Vote for Jazz – Make All States “Swing” States!
Ray P. Zepeda
It is hard to believe that four years have already passed since we were last at this juncture. Alas, here we are! While we will undoubtedly remain starkly divided on all manner of policy and governance issues, we must all redouble our commitment to the sustenance and advancement of our greatest cultural export, Jazz – an embodiment of the American spirit and the ultimate model of participatory democracy. The written page provides only the guiding principles. The actual execution is left to the people who are given the freedom to succeed or fail based on their own merit, effort, and God-given abilities and on their willingness to work with others by listening and showing deference wherever the overall sonic result might benefit from doing so. Can you think of another written document like this?
To reiterate from my Independence Day blog post, imagine you are a twenty-something young man in 1776 Colonial America yearning for freedom from tyranny and for the right to govern through elected representatives of the People. Would you sign your life away on a piece of paper for all to see, all but guaranteeing your being executed for treason? 56 intrepid men from throughout the Colonies did just that with full knowledge of the potential consequences. While the gamble paid off, forming the basis for the greatest nation in human history, it remains one of the greatest leaps of faith ever taken. Do you have this level faith in Jazz and do your actions reflect it?
Imagine the 300,000 young souls who gave their “last full measure of devotion” so that all might eventually be afforded the right to vote. Would you dishonor their sacrifice with indifference on Election Day?
What I am asking of you as jazz educators is not nearly so perilous. On Election Day itself, you can take a number of actions, many from the comfort of your own home. When you make your Department Head or Dean aware of what you are doing in any of your jazz classes or propose a new jazz course to them, you are voting for Jazz. When you sign your ensemble up for a festival or submit their recordings to a jazz magazine for adjudication, you are voting for Jazz. When you update the syllabus of one of your jazz courses, you are voting for Jazz. When you share or retweet a post of one of your students about one of their gigs, releases, or other accomplishments, you are voting for Jazz. When you make a monetary pledge to your local jazz radio station, you are voting for Jazz. When you renew your membership in JEN or subscription to a jazz magazine, you are voting for Jazz. When you purchase or add to your playlist a track from a jazz artist, you are voting for Jazz. When you write a letter of recommendation for a prospective jazz student or educator, you are voting for Jazz. When you write and post a blog like this one, you are voting for Jazz!
Yes, get to your polling place but make a commitment to VOTE FOR JAZZ today! Remember, all states are SWING states!