On Harmony by jazz impresario Norman Granz (1918 – 2001) is this week’s Socially Sparked Quote of the Week. Known as one of the most influential producers of the 20th century jazz scene, Granz is equally recognized for his activism for civil rights and equality within the industry and beyond.
“Jazz is America’s own. It is played and listened to by all peoples – in harmony together. Pigmentation differences have no place… as in genuine democracy, only performance counts.” — Norman Granz, Jazz Impresario & Civil Rights Activist
Granz is this year’s featured artist representing April’s Jazz Appreciation Month (JAM). This year JAM focuses beyond the music to the dynamic ways jazz has played a transformative role in social justice, musicians’ rights, and equality. April also hosts celebrations of the 50th Anniversary of the Assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The jazz producer’s powerful words resonate today as much as yesterday.
Norman Granz helped propel many jazz musicians, including Ella Fitzgerald and Oscar Peterson, to greatness. In the United States, he revolutionized the way audiences listened to jazz — in the concert hall and through the first-ever commercially produced live recordings of the concerts.
Throughout his life, Granz devoted his life to civil rights and equality. During a time of racial tension, Granz recognized the power of music as a way to encourage desegregation. As a promoter and manager, Granz wrote nondiscrimination clauses into all of his musicians’ contracts and insisted on playing integrated concerts.
Living in harmony, whether playing music together, creating together or co-existing together — no matter the pigment of one’s skin — is a fitting testament and tribute to April’s commemorative and awareness initiatives. We are Socially Sparked! — Tweet us @sosparkednews