Columbus Park Refectory, 5701 W. Jackson Blvd. was the venue for “Groovin’ on a Sunday Afternoon,” the eighth year the Austin Chamber of Commerce has hosted their Jazz in the Afternoon. This year’s event was bittersweet because the chamber’s executive director, Camille Lilly, will be moving to her new position as state representative for the 78th District, replacing Deborah Graham, who is the newly appointed alderman of the 29th Ward.
She assured everyone that the chamber is in goods hands with its current executive director, Finis Collier, and President Vince Williams. Lilly expressed total confidence in each gentleman and promised she would be seated in the audience next year like everyone else. Collier and Williams both dismissed that statement and said she will always be the chamber’s “number one queen.”
The chamber’s award recipients this year were:
Evan M. Turner, a first-team 2010 NCAA Men’s Basketball All-American, playing for Ohio State, who was cheered by his mother, grandparents and family members when he accepted his award.
Morris Smith, an Austin resident and graduate of Westinghouse High School, who was recognized for his dedication to the community and being a leader in the business community. He has managed some 300 employees and was responsible for $225 million in sales with Coca-Cola Company.
Howard Sandifer and wife Darlene were honored for his work with young people. Founders of the Chicago West Community Music Center, the Sandifers train and produce outstanding young musicians.
And the music is as much of a draw as the brunch. Vocalist Gloria “Samantha” Bannister rocked the house along with performances by gifted young musicians from the community.
The jazz band has formed their own group called N2oon, consisting of Randiss Hopkins, piano; Jamaal Crowder, sax/flute; Corey Mathis, bass guitar; Jeremiah Brown, drums; Rana House, vocalist; and Deonte Baker, vocalist. Baker and House’s vocals evoke memories of Billie Holiday, King Pleasure and Billy Eckstine.
After enthusiastic reviews from last year’s gospel performance by Cedric Collins, husband of chamber treasurer Michelle Collins, vice president of Shorebank, the chamber invited the choir from Austin’s Mars Hills Baptist Church, 5916 W. Lake St., where Rev. Clarence E. Stowers, Jr. is pastor. All the audience could say was Amen.
The brunch was served by Pierre’s Catering Service.