Archive for March, 2010

Giving Honor Where Honor is Due

Tuesday, March 30th, 2010

North Carolina Central University will hold its 61st Annual Honors Convocation on Friday, April 9, in the McDougald – McLendon Gymnasium at 10:15 a.m. The keynote speaker will be Ernie Suggs, reporter for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Nieman Fellow at Harvard University.

Suggs is a 1990 graduate of NCCU. As a student, he served as sports editor and editor-in-chief with the award winning Campus Echo. His extensive background in journalism includes work with Gannett Westchester Newspapers in White Plains, N.Y., and the Durham Herald-Sun, where he covered higher education.

While working at the Herald-Sun, Suggs was awarded an Education Writers Association fellowship and completed the groundbreaking series, “Fighting to Survive,” a 17-story, eight-day series on black colleges that earned him several national and state awards, including Journalist of the Year by the N.C. Black Publishers Association, the N.C. Press Association and the National Association of Black Journalists.

He is now the primary reporter on race and civil rights at the Journal Constitution. In 2005, he served as national vice president of the National Association of Black Journalists, the largest organization of journalists of color in the world.

As a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University, Suggs spent a year studying in the university’s African and African-American Studies Department before being appointed to the Nieman Foundation’s Board of Trustees.

The Honors Convocation celebrates academic excellence by NCCU students. Honor recipients are recognized in the following categories: Chancellor’s Award for Academic Excellence, University Award for Academic Excellence, departmental academic honors, performing arts distinctions, community service, and membership in professional and academic honor societies. Students receive a lapel pin that will distinguish them as an honor student and will be worn during the week of convocation and on Convocation Day. University and Centennial choirs will perform and a reception will follow in the A.E. Student Union.

“This is an opportunity to celebrate our students,” said Dr. Tim Holley, director of the honors program. “If retention and graduation is the end goal, then honors convocation serves as the means to the end.”

20th Annual NCCU Jazz Festival

Sunday, March 28th, 2010

The 20th Annual NCCU Jazz Festival, April 15-17, marks a milestone for the Jazz Studies Program at North Carolina Central University. The festival concept, “Education Beyond the Classroom,” was developed to expose students and the NCCU community to noted jazz musicians of the highest quality.

Below you will find the festival schedule of events. For more information, visit <>.

Bobby Broom w/ the NCCU Jazz Faculty


Broom, a Chicago-based jazz guitarist, was a teenager performing in a Weldon Irvine musical, when he was first offered the chance to tour with jazz composer and tenor saxophonist Sonny Rollins.

Nnenna Freelon w/ the NCCU Jazz Ensemble



Known as the “international voice of jazz,” Freelon has released 11 CDs and shared the stage with legendary artists from every genre.

Christian McBride & Inside Straight


Called a wunderkind, McBride has been featured on hundreds of albums and received a commission from Jazz at Lincoln Center to compose “Bluesin’ in Alphabet City,” performed by Wynton Marsalis with the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra.


Harvey McMurray Appointed to StreetSafe Task Force

Thursday, March 25th, 2010

University of North Carolina President Erskine Bowles recently appointed Dr. Harvey L. McMurray, chair, Department of Criminal Justice, North Carolina Central University, to represent the University of North Carolina on the Governor’s StreetSafe Task Force. The task force was established last year to explore ways to help people released from prison make successful transitions back into community life.

McMurray said, “I am hopeful that the StreetSafe Task Force will seize this opportunity to have frank discussions about balancing public safety with social justice.”

He applauds the Governor’s foresight in establishing the Task Force and insists that at the end of the day, its success will be measured by advocating for home comers and by giving them a second chance. His goals are to reduce recidivism and ensure that the limited fiscal resources available are invested efficiently and effectively.

On September 19, 2009, Governor Bev Perdue named 34 members to the StreetSafe Task Force. Attorney General Roy Cooper and Department of Correction Secretary Alvin Keller serve as co-chairs. StreetSafe will bring together faith-based organizations, nonprofits, local and state government agencies, business leaders and members of the community to develop a plan to combat recidivism and reintegrate offenders safely into the community.

