My parents came of age in the 50s when Jazz was at its prime. They went to shows and heard everybody: Miles, Coltrane, Thelonios Monk. Even though I grew up in suburban Detroit, my sister and I didn’t have a Motown experience, it was Jazz from a very young age. I got my first record player when I was 4 years old, and started building my own collection at age 10. I was always grabbing my sister’s records, too, scribbling my name all over them!
When I started on-air in 2000, WWOZ’s studio was in Armstrong Park, right there next to Congo Square, the birthplace of Jazz. It was then, and continues to be, very humbling to have the honor to play Jazz on the radio in this city.
My show is a modern Jazz program. I try to have a balance of the Masters as well as the up-and-comers and everything in between. I aim to play Jazz in all of its hues. I’m very democratic in the music I play because Jazz has so many different elements. I try to explore and share that with our listeners. I like to think about where the music is going. Jazz is a combination of different music coming together, so because young Jazz artists today grew up listening to hip hop, you can hear that influence infused into their music. It’s our responsibility to play it. Whether people like it or not. It’s so important for new music to be heard.
I’ve tried to play several instruments, unfortunately without success. So programming my show is my way of playing music that people can connect with. The radio is my instrument of choice and listeners are at a different type of concert.
Listeners should donate to WWOZ because of our legacy of truly sharing New Orleans music and culture around the world. It’s crucial that we preserve that. We are a community based-radio, so our success is our community’s success, which then impacts the world. It may seem like a grand gesture, but it really circles back to us being a part of one big community.
-Sondra Bibb, WWOZ Show Host
Jazz From The French Market, Thursdays 4-7pm CT