Ocean City Has All That Jazz - Carolina Country

Ocean City Has All That Jazz

The Ocean City Jazz Festival celebrates pride, integrity and perseverance

By Rue Reynold

Ocean City Has All That Jazz

In a time of segregation and marginalization of people of color — 15 years before the Civil Rights Act of 1964 — Ocean City made history as the only African American-owned community with residential beach property in North Carolina, turning a desolate World War II military site into a lively coastal town.

Ocean City Jazz Festival was born of humble beginnings in 2009, a two-hour event featuring two jazz musicians in a 30-by-40-foot tent at the community center. Local leaders created a feast for the 100 people in attendance to celebrate the community’s 60th anniversary.

That one night has blossomed into a weekend event attracting over 1,600 attendees, evolving with the purpose of funding and preserving the foundation of the community.

Craig and Carla Torrey, festival committee co-chairs, strive to bring awareness to the community’s history and raise funds to maintain and preserve aging buildings.

“Ocean City Jazz Festival is a place where people of all backgrounds come together to see old friends and make new ones,” Craig explains.

An event for the history books

Attendees can expect a weekend full of laughs and excitement with interactive activities and music that aims straight for the soul.

Karen Crenshaw

Artist Karen Crenshaw in the Open Air Village at the 2019 Ocean City Jazz Festical

On Friday, July 1, the Ocean City Jazz Festival will go all-out in its first live attendance in two years with a special kick-off party beginning at 6 p.m.

The evening will start with an unveiling ceremony of Ocean City’s induction into the NC Civil Rights Trail, a special marker acknowledging the community’s role in the Civil Rights Movement. Following the ceremony is an all-white attire event with a jazz pianist. Food and wine tastings will be readily available throughout the night with recipes coming from cookbooks that date back to the community’s beginnings.

The festival continues in full swing over the weekend with art, music and food starting at 5 p.m. on July 2 and again on July 3. Get a taste of comfort with community-made dishes or explore the various styles of food trucks that will be taking orders throughout the night.

Eric Darius

Eric Darius

Attendees at Ocean City Jazz Festival

Attendees at Ocean City Jazz Festival

Attendees would also be able to take part in the festival’s popular silent auction and contests. Visit the art village and booths of visual artists before heading to the stage for the main event.

Star-studded line-up

From pure straight-ahead jazz to smooth easy listening, you can indulge in your soul or dance the night away to performances from notable and Grammy-nominated artists, including Marqueal Jordan, John Brown Little Big Band, Eric Darius, Vincent Ingala, Gerald Veasley, Cyrus Chestnut and Derrick Gardner with the John Brown Quartet.

Special thanks

Craig and Carla extend their appreciation to supporters of the event, including Jones-Onslow EMC, the NC Arts Council, South Arts, the Town of North Topsail Beach and Only in Onslow, all of which have been invaluable partners for the Ocean City Jazz Festival and community.

Sample All That Jazz"

About the Author

Rue Reynold is the editorial assistant for Carolina Country.

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