North Carolina Central University is the first publicly supported liberal arts college for African-Americans and this year, U.S. News & World Report ranked NCCU among the top ten HBCUs in the country. As NCCU celebrates its Centennial Year, a diverse student body of more than 8,500 students is enrolled in programs such as law, business, library science, nursing, education,

Campus Echo Takes Top Honors

Monday, March 22nd, 2010

The Campus Echo, North Carolina Central University’s student newspaper, has won nine Excellence in Journalism awards from the Black College Communications Association.

The Echo won Best Overall HBCU Student Newspaper, Best Headline Writing, Best Individual Page Design, Best Editorial Cartoon and Best HBCU Online Student Newspaper. The paper also took second place in Best Overall Design, Best Opinion/Editorial Section and Best Multimedia Package, and Honorable Mention for Best Photo Essay.

Led by faculty advisor Dr. Bruce dePyssler, the publication has won more than 134 national awards, including the Mark of Excellence award from the Society of Professional Journalists for best all-around online student newspaper. “These awards, which are given by industry professionals, are a testament to the hard work of our students,” said dePyssler. “Their commitment to the Campus Echo — and to learning how to produce a professional newspaper — has inspired me since the day I began advising the Echo 10 years ago.”

With a staff of 15 that includes reporters, copy editors, photographers and a cartoonist, the print publication has a circulation of 4,000 to 30 campus newsstands.

Last year, the Echo completed a redesign of its online edition, integrating it into College Publisher 5 (CP5), a content management system owned by MTV that is the standard for university online newspapers. The switch has sped up production, integrated local advertising and simplified adding multimedia content to the publication. MTV provides CP5 to the Echo in exchange for prime advertising positioning.

“Our primary goal, as always, is to never lose any ground,” dePyssler said. “Given the never-ending graduation of our best-trained students, it would be easy to slip into mediocrity. After that, our goal is to continue to integrate multimedia into the online edition. That’s where we need to put our efforts.”

Editor-in-chief Carlton Koonce said he is thrilled to have the hard work of his colleagues recognized. A graduating senior from Greenville, N.C., Koonce spends many hours working on the publication, even as he juggles a fulltime job, parenthood and classes, all while maintaining a 3.9 GPA. “When I go over to the NCCU archives and look up the Echo, I see my name listed among the other editors, and that is the legacy that I’ll leave,” he said. “I was the centennial editor.” His advice to his yet-to-be-named successor, is simple: “Push but don’t shove — use please and thank you.”

March 2010 WNCU eNewsletter

Thursday, March 4th, 2010


Joe Williams

Tuesday, March 2nd, 2010

Williams was born Joseph Goreed in Cordele, Georgia on December 12, 1918. He moved to Chicago at the age of three with his mother, Anne Gilbert, and his grandmother, Mittie Gilbert.

Living in Chicago in the 1920s was hugely influential to Joe Williams. There were many African-American musicians thriving on the music scene, and years later, he recalled going to the Vendome Theatre with his mother to hear Louis Armstrong play his trumpet. Joe Williams was exposed to the music of Duke Ellington, Ethel Waters, Cab Calloway, Big Joe Turner, and many others who were featured on Chicago radio stations.

By his early teen years, Joe Williams had taught himself to play the piano. He formed a Gospel vocal quartet called “The Jubilee Boys.” By his mid-teens Williams was singing solos at formal events with local bands. He was not paid more than five dollars a night, but his family allowed him to drop out of school at age sixteen so he could make a living with his rich baritone. Together Joe’s family decided on “Williams” as his stage name. Williams got a job singing with a band at Kitty Davis’ club in the evenings. He was allowed to keep the tips and sometimes made up to $20 in an evening.

Williams’ first real break came in 1938 when clarinet and saxophone master Jimmie Noone invited him to sing with his band. Within a year, he was touring the Midwest with the Les Hite band, which accompanied the likes of Louis Armstrong and Fats Waller, and his voice could be heard on radio stations nationwide. In 1941, he toured more extensively with saxophonist Coleman Hawkins.

In 1942, Joe Williams was hired by jazz great Lionel Hampton to fill in for his regular vocalist. Joe sang for both the Hampton orchestra’s home performances in Boston and for their cross-country tours. Even though his work with Lionel Hampton was brief, he was becoming well known and was in great demand, particularly back in Chicago. In 1954, at the age of 35, he got his big break when he was hired as the male vocalist for the Count Basie Orchestra. He worked with them from 1954 – 1961 and gained tremendous exposure to blues. In 1955, his first LP Count Basie Swings, Joe Williams Sings was released, and then in 1957 Joe released his second LP The Greatest! Count Basie Swings/Joe Williams Sings Standards.

