FMU honors local jazz legend at jazz concert
FMU President Roslyn Clark Artis and Jazz legend Melton Mustafa.
Jazz Singer Yolanda Rabun.
By Derek Joy
There was a musical crescendo that punctuated a bit of history amid a dynamic week of activities.
The occasion was the Florida Memorial University(FMU) President’s Inaugural Jazz Concert that featured jazz recording artist Yolanda Rabun.
As the FMU Jazz Ensemble entertained the gathering audience, former LOVE 94 FM Radio Station Personality Billy Raven prepared to kick off the evening’s entertaining program.
“This is a very auspicious occasion,” said Raven. “We’re installing the 15th President in the 135th year history of Florida Memorial University.”
The jazz concert was the crescendo in a weeklong series of events that FMU Board of Trustees Member Marc T. Henderson cited in his introductory speech.
“Since yesterday we’ve had a very smooth experience,” Henderson said. “It started with the Special Olympics. I’m glad because the students had been asking for it for a long time. So it’s here.
“There was the breast cancer
walk today, the luncheon and more. That brings us to this evening. We’re installing the 15th President and the first female President in the 135 year history of Florida Memorial University, Dr. Roslyn Clark Artis.”
Clark Artis has cast a dynamic aurora of progressive energy since coming to FMU more than a year ago as Interim President. She has succeeded in building a cooperative attitude among staff, students, corporate sponsors and the community.
“Welcome to our home,” Clark Artis engagingly said. “Florida Memorial has a long and distinguished music tradi-tion. FMU is the home of the Negro National Anthem, “Lift Every Voice”. Our jazz tradition is historic, a body of work. And for that we’re honoring one of our own- Local jazz legend Melton Mustafa.”
Mustafa, a Miami native who graduated from Miami Northwestern High School in 1965, learned to play trumpet under Jonathan “Turk” Thurston at Dorsey Junior High School in Liberty City.
He flourished in high school under the tutelage of legendary high school Band Director David “Globe” Paschal. His musical career spanned the globe, including performances with some of the jazz greats.
During Super Bowl XLI in Miami, Mustafa performed on an outreach program at the Dade County Auditorium, where entered down the aisle under dim lights, playing the landmark tune, Mack the Knife that was made famous by jazz legend Louis “Satchmo” Armstrong.
“I came to FMU in 1996. I’m glad I did. I hope I’m here another 100 years. This is the first time I’ve been introduced on a big stage and didn’t have to play trumpet,” said Mustafa, who received a $2,500 check from Clark Artis.
“The entire series of events has been great, especially the breast cancer walk. I’ll always support breast cancer because I’ve been dealing with prostate cancer.”
Thus the stage was set for Rabun, who recently released a Jazz CD, to wow the audience with her sultry rendition of popular tunes and some of her own. Rabun, a North Carolina native, opened with “All I Do Is Think About You”.
“People ask me why I wave my arms like I do. They want to know if I’m being dramatic,” said Rabun. “I do it to give back a tribute to those women of jazz,” while noting the likes of Nina Simone and others.
And the show went on, much to the pleasure of a thrilled audience, among them Miami Gardens Mayor Oliver Gilbert, III.
“It’s going well. President Artis has a wonderful, dynamic presence and exhibits extraordinary effort,” said Gilbert. “The university is lucky to have her and she will help it expand its mission of delivering education to underrepresented populations.”