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During the Jack McCray Tribute Concert, the Charleston community came together as family, friends, and fans alike celebrated the life and legacy of a man whose philanthropic efforts helped establish the Jazz scene in Charleston, including the founding of the Charleston Jazz Orchestra (CJO) and the Charleston Jazz Initiative.
Jack was a passionate lover of the city and of jazz music, and spent 30 years of his life cultivating the conjunction of the two in his own life, by developing meaningful relationships with many people in the Lowcountry. He pursued a masters degree in business, and his brilliant writing about the history of jazz was followed by Post & Courier readers for more than 20 years. He spent the last year of his life as a tireless advocate of jazz music, uncovering and preserving Charleston’s place in the history of jazz as the co-founder of the Charleston Jazz Initiative, with co-founder and College of Charleston professor Dr. Karen Chandler.
The afternoon sun was shining above the Memminger Auditorium as attendees were greeted by a sidewalk ensemble playing lively big-band favorites of Jack. As folks made their way to their seats inside the dim auditorium, candlelight flickered on cream-colored tablecloths adorned with decorative gems, much like the gem that first took the stage, renowned Jazz artist and Jack's dear friend, Rene Marie. She led a small ensemble during the first half of the evening's performances, and her stunning voice and soulful performance left nary a dry eye in the house.
Following a short intermission, the second half of the tribute featured a heart-felt speech by Jack's children, a multi-media presentation of his life, and the reading of his own eloquent words by CJO director Leah Suarez and artistic director Charlton Singleton, as well as Dr. Chandler. The evening closed with performances by the 17-piece CJO led by Singleton, featuring tunes such as "We got your back, Jack" and "Gullah Suite."
Proceeds from the event supported the CJO, the Jazz Initiative of Charleston, the Jazz Artists of Charleston, and the Jack McCray Literary Endowment Fund. Attendees were invited to donate in Jack's memory and preserve the legacy he left behind.