Fifteen years ago Anita Broady attended the Montreal Jazz Festival. At the time she knew little about the music she would grow to love but walking amongst the various stages and hearing a wide range of artists perform she was immediately struck by the global nature of the genre and the way it so obviously brought people together. She vowed to one day bring a jazz festival to her own neighborhood and from that point everything changed. Fast forward to 2012 where now ardent jazz fan Broady has used her considerable business experience in event management to make the Chester County Jazz Festival a reality. It all gets started on the evening of June 29 when smooth jazz superstar Peter White opens up with a performance at the Asplundh Concert Hall on the campus of West Chester University.
When recently I talked with Anita from her home in the lovely town of West Chester, just thirty-four miles west of Philadelphia and nestled in the Brandywine Valley, I asked her more about her motivation to make the festival happen.
“You know” she said, “I really want the festival to stimulate a feeling of community in the area. People are so busy getting through the day right now that the opportunity to meet with and make friends is becoming lost. Music has the power to do that and is a major reason why we have included free open-air all day musical events on both Saturday and Sunday. Its going to be a great opportunity to come on down to Hoopes Park in West Chester with your blanket, lawn chair, friends and family to hang out, eat great food and listen to some of today’s leading contemporary jazz artists.”
I had heard that the theme of the three-day festival is ‘Soothe your Soul’ and I was interested to know why.
“Life is tough right now for all of us” she explained “and I really do believe that music can be the great healer. If the Chester County Jazz Festival can be a catalyst to chill, relax in the sunshine and reflect on the many good things that are still happening then that’s alright with me.”
“Of course the music is going to be phenomenal” she expanded. “Among others, Warren Hill, Ronnie Laws, Tom Braxton and Philadelphia’s very own Gerald Veasley will all be playing but to me seeing these great artists in a festival environment adds so much more. It’s the sounds, the sights; it’s even the smells. It’s being with friends united by music and feeling good. I really want this wonderful thing we have created to strengthen community bonds and also to provide an outlet for local artists, musicians and merchants. We are already looking at 2013 and I really hope the festival becomes a part of the Chester County calendar for some years to come.”
Right now the focus is understandably on the Peter White show for which tickets are selling fast. To get yours go to www.chestercountyjazzfestival.com or call (610) 365-1404. Ticket Prices range from $30-$75.