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Honoring the contributions of Rob Dixon and other Black musicians

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Rob Dixon is a saxophonist, composer, bandleader, and producer known by many as the “Musical Mayor of Indianapolis.”

Dixon says he knew at an early age he wanted to be a musician and share Black music and culture with others.

“Black music, art, and culture are so influential around the world,” Dixon said.

Dixon is a regular at The Jazz Kitchen, Chatterbox, and Indianapolis Art Center. He’s also the artistic director for the Indy Jazz Fest. 

“Jazz is rooted in the Black community. The Jazz Foundation has not only the honor to curate and celebrate jazz music that’s reflective of the Black community but has the responsibility to curate in a profound way that tells the story this music is reflective of the unjust experience of Black men and women in America,” Dixon said.

“I think people should respect Black music,” Professor Leslie Etienne, director of the Center for Africana Studies and Culture at Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis, said.

“When the enslaved Africans came to the United States, they brought with them the drum. This was a communication piece. This was a piece of resistance. This was a way that you could say this is a sound that makes sense to me, that I understand,” Etienne explained. “The music, the scene, the spiritual voices you heard…that connects all the things together. Gave us gospel music, blues and jazz, rock and roll, and hip-hop, which is celebrating 50 years this year.”

In his Black Music Month proclamation, President Joe Biden said, “I call upon public officials, educators, and all the people of the United States to observe this month by honoring Black musicians and raising awareness and appreciation of Black music.”