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Jason Rapp

S.C. Arts Awards: Charlton Singleton

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.

Charlton Singleton

Artist Category | Governor's Awards for the Arts

A native of Awendaw, Charlton Singleton began his musical studies at the age of 3 on the piano. He would then go on to study the organ, violin, cello, and the trumpet throughout elementary, middle and high school. In 1994, he received a bachelor of arts in music performance from South Carolina State University. Since that time, he has taught music at the elementary, middle, and high school levels, as well as being an adjunct faculty member at the College of Charleston. Currently, he is the previous artistic director of the Charleston Jazz Orchestra; an 18-piece jazz ensemble of some of the finest professional musicians in the Southeast and the resident big band in Charleston. Singleton is also the organist and choir director at St. Patrick Catholic Church in Charleston. In November of 2015 he was named the inaugural artist in residence at the recently renovated Gaillard Center in downtown Charleston. As a performer, Charlton leads his own ensembles that vary in size and style. He has performed in France, Great Britain, Scotland, Germany, Austria, Italy, Switzerland, Norway, The Netherlands, as well as many great cities throughout the U.S. He is a member of Grammy Award-winning band Ranky Tanky, a quintet that interprets the sounds of Gullah from the Southeast coast of the U.S. In addition to performing, he is in demand as a speaker, composer, and arranger. He has also shared the stage with and/or worked with some of most talented entertainers in the world, including Jimmy Heath, Slide Hampton, Houston Person, Darius Rucker, Fred Wesley, and Cyrus Chestnut to name a few. Over the past several years, Charlton has emerged as the face of jazz performance in the Lowcountry. With his touring ensemble he models the classic quintet formats of jazz greats Miles Davis, Clifford Brown, and Clark Terry with his unique brand of southern charm and Lowcountry inspired composition.

Quotable

Charlton Singleton consistently impacts our state; the culture, the music and the people. As a mentioned in the opening of this letter, Charlton is a light in the community and is a luminary for us all. He is an outstanding person and defines the criteria of this recognition.

Sterling DeVries Director of Education Charleston Gaillard Center Charleston


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.

Jason Rapp

S.C. Arts Awards to stream live again in 2021

Virtual presentation planned for May 24


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE COLUMBIA, S.C. – The South Carolina Arts Awards will honor South Carolinians for their exceptional achievements in, support of, or advocacy for the arts during a professionally produced online streaming presentation planned for Monday, May 24, 2020 at 6 p.m. The South Carolina Arts Commission (SCAC) and partner McKissick Museum at the University of South Carolina look forward to honoring the seven recipients of the South Carolina Governor’s Awards for the Arts and two recipients of the Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage Awards in a special online presentation on SouthCarolinaArts.com. Lead host and SCAC Executive Director David Platts will be joined again by South Carolina First Lady Peggy McMaster as co-host from the Governor’s Mansion. UofSC McKissick Museum Executive Director Jane Przybysz will join Platts and McMaster to announce the Folk Heritage Award recipients. Platts will announce the Governor’s Award recipients. Before the pandemic, the South Carolina Arts Awards were presented at an in-person ceremony. Rather than cancel in 2020, the ceremony was shifted to a virtual format that was successful for its extended reach and production quality. After overwhelmingly positive feedback—and with lingering COVID-19 transmission concerns—the ceremony will again be presented online, at no cost to viewers anywhere. Surprise guests will join to help introduce each recipient. Mini-films by South Carolina filmmakers Drew Baron, Lynn Cornfoot, Abe Duenas, Patrick Hayes, Roni Henderson, Lee Ann Kornegay, and Ebony Wilson will debut, telling each recipient’s story. The filmmakers worked under the direction of producer Betsy Newman. Location shooting for the ceremony and production of the stream are being provided by Midlands-based iSite Multimedia and Fisher Films. The Governor’s Award recipients were announced in February. The recipients are:
  • Tom Flowers (posthumous, Greenville): Lifetime Achievement Award
  • Charlton Singleton (Charleston): Artist Category
  • Jennifer Clark Evins (Spartanburg): Individual Category
  • Tayloe Harding (Columbia): Arts in Education Category
  • Colonial Life (Columbia): Business/Foundation Category
  • ColaJazz Foundation (Columbia): Organization Category
  • Marjory Wentworth (Mount Pleasant): Special Award
The Folk Heritage Award recipients were also announced in February. Being honored are:
  • Jugnu Verma (Lexington): Traditional Indian folk arts
  • Robert W. Hill, III (Plantersville): Advocacy, American long rifles and accoutrements

