Aspiring Jazz Stars Carry on Legacy of One of Delaware’s Finest Musicians

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Student musicians performed at Buena Vista Conference Center for the Delaware State Arts Council meeting and Delaware Division of the Arts

Budding musicians consider this the chance of a lifetime — the opportunity to participate the Boysie Lowery Living Jazz Residency program, which takes place each summer in Wilmington. Fourteen students, two tireless weeks of dedication, 150 teaching hours, and a plethora of unmitigated young talent arrived last month to perform at the Queen Theatre and pave the way for each of the graduates’ futures.


Students aged 17 – 25 from all over the nation competed to apply for the residency, which houses the young musicians in the nearby Delaware College of Art and Design dormitories. Hours of private and group classes focusing on composing and performing then came together for one amazing night of jazz-influenced music on June 26th.

The students learned about the music business as well, including skills for resume-writing and how to market their music. The program is free, along with free housing and meal stipends.

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2016 Boysie Lowery Living Jazz Residency graduates

Designed to cultivate the next generation of jazz musicians and composers, the Boysie Lowery Living Jazz Residency program was created just last year by the Light Up the Queen Foundation. “Our vision is to become a jazz residency that is known for encouraging and nurturing the next generation of jazz performers and preparing them for a lifelong journey of self-discovery and self-exploration,” said Tina Betz, Boysie Lowery Living Jazz Residency Program Coordinator and Executive Director of LUQ.

Jazz legend Robert “Boysie” Lowery served as the inspiration for this urban summer program. Lowery was born in Kingston, North Carolina, and studied trumpet with his father, a bandleader and blacksmith, and his brother Bud, who played clarinet and saxophone in his father’s band. Early on, Bud began mentoring his younger brother, teaching him how to read music and instructing him in the basics of music theory. This personal attention provided Lowery with the foundation upon which he developed his own unique teaching method and philosophy of jazz improvisation.

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Student musicians participated in daily workshops

In the early 1940s, Lowery moved to Wilmington, DE, where he formed a band called the Aces of Rhythm. And it is in Wilmington where Boysie began his extraordinary career as a jazz educator. For more than 50 years, Lowery taught hundreds of aspiring musicians.

His most noted pupil was the late Clifford Brown, considered by many to be the finest trumpeter of the time. Brown began studying with Lowery at the age of 12 while a student in Wilmington’s public schools. Lowery’s list of pupils also includes some of the finest jazz musicians to come out of the Delaware Valley, such as Lem Winchester, Ernie Watts, Abdu-Rashid Yahya, Marcus Belgrave and Gerald Chavis. In addition, Lowery had been sought out by musicians as far away as Russia (Valery Ponomarev) and Africa (Hugh Masekela). Before his death in 1996, the Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation awarded Lowery with its 1995 Living Legacy Award.

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