BY JURRY TAALIB-DEEN
Journal Staff Writer
The creative talents of four local artists flowed over a week’s time, as they brought to life their vision of how they want Toledo to see the living legend, and jazz lyricist, and Toledo native, Jon Hendricks, in the form of a mural. Revealed at the Fredrick Douglass Center, 1001 Indiana Ave, on Sunday, November 6, the mural is painted on an inside wall of the center which faces Hawley and Indiana for motorists, and pedestrians to see.
Red, blue, white, and yellow make up the background of the mural, followed by skyscrapers sitting on those colors. The man who was being honored, John Hendricks, is seen wearing a black tuxedo, with a bow tie, while standing in front of an over-sized microphone, doing what he’s famous for; bopping to his music.
The artist, Victoria Steger, Dominique Lloyd, David Ross, and Jason Vahle, all expressed how honored they were to paint such an influential man.
“It was a pleasure and an honor,” Mr. Vahle said.
“He’s more than deserving,” said Mr. Ross.
“Well worth it,” said Mr. Lloyd.
“Painting someone from Toledo, who is famous, is pretty awesome,” said Ms. Steger.
Although the mural seemed to take center stage, there were other activities taking place, all surrounding the works of Mr. Hendricks, including members of a band that he personally formed, performing some of his songs.
Ellie Martin was Mr. Hendricks’ graduate assistant in 2010, at the University of Toledo, in his class, History of Jazz. She is also a part of the band Mr. Hendricks formed himself; The Jon Hendricks Vocalstra Group from The University of Toledo. Obviously excited about talking about her mentor, Ms. Martin told The Toledo Journal about the talents of Mr. Hendricks.
She said Mr. Hendricks is known for the singing style vocalese. Vocalese involves a singer taking a popular instrumental song, such as a Charlie Parker recording, and writing lyrics to it.
“What’s so cool about John is, he’ll take an entire Big Band song, like a Count Bassie track, and write lyrics for all the instruments, and they become characters in a play that interact with each other; it’s so beautiful,” Ms. Martin said.
“He’s a master of jazz,” she said. “In his hay day, he could out scat anybody. He could scat a John Coltrain solo and blow everybody out of the water. He’s an incredible musician, and an incredible, and brilliant person,” she said.
Mr. Hendricks, who is well into his 90s, currently resides in New York, was unable to attend, but family members were present to see the mural, listen to his band perform, and receive a proclamation from Toledo City Council.
Shawn Allen is Mr. Hendricks’ granddaughter. A singer, like her grandfather, she said he would give her pointers as she was growing up.”
“He was such an inspiration to me,” she said.
Ms. Allen said her grandfather felt honored and humbled, that a mural was painted of him, and he was being recognize for his musical genius.
“This is such a great event,” she said. He’s so deserving of this tribute. And the artists, did such a good job with the mural,” Ms. Allen said.
The event was organized by The Arts Commission’s Creative Placemaking Team, The Frederick Douglass Center, and the University of Toledo’s Department of Music.