 About the South Carolina Arts Commission The mission of the South Carolina Arts Commission (SCAC) is to promote equitable access to the arts and support the cultivation of creativity in South Carolina. We envision a South Carolina where the arts are valued and all people benefit from a variety of creative experiences. A state agency created by the South Carolina General Assembly in 1967, the SCAC works to increase public participation in the arts by providing grants, direct programs, staff assistance and partnerships in three key areas: arts education, community arts development, and artist development. Headquartered in Columbia, S.C., the SCAC is funded by the state of South Carolina, by the federal government through the National Endowment for the Arts, and other sources. Visit SouthCarolinaArts.com or call 803.734.8696, and follow @scartscomm on social media. About McKissick Museum The University of South Carolina’s McKissick Museum tells the story of southern life: community, culture, and the environment. The Museum, located on the University of South Carolina’s historic Horseshoe, has more than 140,000 objects in its collection, including one of the most extensive natural science collections in the Southeast. For visitation information, online exhibits, and more, please visit sc.edu/mckissickmuseum.

Jason Rapp

SCAC to honor 7 with Governor’s Awards for the Arts

Four artists, one advocate, two organizations


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

COLUMBIA, S.C. – Today, the South Carolina Arts Commission (SCAC) is announcing seven qualified recipients of South Carolina’s highest award for high achievement in practicing or supporting the arts.

The South Carolina Governor’s Awards for the Arts are presented annually by the SCAC. The appointed members of the agency’s board of directors vote on panel recommendations for the award. For 2021, the following honorees from their respective categories are being recognized for outstanding achievement and contributions to the arts in South Carolina:
  • LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT: Tom Flowers, Greenville (posthumous)
  • ARTIST: Charlton Singleton, Charleston
  • INDIVIDUAL: Jennifer Clark Evins, Spartanburg
  • ARTS IN EDUCATION: Tayloe Harding, Columbia
  • BUSINESS: Colonial Life, Columbia
  • ORGANIZATION: ColaJazz Foundation, Columbia
  • SPECIAL AWARD: Marjory Wentworth, Mount Pleasant
“With the Governor’s Award, we celebrate achievement and thank these accomplished recipients for enriching life and culture here in South Carolina. Recipients always represent the best of South Carolina. They are talented, successful, and dedicated. They exemplify giving of themselves to ensure everyone who wants to can benefit from access to the arts,” S.C. Arts Commission Chairwoman Dee Crawford said. A diverse committee, appointed by the S.C. Arts Commission Board of Directors and drawn from members community statewide, reviews all nominations. After a rigorous process and multiple meetings, the panel produces a recommendation from each category that is sent to the board for final approval. Serving on the panel for the 2021 awards were Flavia Harton (Greenville), Glenis Redmond (Mauldin), Bob Reeder (Columbia), Bhavna Vasudeva (Columbia), and Kim Wilson (Rock Hill). The South Carolina Governor’s Awards for the Arts and Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage Awards are presented to recipients at the South Carolina Arts Awards ceremony, normally held in person every spring. The pandemic forced the shift of last year’s ceremony to a virtual format in July rather than May. Reaction to that was positive and it is planned once again for 2021, but instead of being held in the summer it will revert to its normal timeframe in the spring. The SCAC and its partner for the Folk Heritage Awards, McKissick Museum at the University of South Carolina, will announce a date and time later.

