Khadijah Renee Morgan’s passion for jazz stems from the creativity surrounding the art form itself.
“It’s the music I feel is innovative and truly creative,” said Morgan, a 2009 social work alumna. “The genre can be expanded and molded to be your very own.”
Morgan created Women in Jazz, a television show on PhillyCam networks and PhillyCam’s radio networks. It began airing on March 2. The show highlights the achievements of women in jazz past and present, she said.
“There’s a lot of women in jazz and I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to connect with all of them,” Morgan added.
She is targeting various demographics interested in learning about jazz and music, in general, to create this show in an educational and engaging manner, she said.
“It’s well known that jazz is a male-dominated genre and that most of the known musicians are vocalists,” Morgan said. “How many people know about Hazel Scott who was a multi-talented pianist who could play two pianos at once and was very popular during the golden age of jazz?”
For the first episode of the show, Morgan spoke with Sherrie Maricle, a jazz drummer, leader of the DIVA Jazz Orchestra, an all-women jazz ensemble and 3D Jazz Trio, a three-woman musical group. With Maricle’s bands, she’s played at the Lincoln Center and the Kennedy Center.
Maricle was happy to see that a local television show was talking about jazz and how women have impacted it throughout its history, she said.
“Any media attention that jazz gets is important to me because jazz is America’s only indigenous art form and it’s so rarely noticed by the media these days in the U.S.,” she said.
For Maricle, the show needs to highlight the contributions and achievements of women as instrumentalists just as much as vocalists, she said.
“Everyone in jazz always talks about Ella Fitzgerald or all the great jazz singers but no one ever talks about the instrumentalists,” Maricle added.
Morgan is a jazz artist and has performed in many clubs in Philadelphia, with an upcoming show at Paris Bistro in May. She released an album in 2015 called “Sentimental Me” and is the former leader of an all-female jazz group in Philadelphia called DivaNation.
Through the show and PhillyCam, Morgan has learned how to produce a television show. Earl Weeks, Morgan’s editor at PhillyCam, enjoys being part of the show and the message behind it.
“The fact that we know so many people in jazz musicians that are guys, it’s very surprising there’s all these women that have not been talked about that contribute so much,” he said. “We still need to unearth the idea that these women did make a contribution and not enough people know about.”
Going forward, Morgan would like to highlight current female pioneers in jazz as the show now mainly focuses on artists that have passed on, she said.
“Eventually I’d like to invite some of these women on the show to perform live so people can see the power of divine feminine energy that one can actualize into reality,” Morgan added.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated Khadijah Morgan is the leader of DivaNation. She is a former member and no longer affiliated with the organization.