It’s not just luck that Georgia has produced some of America’s most accomplished musical artists – Ray Charles, Fletcher Henderson, James Brown, Thomas Dorsey, and Otis Redding. The incredible musical traditions of the region helped create and shape their genius, explains Rob Gibson, Executive & Artistic Director of the Savannah Music Festival as well as former faculty member of The Juilliard School and the founding Director of Jazz at Lincoln Center.
“Southern American musical traditions became the most important music of the world,” Gibson said. “Gospel, jazz, blues, bluegrass, and country music all came from the south and have shaped the face of music across the globe.”
For opera superstar Jessye Norman, growing up in Augusta, Georgia wasn’t a hindrance but rather helped develop her renowned emotional depth and sound, Gibson said. “It has everything to do with it, her background in Georgia and her soulful sound,” he said.
Another renowned Georgia native, Wycliffe Gordon, will explore the influence of Georgia music in a piece commissioned by the Savannah Music Festival, Gibson stated. A trombonist universally hailed by jazz critics, Gordon headlines at legendary jazz venues throughout the world. The Waynesboro, Ga. native who learned gospel in church and played in his high school jazz band will compose an autobiographical work for next year’s festival.
Savannah’s place in American history is well documented, but less well-known is that its musical antecedents and experiences from the past 200 years have helped to shape much of America’s musical history. Savannah history and the music of Georgia have evolved and still play a role in our daily lives. Historic homes and places of worship, the Savannah River and Georgia Coast, and English and African Colonists all helped define the musical sound of Georgia, Gibson explains. He’ll explore the topic in a Celia Dunn Sotheby’s International Realty Masterpiece Series lecture Oct. 18.
With primarily English and African-American traditions, Savannah didn’t have the wide variety of cultures and influences New Orleans did. “The mixture wasn’t as broad, but it’s still very, very unique” and influential, Gibson said. Just as New Orleans is generally considered the birthplace of jazz, and Memphis the birthplace of blues, Georgia can be considered the birthplace of gospel music.
“Music and spirituality always go hand-in-hand,” Gibson said. The Anglican and Christian traditions were strongest in Savannah, along with Jewish and Catholic influence as well, he explained, though most slaves converted to Christianity. Sea Island and other islands, including those north of Savannah in South Carolina, brought a great deal to musical traditions here. African-American traditions around the coast, ranging from hymns, spirituals, blues, gospel, and slave shouts or ring shouts, all bring a depth and range of music.
The Savannah Music Festival reflects the importance of these traditions, and they utilize places of worship, historic theaters and venues to encompass the diverse array of musical traditions that have evolved from within the region.
“We should all be proud about the music that has come from this region, as well as the many rich traditions we still have,” Gibson said.
About the lecture:
Oct 18 (Thursday)
“Sounds Around Savannah: Contributions to American Music History” Rob Gibson Savannah’s place in American history is well documented, but its musical antecedents and experiences from the past 200 years have helped to shape much of America’s musical history. Rob Gibson, Executive & Artistic Director of the Savannah Music Festival and former faculty member of The Juilliard School, will discuss how Savannah history and the music of Georgia have evolved and still play a role in our daily lives. Find out how historic homes and places of worship, the Savannah River and Georgia Coast, and English and African Colonists all helped define the musical sound of Georgia. Proceeds will benefit the Savannah Music Festival.
Each lecture-luncheon will be held at 12 noon at the Chatham Club. To make a reservation, $25 payment must be received by the Monday prior to the luncheon. Checks should be made out to CDS Lecture Series and sent to Lori Combs, Celia Dunn Sotheby’s International Realty, 17 W. Charlton St. Savannah, GA 31401.
Celia Dunn Sotheby’s International Realty created “The Masterpiece Series: The perfect home is a means of self-expression” because every home is a masterpiece. Celia Dunn Sotheby’s International Realty’s Masterpiece Series features Savannah’s premier experts sharing their strategies for making homes more beautiful and life more enjoyable
About Rob Gibson:Rob Gibson is a producer, educator and the Executive & Artistic Director of the Savannah Music Festival. He was the founding Director of Jazz at Lincoln Center, which under his guidance in ten years became the world’s preeminent presenter of jazz activities, described by The Times of London as “the most prestigious organization of its kind in the world.” Working with J@LC Artistic Director Wynton Marsalis, Gibson created and produced J@LC programs in more than thirty countries. Gibson has produced programs and/or recordings for The White House, the Museum of Modern Art, the High Museum of Art and the City of New York. He served on the faculty of The Juilliard School for nine years and has also taught American Music History and Marketing the Arts at New York University (NYU). His background in radio includes serving as both General Manager and Program Director at WRFG-FM in Atlanta and WUOG-FM in Athens, GA, and creating and co-producing the nationally acclaimed, Peabody Award-winning, weekly series “Jazz From Lincoln Center” for National Public Radio. He resides on the Isle of Hope in Savannah with his wife, Caroline Howell, and they have three children – Bo, Fay and Annabelle.
Known for its tradition of integrity, Celia Dunn Sotheby’s International Realty specializes in fine luxury residential and commercial properties in Savannah and the Low Country of Georgia and South Carolina. Founded in 1981, Celia Dunn Sotheby’s International Realty is noted for outstanding service to its clients, thorough knowledge of Savannah and the South Carolina Low Country, and excellent staff, in addition to having one of the region’s top property management departments. The owners are natives of Savannah who have more than 60 years’ combined experience in real estate. The offices are located at 9, 13, and 17 West Charlton Street on Madison Square in Savannah and 6 Bruin Street in Bluffton, S.C.
For more information, call Celia Dunn Sotheby’s International Realty at (912) 234-3323 or visit www.celiadunnsir.com. To contact the Bluffton office, call (843) 836-3900.
For more information on the Savannah Music Festival, visit http://www.savannahmusicfestival.org/