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Riverfront Jazz Festival: Dallas’ Inaugural a Huge Success

Story By Betheny Sargent

Naturally when many think of a Jazz Festival, one city comes to mind—New Orleans. However, a new city will have you expanding your musical horizons.

Three full days of Jazz and Blues. Three separate stages. One purpose.

The Black Academy of Arts and Letter’s founder, Curtis King has purposefully created The River Front Jazz Fest to bring lovers of music and arts alike at the Horse Park in Sunny South Dallas.

Opening the month of September, aside from the expected Texas heat and the unexpected red dirt, Dallas’ inaugural Jazz Festival was a successful and an unforgettable experience.


Dallas welcomed home native artists Erykah Badu and Yarbrough and Peoples as well as national recording artists such as Reuben Studdard, Melanie Fiona, Jonathan Butler, Keiko Matsui and Rachelle Ferrell.

“I feel no need to compare festivals,” said King “When there is a need for the people you have to fill the void.

“Every festival has its own uniqueness and I am trying to ensure its uniqueness when it comes to Dallas.”

While one might think a Horse Park is an unusual venue to host a Jazz Festival, this is Texas — and the ample spacing and seating capacity for 15,000 was ideal.

There were many food vendors including The Cake Bar, Elaine’s Kitchen, The Daiquiri Shoppe, Fabulous Fish, Soul Bowl, and Pineapple Express.


There was also beverage bars, visual artists and showcases for young, up-and-coming featured artists from the Booker T. Washington School of Performing Arts, as well as Simone Jasmine, Brittney Holmes and Rachel Dupard performing on a third and separate stage.
“The River Front Jazz Festival promoted unity,” said King.

What better way to serve that purpose and to bring about unity than music for the soul, food for the body and relaxation for the mind?

With the unfortunate devastation in Houston looming on the minds of many, artists paid homage to the victims of Hurricane Harvey; a just and admirable thing to do.

The River Front Jazz Festival served another purpose—to remind us that we are all Texans.

Much to delight of many in attendance, King confirmed plans to make the Jazz Fest an annual event for Dallas. To get a head start on next year’s festivities contact The Black Academy of Arts and Letters.


To volunteer with The Black Academy of Arts and Letters for Dallas’ 2nd annual Jazz Fest, contact Kia Davis at 214-743-2452.

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