The Friends of John Coltrane want to make sure young people learn about jazz music. They want to nurture a love for the genre among the next generation of musicians who grow up in Guilford County, NC.
Each year students enrolled in Guilford County Schools can enter the JCIJBF Essay Contest and compete for prizes of brand new instruments. In the written essays, Guilford County School students explain what music in general, and jazz specifically means to them and how winning an instrument would impact their lives.
For some of the winners, the prize of a new instrument lifted a financial burden from their families. Many of the winning essays described the entrant’s quest to continue to play music while dealing with the reality of having parents out of work.
The prizes are donated by Bill Banks of Musicorp, a wholesale instrument distributor and Antiqua Winds, Inc., an instrument manufacturer. Contest Winners are presented with their new instruments on stage during the John Coltrane International Jazz and Blues Festival. Presenters are some of the artists who headline the festival. Past presenters have been Tom Browne and Kirk Whalum.
John Coltrane grew up in High Point, NC between 1926 and 1943. Coltrane attended William Penn High School where he began playing the saxophone. The school is now Penn-Griffin School of the Arts and has the John Coltrane Hall of Music and Dance which opened in 2001.