After diving in and studying this great city’s legendary reputation as the ‘Harlem Of The South”, I was inspired by the Jacksonville’s rich past as a Mecca for jazz. The majesty of Ashley Street was akin to Bourbon Street In New Orleans or Beale Street in Memphis Tennessee, teeming with black-owned businesses and watering holes where world-class musicians, such as Duke Ellington, Cab Calloway, Jelly Roll Morton, Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, Dizzy Gillespie and Billy Holiday regularly performed. The city where Ray Charles got his start, these legends played long vanished spots such as the Lenape Tavern and The Wynn Hotel, that were once frequented by both artists and music lovers from all over the world.
The large figures in my picture, looming over the once ecstatic downtown of Jacksonville at its music–fueled height are meant to imply the ghosts of the past that inform the future. Though the town as we once knew it is gone, the spirit still lives on in the Jacksonville Jazz festival.
The depiction of the now-defunct Manuel’s Tap Room alongside the still thriving Ritz Theater & Museum hopefully drives home this idea.
Throughout my career, jazz has been a source of passion and joy, as well as a never-ending inspiration. Discovering places and events where music is so loved and appreciated by listeners is always a new thrill. I am happy and privileged to contribute this year’s poster.
Keith Henry Brown got his start drawing superheroes, but music has always been his true inspiration. Having attended the High School of Art and Design as well as Parsons School of Design in New York, he combined his love of art and jazz as the creative director at Jazz at Lincoln Center and the Blue Note Jazz Club. His career includes designer for advertising agencies and high profile music-related projects, such as creating posters for Jazz Appreciation Month for the Museum American History and The Newport Jazz Festival while also contributing many jazz album covers for artists such as Christian McBride, Kevin Eubanks, Toshiko Akiyoshi, and Wynton Marsalis.
Keith’s latest endeavor is a children’s book illustrator. His first book, Birth of The Cool: How Miles Davis Found His Sound published by Page Street Books and written by Kathy Cornell Berman was released this Spring to excellent reviews.
Born and raised in Staten Island, Keith is father to two magnificent boys, Cole and Satchel (whom he affectionately calls his “Two knuckleheads”) and lives and works in Brooklyn, surrounded by his favorite Spider-man, Batman and Black Panther action figures.