About the 2021 S.C. Governor’s Awards for the Arts Recipients

Washington, D.C. native TOM FLOWERS (Lifetime Achievement) came to South Carolina for football at Furman University and left with a bachelor’s in art. After earning a Master of Fine Arts at the University of Iowa and serving in the U.S. Army during the Korean War, his teaching career wound its way from Kansas and North Carolina back to Furman. He spent the next 30 years teaching arts at the school, from 1959 to 1989, and was chairman of the art department for most of his tenure. Upon completion he was named to the school’s emeritus faculty. Decorated and widely exhibited as an artist, Flowers’ works have homes in museums and collections throughout the Southeast, including the South Carolina State Art Collection. He served on several Upstate arts boards and commissions and as a state representative on the American Craft Council. Thomas Earl Flowers passed away Dec. 13, 2020 after his nomination was made in the Governor’s Award artist category. He is survived by multiple practicing artists in his family, further adding to his legacy. Over the past several years, CHARLTON SINGLETON (Artist Category) has emerged as the face of jazz performance in the Lowcountry. Because of his membership in the band Ranky Tanky, a quintet that interprets the sounds of Gullah culture, he can also be called a Grammy Award winner. Singleton studied organ, violin, cello, and trumpet throughout childhood and adolescence and earned a music performance degree from South Carolina State University. Since, he’s taught music at every level from elementary school through college. In addition to Ranky Tanky, he is previous artistic director of the Charleston Jazz Orchestra, has his own touring ensemble, is organist and choir director of St. Patrick Catholic Church in Charleston and was named inaugural artist-in-residence at the renovated Gaillard Center in Charleston. He is in demand as a speaker, composer, and arranger. As president and CEO, JENNIFER CLARK EVINS (Individual Category) leads the day-to-day operations and management of Chapman Cultural Center (CCC), Spartanburg city and county’s local arts agency. Along with her county-wide arts coordination, she has nearly 26 years as a visionary community and statewide arts leader to her credit. As a volunteer, Evins led the 10-year project and capital campaign that raised $42 million that built CCC, led another successful campaign to add Mayfair Art Studios to CCC, and led the charge to get Downtown Spartanburg named a South Carolina Cultural District. Evins was the author and director for the winning $1 million Bloomberg Philanthropies Public Art Challenge. Her Culture Counts program, which started as a local asset inventory and mapping project, is now used as a South Carolina cultural tourism tool through Ten at the Top. A winner of numerous awards for service and leadership, she serves or served on prominent Upstate boards. Evins is a strong advocate for local artists, arts organizations, and arts education, and is an active board member of the South Carolina Arts Alliance. TAYLOE HARDING (Arts in Education Category) has a belief in the power of music and the arts to transform communities and individuals that is evident in his work with local and state arts education and advocacy organizations. The dean of the University of South Carolina School of Music has participated in and led efforts as diverse as 12 years on the Arts in Basic Curriculum Project steering committee, consulting on the city of Columbia’s cultural plan and for its One Columbia for Arts & Culture office, frequent advocacy work on behalf of the South Carolina Arts Alliance, and on grant panels for the defunct Cultural Council of Richland/Lexington Counties. Harding has national exposure as past president of the College Music Society and past secretary of the National Association for Schools of Music. He remains active as a composer, earning commissions, performances, and recordings worldwide. COLONIAL LIFE (Business/Foundation Category) is a Columbia-based market leader of financial protection benefits offered through the workplace. For more than 80 years the company has demonstrated a commitment to the community through corporate giving, the employee matching gift programs and volunteerism. The company also has made significant investments each year to support educational, health, wellbeing, arts and culture state programs. Colonial Life’s mission to help America’s workers face unexpected events and challenging times makes it the extraordinary company it is today. Since its 2014 founding, COLAJAZZ FOUNDATION (Organization Category) has worked tirelessly to establish Columbia as a premier jazz destination by highlighting the accomplished jazz artists and educators active in and around the city. Successful and vibrant programming includes bringing international jazz stars, including NEA Jazz Masters and Grammy Award winners, to Columbia. Its annual season includes the ColaJazz Summer Camp; ColaJazz Fest; Great Day in Columbia; Live in the Lobby (Koger Center for the Arts) series; monthly Dinner & Jazz concerts; Jazz Appreciation Month; ColaJazz Crawl; live and virtual concerts, workshops, after-school curriculum for International Jazz Day; and Jazz for Young People concerts that bring people from across the state and beyond to enjoy the capital city. The erstwhile poet laureate of South Carolina, MARJORY WENTWORTH (Special Award) is its second-longest serving. She received her appointment to the position from Gov. Mark Sanford in 2003 and served until 2020. Wentworth is New York Times bestselling co-author of Out of Wonder, Poems Celebrating Poets and author of prize-winning children’s story Shackles. Her lengthy list of published titles includes several of her own poetry books, additional co-authored titles, and she is co-editor, with Kwame Dawes, of Seeking: Poetry and Prose Inspired by the Art of Jonathan Green. Wentworth serves on the board of advisors at The Global Social Justice Practice Academy, and she is a 2020 National Coalition Against Censorship Free Speech is for Me Advocate. She teaches courses in writing, social justice and banned books at the College of Charleston and formerly taught courses at The Citadel and Art Institute of Charleston and Charleston County School of the Arts.

Correction

On Feb. 17, this copy was corrected to reflect that Charlton Singleton is a former artistic director of the Charleston Jazz Orchestra. The original copy stated he is the current artistic director and conductor.

