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Chicken Bone Beach institute showcases free offerings at BBQ event
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Chicken Bone Beach institute showcases free offerings at BBQ event

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Henrietta Shelton founder of the Chicken Bone Beach Historical Foundation talk about the Youth Jazz Institute BBQ in Atlantic City Friday July 23, 2021.

ATLANTIC CITY — Jazz emanated through the air in the 700 block of Indiana Avenue on Friday.

Behind the Chicken Bone Beach Institute for Youth Jazz Studies, a barbecue was held to highlight the institute’s free music lessons and additional offerings.

“We do everything from lessons with violins, keyboards, guitars, trumpets, trombones, flutes, and drums to audio engineering and music production,” said Maurice Hayman, program director for the institute. “We currently have five instructors that rotate between four to eight students throughout the course of a week.”

Chicken Bone Beach Historical Foundation president, founder and CEO Henrietta Shelton hopes to expand those offerings and reach more young students in the process.

“Our goal is to make our youth jazz institute a premier spot where young kids can come and learn music,” said Shelton. “Once they master an instrument, then they can come together and make beautiful music with others. That’s the camaraderie of it; that’s working with people; that’s teamwork; all of those are life lessons they can carry with them.”

Youth instructors AJ Halleyne, 21, and Miles Smith, 22, were in the studio working on beats while the barbecue happened outside.

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Shelton urged them to take a break and “eat something.”

Neighbors gathered to enjoy burgers, hot dogs, chips, soda and reminisce about the role jazz played in Atlantic City and in their collective history.

Tara Martin remembers hearing stories from her father, Cortez Martin, about the jazz scene in Atlantic City.

“It’s inspiring. I hope this becomes a landmark,” said Martin. “We need to cherish and embrace our history.”

Glenn Taylor, artist of the mural that appears on the side of the institute, could recall attending Atlantic City’s first jazz festival “before shipping out to Vietnam.”

Taylor’s mural exemplifies the old jazz clubs in the city, such as Club Harlem, Wonder Gardens and Ike’s Corner, where big-name musicians like Sammy Davis Jr. and Nina Simone used to perform.

Mighty Writers, Atlantic Cape Community College and Stories of Atlantic City were also there touting their own resources while showing support for the institute.

By 2 p.m., the barbecue was in full swing and the first musical act was set to play.

“This is just the beginning of what we want to make a fantastic experience for neighborhood kids and Atlantic City students,” Shelton said.

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