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Kean University

Thousands Attend 2nd Annual Jazz & Roots Festival

Kean University’s Jazz & Roots Music Festival drew a crowd of more than 4,000 to the Lawn at Enlow Hall on Saturday, September 24, for an evening of jazz, blues and reggae music, featuring Jazz Master Dianne Reeves and other performers.

The audience, more than twice the size of last year’s inaugural festival, brought chairs, blankets and picnic baskets and settled in for the music under a sunny, autumn sky.

“At Kean University, we talk about community; we talk about family; and we talk about service,” Kean President Lamont O. Repollet, Ed.D., told the crowd. “Today's an example of that. We take the arts seriously at Kean, and we want to welcome you every year to this music festival. It's our way of saying, thank you very much.”

Five-time Grammy Award winner Dianne Reeves headlined the concert. Putting her improvisational vocal skills on full display, she sang a welcome as part of her opening number, Fleetwood Mac’s Dreams.

“You all look so colorful in your easy chairs," she sang, and the audience erupted in applause. 

Producer Mike Griot also performed as part of the band Blues People. He said Kean’s music festival is unique.

“It has different types of music, and that brings different types of people together to sit next to each other,” he said. “We need that diversity and sense of community.”

Also performing were the bands Big Fun(k) and Judah Tribe with Josh David. 

The University’s focus on health and well-being was evident at the festival as concertgoers were able to purchase massages and health products from vendors lined up in tents around the Lawn.

Dr. Colleen Hawthorne, a psychiatrist and life coach and a sponsor of the event, gave wellness advice from the stage.

“Is this not the epitome of a healthy healing environment?” she asked. “Certainly we know that music is the best therapy.”

The atmosphere on the Lawn was friendly and festive. Sara Bost, of Barnegat, came to the concert with her daughter and granddaughter.

“I traveled a hundred miles to get here,” she said. “It's a fantastic event — good music, good people, a nice, diverse crowd and a beautiful day for it.”

Derek Gali-Martinez, a freshman from Roselle studying environmental science, was with four friends from Kean.

“We all love jazz,” he said. “It is one of the pluses about going to this university. The festival shows that Kean is not only about getting students; it's about the community.”

The Jazz & Roots Music Festival will return next year. 

“Stay tuned,” Griot said. “It’s going to get bigger.”