Mary Lou Williams Women in Jazz Festival

Rhonda Hamilton is your guest host from the ninth annual Mary Lou Williams Women in Jazz Festival at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC. Rhonda participated as an MC at the first MLW Festival, where Dee Dee Bridgewater also sang in 1996.

After almost a decade, we're seeing new faces at the Mary Lou Williams festival. Case in point: Miriam Sullivan. Miriam was born in 1972. Out of high school, she received the Milt Hinton Scholarship Award to study bass at the Manhattan School of Music. She has also won the competition on Showtime at the Apollo Theatre several times. Miriam Sullivan and her band, the Nitty Gritty Factor, play her "Suite Mary," for Mary Lou Williams.

LaVerne Butler

They're followed by Luciana Souza, singing words of Pablo Neruda. Luciana translated his poetry and set it to music. Then LaVerne Butler of New Orleans, left, scats and shows off her trio. The Kennedy Center uses LaVerne's picture in almost all its publicity. She's really at home here.

The headliner is Karen Briggs worked with Yanni for more than a decade. Karen Briggs has a strong, impressive sound on her violin. Her first extended professional work was with the Virginia Symphony.

Karen Briggs

Briggs also won the talent contest at the Apollo Theater, four times. From her appearance on Yanni videos from the Acropolis and the Royal Albert Hall, she was tagged "that lady in red." Yanni gave Karen lots of solo space onstage, and she delivered, as she does on JazzSet.

"Suite Mary" by Miriam Sullivan
"Sonnet 99" by Pablo Neruda, transl., arr. by Luciana Souza
"Go Away, Little Boy" by Gerald Goffin & Carole King
"Basin Street Blues" by Spencer Williams
"Paisley" by Karen Briggs
"Autumn Leaves" by Kozma-Mercer-Prevert

The Nitty Gritty Factor:
Leader Miriam Sullivan on bass; Tia Fuller on saxophone; Miki Hayama on piano; Ambrose Akimmusire on trumpet; and Nasheet Waits on drums.
Luciana Souza's trio:
Bruce Barth on piano, John Hebert on bass, Clarence Penn on drums.
LaVerne Butler's trio:
Xavier Davis on piano, Ugonna Okegwo on bass, Quincy Davis on drums.
Karen Briggs's sidemen:
Brandon Coleman on keyboards, Cedric Anderson on drums, and Cornelius Mimms on bass


  • Miriam Sullivan

  • Luciana Souza

  • LaVerne Butler

  • Karen Briggs

  • Mary Lou Williams -- at the Institute of Jazz Studies

  • Rhonda Hamilton -- midday host, weekdays on WBGO

  • Kennedy Center Jazz -- Butler performs on May 13, 2005

    Dr. Billy Taylor, the Founder and Artistic Director of the Mary Lou Williams Women in Jazz Festival, with Darrell Ayres and Kevin Struthers at the Kennedy Center.
    Our recordings are by Greg Hartman and his staff at Big Mo Recording.
    And also: the JazzSet Technical Director in New York is Duke Markos. Producer: Becca Pulliam; Executive Producer: Thurston Briscoe III, at WBGO Jazz 88 in Newark, N.J.