First Congregational announces 2020 First Friday lineup

 

First Friday at First, Atlanta’s Premier Jazz Review, announces its 2020 season with an incredible line-up of internationally known, celebrated, jazz vocalists and instrumentalists.

Under the direction of jazz master Dwight Andrews, First Friday’s concerts offer some of the finest international talent much of which is located here in Atlanta. This amazing pool of musicians and composers includes Kenny Banks, Jr. who takes the stage at First Congregational Church to open the 2020 season for First Friday concerts on the 7th of February. Banks guarantees to deliver an incredible piano performance, second to none.

Atlanta, (January 20, 2020). Dr. Dwight D. Andrews has brought the Superbowl of jazz to Atlanta for the 2020 First Friday at First series of jazz concerts. Opening night is on Friday, February 7, with one of the best pianists to be found in the USA and abroad – none other than Kenny Banks, Jr. – a natural born jazz piano man.

First Friday is always held on the first Friday evening of each month, from February through November, from 6:00 through 9:00 p.m. The concerts take place in the Commons, on the campus of First Church, located at 125 Ellis Street, N.E.; Atlanta, GA 30303.

First at First Church is a part of the Jazz and Arts Ministry at First Congregational Church and has become the jazzy place-to-be for great music. Other phases of this jazz ministry include the Third Sunday Band, which performs at 10 AM in the church sanctuary every third Sunday; Jazz Vespers that occur during Christmas holidays; and First Sunday Jazz Showcase & Brunch, a project designed to highlight the talents of young musicians.

Kenny Banks, Jr, the featured performer at First Friday’s February concert, is known throughout the region as one of the most dynamic jazz artists in the Southeast. Banks was the finalist in the 2019 American Piano Awards. He has performed to great acclaim in solo and trio formats, as well as with “Grammy Award” winning vocalist Kurt Elling.

Training one on one with his father, Kenny Banks Sr. (also a pianist), Kenny started to play the piano at age seven and learned the fundamentals of music theory, jazz, and composition. Under the guidance of his mother Esther Banks, music director at St. Paul AME Church in Columbus, Ohio, the church became his musical outlet, and it was the training ground for the growth of his musicality and professionalism.

Kenny is noted for his technique in mixing jazz and gospel styles. Downbeat Magazine describes his playing as “gospel and blues-infused” and calls his arrangements “thrilling, modern and surprising.” Jazziz Magazine notes his “deeply embodied gospel and soul roots with supple phrasing and effortless command of late 20th century harmony.”

Kenny began touring with the Columbus Youth Jazz Orchestra, and joined the orchestra in Peru, Canada, and across Europe. He later toured with the Theo Croker Quintet in China and Grammy nominated trumpeter Darren English in the South African Jazz Festival. He has performed across the United States with such artists as Jennifer Holiday, Jazzmeia Horn, and India Arie. From his base in Atlanta, Kenny has been a part of several film and television productions including HBO’s “Bessie” starring Queen Latifah and, “Jacob’s Ladder” with Michael Ealy.

The line-up for 2020 at First Friday includes excellent jazz artists such as Wycliff Gordon, a jazz trombonist, arranger, composer, band leader and singer who performs in March. Mike Walton, multi-talented jazz saxophonist performs in April. May’s concert features the vocals of Chandra Currelley who can be seen in many Tyler Perry’s movies. She is a former vocalist with the SOS Band. Doc Powell, performing in June, has a vocal range from swing to improvisation; Marcus Printup, performing most of his life with his family, performs in July on vibraphone and percussions; Karla Harris comes in August and brings sophisticated warmth and a dynamic delivery to her music. Kevin Bales, pianist, performs in September; he won the American Pianist Association’s Jazz Piano Competition. Dwight Andrews, the pastor of First Congregational Church, performs many genres of music including gospel in October. As pastor of First Church this is a rare opportunity to listen to Andrews perform at the First Friday at First. Finally, Jazz artist Tony Hightower encompasses a new age that is part homage and part regeneration. The son of prominent jazz vocalist Theresa Hightower, his experiences with jazz were ingrained in his upbringing. Hightower closes out the 2020 season.

The public is invited for great music, dinner, fun, and fellowship. Come early to get a seat or purchase your tickets in advance. Individual tickets are $20.00 each; season tickets are $15 each for purchases of eight or more concerts; and student tickets are $10.00 with student identification. Prices for dinner range from $4.00 to $7.00.

All funds raised at church-based events will be used toward other church programs and outreach ministries. To purchase tickets for First Friday at First, please visit Eventbrite at firstfridayatfirst.eventbrite.com.

For further information about First Friday at First, please contact First Church at 404-659-6255 and ask for the church administrator during regular office hours or contact the First Friday team at firstfriday@firstchurchatl.org. Free Parking is available at the C.A.R.E. parking lot next door to The Commons on Piedmont and Ellis Streets.

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About First Congregational Church, United Church of Christ

First Congregational Church is an historic African American congregation founded in 1867 and located in the heart of downtown Atlanta at 105 Courtland Street, NE, GA. 2020 marks 153 years of mission and ministry to Atlanta and the world. First Church continues to be a leader on issues of race and reconciliation, social justice, and the arts and education. The Reverend Dr. Dwight D. Andrews is Senior Minister and Pastor. He is also an accomplished musician and composer in his own right and a Professor of Music at Emory University. First Church recognizes its heritage as a predominately African American congregation and given this legacy of inclusion welcomes people of all races and identities. First Church believes in an integrative and holistic approach to spiritual living – mind, body, and soul.

Notes for the working press: Complimentary tickets are available for the working press who come t

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