The Lowcountry Jazz Festival will mark its 10th year with a three-day event, Aug. 31 through Sept. 2, at the Gaillard Center.
The lineup includes stars of smooth jazz, including Boney James, Avery Sunshine, David Benoit and Marc Antoine.
The event raises money for Closing the Gap in Health Care, which provides scholarships to local medical students. Closing the Gap is a project of Thaddeus Bell, a physician who has long been concerned about health disparities that affect African Americans.
The festival kicks off Friday with special “All-White Party Affair” in the Gaillard ballroom. Tickets are $85 each (plus fees) and guests are asked to dress in white. The event will feature live music from saxophonist Paul Taylor, tunes spun by a DJ, hors d’oeuvres, wine and dancing.
The party is meant as a celebration of Bell’s daughter Tonisha, who died of cancer in 2015. Tonisha Bell was instrumental in developing the Closing the Gap enterprise.
The first of two festival concerts on Saturday will feature singer-songwriter Avery Sunshine (Denise Nicole White); flutist Althea Rene, singer Selena Albright and sax player Jazmin Ghent; and pianist David Benoit and guitarist Marc Antonie.
The second show will feature sax players Boney James and Eric Darius; guitarists Nick Colionne and Matt Marshak; pianist Brian Simpson; and singer Eric Robertson.
Tickets for each of the two concerts are $68-$153 (plus fees), and can be purchased at gaillardcenter.org.
Bell said the festival has moved from the North Charleston Performing Arts Center to the Gaillard Center and its mainstage performances concentrated in two days. Most patrons are from outside of the Charleston area. The city of Charleston awarded the festival a grant of $35,000 to help defray costs, Bell said.
Last year, enough money was raised to cover marketing expenses for Closing the Gap, including radio appearances, and to provide $10,000 in scholarships to two students, Bell said.
This year's scholarship recipients are Ka'la Drayton and Christina-Lin Brown. Both are graduates of Academic Magnet High School and the University of South Carolina who are currently enrolled in the MUSC College of Medicine.
The festival is the only event in Charleston expressly devoted to presenting smooth jazz artists.