Music is a very important facet of my life. All music, really. From Klezmer to Min’yō to Irish Traditional to Pop and Opera. But foremost is Jazz.

As a high school Modern Music Master, I played bass clarinet. In college, as the late-night DJ at Loyola University School of Communications radio station WLUW, I perfected my on-air voice. And every time I hear Miles Davis’s haunting composition Sketches of Spain, I have a chuckle remembering how I used it as the soundtrack to my very dramatic coed (and only) attempt at movie producing and direction. Picture it: Chicago’s gritty South Side, 8mm black-and-white film, Sketches in Spain. Ah, youth!

In my adult life, I depend on music to motivate, excite, romance, calm, energize. So naturally, since relocating to Newark from San Francisco in 2019, I depend on WBGO/Newark Public Radio – the only full-time jazz format station in New Jersey and New York.

When Steven Williams took the helm of WBGO as president and CEO in late 2021, I invited him for welcome drinks at Nico Kitchen + Bar. When we next met, entirely by chance, at my club in Manhattan – the National Arts Club – at an event honoring Grammy award-winning Christian McBride, we declared it kismet and began planning a more engaged NMOA-WBGO partnership.

Collaborating allows both organizations to develop more layered multicultural textures, tapping into our similar ideas of community and art, inviting more voices and viewpoints, creating exciting conversations, and advancing our shared vision of a more vibrant Newark arts scene.

This collaboration is most recently on view as part of programming for our bright new exhibition Billie Holiday at Sugar Hill: Photographs by Jerry Dantzic, a traveling exhibition from the Smithsonian, and Jazz Greats: Classic Photographs from the Bank of America Collection (through August 21).

Billie Holiday holding her pet Chihuahua, Pepi, in front of Sugar Hill, Newark, New Jersey, April 18, 1957. All photographs © 2018 Jerry Dantzic/ Jerry Dantzic Archives. All rights reserved. 

Chuck Stewart (American, 1927‑2017) Eric Dolphy, 1964, Gelatin silver print, 17/100 Bank of America Collection © Chuck Stewart Photography LLC/Fireball Entertainment Group

On June 22, I had the pleasure of joining WBGO at their annual gala and was humbled to be recognized as one of their four 2022 Women of Influence. The other award recipients were Gail Boyd of the law firm Gail Boyd Artist Management, Terri Lyne Carrington, drummer, composer, activist and educator, and Dorthaan Kirk, (aka Newark’s First Lady of Jazz) curator-producer of jazz events.

I’m excited for you to join us soon and look forward to seeing you at the Museum!

Peace, Love, and Art,

Linda C. Harrison
Director and CEO
The Newark Museum of Art