Red Cat Jazz Festival has earned a reputation for putting on one of the most outstanding celebrations of musical artistry in the U.S. And this year the story remained the same – with the added caveat of it being Mother’s Day weekend.

Featured artists who swooped down on the picturesque Galveston Island in Texas included: Ronnie Laws, Alex Bugnon, Marion Meadows, Gerald Albright and Jonathan Butler. As a special treat, the mother of the highly-popular singer Beyoncé, Tina Knowles, a Texas native, received a special honor.

The Festival, produced by The Red Cat Jazz Preservation Society, a nonprofit dedicated to preserving the rich heritage of jazz music, marked its 6th year.

The Society’s executive director, Jan Pink, said he’s amazed at how the number of attendees continues to increase every year, with over 10,000 showing up last year.

“Music was always important in my family’s life. My grandmother taught music, my uncle was a musician and my dad was just a real lover of jazz. Plus we’re Creoles and Louisiana is where jazz was born – it’s my heritage,” Pink said.

“And because of Mother’s Day, we chose to bring Tina Knowles back home where she was given the key to the City of Galveston. For us it was our way of highlighting the importance of mothers and their contributions to our lives and to the world. The only open date to honor her was Mother’s Day weekend. I guess it was God’s way of telling us something,” said Pink who started his nonprofit in 2009 by hosting local events, taking over the Red Cat Jazz Café a few years earlier in 2003.

“This is my passion and we give back to the community, helping those who have lost family members, working with youth and teaching them the fundamentals of jazz and giving them the opportunity to perform with seasoned artists, tackling domestic abuse and raising awareness about cancer,” he said.

One of the featured artists said it’s important to preserve the legacy of jazz – one of the reasons why he was so excited about being one of the performers.

“I’m a South African native and my heritage is steeped in the richness of all kinds of music,” said Butler, 54. “I simply call myself a musician – a lover of music. I can’t place myself in one specific genre. Legends like Miles Davis or Herbie Hancock, forerunners of jazz, broke all kinds of borders and barriers because of their ability to change with the times.”

“They never put themselves into just one category. They couldn’t. I remember Thelonious Monk once saying that he never tried to follow the radio or the media. He said if it takes 20 years or even more, one should always make music that comes from the heart. It comes from a pure canvas. If you follow trends, rather than your heart, you miss out on who you really are,” said Butler who will be on tour this summer with Albright and who also recently released a new CD.

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