Charlton Singleton, founding music director of the Charleston Jazz Orchestra, will leave his post after the final performance of the 10th anniversary season in December.

Singleton, a trumpeter and arranger, has conducted the CJO since it was established in 2008 by the late Jack McCray, Leah Suarez and other collaborators. In 2015, Mary Beth Natarajan took over as executive director.

Singleton has been busy, performing jazz and pop regularly at the Charleston Music Hall, Souls jazz bar, Dockery's and other venues, and visiting schools as the Gaillard Center's artist-in-residence.

After the Holiday Swing concert of Dec. 1, Singleton will devote himself to other projects, especially the Gullah-inspired band Ranky Tanky, which has been gaining in popularity since its debut in 2016.

Robert Lewis, a saxophone player, arranger, CJO regular and director of jazz studies at the College of Charleston, will take over as CJO music director.

“While we’re sad to see Charlton depart, we’re absolutely thrilled to see his musical career skyrocketing and we deeply value his many contributions during the past 10 years,” Natarajan, the orchestra executive director, said in a statement. “We’re also very pleased to welcome Robert Lewis to the role of music director and look forward to the impact his leadership and expertise will have on our performances.”

For more information and tickets to CJO concerts, go to Tickets for Season 11 go on sale to the general public Sept. 15.

Contact Adam Parker at or 843-937-5902.

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