August 23, 2014

Photos from the Third Jazz Drama Vocal Workshop

Here are photos from the third free Vocal Workshop that was held on Monday, March 31, 2014 for singers ages 10-17 with Eli Yamin and Jeannette LoVetri at The Jazz Drama Program Studio.

Vocal Workshop March 31

Eli Yamin at Junior Thespian Festival 2014 in Texas

JDP Artistic Director Eli Yamin joined Theatrical Rights Worldwide’s Director of Licensing Jim Hoare to present at the Junior Thespians Conference hosted by the Educational Theatre Association in Dallas, Texas.  Nearly 500 students and over 100 teachers convened for the 3-day conference to perform, attend workshops and enjoy each others company.  The festival was coordinated by an expert team led by Craig Branch of the Educational Theatre Association, based in Ohio.  Attendees came from Texas, Colorado, Alabama, Georgia, Ohio, New York, Florida, Illinois and Kansas.
Eli presented a conference-wide warm-up inviting the community to embrace the soulful sounds of African American Spirituals as the source of inspiration for jazz and musical theatre dating back to John Newton’s “Amazing Grace” and George and Ira Gershwin’s “Summertime.”  Eli also led multiple presentations of 2 different workshops for over 200 students and teachers:  “Making a soulful sound with Nora’s Ark, the jazz musical and “Hot Rhythm, Protest and the Power of Song with Holding the Torch For Liberty.”
Thanks to all who supported the conference and attended the workshops.  We hope to see you all again soon and look forward to seeing who will make the next production of Nora’s Ark and Holding the Torch For Liberty…

Eli Yamin to Conduct Workshops at Junior Thespian Festival 2014 in Texas

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Eli Yamin will conduct two workshops at the Junior Thespian Festival 2014 being held in Coppell, Texas (near Dallas) from February 28 to March 1.

One is titled “Making a Soulful Sound with Nora’s Ark, the jazz musical.”  The other is “Hot Rhythm, Protest and the Power of Song with Holding the Torch for Liberty, a jazz musical.”  Each workshop will be held twice.

Photos from the First Jazz Drama Vocal Workshop

On Monday, February 24, 2014, a free Vocal Workshop was held for singers ages 10-17 with Eli Yamin and Jeannette LoVetri at The Jazz Drama Program Studio.

Some of the topics covered included the basics of making a great sound using your whole body to make vocal music and learning the fundamentals of singing soulfully in the styles of jazz and blues.

Outstanding vocalists from the workshop will be invited to participate in the Original Cast Recording of Message From Saturn, the jazz musical by Eli Yamin and Clifford Carlson.  The recording will take place this spring at the world famous Avatar Studios in NYC.

There will be another workshop on March 17, 4:30 – 6:30 pm.  Admission is free but parents/guardians must register by sending an e-mail to for students to reserve a spot.  Register right away as spaces are limited.

Scenes from Nora’s Ark performed by kids from Jazz House Kids

Congratulations to the young people in Jazz House Kids presents The Jazz Drama Program performance of “Scenes from Nora’s Ark, the jazz musical by Eli Yamin and Clifford Carlson.”  The performance was held at Montclair State University’s Leshowitz Hall in the John J. Cali School of Music building on January 26, 2014.

The scenes were performed by five children ages 9-13 acting, singing, dancing with three high school students playing drums, trumpet, sax, Alex Tremblay on bass, and Eli Yamin conducting from the piano.  Three out of the five featured performers had never been in a show before and rose to the challenge.  The students rehearsed 13 times once a week for 2 hours plus three full rehearsals prior to the performance.  The event was the culmination of a 14-week residency led by Eli Yamin with support from JDP choreographer Shireen Dickson and Montclair State University undergraduate students Melanie Yan and Samantha Roynestad.

Big thanks to the staff and supporters of Jazz House Kids and The Jazz Drama Program for making the whole thing possible. It was amazing to see the kids take hold of the music and story, make it their own through singing, dancing and acting!

