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Trailblazer jazz musician and educator Stefon Harris returns to Omaha

Posted On Feb 12, 2020, 13:33 PM by Mary King

When you think of famous jazz artists, what names come to mind? Maybe you can recall Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington or Ella Fitzgerald. Well, there’s a new jazz legend climbing the ranks - Stefon Harris. Harris is a rising jazz musician, composer and educator making a name for himself as “one of the most important young artists in jazz” (The Los Angeles Times).  

Harris’ passion for music started in elementary school. When he went off to college and heard the late jazz saxophonist and composer Charlie Parker play for the first time, it changed his life.  

“The spiritual liberation, the feeling and also the intellectual requirement for him to be able to improvise the way he was, I found absolutely fascinating,” says Harris.  

Harris graduated from the Manhattan School of Music with a Bachelor of Music in classical music and a Master of Music in jazz performance.  He is a recipient of the prestigious Martin E. Segal Award, Doris Duke Artists Award and has been named Best Mallet player eight times by the Jazz Journalists Association. 

Today, Harris tours worldwide with his band Blackout. Their latest album Sonic Creed serves as a reflection of African-American life in the late twentieth and twenty-first centuries. The diverse collection of songs are a "sonic manifestation and creed of family, community and legacy.”  

Beyond being a rising musician and composer, Harris is also an accomplished and passionate educator. For over two years now, Harris has assumed the position of Associate Dean and Director of Jazz Arts at the Manhattan School of Music. He has also taught all over the world in person and virtually via his Distance Learning Studio.  

As a teacher, Harris’ goal is to lead by example and show students how to harness their passion. He plans to do just that when he visits Omaha later this month.

University of Nebraska Omaha (UNO) students will have the opportunity to perform with and learn from Harris at the Great Plains Jazz Festival on Saturday, February 29. Prior to the festival, Harris will lead a clinic and rehearse with high school jazz students at the Holland Center. 

Since 2010, O-pa has partnered with UNO to bring in standout jazz artists to perform at O-pa's 1200 Club series and we couldn't be more pleased to have such an extraordinary talent and leader in our community. 

Stefon Harris and Blackout will also perform at the Holland Performing Arts Center on Friday, February 28 at 7:30 P.M. inside the Scott Recital Hall. Visit to purchase tickets.