S.C. Arts Awards: ColaJazz Foundation

2021 Recipient Feature Series

As the day nears for the 2021 South Carolina Arts Awards, The Hub is focusing on this year’s recipients: seven receiving the South Carolina Governor’s Awards for the Arts and two receiving the Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage Award, which are managed jointly by the South Carolina Arts Commission and McKissick Museum at the University of South Carolina.

ColaJazz Foundation

Organization Category | Governor’s Awards for the Arts

Since 2014, ColaJazz has worked tirelessly to establish Columbia as a premier jazz destination. Founder and Executive Director Mark Rapp had a desire to highlight the accomplished jazz artists and educators active in and around the city. Additionally, Rapp wanted to give back to the fans, supporters, and jazz venues. His initial foray in promoting the city of Columbia was recording the ColaJazz Vol. 1 album featuring the city’s top jazz talent and a full-length album by late S.C. Jazz Ambassador Skipp Pearson both of which were featured nationally in AAA Magazine.

In 2018, ColaJazz earned a coveted fiscal sponsorship with one of Columbia’s longest-standing arts nonprofits, the Columbia Music Festival Association. After five years of working with the community, creating proofs of concepts, and establishing an annual season of events, the organization became a designated 501(c)(3) nonprofit jazz organization.

ColaJazz has established successful and vibrant annual jazz programming including a summer jazz camp, jazz festival, countless performances, jam sessions, artist features, community highlights, and often brings international jazz stars including NEA Jazz Masters and Grammy Award winners to Columbia. It produces an annual season including the ColaJazz Summer Camp, ColaJazz Fest, Great Day in Columbia, Live in the Lobby (Koger Center for the Arts), monthly Dinner & Jazz concerts, Jazz Appreciation Month ColaJazz Crawl and International Jazz Day concert, virtual concerts, workshops, after-school curriculum, Jazz for Young People concerts and more bringing people from across the state and beyond to enjoy the capital city.

ColaJazz provides access to world class musicians, supports our own, invests in our future and does everything we can to ensure jazz has a home in Columbia. The ColaJazz community is comprised of musicians, educators, patrons, students, and anyone who desires to support jazz and develop our capital city’s cultural heritage.


…Over the decades a handful of dedicated souls have passionately tried to keep the culture alive in our state. But more recently—and more successfully—ColaJazz has taken up the mantel. ColaJazz and its founder … have worked tirelessly to promote the genre in a number of inventive ways. The organization has brought nationally known artists to South Carolina … and it has instituted a number of wide-ranging educational programs…

Dick Goodwin
2001 S.C. Governor’s Award for the Arts, Individual Category Recipient

The South Carolina Arts Awards stream live Monday, May 24, 2021. The festivities begin at 6 p.m. on SouthCarolinaArts.com. There is no in-person event in 2021. The virtual ceremony will be available on demand from the S.C. Arts Commission YouTube Channel after the livestream presentation.

Meet the Recipients

Use these links to read the long-form bios of the other 2021 South Carolina Arts Awards recipients.