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Video: Nancy Hanks Lecture at Kennedy Center

On March 30, 2009, Wynton Marsalis dazzled and inspired his audience with a moving lecture mixed with performance titled The Ballad of the American Arts. The 22nd Annual Nancy Hanks Lecture on Arts & Public Policy was presented to a capacity crowd at the Kennedy Center on the eve of Arts Advocacy Day. Wynton’s lecture addressed the essential value of culture in the recalibration of American identity. After two standing ovations Marsalis wrapped up the evening with a lively performance with members of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra (Chris Crenshaw, trombone; Victor Goines, saxophone; Carlos Henriquez, bass; Ali Jackson, drums; and Dan Nimmer, piano).

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  1. Thank you for posting this.. it’s moving and inspiring. I’m glad to get tuned in to your musical & speaking/story-telling talents & mission with the arts.
    I wish I could get the video to download in smaller segments somehow – I’ve only managed to view the 1st 25 minutes so far (hour++ to get that much – and every minute’s been worth it), and share it with friends more easily.
    I appreciate your music & work for the arts!!

    Elaine on Aug 27th, 2009 at 1:26pm

  2. Thank you for your artful insight and presentation. I will require all of my students to view this.
    This is truly an American gift.

    Ted Scalzo on May 20th, 2009 at 11:29am

  3. Hi Donna,
    I appreciate your comments. May I please share an insight with you. All living organisms make some kind of sound or vibration. In order for so many religions or belief systems to exist and each declaring “mine is the best one and the only one,” one would not have to acknowledge the existence of a supreme universal cosmic law based on very strict harmony or balance. Unfortunately, to do so one would have to assert that the different religions or belief systems purport partial truths if they are unable to embrace or acknowledge this universal cosmic law. In and of itself, the ability to use language and music to create harmony is a wondrous thing. Thank you Donna.

    Beverly J. Douglas on May 10th, 2009 at 9:21pm

  4. Dear Wynton, I was very impressed with your speech. I have written to you several times as a former music teacher. I like how you are making the connection to music being universal. Many people like myself try to understand the spiritual connection of the various musical styles. I hear you making the point that music is developed from the inner most being of man, their struggles, and the quest for expression of who we are and what we believe. I believe that music orignated in heaven. Music should ultimately lead us to make the connection of whom created us and also lead us in recognizing our true self along with the internal struggle to express what we want and need to be. I would like if possible to get a copy of this presentation for educational purposes in order to better understand the underlying points you are making. I believe you are saying that music is an instrument that allow us the honesty of freedom in self expression , and ultimately the freedon to express what we strive for and believe we ought to be. For me it would be the need to express my inner most desire of Christianity leading me back to my initial statement that the origin of music belongs to the Creator and the need to reconnect with Him.
    I knew that you were an ourstaning music, but I am most certainly impressed with your knowledge of muscial history and your thoughts. I would love to hear more on jazz and it connection with the church.
    A friend.

    Donna Moore-Green on May 8th, 2009 at 1:49am

  5. pack of soul

    Alberto on Apr 28th, 2009 at 7:01am

  6. Again, thank you so much for your insights. The never-ending process – the ‘there’s always room for improvement’ is no cliche – but absolutely imperative. We have so many freedoms and resources and still our lack of gratitude or the spirit to reply to one’s mentor or great teacher to be even greater than they keeps us marginal. What could be more precious than encountering a great teacher? You stated so much so – being the romantic that I am, I headed straight for the “read between the lines” and I found that some of the most fundamental and powerful truths if not established in self can always be denied by a political or educational system. But conversely, if that truth is truly established within it will permeate any and all realms. To be denied the tools to expose and cultivate one’s full human potential is the only “sin” to date. We need the arts like we need air to breathe. More importantly, we’re all artists on a universal stage – so play on and play well.

    Beverly J. Douglas on Apr 25th, 2009 at 11:29am

  7. Oops! I feel so dumb. Sorry for the misspelling. Please forgive me Wynton.

    Josie S on Apr 16th, 2009 at 4:05pm

  8. Fabulous! As an artist, I appreciate Winston’s words…in fact, I savored each one. Thank you Winston!

    Josie S on Apr 16th, 2009 at 4:03pm

  9. 72 minutes of the finest second line I ever heard.

    Don Patterson on Apr 14th, 2009 at 6:02pm

  10. This was an absolutely fantastic speech and presentation. Before I became a college and university president for over 33 years in 4 different public and private institutions, I was a music teacher. In my many years as an educator, I can say that the quality of this presentation and the content surpassed anything I can remember listening to in the past. I am a musician. My family is involved in music. One of my daughter’s profession is making music and communicating to others around the world. I define my own existence in terms of my passion for music. This clarion call to support the arts was just incredible. Wynton is simply a genius in all forms of communication. Wynton, if you read this, thank you for all you do, and for who you are. You enrich all who hear you through your many gifts. Having met you many times over many years, I know of the consistency of your message and your commitments to social justice. Know that there are others who share this passion and desire to change the world. Keep up the good fight.

    Richard Meyers on Apr 12th, 2009 at 1:08pm