The year of 1955 was a defining year for Joe Williams. His band, the Basie group, started attending the Newport Jazz Festival, one of the biggest events on the jazz calendar. Williams won the New Star Award, international critics’ poll for Best New Male Singer, and the readers’ poll for Best Male Band Singer from Down Beat magazine. That was just the beginning of the accolades Joe Williams would earn during his career. In 1956, 1957, and 1959 the Basie group toured Europe, where jazz had exploded in popularity.

In the 1960s Joe worked mostly as a single artist. Often he would accompany other jazz artists such as Harry Edison, Clark Terry, George Shearing and Cannonball Adderley. He sang with Jimmy Rushing and the Basie group at the Newport Jazz Festival in 1962.

In 1971, Joe Williams and pianist George Shearing recorded The Heart and Soul of Joe Williams. His talent allowed him to appear on television programs like Johnny Carson’s The Tonight Show, and the Steve Allen, Joey Bishop, Merv Griffin, and Mike Douglas shows. Joe’s fame grew when Billy Cosby cast him as Heathcliff Huxtable’s father-in-law “Grandpa Al” Hanks in a recurring role on The Cosby Show in the 1980s.

In 1975, Joe’s brother, Nat Adderley, composed the music for Big Man, a nearly hour long theatre piece about John Henry, the mythical black hero. Williams sang the lead in Carnegie Hall.

In 1983, Joe Williams was given a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and in 1985 he received a Grammy Award for Best of Jazz Vocalist for the album I Just Want to Sing. In 1991, Joe was honored with a gala tribute for his contributions to music, and the following year he won his second Grammy Award for the song Ballad and Blues Master on his album I Just Want to Sing.

Joe Williams continued to contribute to music. Just two years before his death he sang a duet with Nancy Wilson at the San Francisco Jazz Festival. He was 80 years old when he died on March 29th, 1999, in Las Vegas, Nevada. He is buried at Palm Valley Memorial Park in Las Vegas, Nevada.

30 Years Of Marian McPartland’s Piano Jazz

Tuesday, March 2nd, 2010

Studio Sessions

30 Years Of Piano Jazz

As Marian McPartland’s Piano Jazz continues to celebrate its 30th year, we’re marking the occasion with 30 of our favorite moments. It wasn’t easy culling them from over 700 episodes, and almost as many guests — but we did so, and built a nifty interactive for it too. McPartland has welcomed such a wide range of musicians to her program: for every legend like Mary Lou Williams or Roy Eldridge, there’s an Alicia Keys or Willie Nelson. Not to mention Dizzy Gillespie, and Sarah Vaughan, and Ray Charles, and Steely Dan, and Keith Jarrett, and … you get the picture. Check our our tribute. But please don’t also neglect a wonderful concert from Gerald Clayton, video of Edmar Castaneda literally in our office, and Valentine’s Day songs for heartbreakers. Happy listening.

—Patrick Jarenwattananon, NPR Music

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Live At The Village Vanguard

Gerald Clayton Trio: Live At The Village Vanguard

He’s the son of a bassist, the nephew of a saxophonist, the neighbor of his bass player and the roommate of his drummer. And now, the graceful, nuanced, 25-year-old pianist made his debut at the venerable club. Hear the concert.

Tiny Desk Concerts

Edmar Castaneda: Tiny Desk Concert

Castaneda is the sort of musician who isn’t afraid to challenge the established order. He’s carving out a place for himself in Latin jazz on an instrument you don’t often hear in his style of music: the Colombian harp. Castaneda recently parked himself behind Bob Boilen’s desk and crafted a transporting mix of tradition and improvisation.

Take Five: A Weekly Jazz Sampler

It’s Over Now: Songs For Heartbreakers

Lovey-dovey romantic types get all the attention on Valentine’s Day. But not everyone wants to be in love right about now, and some relationships just happen to be hitting their expiration date this very minute. Listen to five songs that are perfect for those looking to break someone’s heart.

Music Reviews

Jazz Ensemble Empirical Recalls Eric Dolphy

Out ‘n’ In, the latest album from Empirical, is a tribute to the late musician Eric Dolphy. The record contains six original pieces that adopt Dolphy’s style and adaptations of two songs from his album Out to Lunch!


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