Boney James concert benefits Yo:Durham

By Shalayah McMillan
YO:Durham Intern
the Durham VOICE

For a teenager growing up in Northeast Central Durham, smooth jazz might not be the favored genre of music.

But combine jazz with popular artists like Mario, Letoya Luckett , Heather Headley, The Isley Brothers, Donell Jones and Teena Marie — and then you might be on to something that the neighborhood teens like.

YO:Durham internship and mentoring coordinator Eric Olson-Getty (left) chats with Boney James concert goers at the reception held Nov. 5. (Photo Courtesy of Susan Blackmon)

Boney James, a world-renowned saxophonist, is the kind of jazz artist who teams up with today’s R & B singers to produce sounds that almost anyone can move to.

On Saturday, Nov. 5, the Carolina Theatre, YO:Durham, and Duke Health Systems joined forces to host a benefit  concert for YO:Durham.

Duke Health Systems has also donated in the past for other YO:Durham special events.

This was YO:Durham’s second benefit concert — the first was called “Jazz For Peace” — and was held at Beyu Caffé downtown on Main Street.

YO:Durham has been around for five years and counts on fundraising to keep it up and running.

Tickets sold by YO:Durham for the James concert were $50, with $13 of every ticket sold by YO:Durham going to the organization.

People who bought tickets from YO:Durham are able to write off the $13 as a tax deduction.

More than 60 people bought tickets from YO:Durham.

Eric Olson-Getty is the internship and mentoring coordinator for YO:Durham.

He said that the organization was looking for its fall fundraiser for the year and chose the Boney James concert.

“A lot of people in town appreciate jazz and Boney James’s music,” said Olson-Getty.

YO:Durham founder Susan Blackmon  is a big fan of Boney James’ music and said that the YO:Durham development committee puts benefit concerts together.

Also helping out were about six YO:Durham volunteers who worked with the organization at the reception that was held before the concert from 7 to 8 p.m.

Volunteers helped take passes at the door.

Free food and beverages went to about 60 concert attendees. The food included cakes, cheeses, popcorn, soda and wine.

Volunteers for the Boney James reception for YO:Durham included, left to right, Jade McClain, Maia Crumbie, Sharif Ruebin and Waikaiki Josepth. (Photo courtesy of YO:Durham)

Local food and drink sponsors included companies like Thai Cafe, Elmo’s Diner, Whole Foods, Bull Street Gourmet & Market, Mad Popper and Costco.

Also Benjamin Vineyards and Winery in Graham and Haw River Wine Man in Burlington donated wine for the concert reception.

If you don’t know Boney James, here’s a quick profile of him.

He plays urban jazz with elements of R&B and is a three-time Grammy nominee.

He has four gold albums and has sold 3 million records worldwide. In 2010 Billboard Magazine named him the third top contemporary jazz artist.

Boney James was born in Lowell, Mass., as James Oppenheim. He took up playing clarinet at the age 8 and switched to saxophone when he was 10.

James also called his inspiration legendary musician Quincy Jones.

The Boney James concert raised about $1,900 total for YO:Durham.

YO-Durham will hold its next fundraiser, a benefit breakfast, in February. The benefit breakfast usually raises about $30,000 for the organization.

The annual budget for YO:Durham runs about $165,ooo.

Olson-Getty and Blackmon said that the concert was very entertaining. James went so far as playing his sax down among the audience.

“The concert went smoothly and people enjoyed themselves,” said Olson-Getty.