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Area musicians gather for B-PEP annual Fun-Raiser

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Each Monday after Easter the Black Empowerment Political Project presents B-PEP Jazz in association with the Pittsburgh Jazz Society. The event is a six hour spectacular showcasing some of Pittsburgh’s outstanding musicians and vocalists performing Jazz, Pop, and R&B selections. It is always a much-anticipated highlight that culminates the holiday weekend activities.

B-PEP, the Black Political Empowerment Project is a non-partisan community collaborative, consisting of agency, organization and religious leaders, as well as committed individuals who seek to build political power and influence for the African American community.

The Key Note Sponsors for this year’s event were Bank of New York Mellon, Dollar Savings Bank, Elsie Hillman-The Hillman Family Foundation and the UPMC. Also acknowledged were the Clef Note sponsors in addition to the Silver and Bronze sponsors and the Friends of B-PEP who contributed to the “Fun-Raiser.”

Former Pittsburgh Steeler Mel Blount served as the Honorary Chairman for this year’s music fete. Blount is well known for direction of youth homes bearing his name and his commitment to community service. In a presentation during the evening B-PEP acknowledged the contributions of several individuals. Those receiving awards for their work were: Connie Portis, the founder and former co-publisher of the Greater Pittsburgh Black Business Directory and Resource Guide; Grant Oliphant, president of The Heinz Endowments; Ricco J.L. Martello (of New Pittsburgh Courier), photographer and videographer; Kimberly Booth, Myra Blue and James Tucker of the Community Intensive Supervision Program. Congratulations go out to those 2015 B-PEP Jazz awardees. This always special event celebrated the memory of Pittsburgh Jazz artists Maureen Budway, Gerald “Shotgun” Haymon, Robin Horsley and Henderson Thomas Sr. The evening also was dedicated to the healing of pianist Donna Davis.

The music was fantastic and featured performances by Roger Humphries & The RH Factor, The Tim Stevens/Leonard Johnson Project. The bands were the anchor for the evening as the audience witnessed outstanding performances by the C.O.L. Band, Tubby Daniels on vibes, and the very funky ARTISTREE. In this procession of musicians well over 60 music technicians took to the bandstand. Several broadcast personalities ushered the audience through the evening and some of the folks in attendance heard from and saw Tony Mowod, Lynne Hayes-Freeland, Chris Moore, and David Jaye, Bob Studebaker as well as this writer. The vocal talent was amazing as the audience witnessed the artistry of Etta, Cox, Sandra Dowe, Betty Douglass, Michelle Bensen, Tom Evans, Phat Mandee, Fred Pugh, Anquinique Wingfield, Sandy Green, Bridgette Perdue and numerous others joined forces for the Tenth annual B-PEP Jazz Concert.

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