There are many organizations that are a cut above, and one of them is the Austin Chamber of Commerce, which has been an extraordinary community organization for 10 years.
Its president, Camille Lilly, and staff are leaders in the Austin community and the organization continued its work on Sunday, May 17 with its seventh-annual “Jazz In The Afternoon” brunch at the Columbus Park refectory, 5701 W. Jackson.
One of the most enjoyable aspects of the jazz brunch is the relaxing atmosphere it generates. Howard Sandifer & Friends were outstanding and vocalist Gloria “Samantha” Bannister wowed the crowd with her style, which is reminiscent of Nancy Wilson, Sarah Vaughn, Ella Fitzgerald and Nina Simone.
Each year, Sandifer and Lilly feature a young artist and Sandifer’s Chicago West Community Music Center has produced some gifted young artists. This jazz brunch featured two young people. Duonte Baker’s rendition of Someone To Watch Over Me and Rana House’s Sister from the movie The Color Purple were both spellbinding performances.
The two young people then performed together Moody’s Mood, a complicated tune by saxophonist James Moody, made popular by King Pleasure (Clarence Beeks) in the 1950s. Pleasure’s recording is considered a jazz classic. Baker and House both got standing ovations for their performances.
Chamber of Commerce member Michelle Collins is not only vice president at ShoreBank but also choir director at her church, Rose of Sharon at 4256 W. Walton. The Rose of Sharon Church Radio Choir performed several gospel numbers, one led by Cedric Collins, Michelle’s husband.
The chamber raffled many gifts including a flat-screen television. Lilly acknowledged her volunteers, 15th District police, Metropolitan Water Reclamation District (MWRD) Commissioner Barbara McGowan and gave special recognition to event organizer Glenda Bridges.
The Austin Chamber of Commerce also presented service awards to the following individuals:
Malcolm Crawford, Sankofa Center/African Accents; Vicki Casanova accepted award on Crawford’s behalf.
Bill Darke, Mahogany Graphics; Tony Bell, presenter
Cornell Barnett, ComEd/Barnett Photography; Cook County Commissioner Earlean Collins, presenter
Kim McCullough, AT&T; MWRD Commissioner Barbara McGowan, presenter.
Steven McCullough, President/CEO Bethel New Life; Alderman Emma Mitts and Alderman Ed Smith, presenters.
Steven Airhart, Hartgrove Hospital; Camille Lilly, presenter