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Philadelphia to host gay jazz festival

Jazz drumer Bill Steward will be among the performers Sept. 18 to 21 at OutBeat, Philadelphia's LGBT jazz festival.
Jazz drumer Bill Steward will be among the performers Sept. 18 to 21 at OutBeat, Philadelphia's LGBT jazz festival.
Bruno Bollaert/Flickr

Said to be the first LGBT jazz festival ever produced in the United States, OutBeat is set to take place in Philadelphia on the final days of summer, Thursday, Sept. 18 to Sunday, Sept. 21. The “City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection” will play host to a number of critically acclaimed jazz artists across a broad musical spectrum including Andy Bey, Grammy Award-winning pianist Fred Hersch, Patricia Barber Quartet and drummer Bill Stewart.

“Philadelphia has enjoyed a legacy of being a great music city. We’re also a city that affirms the lives of LGBT people,” says Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter. “Hosting the first LGBT jazz festival in North America provides an opportunity to showcase the rich and vibrant culture of our city.”

OutBeat will include events ranging from public discussions hosted by JazzTimes to intimate performances, special receptions with the artists, and historic concerts in a variety of spaces. Festival sites will include lead venue partner, the William Way LGBT Community Center, The Painted Bride Art Center, and Chris’ Jazz Café as well as participation in the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s popular “Art After 5” series.

Additionally, Union Transfer – which Rolling Stone cited as one of the “Top 20 Venues in America” – will be the culminating site for the celebratory daylong closing event featuring numerous headliners. The popular Northern Liberties venue will be transformed into a festival setting with Spring Garden Street blocked off to host Philly’s finest food carts, crafters, local musicians, and other merchants. Vendors, surprises and special guests performing in multiple spaces will make this closing day especially memorable.

The festival will serve as the finale for the William Way LGBT Community Center’s annual music series and highlight the intersection between sexual orientation and gender identity within the jazz community. OutBeat will feature a vibrant and eclectic mix of world-renowned jazz musicians brought together for a series of once-in-a-lifetime performances and panel discussions.

Philadelphia has been at the forefront of supporting the LGBT community as the site of some of the nation’s first gay rights pickets, and in 1982 it was one of the first cities in the country to pass anti-gay discrimination laws. With the launch of the groundbreaking Philadelphia – Get Your History Straight and Your Nightlife Gay campaign in 2003, Philadelphia has since been ranked in the top 10 among destinations visited by LGBT travelers for the first time in 2010 as well as a top 10 leisure market for LGBT travelers aged 18-35.

For more information on the festival, visit

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