Jazz Band Performs at National Museum of African American History and Culture


Last weekend was a busy one for the West Potomac jazz band. In addition to their annual Valentine’s Dance, the band had the unique opportunity to perform for the National Education Association (NEA) at the newest Smithsonian, the National Museum of African-American History and Culture.

The band, consisting of 26 juniors and seniors, was offered the gig due to a contact that conductor Steve Rice had in the NEA. Typically, an adult band is chosen for these events, but the NEA decided to offer the spot to students this year.

Sarah Lore has been singing with the jazz band since the spring of her freshman year. She’s been featured on the band’s renditions of Frank Sinatra, Nina Simone and more.

“First of all, the place was beautiful,” she said. “I came late and heard music. I thought it was a recording…it was incredible. Then I realized it was [our band].”

The cocktail party for the NEA was held outside of the Oprah Winfrey Theater within the the museum. Associates chatted around tables of assorted finger-foods while listening to the band play classic hits, from Earth Wind & Fire to Whitney Houston.

“This was an amazing opportunity,” Lore said. “It was pretty exciting.”

An unexpected perk of the event came after the band was finished performing.

“We got to walk around the museum after we were done,” junior trumpet-player Will Makinen said. “It was pretty cool to learn some new things about African-American history and culture.”

However, some found the exhibits to be emotionally intense.

“It was really sad; I cried a little bit,” Lore said. “I think it’s important for everyone to go there if they can, because it’s a part of history can be overlooked.”

It proved to be an enjoyable night for both the members of the jazz band and the attendees.

“The NEA was elated to hear us play,” Makinen said. “It’s nice to see people outside of the band community appreciating us.”