MC Winter Jazz Experience


Cassandra Webster, Memphis Challenge   901-312-9620

Ashlei Williams, GJC Publicity   253-693-8711

Star-studded Lineup Confirmed for Memphis Challenge Winter Jazz Experience

MEMPHIS, Tenn. November 19, 2018 – The city of Memphis is buzzing about an event that will prove to be a perfect start to the holiday season. Memphis Challenge will give a warm welcome to winter on Friday, December 7 with its “Jazzin’ Around 7” concert, featuring a headlining performance from international recording artist, Johnny Britt.

Britt will perform material from his critically-acclaimed “Marvin Meets Miles” project and his latest single, “So Hot,” which features Najee and Paul Brown. This holiday season, Britt’s new song, “Christmas Is Here Tonight (Christmas Time Of The Year)”, is being played on radio stations nationwide. In Memphis, Britt’s music will fill the room starting at 7:00pm at the Halloran Centre for Performing Arts & Education.

Recently, Britt scored big with his trumpet appearances in the Oscar and Golden Globe award-winning film “La La Land,” on the soundtrack of the Oscar-nominated film, “Hidden Figures,” and as a session singer for the new film “Creed II.” Though he is making his mark in Hollywood, Britt has been no stranger to the limelight having signed with Motown Records. Additionally, his group, Impromp2, has performed at The White House, The U.S. Tennis Open,  on Soul Train, and on The Lady Of Soul Awards. This multi-talented artist will amaze the Memphis crowd with his background as a singer, performer, songwriter, producer, trumpeter, arranger, and composer.

“I am honored to be able to perform for an event that supports arts education and youth development in such a musically rich city as Memphis,” Britt said. “It’s going to be a festive celebration during one of the most joyous times of the year. We’re going to have a good time!”

With decades of experience under his belt, Britt studied music at the prestigious Conservatory of Versailles just outside of Paris, France, and has worked with music legends including David Bowie, Quincy Jones, Luther Vandross, Josh Groban, Jennifer Lopez, Maxwell, John Legend, Common, and more. He is also a member of the “Rock & Roll Hall of Fame” group, Little Anthony and The Imperials.

Memphis Challenge is pleased to present another superstar Memphis native, program alumna Lila Hood: a captivating electric violinist, recording artist, string arranger, and music educator. Hood recorded a session with Lady Gaga for the movie, “A Star Is Born” and headlined the West Adams Jazz Festival. A White Station High School graduate, Hood now resides in Los Angeles and is dedicated to increasing diversity in classical music. Since studying at Georgetown University, Howard University, and Vanderbilt’s Blair School of Music, Hood has performed for the Jamaica Ocho Rios International Jazz Festival, Shakhar and Andrea Bocelli, recording artist Dennis Graham and his son, Drake, Blues Alley Jazz Club, L.A. Fashion Week, and the Ebony Fashion-Fair Anniversary.

Hood established The Blue Violin Foundation to teach violin and piano to students from urban communities. Her most recent CD “Dreamcatcher” includes collaborations with Malcolm-Jamal Warner, L. Young, Trenyce Cobbins, Al Kapone, and The Pharcyde. She is also a successful screenwriter, with her last script winning eight awards to date.

The evening will also include selections from Memphis’s own Bill Hurd Trio. Bill Hurd’s mastery of the alto and tenor saxophone has been compared to that of John Coltrane and his flair on soprano and baritone sax are equally impressive. He has recorded with artists such as Maurice White, Greg Curtis, Phil Perry, J. Blackfoot, and Wendy Moten, and with fellow legendary Memphis musicians like Isaac Hayes, Kirk Whalum, Kevin Whalum, Floyd Newman, Rod McGaha, Rick Braun, and Lester Snell. He is also known as Dr. William C. Hurd, as he is a practicing ophthalmologist. In addition to his medical degree, he has an MBA from M.I.T. and a B.S. in Engineering from Notre Dame.

To hear what guests are in store for at “Jazzin’ Around 7,” head to the following music pages that are hyperlinked: Dr. Bill Hurd, Lila Hood and Johnny Britt. Additionally, to arrange interviews including performance previews with artists during the week of the event, please send inquiries to

Event Information:

  • When: Friday, Dec. 7, 2018; 6:00pm VIP Reception, 6:30pm Silent Auction, 7:00pm Concert
  • Where: Halloran Centre for Performing Arts & Education, 225 S. Main Street, Memphis, Tenn.
  • How: Tickets start at $75 to $225 and may be purchased on Ticketmaster

About The Memphis Challenge

In 1989, Joseph R. “Pitt” Hyde piloted The Memphis Challenge (MC), at East High School, with 20 students.  Now spanning three decades of inspiring and developing future Memphis leaders, MC has a tradition of raising awareness in ways that are creative, impactful and student-focused. The nonprofit has impacted more than 900 students of color, through its senior program, by attracting the attention of admissions counselors at top-tier colleges and universities across the nation.

In 2014, The Memphis Challenge program was expanded with the creation of the 9/10 Movement program. To date, more than 300 ninth and tenth graders have been introduced to the skills and knowledge needed to perform at a high level of academic achievement and community leadership.

In 2016, the experiential Tell Me A Story project was created.  Students across all cohorts have written and illustrated eight children’s storybooks, along with an anthology of poems. Today, these students are published, authors. In 2017, students created three short films and two podcasts about the struggles the youth of Memphis face every day. This year, 2018 the students created four Zines, grassroots independent publications with social justice as its theme showcasing art and prose in honor of  MLK50.

Today, more than 50 percent of its alumni remain in or return to the city, to once again call Memphis home. They are attorneys, corporate executives, health care professionals, and educators as emerging leaders, they represent the best and the brightest.