The Austin Chamber of Commerce (ACC) Jazz In The Afternoon Brunch last Sunday couldn’t have had better weather. The annual get-together is consistent with the chamber’s mission statement: “To serve as a catalyst for the business community and community residents to promote a supportive climate in which to do business.” The jazz brunch is the opportunity to relax and socialize with people from the community.

It is also an opportunity to see some of Chicago’s most elegantly attired people. Austin’s local politicians are always on hand, looking like Ebony fashion models. And it is an opportunity for young people to display their talents.

State Sen. Kimberly Lightford (4th District) and state Rep. Deborah Graham (78th District) were on hand to encourage the kids.

Lightford touted Bill 2829, the “Less Red Tape” initiative to eliminate unnecessary rules and regulations, easing burdens on school districts, their teachers and administrators. Rep. Graham is the sponsor of Bill 565, which creates an Early Learning Council for children from birth to age five.

ACC President Camille Lilly and board members were applauded for reaching out to support young people. Jazz In The Afternoon always features Howard Sandifer & Friends (Michael Ross and vocalist Samantha Bannister) and the trio are also very much involved in the musical training of young people.

In addition, three young classical musicians, calling themselves the “Sugar Strings,” Ayanna Williams, 15, cello; Ade’ Williams, 9, violin; and Mira Williams, 9, viola, showed their musical talent. They have performed at such venues as the Children’s Museum, the UNCF Black & White Ball, and at a Chicago Sky game. As Sen. Lightford put it, “These young ladies are our voices and why we continue to fight.”

Ebony Magazine’s January 2007, edition featured the Sugar Strings trio and stated, “In 2004, three sisters brought together their young daughters-then Suzuki method students in violin, viola and cello at the Hyde Park Suzuki Institute-to form a classical music trio to experience the joy of harmonizing with family.”

AWN asked the three young ladies how long they have been playing together.

Ayanna: “Well, Ade and Mira started when they were three, and I started in the public schools in Naperville in fifth grade. And we’ve been playing as a group for four years.”

Ade’: “I was three years old. We got together because we were all cousins. We first started at church. First it was myself and Mira and then Ayanna joined, playing the cello.

Laura Williams, one of the mothers, said the trio is scheduled to play in Las Vegas this summer. The details and location are still being worked out. Laura and her sister, Donna Williams, said they are too proud of their daughters. Laura gave credit to Donna, describing her as “our backbone,” the one who does all the bookings, etc.

Laura also noted that “the two violinist are principal members of the Chicago Youth Debut Orchestra and they have just risen to the next highest level, which is Chicago Youth Concert Orchestra. They just made that audition and will start this fall. Ade’ has been principal violinist, second violin for Chicago Debut Orchestra and Mira has been first and principal viola for Chicago Youth Orchestra.

The girls say they practice individually about 2-3 hours per day and two hours together. Ade’ was the youngest person to play in the Symphonietta at age six.

At the end of their set Sunday, the audience gave them a standing ovation.

For more information about Sugar Strings, contact Donna at 773/621-7308;

To become a member of the Austin Chamber of Commerce, call 773/854-5063.