NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University is again pulling out all the entertainment stops for the 2014 Scholarship Gala including a university dance ensemble, jazz musicians, an award-winning saxophonist and award-wining R&B, jazz and blues band…all hosted by actor, writer and comedian, Jonathan Slocumb.
Themed “An Evening of Honors,” the Gala takes place Friday, Sept. 26, and will not only pay tribute to long-time educators Drs. Jamye and Mcdonald Williams and Pro Football Hall of Famer Claude Humphrey, but also raise scholarship dollars for students in need attending the University.
“We are excited about the Gala as we reach out to our community members, industry partners, friends and alumni from across the state and region,” said Dr. Sharon Peters, Gala co-chairman. “This is an important event for the University and we look forward to a successful event which will raise funds for our students and to support the University.”
Host Slocumb, the ferociously funny, multi-talented nonconformist comedian who has been bringing fun back to the family for more than a decade now, has gone from “tearing up” clubs across the map to hosting award shows for prestigious organizations like the NAACP and the Urban League. For seven years in a row, he has been the main stage host for the Essence Music Festival in New Orleans. And he does it all without using any profanity.
“I’m very balanced and very diverse. For years, I was placed in a box and everything was related to gospel and religion,” Slocumb said. “But I’m able to perform for the mainstream and the religious audiences. However, the main thing is that I’m always clean.”
As an artist who appeals to broader audiences, Slocumb’s television appearances include: HBO’s Def Comedy Jam, The UNCF telethon, BET’s Bobby Jones Gospel, BET Tonight, Teen Summit, Vibe, The Montel Williams Show, OH DRAMA, Life Today, the NAACP Image Awards, and twice the host of the Stellar Awards.
Not only is he smart, handsome, well dressed and clever, Slocumb brings a level of class like no one else. And he does it all through his faith in God. “I just want to bring good quality entertainment to people,” he said, “because they need it now more than ever before.”
According to Grant Winrow, gala co-chair, the committee and University are thrilled to have Slocumb serve as the Master of Ceremonies for the special event.
“He is sure to have your sides hurting with his brand of ‘clean Christian” comedy,’ said Winrow. “You can expect him to joke and play with the audience to the point they might actually be embarrassed to leave their seat. From talking with him, he is excited to be coming to Nashville and taking part in the Gala.”
A reception kicks off the evening beginning at 5:30 p.m. in the Main Ballroom Ballroom of the Music City Center in Downtown Nashville. Jazmin Ghent, a graduate student from Huntsville, Alabama, studying music education, will perform jazz saxophone selections. Ghent, a recent Smooth Jazz Cruise “Opening Act” winner, will be accompanied on piano by James Dunn, a sophomore music student from Nashville.
Dinner entertainment begins at 7 p.m. with the Tennessee State University Dance Experience Ensemble. Choreographed by artistic director and founder Judy Gentry, the 14-member ensemble executes all major dance genres and has performed with the Nashville Symphony, Dr. Bobby Jones, and New Life singers in concert with Dr. Pearl Primus.
The TSU Jazz Collegians, a 21-member group who have played across the country and around the world, will perform dinner music. Under the direction of James Sexton, the ensemble dates back to the early years of the Tennessee Agricultural and Industrial State Normal College. They have performed in Carnegie Hall, the All-American College Jazz Festival in Orlando, the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame Student Festival, and the Notre Dame Jazz Festival in South Bend Indiana. They recently performed as part of a university exchange program at the Mompox Jazz Festival in Colombia, South America.
Freddie T. Holt and the After 5 Tux Band rounds out the evening when they provide after-dinner entertainment. The band includes three former members of TSU’s Aristocrat of Bands, with all members recording veterans in the Nashville and Middle Tennessee area. The band performs hits from country and Blues, to pop, rock, R&R and jazz.
“We are excited about the Gala, which is becoming one of Nashville’s must-attend event,” added Winrow. “Not only do we get the opportunity to showcase the talent of our students, but also honor great educators and one of TSU’s NFL Hall of Fame players. It will be a fun and exciting evening, all with the hopes of raising scholarship dollars for deserving students.”
For more information on the 2014 Scholarship Gala call 615.963.5481 or visit www.tnstate.edu/scholarshipgala. The gala takes place Friday, Sept. 26 at Music City Center with tickets available for purchase.