Chester Grundy was born in 1947 in Louisville, KY. He is a 1969 graduate of the University of Kentucky (UK), where, as a student, he helped establish the school's Black Student Union. Grundy had been an administrator with UK for more than 30 years, serving as the director of the Office of African American Student Affairs and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Cultural Center. He was the Director of Multicultural Student Programming. Over the years, Chester has been a mentor, counselor, role model, and friend, one who clearly recognizes factors outside the classroom that can impact a student's goal to graduate from the University of Kentucky. Chester Grundy also helped establish the nationally recognized UK "Spotlight Jazz Series" and arranged for a number of nationally and internationally renowned speakers to visit the University of Kentucky campus. In the Lexington community, Chester Grundy co-founded the annual Roots and Heritage Festival and the Martin Luther King annual celebration.
Donald Mason: Donald Mason is the Executive Director of the Lyric Theatre and Cultural Arts Center in Lexington, KY. Tasked with directing the historic African American venue into a leading regional arts center, Donald has become an advocate for diversity, inclusion and equity in the Central Kentucky region and beyond. He has become a voice for diversity, inclusion, and equity on a national scale, presenting Breaking Barriers: Diversity in Arts Leadership and Programming at the 42nd Annual League of Historic American Theatres Conference in Los Angeles, CA and an updated presentation this year in Austin, TX. Donald serves on the LexArts Board, Picnic with the Pops Commission, Business Volunteers for the Arts, EMERGE Conference Steering committee and the Projects committee for Leadership Lexington Alumni, StationARTS Committee Chair via the Academies of Bryan Station Advisory Board. He holds a B.S. in Management and Ethics from Asbury University and is an MBA candidate at Southern New Hampshire University, holding a Masters certificate and Modern Musician specialization from Berklee College of Music. Donald also founded and fronted the funk band, Soul Funkin Dangerous as the lead singer/songwriter.
Eli Uttal-Veroff has carved out a diverse career in Lexington, KY as a bassist, educator, composer and concert organizer. As an educator, he is a part-time faculty member in Eastern Kentucky University’s Music Industry program and with Bluegrass Community and Technical College, as well as a Teaching Artist for CKYO’s North Limestone MusicWorks. MusicWorks is a unique program that provides music education and mentorship to students on Lexington’s Northside and East End through an after-school orchestra. In addition to his teaching responsibilities, Eli maintains a busy schedule as a performer and bandleader. He runs a musical contracting company that provides live music for over 100 events each year. His recent jazz performances include appearances with Raleigh Dailey, Byron Stripling, Vince DiMartino, Craig Wagner, and Brandon Coleman, as well as with his own bands Grupo LexiSamba and UV Music Group. As a classical musician, he is the principal bassist of the Lexington Chamber Orchestra, and an avid chamber music performer.
Khalil Dennis is a senior at the University of Kentucky majoring in Music Performance. Originally from Georgia, he is a saxophonist, writer, and student leader. Currently, he is a member of the International Student Leadership Team, where he creates cross-cultural connections between international students and domestic students through engagement, social and academic events, and peer mentoring. Growing up as a Jamaican-American has shown him the benefits and insights of a multicultural atmosphere, and he aspires to emulate that on campus. His goal is to create a community of acceptance, curiosity, and openness. These ideals are welcomed into the music he composes, as he develops music linking jazz and spoken word poetry that engages with the human experience. Khalil will be serving as the Origins Jazz Series’s Intern for the 2018-2019 season.
Madeline Diane is an experienced musician, artist, and multimedia director. Driven by community engagement, she takes pride in providing powerful aesthetic content that encourages positive dialogue and lasting connection between individuals, organizations, and their community. With education and training in music performance, photography, graphic design, web development, digital media marketing, and behavioral psychology, Madeline has an extensive skill set that enables her to translate her various clients' branding efficiently across multiple mediums. Aside from her work as a multimedia director and pr consultant, Madeline has also been a mentor to hundreds of men and women across the nation, leading them to better mental and physical health. Madeline has pioneered a unique portrait publication titled "Women of Lexington," which highlights diverse female individuals that are actively engaged in the local community striving to improve the lives of others around them in meaningful ways.
Richard is a community development practitioner, artist, and organizational development consultant living in Lexington, Kentucky. Richard works at the local, state, and national level on creating more equitable community development and civic engagement structures. Richard was the executive director of the Chamber Music Festival of Lexington for 5 years, and was the co-founder and executive director of Lexington’s first place-based community development corporation, the North Limestone CDC, where he authored the North Limestone Cultural Plan, a multiyear community-driven plan to make the North Limestone CDC’s work more participatory and just. In 2016, Richard was named an Emerging City Champion by the 8-80 Cities and John S and James L Knight Foundation, and was awarded the first-ever “One to Watch” award from the Lexington Forum and Lexington Mayor’s Office. Richard is a steering committee member for the Kentucky Rural-Urban Exchange a nationally-recognized model for bringing rural and urban communities into authentic collaboration and is a research fellow at the University of Kentucky Community Innovation Lab studying the intersection of conservatory-level music training and community development ethics and practice. He has a degree in Double Bass Performance from the College-Conservatory of Music in Cincinnati.
Shawn Gannon is Co-founder, Director, and Emcee of Soulful Space, which was started in 2014 for musicians and music lovers seeking a space that was genuinely music centered. It is a completely unique experience for both audience and performer. He is deeply committed to promoting Lexington with all its raw material to be a great music town: the talent, the landscape, the venues, and the creative vibe, as a preferred tour stop, and a place musicians want to live and work. As Assistant Professor, and Program Coordinator of Welding Technology, at Bluegrass Community and Technical College, he received both the “American Welding Society Section Educator Award” and the “American Welding Society District Director Award”. As an educator he is committed to his students and their continued involvement in Lexington community enrichment programs.