Biography of Willard Jenkins

Willard Jenkins is an independent arts consultant/producer, writer and broadcaster under his Open Sky banner. Willard Jenkins’ current activity includes concert, festival, and concert series planning/development, artistic direction, consulting, music journalism, teaching, and broadcast work. Willard Jenkins is a 1973 graduate of Kent State University with a BA in Sociology.

Arts Administrator

From March 1989-November 1994, Jenkins was executive director of the National Jazz Service Organization (NJSO) in Washington, DC. During his NJSO tenure Jenkins directed every NJSO operation, including technical assistance & re-granting programs, publication services, and supervised a professional staff. In 1990 Jenkins was an architect of the pioneering Lila Wallace-Reader’s Digest National Jazz Network (receiving an unprecedented – for jazz -- initial funding allocation of $3.4M), a network of presenting organizations and regional arts organizations.

Willard Jenkins is a successful fundraiser, securing or assisting in grant allocations from numerous public and private sources. These include: National Endowment for the Arts; numerous local/state/regional arts agencies; Lila Wallace-Reader’s Digest Fund; Doris Duke Foundation; AT&T Foundation; Ford Foundation; Pew Charitable Trusts; Jim Beam Brands; Cleveland Foundation; Gund Foundation; Kulas Foundation.

In 1983 Jenkins conducted a regional needs assessment/research and feasibility study of the jazz art form in the Midwest, which led to the development of the nation’s first regional jazz service program, at Arts Midwest in Minneapolis, MN. While at Arts Midwest (1984-89) he developed the first regional jazz database, and wrote a series of how-to technical assistance booklets for musicians, presenters, educators, and organizations.

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2017 Washington D.C. Jazz Festival Oral History Archive

Including interviews with Brother Ah, Judith Korey, Rusty Hassan and Charles Fishman.

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Audio Interviews

Willard Jenkins has contributed a collection of audio interviews with internationally acclaimed jazz artists from 1974 to the present.

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Video Interviews

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Independent Ear

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Click the button below to visit the Independent Ear for more than 100 written interviews and articles by Willard Jenkins.