Dwight Andrews named Atlanta’s 2018 Jazz Hero by Jazz Journalist Association

Andrews among a listing of 20 nationally acclaimed jazz greats including Ellis Marsalis, Jr. from New Orleans


Atlanta, (April 16, 2018).  The Jazz Journalists Association (JJA) is pleased to announce the 2018 Jazz Heroes: Advocates, altruists, activists, aiders and abettors of jazz who have had significant impact in their local communities. The ‘Jazz Hero’ awards, made annually on the basis of nominations from community members, are presented by their local fans and friends in conjunction with the JJA’s annual Jazz Awards honoring significant achievements in jazz music and journalism.  Atlanta’s Reverend Dr. Dwight Andrews has received this celebrated award which will be presented to him on Friday, April 27, at 9:00 P.M. at Churchill Grounds Pop-Up Jazz Jam at the Apple House, 1363 Clairmont Road, Decatur, GA 30033.  As the pastor of First Congregational Church, Andrews is known throughout Atlanta for the highly acclaimed Jazz Ministry at First Church.

Ralph A. Miriello speaking for the Jazz Journalists Association, says “Dr. Dwight Andrews is dedicated to the idea that music and particularly jazz is an extension of the African-American spiritual tradition that includes gospel and liturgical music.  He believes deeply that music plays an important part in our everyday spirituality and has demonstrated how that’s so as a multi-instrumentalist specializing in woodwinds as well as an educator, composer, curator, historian, theorist and pastor.”

An affable, calm, approachable man, Andrews was born in Detroit in 1951 and introduced to jazz by his junior high school music instructor. He pursued music studies at the renowned Cass Technical High School, then earned both bachelors and master’s degrees in music from University of Michigan. His next stop was the Divinity School at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, where he received a Master’s of Divinity Degree; and for ten years he served as campus chaplain and Associate Pastor of Christ’s Church. All the while he was playing a broad array of saxophones, clarinets, flutes and percussion, recording with an impressive circle of creative improvisers including Wadada Leo Smith, Anthony Braxton, Anthony Davis, James Newton, Mark Helias and Jay Hoggard, and visitors such as Jack DeJohnette and Roscoe Mitchell.

At that time he also met Lloyd Richards of the Yale Repertory Theater and playwright August Wilson, which resulted in his becoming the Rep’s resident musical director and eventually composer for Wilson’s Broadway-bound productions such as Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Joe Turner’s Come and Gone, Fences and Seven Guitars. Dr. Andrews has continued in that vein, composing scores for movies and television programs such as W.E.B. DuBois: A Biography in Four Voices and Ms. Evers Boys, and the 2004 Broadway revival of A Raisin in the Sun featuring Sean “P. Diddy” Combs and Phylicia Rashad.

Dr. Andrews is a professor of music theory at Emory University, teaching courses in jazz history and African American music, and  “Sacred Music in the United States.” He has instituted unique projects, including a Black Music and Race study based on lectures he gave as visiting professor of African-American music at Harvard University, and a celebration of the musical aspects of visual artist Romare Beardon’s work on exhibit at Atlanta’s High Museum of Art, for which he brought to town Branford Marsalis and his quartet. At the same time, he continues to pastor of First Congregational Church, one of the oldest African-American Church in Atlanta, with a 150-year tradition and presently some 300 active parishioners. Dr. Andrews has been responsible for his church’s First Fridays jazz series and its Holiday Jazz Vespers. He’s currently working on a book about the spirituality in the music of jazz artists John Coltrane, Mary Lou Williams, Sun Ra, Dave Brubeck and Albert Ayler.

“Dr. Andrews is known to be generous with his time and guidance and musical contributions,” Miriello continues. “His personal generosity seems at one with his understanding and use of jazz as an aspect of both spiritual and secular expression. In recognition of what he gives in all these ways, the Jazz Journalists Association hails Dr. Dwight Andrews as an Atlanta Jazz Hero.”

For more information, visit http://www.jjajazzawards.org/p/2018-jazz-heroes.html. or contact First Church at 404-659-6255.

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First Congregational Church is an historic African American congregation, having been founded in 1867.

2017 marks its 150th Anniversary of mission and ministry to Atlanta and the world. Often referred to as a “congregation of leaders,” many prominent Atlantans are members, including Ambassador Andrew Young, former Chief Justice of the Georgia Supreme Court Leah Ward Sears, and former Spelman College President Beverly Daniel Tatum. The Reverend Dr. Dwight Andrews is pastor. An accomplished musician and composer in his own right, he is professor of Music at Emory University. The predominately African American membership welcomes people of all races and identities and believes in a holistic approach to spiritual living—mind, body, and soul.

— Photo: Andrews photo credit — Daniel Morris