“Harriet Tubman: Bound for the Promised Land”

Performance Schedule:

Marcus Shelby (r) and Faye Carol

  • May 17 (Saturday), Community Baptist Church, 7 pm (by donation)
  • May 24 (Saturday), Glaser Center, Santa Rosa, 7 pm ($20)
    Ticket link
  • June 5 (Thursday), Raven Theater, Healdsburg, 7 pm ($20)
    Ticket link

At last year’s Healdsburg Jazz Festival, bassist Marcus Shelby – a composer of Ellingtonian  sweep and  ambition – enacted his suite Soul of a Movement: Meditations on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. with a 16-piece jazz orchestra and the 100+ strong HJF Freedom Jazz Choir created especially for the Festival with help from a grant provided by the James Irvine Foundation.

Download press release on this event. (PDF, 88 kb)

Tiffany Austin with Freedom Jazz Choir

This year, Shelby plans to repeat the magic with another of his suites, Harriet Tubman, Bound for the Promised Land. As with last year, the project is “about using music as a unifying force,” according to Jessica Felix, founder and creative director of the Healdsburg Jazz Festival and the project.

“We want to involve Sonoma County’s diverse population by offering direct performance opportunities for participants to work alongside professional musicians, creating a profound cultural experience and fostering cooperation and understanding while expanding awareness and access to jazz.”

See the 2014 Healdsburg Jazz Festival event page for June 5 concert

2014 HJF Freedom Jazz Choir Poster The singers will get coaching from Shelby and singer Tiffany Austin.  Adam Ivey, director of Santa Rosa’s  Joyous Noise Community Baptist Church Ensemble, has been commissioned to compose two pieces for the ensemble. The dynamic Ms. Faye Carol will be once again contribute her soulful vocals.

Of Shelby’s “Harriet Tubman: Bound for the Promised Land,” the San Francisco Chronicle raved that it was “not only a true tour de force but also, more significantly, a work that constantly reveals new aspects of itself with each listening.” The 2007 CD release of the suite featured Faye Carol in the role of Tubman, the former slave who became a leading abolitionist in the pre-Civil War era. With Shelby’s Charles Mingus-influenced orchestration, the suite richly evokes  the life of the escaped slave and abolitionist.

“Harriet Tubman” proved a landmark effort. Combining modern jazz, soul and spirituals, it richly evoked the life of the escaped slave and abolitionist. With close to 100 singers telling her story in Healdsburg, transcendence is practically guaranteed.


  • May 17: Community Baptist Church, 1620 Sonoma Ave., Santa Rosa
  • May 24: Glaser Center, 547 Mendocino Ave., Santa Rosa Ticket link
  • June 5: Raven Theater, 115 North St., Healdsburg Ticket link