The Jazz Workshop Inc. Building Renovation Proposition
(Your Donation is Tax Deductible)
The Jazz Workshop is a 501(c)(3) Non-Profit Organization. The mission is to provide a music education program that teaches Jazz and other forms of music to high-risk, underserved students as well as other populations. It endeavors to promote and present Jazz as an art form, provide multicultural education, and encourages self-esteem and self-expression through music.
The Jazz Workshop, Inc is a music education and performance arts-based organization. It was implemented in 1973, when Harold Young, the founder, had a vision. He realized the need for youth in underserved communities to have alternatives to the “rhythms of the streets.” He had been teaching at the Musicians’ Union Local 471, however, when the merger with AFM union local 60 took place and moved to another location, Mr. Young wanted to continue teaching the youth in the underserved community. Gladys Howell, the clerk of the Homewood Branch Carnegie Library, suggested that he could utilize the lower level of the Carnegie Library in Homewood. He took her up on the offer and as a result the music education opportunities rapidly attracted numerous students. Several very accomplished musicians, from Pittsburgh PA, were employed to assist in the teaching endeavors such as Ducky Kemp, Boonie Hazel, Kenny Fisher, Abdul Karmin, and other Pittsburgh notables. Students would learn to play woodwinds, brass, drums, piano, and vocals. It is important to note that at that time, the music lessons were free, based upon grants that had been acquired. Every Saturday from 1-3 pm there would be individual music lessons, sectional rehearsals, and from 3-5 there was a community big band rehearsal. The band began to have increased notoriety and was asked to perform around the City of Pittsburgh at venues such as the Three Rivers Arts Festival. The Jazz Workshop had annual concerts at Westinghouse Park, at which time various other bands were hired to perform. The programming has been very consistent throughout the years. Many music students from the University of Pittsburgh were hired to teach at The Jazz Workshop, resulting in students consistently having great music mentors.
The Jazz Workshop has served as a model for other subsequent organizations. Additionally, we have featured many Jazz greats in concert, such as Joe Henderson, Sonny Stitt, Stanley Turrentine, Jon Faddis, Richie Cole, Sonny Fortune,
just to name a few.
The Carnegie Library was slated to be closed at one point in time several years ago. However, because of the presence of the Jazz Workshop’s programming, the library was able to remain open. The library upgraded the auditorium in the early 2000s.
Mr. Young assisted them in the design of a state-of-the-art performance center with new chairs, wall panels, and a substantial upgrade in the sound system.
This attracted various other organizations such as theater companies and resulted in the diminished availability of the stage, auditorium, and adjacent classrooms consistently used by The Jazz Workshop, Inc.
Once Covid-19 hit in March 2020, the Jazz Workshop, Inc. was no longer to able use the library. While anticipating that once the pandemic had subsided things would be back to normal, it was reported that the library had changed its policy. As of February 2022, the Jazz Workshop was informed that the usage of the library as we once knew had fundamentally changed. Essentially, they have decided to use the two libraries (Homewood and Oakland Branches) that have auditoriums, as revenue-making entities. They will hire a new coordinator to facilitate the usage of the auditoriums on a first come, first served contractual basis. They will no longer allow a program to be housed in the locations as The Jazz Workshop Inc. has been for nearly half a century.
Throughout the years thousands of individuals have benefited from the Jazz Workshop. Many have had successful music careers. The Jazz Workshop has received many awards, among which is the recently named “Harold Young Parklet” located on Penn Avenue in Wilkinsburg where summer concerts as held. On June 11, 2022, the Wilkinsburg Borough Council declared that date as Harold Young, Sr. Day, in honor of his achievements and dedication to programming in Wilkinsburg. This dedication was presented by the Mayor of Wilkinsburg, Dontae Comans.
Many residents throughout the Pittsburgh PA area are still calling to request music lessons, the Jazz for Tots initiative, and the community big band participation.
There is no question that The Jazz Workshop, Inc. has had an indelible impact on the community.
The current programming of The Jazz Workshop, Inc. consists of a series of collaborations with other organizations. We still have the very popular “Jazz on the Steps” which is held at the Carnegie Library (Homewood Branch), primarily outside but in the auditorium when there is inclement weather. This is a series of Jazz concerts throughout the months of June and July, featuring the best of Pittsburgh,
and its surrounding areas' music ensembles. Throughout the months of August and September, we provide the same collaborative concert series with The Larimer Consensus Group. It is important to note that all of these concerts are extremely well-received and well-attended. We are in the process of collaborating with schools, assisted living facilities, and nursing homes, with our Mobile Jazz Initiative, which is a series of bringing musical dynamism to these facilities.
Mr. Young purchased the former Community College of Allegheny College (CCAC) building located at 1015 Center Street in Wilkinsburg, PA
It is a large three-story building and is structurally sound. The Jazz Workshop Inc. had been using the facility for music lessons, Jazz and Poetry sessions., musicians club meetings, band rehearsals, community gatherings, and board meetings. However, due to a heating and plumbing issue that caused pipes to freeze, it has not been utilized for a few years due to budgetary constraints.
We are now actively seeking to renovate this building as our primary location.
With proper renovations, this too can be a state-of-the-art entity that provides a meaningful service to the community at large, especially youth, and seniors.
There will be opportunities for after-school programs, summer camps as well as music mentoring. It has been documented that young people learn better in beautiful environments. Our dedication lies in accomplishing this objective and creating a platform for both the young and the "not-so-young" to improve their skills and unleash their creativity while acknowledging that music has immense cathartic power.
Dr. Jacqueline L. Young