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50 YEARS

Louis Armstrong Foundation Announces Second Round of Funds for Musicians

Three hundred more NYC jazz musicians will receive $1,000 grants

Wynton Marsalis
Wynton Marsalis, president of the Louis Armstrong Educational Foundation (photo: Piper Ferguson)

Earlier this year, the Louis Armstrong Educational Foundation (LAEF) allocated $1 million in financial support to New York-area musicians who had lost income because of coronavirus-related closures beginning in March. Now, the board of directors of the LAEF has announced a second round of grants from the Louis Armstrong Emergency Fund for Jazz Musicians. With this round of funding, 300 musicians will receive $1,000 grants to help address their overwhelming current need for financial support. The grants will go to freelance jazz musicians who worked regularly in the five boroughs of New York City and who have lost work due to cancellations of local gigs as well as national and international tours. Recipients have reported that the funds will be used to help pay mortgage/rent, buy food, maintain health insurance, assist with elderly parents, and in general to support themselves and their families. “I’ve lost all of my gigs,” one grant recipient says in a press release given to JT. “I need the money for survival.”

The president of the LAEF, Wynton Marsalis, says in the same press release, “When clubs, concert halls, and other venues across the city and around the world began to close in March, little did we know that eight months later we would still be facing these challenges.”

These grants were made possible thanks to 27 contributors who donated between $500 and $50,000, as well as 200 other individuals who joined forces with the LAEF to assist New York musicians in need. Major donors include the GKV Foundation, Simon Family Foundation, Diana Krall, and Jeffrey Shafer; other contributors are jazz fans, music-industry businesses, journalists, producers, and jazz musicians, including one saxophonist who received funds in April but is now in the position to make a contribution. “I am humbled to be able to offer my support to my fellow musicians during these challenging and unprecedented times,” Krall adds. “Throughout our careers, we all experienced down times, but never have we faced venue closures and cancelled concerts in such a devastating way. My heart goes out to everyone.”

“I am extremely grateful that, after we launched the initial fund, so many people stepped up to the plate to help jazz musicians survive during this extended pandemic,” Marsalis continues. “I can’t thank Gary Knisley of GKV, Paul Simon, Diana Krall, Jeffrey Shafer, and all of our donors enough. And I urge everyone who has the means to join us in this fight for the well-being of jazz musicians. Let them know in a tangible way that you love and respect what they do for us and our culture.”

Individuals and organizations that would like to contribute to the fund can still do so by going to louisarmstrongfoundation.org. If you would like to join LAEF in this effort in a more substantive way as a collaborator, email [email protected].

Founded by Louis and Lucille Armstrong in 1969, the LAEF was established to ensure that future generations would be taught to play and appreciate the art of jazz. The LAEF funds organizations supporting jazz musicians, educators, and students and, in the past 10 years, has given over $8 million to various groups.