LGBQT: Nation's First Jazz Gay-Pride Festival OutBeat Opens In Philadelphia, Honors Billy Strayhorn First Night

By Ian Holubiak i.holubiak@classicalite.com | Sep 19, 2014 09:23 PM EDT

In keeping with the nation's progressive step, Philadelphia will play host to the U.S.'s very first LGBQT jazz festival: OutBeat. The first production, Lush Life: Philadelphia Celebrates Billy Strayhorn, honors the genre heavyweight.

Among the echelon of top jazzers, Strayhorn is no enigma. At 16 years old, he composed the greater measure of the standard Lush Life, rubbed elbows and got along famously with Duke Ellington and Lena Horne, even cited as one of her big inspirations, and coining a the song "King Fit the Battle of Alabam" for Ellington's '63 My People.

Sadly, the musician died in 1967 at the age of 51 from esophageal cancer. Despite his passing, he has stood the test of time and was and is a jazz mainstay to date.

The festival, OutBeat, is popping up at various venues all over the city, including a Saturday night program featuring drummer Bill Stewart and his quartet at Painted Bride.

Ending on Sunday, the festival could become a landmark institution if all goes according to plan.

For tickets, prices and locations make your way to their site here.

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