These days, more often than not, if you want good news you’ve got to make it yourself. And that’s what we’ve been up to at CapitalBop: laying new plans, and helping new music come to life.
Today we have some particularly good news to share: We are happy to announce that Jeanette Berry has come aboard as CapitalBop’s first-ever Executive Director! This is a major step for CB as an organization. After more than a decade in activity, we are humbled at the opportunity to expand our staff, and with it our capacity to serve the D.C. Music Community.
A professional vocalist, educator and organizer, Jeanette arrives with a great deal of experience to her name. But it is her spirit that won us over. Her empathy matches her skills as an administrator. As an active artist, Jeanette also brings an important perspective as we focus on building our organization in service to D.C. Artists, and to the Music Culture of D.C. in general.
CapitalBop is dedicated to presenting, promoting and preserving Jazz in D.C., and as we continue to showcase the importance of D.C.’s powerful cultural legacy, Jeanette’s range of experience and her devotion to this music will be essential to taking the organization to the next step — and beyond.
We are also excited to announce that Jamie Sandel, who has served mightily as our full-time managing director for the past four years, will continue as a member of the CB team, in a new role: creative media lead. (Notice who took the beautiful pictures of Jeanette you see here.) More to come on his new role soon!
Below is a message from Jeanette herself. Please join us in welcoming her!
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It is my pleasure and an honor to have been named CapitalBop’s first Executive Director. It has been a lifelong journey getting to this point. Let me start by telling you a little bit about myself. I am a Native New Yorker, having grown up on Long Island. My proximity to the city gave me the opportunity to engage in all the beauty and culture that New York can offer: playing hooky from school with my mother to go to a museum, listening to busking musicians, going to jazz vespers, galavanting around the city, soaking everything in.
I was never one who believed NYC was the center of the universe, though, and moving to different cities has always been important to me.
My young adult years took me to college in Philly, right at the end of the Neo Soul era. I’d taken just one listen to The Roots, Jill Scott, and Musiq Soulchild, and immediately knew I had to be there. Coming from a family of musicians and entertainers, my reverence for Black American Music, Literature and Art runs deep and expansive. My practice of Black American Music has given me the opportunity to tour around the world, recording and performing jazz, R&B, hip-hop and other popular music with some of the genres’ most important names, like Ms. Lauryn Hill, Grand Puba, The Roots Crew and others.
Now that I’m in D.C., it’s time to listen to the musicality of everyday living. Since moving here full-time during the pandemic, I’ve gotten to know some very special D.C. Natives who, maybe purposefully, sold this city to me in a way I couldn’t neglect. The beauty of the architecture, greenery, and the culture in every neighborhood has set my soul ablaze as I explore and observe. So many have tried to mute it or steal it, but the music and culture here is so deep, it’s clearly not going anywhere. I am affirmed in my move here and am passionate about supporting and helping to grow what already exists.
Washington, D.C., is an invaluable and important city to Black Americans. While I am not generally someone who likes the persona of a tourist, you will catch me reading the historical placards across the city. These, along with listening to stories from elders and young people alike who have been here their whole lives, continue to teach me about the national music history of D.C. This is a place where all my favorites have been, some even beginning their careers here. Whether it be the Howard Theater, Bohemian Caverns or other venues that have not existed for a long time, the connection between the music and culture with the politics and displacement of Black Americans cannot go unnoticed. This is a large reason why I’m here with CapitalBop, to share and preserve this legacy while supporting, giving power to, and promoting those who are here doing this work right now.
My passion for music is fortified by a host of other experiences: labor organizing with the Music Workers Alliance; managing teams; being an educator, from the elementary to the college level; and working much of my life in the service industry. Like I said, getting to this moment has been a lifelong journey.
Here at CapitalBop, I look to support and grow the mission and vision by expanding our artist roster, supporting the artists in town with resources and performance space, engaging more of our communities by building more musical and humanities programming that includes them, and giving artists and communities the power to continue creating the music and culture that have long provided the heartbeat of this city. I ask myself, in all the work that I do: How can we better serve our communities? This question propels me each day, and I look to lead CapitalBop in service of not only the organization, but the city that this organization serves: Washington, D.C.