(Photos by Christopher Drukker)

Result of Motema Music / Rondi Charleston JDP Support Campaign

Rondi Charleston, Eli Yamin, Jane Herzen (Motema Music)

Rondi Charleston, Eli Yamin, Jane Herzen (Motema Music)

The results are in for the Motema Music / Rondi Charleston YouTube video campaign where every viewing of Rondi Charleston Live at Yoshi’s 2013 – “DNA” resulted in a $1 for the Jazz Drama Program.   “DNA” is a track from Charleston’s critically acclaimed 2013 release, Signs of Life.  On the last day of the campaign, December 31st, the video garnered 8,500 views (almost 500 views per day during the promotion period).

Jane Herzen from Motema Music and Rondi Charleston presented JDP’s Eli Yamin with a check for $8,500 at the Association of Performing Arts Presenters (APAP)|NYC Conference.

The funds will go toward the recording of the cast album for Message From Saturn, the jazz musical about the healing power of the blues.

Thanks everyone for your help in spreading the word!

Motema Music and Vocalist Rondi Charleston Celebrate the Season of Giving to Support the Jazz Drama Program

For each YouTube view of video “DNA” between December 13 and 31, vocalist Rondi Charleston and her label Motéma Music will make a donation of $1 to JDP, up to $10,000.

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In August of 2013, vocalist Rondi Charleston, who was recently lauded as one of Entertainment Tonight’s “Artists to Watch” on, performed with her All Star Band at Yoshi’s in San Francisco. The performances have been captured in a series of three videos that will debut on YouTube on December 13, and that will launch a special holiday promotion to benefit the Jazz Drama Program (JDP).

Charleston, an alumni of Juilliard and the NYU Graduate School of Journalism, knows first-hand the value of incorporating the arts into education. Her later work as an investigative reporter at ABC alongside Diane Sawyer at Prime Time Live, reinforced her belief in the power of storytelling, a talent that has attracted critical acclaim to her work both as a songwriter and performer.

“We are thrilled to be able to support such a vital organization which brings jazz to a new generation of young people eager to embrace this dynamic and essential art form,” says Charleston. “The band and I had such a great time performing at the legendary Yoshi’s, and we’re excited to share some of our songs from these performances while supporting such an outstanding cause.”

Jana Herzen, President of Motéma Music, added, “Eli’s work with children creates an indelible impression that I’m sure stays with them for life and has a positive influence in many ways. His joy is infectious and his swing impeccable. I’ve been aware of his work for many years now and I’ve always enjoyed and admired him.”

Says Yamin, “Rondi Charleston brings her life experience to her songs, embracing the language of jazz as a living, breathing, and immediately relevant art form. That’s what The Jazz Drama Program does for children, telling stories that are relevant to children’s lives and giving young people access and opportunity to make jazz their own. We are grateful for Rondi’s support and the support of Motéma Music, a company that believes in the power of song to unite, uplift and inspire the world.”

For more information about Rondi, visit her website or her artist page at Motema Music.

(Original Press Release)

Holding the Torch for Liberty performed at North Carolina High School

Holding the Torch for Liberty, a jazz musical was performed at Robert B Glenn High School in Kernersville, North Carolina on April 18 – 20, 2013.


Holding the Torch for Liberty Sessions: Before and After

We began rehearsals at Celia Cruz Bronx High School of Music on October 24th and continued weekly for seven weeks leading up to the recording session at Avatar on December 11.

It was amazing to watch the transformation of the students. They went from talented youngsters to poised pros in such a short span of time. Teacher Lisa Gwasda writes, “We all had such an amazing experience, and I thank you for choosing my students and for giving us this rare opportunity! We are all still raving about it! I look forward to working together in the future!!”

This is the Jazz Drama Program in action. Creativity, opportunity, jazz!

Holding the Torch for Liberty Reharsals Update

Just got back from rehearsal at Celia Cruz Bronx High School for Music.   The young singers there are working hard on the songs and sound terrific.  Today we worked on the meaning of “It’s the Way That You Talk,” which is sung by the Suffragists at their factory job.  Alice sings…

“You’ve got to get their attention, start breaking some rules.  Use all your assets, your words are your tools.  Sometimes you can’t be dainty better turn it alright.  And Alice going show you how to put up a fight.”

It reminded us of the Occupy Wall Street movement and the Civil Rights Movement.  People standing up and demanding to be heard!

Everyone is so excited to record the vocal tracks!