About the South Carolina Arts Commission

The mission of the South Carolina Arts Commission (SCAC) is to promote equitable access to the arts and support the cultivation of creativity in South Carolina. We envision a South Carolina where the arts are valued and all people benefit from a variety of creative experiences. A state agency created by the South Carolina General Assembly in 1967, the SCAC works to increase public participation in the arts by providing grants, direct programs, staff assistance and partnerships in three key areas: arts education, community arts development, and artist development. Headquartered in Columbia, S.C., the SCAC is funded by the state of South Carolina, by the federal government through the National Endowment for the Arts, and other sources. Visit SouthCarolinaArts.com or call 803.734.8696, and follow @scartscomm on social media.

Bebop on down to the S.C. Jazz Festival in Cheraw!

The historic town of Cheraw, South Carolina, honors its famous native son, jazz legend Dizzy Gillespie at the South Carolina Jazz Festival October 17-20. Born in 1917, Gillespie was a founder of modern jazz, an innovative trumpeter known for his bent horn, bulging cheeks and sense of humor. Gillespie, who was famous around the world, almost always opened his performances with “I'm Dizzy Gillespie from Chee-raw, South Carolina.” The festival offers more than 20 regional artists from the Carolinas performing in venues ranging from restaurants, churches and parks to downtown streets. Headliners include Charlton Singleton, artistic director and band leader of the Charleston Jazz Orchestra, and soloist Jaimee Paul. A Bebop parade, early and late night jazz at restaurants, a Madonnari-Southern style chalk competition, kids’ activities, Dizzy's birthday party and more attract locals and tourists eager to experience top quality jazz and soak up the history of a musical legend. The event kicks off Thursday with Evening Jazz on the Green, a free street party. Tickets are $25 for a single evening pass, which includes the featured concert on Friday or Saturday evening, and $49 for a two-day weekend pass, which includes both concerts. Many other events are free and family-friendly. Visit the S.C. Jazz Festival website for a complete schedule. For additional information, call (843) 537-8420 ext. 12. Via: Cheraw Arts Commission

Jazz Artists of Charleston celebrates five years and moves forward

Leah Suárez and Charlton SingletonAccording to the Charleston City Paper, Leah Suárez and Charlton Singleton of the Jazz Artists of Charleston have a far-reaching vision for their five-year-old organization, one that is rooted in developing Charleston's jazz culture and creating a strong community of jazz performers, consumers, students, and teachers. (Story by Elizabeth Pandolfi; photo by Jonathan Boncek)

