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After Snafu, Jazz Museum Announces New Headliners For Kansas City Jazz Festival

Courtesy Lalah Hathaway
Soul singer Lalah Hathaway is among the new headliners announced for the Kansas City Jazz & Heritage Festival on Memorial Day Weekend.

Six weeks after stumbling over the roll-out of a major new jazz festival scheduled for Memorial Day weekend, leaders of the American Jazz Museum made the announcement again Thursday, this time joined by Kansas City Mayor Sly James and City Councilman Jermaine Reed.

Now scheduled to headline the festival are soul singer Lalah Hathaway and the Chick Corea Trio (though not the one featuring Christian McBride), and rapper Yazz The Greatest (from "Empire") along with several other national and local acts already announced.

On February 22, jazz museum leaders surprised the city with an announcement that hot hometown celebrity Janelle Monae would headline a newly re-imagined jazz festival. Shortly after the news broke, however, Monae tweeted that she would not be appearing at any such show. Museum leaders then said Trombone Shortly would headline, only to be met with a similar tweet.

Museum leaders then apologized for announcing unconfirmed acts and said they were "working to secure another major headliner" they hoped would be announced within three weeks.

It took longer than they'd promised to reveal new headliners, but James offered a consolation announcement: The city planned to stop traffic in order to celebrate the city's signature sound, holding the festival in the middle of Paseo Boulevard in the 18th and Vine District.

"Paseo Boulevard was known as the 'parades of boulevards,'" Reed said. "Back in the day, this street was all about the types of parades and performances that would happen in our community."

Reed said holding the festival on Paseo would continue that legacy and be "a unique way to bring people together."

Reed, James and American Jazz Museum Executive Director Cheptoo Kositany-Buckner promised the festival would merit national attention, spotlighting not only the national headliners but also Kansas City musicians who've made national names for themselves.

The new line-up, along with ticket and other information, is on the festival's website.

C.J. Janovy is an arts reporter for KCUR 89.3. You can find her on Twitter, @cjjanovy.

A free press is among our country’s founding principles and most precious resources. As director of content-journalism at KCUR, I want everyone in our part of America to know we see them and we’re listening. I work to make sure the stories we tell and the conversations we convene reflect our complex realities, informing and inspiring all of us to meet the profound challenges of our time. Email me at cj@kcur.org.
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