Southern Cultural Treasures
Charlotte, North Carolina
Year of Award
Grant or Fellowship
Southern Cultural Treasures
JazzArts Charlotte (JazzArts), formally Jazz Arts Initiative, was founded in 2009 by musician couple Lonnie and Ocie Davis who were displaced to Charlotte, NC following Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. The organization is the premiere jazz organization in the Carolina region with a focus on community enrichment through jazz music and has grown into one of Charlotte’s most celebrated non-profit arts and education institutions.
JazzArts serves a diverse community through its wide range of educational and performance-based programs that engages and inspires thousands of students and audience members each year. The organization also contracts 100+ local and regional musicians annually (primarily musicians of color) through its Musician Support program.
Leadership - Lonnie Davis
Lonnie Davis, flutist and arts advocate, is a native New Orleanian born in Landstuhl, Germany. Davis began studying music at an early age and had the privilege of attending Louisiana’s prestigious arts conservatory, NOCCA (New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts), where her passion for jazz was cultivated. Davis relocated to North Carolina in 2007, and 3 years later founded the Charlotte-based 501(c)(3) non-profit organization JazzArts Charlotte (formerly JAI). She currently serves as the organization’s President and Chief Executive Officer.
Davis currently serves on several Boards, panels, and committees supporting jazz music and the arts. Beginning in July 2022, she will be the Board President for the Jazz Education Network, an international jazz service organization. Lonnie has been a contributing columnist for local magazines and has curated special events in the Charlotte area including the Sunset Jazz Festival, Kings Drive Art Walk, and the Charlotte Jazz Festival. Davis has a degree in Psychology from the University of New Orleans and graduate work in Urban and Regional Planning at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.
Lonnie has been recognized for her work in the arts community locally and nationally. Southern Living Magazine listed Lonnie in the top “50 People Who Are Changing the South” and was also featured by BELK, Inc. for their Modern Southern Music Campaign, reaching over 5 million readers nationwide and on Lucky Brand displays in Belk department across the country. Together, Lonnie and her husband Ocie have been featured in numerous local publications including the Charlotte Observer, Charlotte Magazine, QC Exclusive and South Park Magazine. Lonnie is a graduate of Leadership Charlotte, Class XXXII.
Southern Cultural Treasures is a program of South Arts and made possible with support from the Ford Foundation and the Alice L. Walton Foundation as well as the Infusion Fund and its generous donors.