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Percy Heath: Hometown Hero

On May 17th and 18th there’s going to be a party going on in Wilmington, NC in honor of one of its jazz heroes: Percy Heath (pictured). The bassist, who rubbed shoulders with the likes of Bird, Dizzy, Mingus and Miles, is the lone survivor of the Modern Jazz Quartet. And, while playing a major role in the metamorphosis of jazz in the forties, Heath proved himself a hero as a fighter pilot during WWII in the now famous group of elite P-51 fliers, the Tuskegee Airmen.

On May 17th Heath will be given a star on the Walk of Fame Plaza at the Cotton Exchange in downtown Wilmington. A reception will be held afterward at the Williston Auditorium in the Cape Fear Museum, hosted by the Williston Alumni Association, Heath’s High School alma mater.

On May 18th UNC Wilmington will award Heath the honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree during its 63rd commencement ceremony.

Percy can’t hog all the familial glory, however. The Juilliard School in New York City will be awarding his saxophonist brother Jimmy an honorary Doctor of Music degree on May 24th.

Originally Published