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New contest looking for talented kid jazz performers

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Jazz's legacy in Pittsburgh has inspired Familylinks – which provides family services focused on behavioral, social and developmental health issues – to hold an "up-and-comer contest" for high school and college jazz performers.
 
Winner of the Just Jazz YouTube Contest will perform as part of Familylinks'
Just Jazz II fundraising event on March 21 at the Twentieth Century Club in Oakland.
 
“We wanted to do the contest as a way to continue the Pittsburgh jazz history and highlight the contributions of that tradition,” says Mary Bockovich, the group's director of development. And to help make people, particularly young people, aware of Familylinks’ services, of course.
 
“Young people in general who don’t have a lot of experience with social services or ‘the system’ are probably not aware of what we do,” she says. Familylinks offers drug and alcohol services, programs for young adults and for kids who are homeless or in foster care, workforce readiness training and more. 
 
Government funding for such programs is flat and shrinking, Bockovich notes, so Familylinks is looking for this event to support its Downtown outreach center and shelter for 18- to 21-year-olds. The organization also has a year-old mentoring program for 16-21 year olds who have been involved in child welfare cases, which is looking for assistance. "We’re seeing that kids involved with the child welfare system really haven’t had the benefit of a caring, consistent adult in their lives," she says.
 
Eligible for the contest are jazz combos that can include a singer; they will be judged by up-to-seven-minute videos submitted by Feb. 1. Just Jazz II headliners Lisa Ferraro and Benny Benack, III will pick five finalists and online public voting will last until Feb. 25. The winner will be announced March 1.
 
With all the emphasis on helping young people, Bockovich adds, it was natural for Familylinks to want to help young musicians through the new contest: “We would love to give them the opportunity to showcase their talents and to perform for a fairly substantial crowd. They will get some exposure and maybe even a paying gig out of it.”
 
Writer: Marty Levine
Source: Mary Bockovich, Familylinks

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