About Us

The Knoxville Jazz Festival started in 2006 and incorporated as a 501 (c) 3 in 2009.  Its mission is to present public concerts that represent the vast range of jazz music as performed by musicians of national and international renown,  to help people appreciate jazz and understand its importance to American culture through lectures/demonstrations and hands on workshops, to provide opportunities for students and professional musicians to work with jazz masters, to spotlight the many excellent jazz musicians in East Tennessee, and to document and preserve the rich jazz tradition in Knoxville and East Tennessee. 

Board of Directors

  • Keith R. Brown
  • William Boyd
  • Daniel Brown
  • Tom Johnson
  • Karen Kluge
  • Emily Mathis
  • John Rosson
  • Rebecca Scarlett

Managing Director

Nelda Hill

Artistic Director

Donald Brown

As Artistic Director of the Knoxville Jazz Festival, Donald Brown brings a lifetime of musical experience and knowledge to the job.  Raised in Memphis during the heyday of Stax Records, Mr. Brown cut his professional teeth as a sideman there.  His roots are in blues and gospel and while at Memphis State University, he became friends with pianists Mulgrew Miller and James Williams and they became known throughout the jazz world as The Memphis 3.  In the 1980s, he was pianist for Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers.  He taught at Berklee College of Music before coming home to Tennessee where he became Associate Professor of Music at the University of Tennessee.   He is a renowned producer as well; his work on Kenny Garrett's last two CDs garnered Grammy nominations for Best Jazz Album.