Barack Obama's Jazz - No Joke For the Talented J.C. Pagán

San Antonio (Texas) graphic artist J.C. Pagán shows his support - and his talent - by featuring the POTUS on classic Blue Note Album Covers

Kathryn Ballard Shut

Barack Obama: "Hope Train (Special 'Forward' Edition)"

It is not often that the design of one's Twitter page captures my attention, but that was before I saw the backdrop on the home page for Barack Obama's Jazz (

At first glance, I thought that the page was dedicated to showcasing favorite jazz albums of the current President of the United States; however, on closer inspection, I realized that the covers shown were classic Blue Note album covers, all picturing President Barack Obama as their star.

To follow up, I did a search and found that Barack Obama's Jazz also thrived on Facebook, this time in more detail, with more photos, and an insight to the graphic artist who had made it all possible: Mr. J.C. Pagán.

John Coltrane's 'Blue Train' suddenly featured a grinning Obama on the cover of his “album”, 'Hope Train' (and now with a 'Special FORWARD Edition'), a nod to the President's message of hope and forward motion for the state of the country. Lee Morgan's 'The Sidewinder' transformed into 'The President', with a photo of Barack pointing to the right, in place of Morgan's former trumpet bell. Sonny Rollins' eponymous and iconic 'Volume 1' was restyled 'Barack Obama', and instead of Sonny standing tall, now gleamed with Obama and a microphone, addressing a crowd. The trip down Blue Note memory lane put a smile on my face and inspired me to take a closer look at just who this fellow-jazz fan and Obama supporter was, so I shot him a tweet saying that I admired his work greatly. Pagán responded in kind with a thank-you and follow to both of my accounts on Twitter and on Facebook. Pretentious, this artist was not!

I dug deeper and realized that 'Barack Obama's Jazz' was not simply a pastime for the jazz addled and cyber-curious. There were t-shirts expertly designed and for sale online to champion the project. There were numerous album layouts on Mr. Pagan's website, and also amazing letters in kind from the POTUS' office, Robert Glasper (of 'Black Radio' fame), and even from Blue Note Records themselves, recognizing Mr. Pagán's talent and thanking him for his amazing creativity. As a matter of fact, there was a mention and letter from Robert Glasper himself, asking for an Obama-inspired edition of 'Black Radio', to which Pagán responded with a snappy 'Forward Radio' cover and a photo with Mr. Glasper himself.

Furthermore, upon visiting Mr. Pagán's website and viewing his resume, I confirmed my gut feeling that this gentleman was no graphic arts slouch, no Johnny-Come-Lately, no happenstance with a liberal arts degree. Pagán has won numerous awards previously for his graphic arts and creative mettle; the latest of which is the Barack Obama's Jazz Project, and perhaps, this may finally be the project that will show the world that his talent certainly lies outside of mere advertising, photo-cropping, and brand label-pinning. It's the stuff of legends and dreams, and I hope that it helps him to reach that star. The work is that good.

So regardless of if Mr. Obama remains 'Our Man in D.C.' after next week's hotly contested elections, one thing is certain: the boundless talent of Mr. J.C. Pagán of San Antonio, Texas will endure. His artwork is becoming a social media hit and should open the door to future invitations to produce future inspiring and bold efforts. Perhaps next we could see 1970s soul album covers of Michelle Obama? All kidding aside, regardless of your political convictions, I encourage you to check out Mr. Pagán's work for yourself:


Best wishes,
Kathryn Ballard Shut /shoot/
President, Independent Reviewer
TIMKAT Entertainment LLC
Denver, CO, USA

Twitter: @timkatent
Web Site:


  • Nov 02, 2012 at 12:09AM Ran Go


  • Nov 13, 2012 at 01:40PM Kathryn Ballard Shut

    Hello Ran Go, thanks for stopping by. Hope you've had a chance to check out JC Pagán's work!

Add a Comment

You need to log in to comment on this article. No account? No problem!

  • Email E-mail
  • Share Share
  • Rss RSS
  • Report Report

Community Authors

Kathryn Ballard Shut