Photo: Bluesman Buddy Flett performs live in 2013.
Located smack dab in the middle of Shreveport’s historic Highland neighborhood, the Renzi Education and Art Center is a free after school program offering tutoring and art classes for K-12 students. Full disclosure: I have taught a class at Renzi Education and Art Center, and my wife, Sara, has served as president of the organization’s advisory board. The Renzi Center combines tutoring in basic subjects like math and language arts with hands-on experiences in sculpture, photography, music and more. The Renzi Center also knows how to throw a great party, and their next big fundraiser event is coming up, 11 a.m.-2 p.m., Saturday, April 5.
The 2nd annual Jazz and Blues Brunch will return to The Shop, a funky venue with the feel of a speakeasy located at 2002 Southern Avenue (at the intersection of Southern Avenue and Olive Street). The event will feature live music from Highland’s own Buddy Flett, among many other talented musicians, as well as food from Marilynn’s Place, coffee from Rhino Coffee, and a cash bar serving mimosas and bloody marys. In other words, the event is like an industrial-strength dose of the Highland and South Highlands neighborhoods, from the music to the food. Tickets are $35 and may be purchased in advance or at the door.
At last year’s event, the highlight for me was watching a variety of young musicians take the stage and perform. Christy Herren Kirkley, program director at the Renzi Center, does a great job of describing some powerful moments that took place on stage at last year’s Jazz and Blues Brunch. A similar program of performances by young musicians is planned for the April 5 event.
“We had Buddy Flett playing with his band for the first half of the brunch,” Kirkley said. “For the second half, we had about five Caddo Magnet High students who each got up and sang a song, and everyone was just blown away by each of them. Everyone in the audience shared in this moment of awe.”
If you’d like to learn more about the Renzi Education and Art Center, watch this powerful video about the center’s programs: