Just yesterday, as I was biking through downtown on a perfect summer day, I had the pleasure of stumbling on a noontime jazz performance at Lafayette Greens, a gorgeous urban garden in the heart of Detroit. The garden is a recent and marvelous addition to the urban landscape, and well worth taking the time to visit on its own, but combined with a jazz performance under a bright blue sky, it’s hard to imagine a better way to enjoy a summer afternoon in the D.
The two talented performers, keyboardist Shane McKeever and violinist/vocalist Alexandria Way — both alumni of the Arts League of Michigan Jazz Mentorship Program — kept the crowd entertained with a soulful performance of classic jazz tunes.
The event was sponsored by Yup Connect, and served as a way to bring people together downtown — especially young professionals looking for a nice spot to take a lunch break — and to highlight the work of a few nonprofits. The featured nonprofit of this event was VIP Mentoring, whose mission is to connect Detroit-area children with mentors who are able to provide a guiding hand through the child’s development. VIP Mentoring boasts of more than 35 years of successfully cultivating strong mentor-mentee relationships, with the hope of “breaking the cycle of behavior that leads to delinquency and often incarceration for under-privileged youth.”
Noontime jazz sponsored by nonprofits doing incredibly-important work — these are the kinds of positive and encouraging efforts that continue to take place in this wonderful city, regardless of the notoriously bad press the city often receives in the national media. But those on the ground working to improve Detroit long ago stopped paying attention to the city’s reputation, because they’re not dwelling on the problem, they’re working on the solution.
Lafayette Greens, 142 West Lafayette, Detroit; 313-227-5555