The annual Jazz Masters concert will be taken to new heights Thursday when Doug Emhoff, the second gentleman of the United States, opens the event.

The concert for the Jazz Masters program, the highest American honor bestowed on jazz artists, begins at 8 p.m. ET and is presented by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA).

This year’s Jazz Masters are drummer, composer, producer and educator Terri Lyne Carrington; percussionist and educator Albert “Tootie” Heath; and saxophonist, flutist and composer Henry Threadgill.

Phil Schaap, archivist, educator, historian and jazz radio host, is the 2021 Jazz Master receiving the A.B. Spellman NEA Jazz Masters Fellowship for Jazz Advocacy.

In his opening remarks, Emhoff will discuss his personal connections to jazz and the art form’s connections to America’s past, present and future. Emhoff’s love of jazz is well-known as he named his children Cole and Ella after Nat King Cole and Ella Fitzgerald.

Dee Dee Bridgewater, 2017 NEA Jazz Master, and actor Delroy Lindo will co-host the concert, which will feature recorded performances and tributes by acclaimed jazz musicians. The concert is free and presented in collaboration with SFJAZZ.

With music director Miguel Zenón, the concert will include performances by past NEA Jazz Masters Wynton and Jason Marsalis (2011) and Dianne Reeves (2018). The event will also include video testimonials from NEA Jazz Masters Herbie Hancock (2004), Charles Lloyd (2015) and Wayne Shorter (1998).

The free concert is available on several online and radio broadcast options. For more information, go to

Brenda Siler is an award-winning journalist and public relations strategist. Her communications career began in college as an advertising copywriter, a news reporter, public affairs producer/host and a...

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