Jazz at the Drake will raise funds to help Jane-Finch area students

Groove to the rhythms of Juno Award-winning musicians Eddie Bullen and Liberty Silver next month while raising funds for two organizations that help students living in the Jane-Finch area – York’s Westview Partnership and the Youth Association for Academics, Athletics and Character Education (YAAACE).

Jazz at the Drake, organized by York alumna Sandy Thomas (BA Spec. Hons. ’82), will take place June 14, starting with a cocktail party at 5pm. The concert will begin at 7pm and will feature Eddie Bullen on keyboards, Canadian jazz singer Liberty Silver, along with Bullen’s 16-year-old son Quincy, billed as a teen prodigy, on piano. Jazz at the Drake will be an evening of jazz and blues at the Drake Hotel, 1150 Queen St. W., Toronto.

During the cocktail reception, author and York instructor Karolyn Smardz Frost, non-fiction winner of the 2007 Governor General’s Literary Award for I’ve Got a Home in Glory Land: A Lost Tale of the Underground Railroad (2007), and Bryan Walls, co-editor with Smardz Frost of Ontario’s African-Canadian Heritage: Collected Writings by Fred Landon, 1919-1974 (2009), will be featured. Walls is also the author of The Road that Led to Somewhere (1980), an account of his great-great-grandparents’ escape from slavery. He operates the John Freeman Walls Historic Site Underground Railroad Museum in Puce, Ont. 

Bullen, whose music has been described as contemporary jazz with Caribbean and Latin rhythms, has several albums, including Nocturnal Affair, De Organ Grinders and his most recent, Desert Rain. Silver has opened for B.B. King, Rita Marley, The Temptations, Harry Belafonte and Natalie Cole. She won two Juno Awards in 1985, for Best Reggae-Calypso Recording of the Year and Best R&B/Soul Recording of the Year.

The Westview Partnership and the YAAACE both have York connections. The Westview Partnership is an initiative that originated between York and the Toronto District School Board in 1992 that improves access to the University for students living in the surrounding neighbourhood. Today, the Partnership also includes Seneca College, the Toronto Catholic District School Board, the Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges & Universities and a number of private donors.

The YAAACE is coordinated and was founded by York alumnus Devon Jones (BA ’98, BEd ’99), a Toronto teacher, and Devon Thompson, who currently coaches several basketball teams in Toronto.

The association strives to create a culture of high academic achievement and social and civic responsibility among its members. It engages youth of all ages in the Jane-Finch area in tutorial programs, test preparation activities and recreational sports programs.

In addition to the concert, there will also be a raffle and silent auction. Anyone wishing to contribute items should contact Thomas at 416-221-9110. Tickets for Jazz at the Drake are $60 and can be purchased by calling Thomas.