Vanport Jazz Festival, Portland OR

Tree Langdon

Portland, Oregon is the place to be for jazz this August.
jazz saxophoneCésar Guadarrama Cantú/Unsplash

This event celebrates the historic community of Vanport and its contribution to Oregon’s jazz scene. The 2021 headliners Gerald Albright, Marion Meadows, Tahirah Memory, and Sheila E.

Vanport, a history, and legacy of jazz.

The Vanport Jazz festival is held near the site of a flood that occurred in 1948. It was catastrophic for the community of nearly 40,000 African American workers living in the public housing project built in that location.

In fact, African Americans were restricted to that neighborhood due to Oregon’s ‘real estate code of ethics’ at the time. 

They had come to Portland to work. During the second world war, the city recruited hundreds of thousands of workers from all over the country. They needed laborers in the city’s shipyards. There was a shortage of housing in the city so they built Vanport, a segregated city for the newly arrived workers.

The Columbia River flooded in 1948 on Memorial Day, wiping out homes and displacing almost half of the population. It was a disaster.

The community came together and some of them opened jazz clubs in Vanport, creating jobs and a place to gather for many of the displaced people. 

The result was a vibrant jazz culture and over the years the club attracted some of the biggest names in jazz. Portland was placed firmly on the map as a true jazz city.

One of the legacies of this scene is the Vanport Jazz Festival. They celebrate the musicians who moved to Oregon to work and ended up creating art. This annual festival invites jazz aficionados both local and international to discover the legacy and experience the revival of jazz in Vanport.

Vanport Jazz Festival 2021

Aug. 7, Colwood Golf Center, Portland

This year the festival brings cultural revival to the Vanport area, welcoming nationally renowned artists and breathing new life into Portland jazz.

The festival brings the hottest smooth jazz to the Northwest, featuring celebrated artists as headliners as well as a collection of rising jazz stars.

Portland is a special place to visit. Enjoy great wines, local culinary delights, and breathtaking scenery while you visit the area. 

This year’s lineup brings Gerald Albright, Marion Meadows, Sheila E, and Tahirah Memory to the stage for your listening entertainment. 

2021 Artists

Sheila E.

This talented performance artist has been showcased frequently in the music and film industry. Performances at The Academy Awards, The Latin Grammy Awards, BET Awards, The American Music Awards, The Kennedy Center Honors, and The Summer Olympics, have raised her profile in the industry and with her fans.

Sheila E. recently released a new single “No Line,” with the legendary Snoop Dogg. She has earned the name of Queen of Percussion in the industry and we look forward to future creations.

Gerald Albright

This celebrated jazz artist has been creating smooth jazz tunes for more than three decades. His career was launched with the song “Just Between Us” in 1987 and he has been a core part of the genre ever since. All-star tours, including Guitars & Saxes and Groovin’ For Grover, radio hits, and popular albums continue. 

He has fronted with Phil Collins and recorded with Will Downing, and several of his albums have been Grammy-nominated (Pushing The Envelope (2010) and Slam Dunk (2014). 

Tahirah Memory

A local artist, Tahirah provides audiences with a sense of intimacy with her gorgeous sound and warmth. This singer/songwriter’s 2015 debut album “PRIDE” was well received internationally, gaining frequent radio play in the UK. In 2019, she was nominated by SOULTRACKS for Best Female Vocalist, Best Album, and Best Song of 2019,

Marion Meadows

Visionary and creative force, this artist has just released a new album “Twice as Nice”. 

He started playing tenor sax in high school, and then migrated to soprano sax. Since then, his passion has led him down a varied path, with a mix of R&B-influenced jazz coupled with sensual Latin rhythms. One of his strongest works is In Deep, a neo-soul blend of jazz, R&B, and hip-hop, brimmed with sophisticated arrangements. Fans are delighted by his new release. 

His debut was in 1991 with For Lovers Only. He has recorded or performed with Brook Benton, Eartha Kitt, Phyllis Hyman, Jean Carne, The Temptations, Michael Bolton, Angela Bofill, Will Downing among many others. 

From his 2021 “Twice As Nice” Album

Vanport Jazz All-Stars

The festival always brings together an entertaining mix of jazz legends and rising jazz stars that will surprise and delight fans. 

Aug. 7, Colwood Golf Center, Portland

The 4th Annual Vanport Jazz Festival honors the lost city of Vanport, with music and a cultural celebration. It’s located at the Colwood National Golf Course, 7313 NE Columbia Blvd., Portland, OR 97218.

Sources: Oregon Live, Vanport Jazz Festival,

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I love to connect humanity to technology. I write news, and fiction, exploring Worldview plots. Was a CGA/CPA in a past life. I have a lot of life experience. Parenting, Art, Finance, Investing, Auditing, Project Management, Writing, Story Grid Method, Science, Forensic Anthropology, Extensive overseas travel including Asia, Greece, Thailand.

Seattle, WA

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