John Gilbreath smiling in front of jazz art poster

John Gilbreath photo by Bill Uznay

I love the Golden Ear Awards. This annual event, perhaps more than any other Earshot Jazz program, organically connects us with Seattle’s incredible community of jazz artists. From the open call for nominations, through the creation of the ballot and the public voting process, and on to the love-fest of the awards ceremony, this is a true peer-to-peer acknowledgment of the great work being done every day, all around us. It gives us a chance to pause and to co-create a ceremony of appreciation.

When I first came around the Earshot organization as a fan and volunteer, I attended the first Golden Ear Awards party in January of 1991. I’ve been to every one since then. Over the years, as the face of Seattle jazz has changed and grown, the essence of the event has remained as rewarding, and often touching, as ever. Someone always cries, and that’s a beautiful thing. 

Being an artist is not easy work. Alongside the obvious external struggles, the internal judgments can be hellish and unrelenting. We all go along doing our work every day with never enough money, never enough time, seldom enough love, and rarely enough affirmation, let alone satisfaction. We’re grateful that this ceremony can, even briefly, bring artists together in honor of each other. Honest tears of gratitude can override a lot of cynicism. 

Every artist is important. The arts and culture are essential for a successful society and that must begin at home. As Mayor Bruce Harrell recently said, “Seattle has always been a hub for creatives and visionaries and we need to continue to support and develop our world-class arts scene.” Right on. 

April is Jazz Appreciation Month! Our goal is to affirm the importance of jazz in Seattle all year. We do that, with your help, by supporting our resident artists with programs like the Golden Ear Awards and by engaging audiences and students with world-class concert presentations. 

Some of the fascinating concerts on the horizon include every saxophonist’s favorite, Mark Turner, on May 21; the brilliant Lakecia Benjamin Quartet on June 1; forward-thinking saxophonist/educator Steve Lehman with his remarkable trio on June 17; and the exciting South African pianist Nduduzo Makhathini on July 1. Tickets are on sale. 

Earshot Jazz is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and your tax-deductible donations are essential to the work we do. Please join the JAM and make a donation to Earshot Jazz today and/or tomorrow. We appreciate your support. 

See you out there!



Posted on

March 29, 2023