American jazz artist Kirk Whalum is to headline the first edition of Runway Jazz on Friday 29 April in Lagos, Nigeria.
Whalum, a jazz saxophonist who has been associated with R&B, blues and gospel, will be sharing the stage at Eko Hotel Convention Centre on Victoria Island with Nigerian acts Omawumi, Yinka Davies and others.
According to organisers of the event, “Runway Jazz is a harmonic fusion of the classy worlds of jazz, fashion and fine dining; an expression of the arts, designed to showcase our proudly Nigerian (and African) culture, music talents and products to all around the world, in celebration of International Jazz Day.”
International Jazz Day began in 2012 and since then has become as a signpost for jazz music’s role in bringing nations together. Thus on April 30, the genre’s work towards “dialogue among cultures, diversity, and respect for human rights and human dignity; eradicating discrimination; promoting freedom of expression; fostering gender equality; and reinforcing the role of youth in enacting social change” is acknowledged. The date was established by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). It is chaired and led by UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova and legendary jazz pianist and composer Herbie Hancock, who serves as a UNESCO Ambassador for Intercultural Dialogue and Chairman of the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz. Around the world celebrations are held to commemorate the day.
This year in Nigeria, the celebration will be spread out over 29 and 30 April, with Whalum performing on the first of the two days. The American musican is no stranger to Africa, having peformed at the Cape Town International Jazz Festival in South Africa in 2014 and the Safaricom Jazz Lounge in Kenya in December 2015.
Other activities taking place include a fashion exhibition, a music masterclass and some fine dining. The celebration will also recognise such musical icons from the country like Fela, King Sunny Ade, Ebenezer Obey, Victor Olaiya and Victor Uwaifo.
Tickets are available online here. Watch a brief 2014 performance by Kirk Whalum in South Africa below.