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  • Carla Youngblood

Taste of 4th Avenue Jazz Festival

by Carla Youngblood

Have you ever attended the Taste of 4th Avenue Jazz Festival? If you haven’t, this is definitely the year to do so. Whether you are returning or a newbie, a good time is guaranteed.

Planning is currently in the works for the celebration of the 20th Anniversary of the Taste of 4th Avenue Jazz Festival. In honor of this momentous occasion,”20 Years” the festival will be held two days, Saturday, August 26th from 2 PM until 10 PM and Sunday, August 27th from 2 PM until 8 PM. The location remains the same…in the middle of streets in the Historic Fourth Avenue Business District.

In 2003, Urban Impact and the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame joined forces to create the Taste of 4th Avenue Jazz Festival after several visits to the Taste of Chicago. Urban Impact is a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit organization that is committed to removing barriers for Black entrepreneurs. This is done by leading, building, and growing underserved Black commercial districts with emphasis on the Historic Fourth Avenue Business District and surrounding communities to bring economic development and vitality. With the help of the businesses located within the district, the festival took shape and history was made. The goal of the festival was and remains today:

➢ To promote and preserve public performances of jazz professionals of the past, present and future

➢ To educate the public on the importance of celebrating the history of jazz as the only true Indigenous art form created in America.

➢ Celebrate the rich culture and heritage of the historic 4th Avenue District, where the jazz scene in Alabama thrived.

➢ Create alliances with other entities and organizations to advance the spirit of jazz, which is truly a collaborative art form

The ultimate goal of the Taste of 4th Avenue Jazz Festival is to provide a cultural experience for a diverse group of people without regard to race, demographic, or socioeconomic status. The past nineteen years have proven how music lovers and more attend, with 3,000 in attendance at the first festival. To-date we have had over 120,000 in attendance coming from the city of Birmingham, Jefferson County, and surrounding areas along with others from southern states.

In 2020 and 2021, the festival was derailed by “You Know What”, but we refused to come to a complete halt. We pivoted and hosted the festival virtually receiving over 40K impressions. During that time of the pandemic, people needed some relief and Urban Impact did its’ part by moving forward with the Taste online.

Over the past nineteen years, Urban Impact has shared the leadership of the Taste with many organizations like Magic City Smooth Jazz which was founded and lead by the late Bernard Lockhart. We have provided the opportunity for approximately 825 artists to perform. Those performers included national, regional, and local musicians, visual artists, poets, and comedians. We love bringing national artists, but our focus belongs to the legends who made Alabama music what it is today. Just to name a few: Foxxy Fats, Cleveland Eaton, Birmingham Heritage Band, Eric Essix, Teknek and Ona Watson.

Here are some quotes from past attendees:

“Come…get here fast for the live music and everything surrounding the event. We are doing it for the Culture.” - Mayor Randal Woodfin

“This is a great event for the city of Birmingham, putting a spotlight on the businesses of Fourth Avenue Business District.” - BStuc, Birmingham, AL

“This has been an amazing event, the atmosphere is amazing, the people are amazing, and we have to keep it coming back.” Lesa R., Birmingham, AL

“I have had an absolute blast! Good clean fun, good food, good people and made some friends. I will be back next year.” DeJuan J. – Chattanooga, TN

In 2019, under the leadership of Ivan W. Holloway, Urban Impact created a new wholly own 501 (c) 3 nonprofit organization, Taste of Fourth Avenue, promote the growth of the district by bringing cultural and education events throughout the year.

“This year is a major milestone for the TASTE!” Holloway said. “20 years of bringing the community together in the Historic 4th Avenue Business District where jazz is intertwined in the fabric of the streets and buildings. Jazz greats have played here in the District pulling people from all corners of the nation. The TASTE is a way for us all to honor that influence and legacy, while enjoying music and the artists of today! The food, fun, and music has made this festival a staple, and we are excited to have everyone come out and celebrate 20 years with us!”

This year’s festival will be led by the leaders of the Taste of Fourth Avenue, Inc. and the festival will be filled with Birmingham natives including Elnora Spencer, Jose Carr, and Cashmere Williams. The headliners will be Jazz in Pink and David Sanchez with many surprises in the midst. The festival will be built like an ice cream cone with a Kids Zone, a Health and Wellness Center, Swing Dancing, food/merchandise vendors and topped with an Art Village honoring the 60th Commemoration of the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing.

August 26 – 27, 2023 will be a great time to invite family and friends to town to experience this fun filled, family friendly weekend event. The Taste of 4th Avenue Jazz Festival would not be possible without the support of the City of Birmingham, Jefferson County, and our wonderful sponsors.

Visit the website for more history details:

Bring your lawn chairs, your appetites, and your dancing shoes and do not forget to bring some spending money because you don’t want to miss a Taste!


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