Friday, February 22, 7:00 p.m.
Moving to Wurtsboro in the 1950s, J.C. Johnson was a significant, but unsung member of the Harlem Renaissance and Jazz Age. He wrote songs for Bessie Smith, Ethel Waters, Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday, among others.
Presenter Gary Holmes, playwright and co-owner of the Canal Towne Emporium in Wurtsboro, has dedicated himself to preserving and promoting J.C.’s music and legacy.
Learn about the life of the talented J.C. Johnson and his connection to Wurtsboro in this informative and entertaining musical program. Local artist Lucyane Bouchardet, accompanied by pianist Joseph Mennonna, will perform some of J.C.’s pieces.
Gary Holmes first met J.C. Johnson when he was about ten years old. His father introduced him to an older gentleman he said was a songwriter from New York who now lived in our village of Wurtsboro. That man turned out to be J.C.. Gary had recently started piano lessons and was passionately interested in his lessons and music in general. He chatted a bit with Mr. Johnson about his playing and the kind of music he liked, after which J.C. excused himself.
Within the hour, he returned with a published copy of one of his songs, BELIEVE IT BELOVED, and gave it to Gary. On the front he had written, “GARY, If you learn to appreciate good American music, you should succeed, J.C. Johnson”. Thus began a friendship and mentorship that lasted until J.C.’s passing in 1981.
Mezzo-soprano Lucyane Bouchardet is a native of Brazil where she has performed in many music settings. Her U.S. performances include operatic choirs and solos in diverse venues including Carnegie Hall. Joseph Mennonna is a multi-instrumentalist, composer and producer currently performing in actor Kevin Bacon’s band, The Bacon Brothers.
For more information on J.C. Johnson and Gary Holmes’ original musical about J.C. Johnson, Trav’ln, click here.