2017-09-08 / On Second Thought

39th Annual Jubilee honors South Carolina musicians

By Lois Carlisle


Jubilee demonstrations Jubilee demonstrations On Saturday, September 16, the corner of Marion and Richland Streets will fill with singing as the 39th Annual Jubilee Festival of Black History and Culture takes place.

This year’s festival will celebrate the lives of two of South Carolina’s most influential musicians— John Blackwell and Skipp Pearson—both of whom died earlier this year.

Blackwell was a Columbia native who landed his breakthrough appearance playing with Patti LaBelle on her Grammy winning LP, “Live! One Night Only.” In 2000, Prince recruited Blackwell to play drums in his band, New Power Generation, which he did for more than a decade. Blackwell appears on several of Prince’s LPs, including 2003’s “N.E.W.S.”

Pearson, South Carolina’s Ambassador of Jazz, was a native of Orangeburg where he purchased his first saxophone for $.50. During his more than 50 year career, Pearson shared the stage with Otis Redding, Patti LaBelle, Miles Davis, and Sam Cooke, among many others. In 2008, Pearson performed at President Barack Obama’s inaugural ball in Washington. For nearly 17 years, he played jazz at Hunter-Gatherer every Thursday.

To honor the memory of these two musicians, the Jubilee Festival will celebrate the musical lineage of South Carolina with a headlining performance by Cheri Maree. Maree is an international recording artist, songwriter, and author who brings “soul jazz” to the center stage. A multi-talented vocalist and musician raised in Columbia, S.C., Cheri’s eclectic sound and style have graced the stage with legendary Grammy-winning artists, including Patti LaBelle, Al Jarreau, Hootie and the Blowfish, and Brian McKnight.

A handful of other performances from South Carolina musicians—representing a variety of genres, including R&B, jazz, gospel and soul—will take place throughout the festival.

Jubilee will feature historic storytelling, artist demonstrations, and family friendly activities. Throughout the day, guests are invited to take house tours of the Mann- Simons Site and the Modjeska Monteith Simkins House for $1 and take the African American Historic Sites Bus Tour for $2. In addition, there will be a variety of outdoor vendors selling food, beverages, art and wares.

Historic Columbia invites you to experience the free Jubilee festival at the Mann-Simons Site (1403 Richland Street) from 11 a.m.–6 p.m. on Saturday, September 16.

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