Five Questions With Camille Russell Love

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As the City of Atlanta’s Director of Cultural Affairs, Camille Russell Love is the “”band leader”” of the Atlanta Jazz Festival.  Currently in its 33rd year, the Atlanta Jazz Festival is a month long celebration of America’s art form, featuring wall to wall jazz throughout May.  A window in to our recent jam session, where Camille and I did a little Atlanta riffing

Q. What makes Atlanta a great jazz city?

A. WCLK/91.9 FM, part of Clark Atlanta University, connects the entire jazz-loving community.  They are the voice for both known and emerging musicians, spread awareness about jazz events and inform the public about other worthwhile music news.

We have such amazing musicians that call Atlanta their home.  We are lucky to actually have a number of them representing the local jazz scene on the Atlanta Jazz Festival stage this year: Kathleen Bertrand, Jay Norem & Keith White Quartet, Steven Charles Band and Rialto Jazz for Kids All Star jazz band.

The Atlanta area schools have also established fantastic youth jazz bands.  Art and musical education is so important and often is one of the first things to go when budgets are cut.  I really believe that children who have an appreciation for and understanding of the arts, end up being so much more well-rounded adults.

Q. The Atlanta Jazz Festival is billed as the largest free jazz festival in the country.  What are some of your other “free Atlanta favorites”?

A. I love Screen on the Green, National Black Arts Festival, Atlanta Dogwood Festival and the Peachtree Road Race.  These events are staples for Atlantans and also give visitors a peek into the cultural, artistic, historical and athletic aspects of the City of Atlanta.

Q. Favorite Atlanta neighborhood(s)

A. Midtown and Atlantic Station areas are fantastic.  It’s thrilling to see these communities continue to grow and play host to many of my “Atlanta favorites.”  And I’m so grateful that the Atlanta Jazz Festival is able to be back “home” in Piedmont Park this year.  It’s such a great gathering space for Atlantans!

Q. Hidden Atlanta gems?


A. Atlanta’s Public Art Collection.

Q. Why does Jazz matter?

A. It is America’s “art form” and provides a basis for other music genres. Atlanta’s first African American mayor, Maynard Jackson, realized the importance of jazz back in the 1970s.  In 1974, he established the Bureau of Cultural Affairs in 1974 with the intent to “make Atlanta the jazz capital of the South and of the world.”  And only four years later was the first Atlanta Jazz Festival.

Bonus Question: What is the Atlanta Jazz Festival, and why is it a can’t miss event?

A. The Atlanta Jazz Festival is a Memorial Day Weekend tradition that provides a quality cultural experience for all!  Jazz is a very expressive artform that has been influenced by every single country and culture.  We really try and bring in artists from every form to many diverse venues during the 31 Days of Jazz and Memorial Day weekend to celebrate that diversity and help attendees to experience new sounds and learn everything they can about jazz!   Music moves and unites people, and this Festival has the ability to bring together our city and visitors which is such an amazing thing.

This year, patrons can expect a stellar line-up that includes renowned artists such as audience favorite Spyro Gyra; Marcus Miller – “Tutu Revisted, the Music of Miles Davis” featuring Christian Scott; and Stanley Clarke Band and Hiromi.

The Atlanta Jazz Festival is always evolving, and we’re also really excited to launch additions like the Passport Program, which will help us recognize Festival patrons who support the tradition of jazz as well as encourage others to explore their musical tastes and different areas of the city.  Folks who plan on attending our amazing jazz events during the 31 Days of Jazz should take part in the Passport Program, a Jazz Journey through Metropolitan Atlanta.  Every event attended gets you a stamp, and if you receive 15-plus stamps, you can enter to win an amazing VIP, Atlanta Jazz Festival prize package!

At the Atlanta Jazz Festival, you can also enjoy artist and food vendors at the Market Place, beer at the all-new Anheuser Oasis Beer Garden and children’s activities at the Publix Kid Zone.  There truly is something for everyone!

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