ballard at the press conference. “It’s a great event for our city and it’s uniquely ours.” The Indy Jazz Fest will be held downtown at Military Park from June 13-15. The APA will announce the full lineup for the festival in March.
Kroger will offer tickets for $22, a discount from the regular $35 price, from March 28-April 30 at their Central Indiana stores.
Local jazz guitarist Charlie Smith was found dead at his Anderson home Feb. 8. Smith was well known among local jazz fans for his band, the Charlie Smith Project. Smith performed at the Indy Jazz Fest, the Montreux Jazz Festival and in Switzerland with the Steve Allee Group. Smith was also a 15-year member of the Bob and Tom show band led by Allee. “He played in the moment and was a great reactive player,” Allee said. The guitarist recorded two albums released under his name, Absolutely and On The Double. His funeral was Feb. 12.
B-3 organist Winston Walls, a prominent player on the local jazz and blues scene in the ’60s and ’70s, died in Fort Myers, Fla., Feb. 5. Walls accompanied a diverse group of artists in his career, including Sonny Stitt, Lou Donaldson, Dionne Warwick and Al Green. He recorded only one album, 1993’s Boss of the B-3 (Schoolkids Records), a live set with fellow organist Brother Jack McDuff.