Watching the Charleston Jazz Orchestra perform at the Charleston Music Hall, you'd never think it was operating on a shoestring budget. The men wear tuxedos, the women black evening wear. The 17 musicians sit behind stylish CJO podiums. A curtain of twinkling lights forms the backdrop. And that's just what you see, of course — what you hear at a CJO concert is even more impressive. The orchestra expertly plays famous works by some of jazz's greatest composers, from George Gershwin to Billy Strayhorn to Antonio Carlos Jobim, often bringing in guest artists, vocalists, or even full orchestra sections to perform with them. Conducted by trumpeter, pianist, and bandleader Charlton Singleton, the CJO is nothing if not polished and professional. With that kind of presentation, you'd expect the CJO to be backed by a large administrative staff, or at least a donor base with deep pockets. Yet the CJO is operated by the small nonprofit Jazz Artists of Charleston (JAC), which — among its many other functions — hires CJO players (all of whom are paid) and produces six full CJO concerts each year. "We look 10 years older than we are," says Leah Suárez, the founder and executive director of Jazz Artists of Charleston. "We're working on a very limited budget, probably half of what we ideally should be working at," and 70 percent of that budget is earned revenue, an unheard-of figure for nonprofits, which usually rely on donations and grants to survive. Suárez founded the JAC five years ago with Singleton, the JAC's artistic director, and the late Jack McCray, a jazz advocate and writer who worked at the Post and Courier for many years. The three worked with a small founding board as well. Though the CJO is an integral element of the JAC's mission, it's far from the only one. Suárez and Singleton have a far-reaching vision for their organization, one that is rooted in developing Charleston's jazz culture and creating a strong community of jazz performers, consumers, students, and teachers. To that end, the JAC offers everything from small, intimate concerts to educational discussions to formal jazz history presentations. They also maintain a Jazz Around Town calendar, which lists live jazz performances in bars, restaurants, and other venues in Charleston. What might make them most unique is their focus on in-house arrangements. Rather than performing the same classic arrangements, the JAC encourages its CJO musicians to create their own, like saxophonist Robert Lewis did for this past spring's Porgy and Bess Reimagined. "Everybody knows all the songs from Porgy and Bess," Singleton says. "But the lead saxophonist, he just redid the whole thing. Everybody was in there and they were literally having a wow moment every song." Those in-house arrangements are what really set them apart from other jazz ensembles and orchestras, not just in Charleston but around the country. It's also become a source of great pride for CJO patrons. "Our audience now recognizes the difference in all of that, especially if it's something they're accustomed to hearing. For example, there are recordings that are historic — like when you hear 'Take the A Train' by Duke Ellington, or by Billy Strayhorn, who wrote it. There is one arrangement that everybody knows," Singleton says. "If we do that song, and I say to one of the musicians, 'Could you arrange this?' the audience understands when they hear the song. They know the tune, but they see it's arranged by someone from around here. And they appreciate that." Like most nonprofits — especially those which started in the heart of a recession — the JAC has had its share of struggles in the past five years, most notably McCray's death in 2011. Just three months before he passed away, the JAC had signed a lease to take over the full building at their headquarters at 185 St. Philip St. Suárez had left graduate school to focus completely on the organization, and Singleton had already started as a full-time employee. The three founders were ready to begin strategic planning for the JAC. So while McCray's passing was a devastating blow for Suárez and Singleton personally, it also put the JAC in a difficult position. "Jack was working — he had retired from the Post and Courier and was full-time volunteering with us, essentially," Suárez says. "That's what a lot of people don't know. They don't know that the loss was not just a personal one, not just a board member, a founding member. It was work being done. He was working all the time for the mission of what we were doing, and of course in our community." Fully recovering from the loss of McCray — from a professional standpoint, that is — took them about 18 months, Suárez says. Now she and Singleton feel like they've finally gotten to a point where they can celebrate the five years they've put behind them and start looking forward to the future. They've changed the times for the JAC's season six performances (5 and 8 p.m. instead of 7 and 10 p.m.) and refocused their efforts on promoting gigs by individual jazz performers with the Jazz Around Town calendar. They're also beginning year six in a new, as-yet-unannounced location that will give them double the office and performance space, so they can host more events in-house instead of renting halls. Having a performance space dedicated to jazz and the JAC is important to the two leaders. They started hosting in-house concerts last year during their first JAC Week, which presents several small, unique events — like reinterpretations of classic albums or movie nights — over four or five days. "We started using the space how we intended in doing these tiny little concerts for JAC Week," Suárez says. "This year we did it again, and it just felt right. That's the kind of environment we want to try to be, so the patrons can have direct contact." They'll announce their new home, the Charleston Jazz House, sometime in October, and open their doors to the community soon after that. Eventually, Suárez and Singleton want it to become a kind of community jazz hub, hosting business workshops and lectures for musicians, offering educational programming, and generally supporting and promoting jazz in the Holy City. Ideally the Jazz House would be similar to the SFJAZZ Center in San Francisco, which is the first stand-alone building in the country built specifically for jazz. "People say, well you have the Gaillard and Charleston Music Hall, but they're not just for what we do," Suárez says. "I think that would be a dream come true to one day be able to walk into a building that hopefully overlooks the beautiful harbor, but something that feels the way we live essentially as jazz musicians. There's a long history of that in Charleston. It's not just jazz per se, it's American music." Of course, in order to get there, the JAC will need support. They were recently awarded a small grant from Charleston County, and their season subscriber list continues to grow — at this point, patrons are renewing their subscriptions before the year's performance schedule is even announced. But an organization this ambitious needs committed donors if they're going to accomplish the goals they've set for themselves. "I think JAC gives [our patrons] that ability to feel good that musicians are supported. We've seen our contributions increase, because they see the value of what they're getting and they see musicians working together," Suárez says. "It's not just another organization where their executive director or development director comes to them and asks for money— we're working on, 'Hey, can you pay for the stands, would you pay for the lights, would you help us keep our light bill going, do you want to help this artist get his album out?'" If the organization can continue to grow its donor base, she and Singleton will be able to concentrate more and more on the reason they started JAC in the first place: the music. "This institution is a grassroots effort and has really taken a lot of sacrifice — I mean, we all sacrifice a lot to make sure it survives, because we care about it. My hope is that this is our forward-moving year. This fifth year was a celebration of what we've come into," Suárez says. "Now we're looking at where we're headed."
Via: Charleston City Paper