The John Coltrane International jazz and blues festival coming soon!


By Ron Eldridge

It started out simply in 2004 – a group of visionaries formed the Downtown Improvement Committee for the purpose of erecting a statue commemorating John Coltrane as a High Point native son. Incredibly, it has expanded into an annual International festival!

John Coltrane was born in Hamlet, N.C., and reared in High Point, becoming one of the city’s most influential and famous citizens.

The Friends of John Coltrane, a 501(c) benevolent organization, has its mission to preserve and celebrate the life and music of John Coltrane, whose musical impact transcended Jazz to another plane.

The International Jazz and Blues Festival also educates the community about the significant role that the African-American community in High Point played in nurturing Coltrane’s interest in music. A portion of the proceeds from the Festival are used to enhance the Coltrane legacy and nurture interest in Jazz for the community, particularly the youth.

In the past five years, the Friends of John Coltrane has drawn worldwide attention to Oak Hollow Park in High Point during Labor Day. While still considered in its initial stages of growth, the numbers of supporters and patrons are growing each year. To date:

  • Approximately 34 world class major Jazz and Blues entertainers have graced the stage.
  • Five Coltrane all-star ensembles comprised of local A-list musicians and entertainers in the Triad have appeared at the Festival.
  • Coltrane legacy lives on with the Student Essay Contest, which encourages young people to learn about Coltrane’s life. But most important,
    it helps them continue studying music by giving winners new instruments as prizes. Thus far, more than 25 students have been recipients of new instruments.
  • This worldwide festival has drawn approximately 30,000 enthusiasts of Jazz and Blues to High Point to celebrate Coltrane’s musical legacy, not to mention a plethora of local officials, media personalities, vendors, and some of the friendliest devotees to Jazz and Blues music in
    the world!

High Point is already gearing up for the 6th annual John Coltrane International Jazz and Blues Festival, which will be held Labor Day weekend. The lineup to date includes:

  • Saturday, Sept. 3: Espranza Spalding, Gregory Porter, Latin All- Stars and the John Coltrane All-Stars
  • Sunday, Sept. 4: Kenny G, Ramsey Lewis & Dee Dee Bridgewater, Eric Gale and the Piedmont Jazz Orchestra

I encourage you to experience this local world class event for several reasons:

  • Easy access. If someone needs assistance with mobility issues, just inform security.
  • Jumbo Tron for great visibility from any point of Festival.
  • Persons requiring hearing or visually accessible seating should contact Festival staff upon arrival at the Festival for assistance.
  • Service pets accepted.
  • Tents are allowed in a designated area. 

Note that other than water, no coolers or outside food are allowed. Also, no pets, audio or video recording devises, including cameras, are allowed. For complete details of the Festival, go visit

Volunteers are still needed. There are also opportunities for vendors. Go to their website for more information.

Secure your one- or two-day ticket pass soon. Come enjoy world-class Jazz and Blues in a beautiful setting. And look for me, Big “E” – I look forward to meeting you!

Ron Big “E” Eldridge is a Winston-Salem resident and aspiring freelance writer. Listen to Big “E” radio program, “Sunset Jazz,” on WNAA 90.1 FM every Saturday from 6 to 9 p.m.


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