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Bringing Jazz Back to the Heartland

Daniel and Ebony Edwards discuss plans for the Jazz Legacy Project.
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Daniel and Ebony Edwards have a dream; to ignite a passion for jazz and community right here in Kansas City. The couple are reimagining a future for the abandoned Public Works Building, located at 20th and Vine streets near Kansas City’s historic “Jazz District,” with the hopes of converting the space into the world’s top jazz recording studio.

The story begins with a newly engaged couple in pursuit of a wedding venue. The couple had hopes of finding a location that would fit into their budget. Additionally, they wanted to be married within the community they had resided in their entire lives; the 18th and Vine district.

By investing their wedding budget to clean up the abandoned Kansas City Workhouse, also known as “The Castle”, Ebony and Daniel would fulfill their need to give back to the community that had been so gracious to them. Four months after their wedding, they were shown blueprints, printed on Daniel’s 2nd birthday, with dreams of the Public Works buildings as an international center for jazz.

“Jazz was born in New Orleans, and was raised in Kansas City. We are building on that legacy,” said Daniel.

Daniel and Ebony have accepted a grant that is allowing them to travel around the world for 28 days, beginning July 1. During this time, they will spend 2-3 days in cities such as Dubai, Copenhagen, London and Montreux. There they will experience jazz festivals and begin cultivating relationships with a variety of jazz musicians and production professionals. These relationships will allow the couple to understand what the facility should include in order to successfully draw international jazz artists to Kansas City.

In order to successfully renovate the 20,000 square feet of Public Works buildings, the couple is creating dedicated international and local teams to help raise awareness, ideas, and resources. Kansas City’s International Jazz Legacy Project – JazzLP will begin collecting financial commitments January 2016.

Along the way, both Daniel and Ebony will be documenting their journey on social media by using #KCJAZZLP. The couple hopes people who share their excitement for art, culture and Kansas City, will join them on the adventure.

To learn more about the Kansas City International Jazz Legacy Project, visit their website. To be a part of the journey follow @kcjazzlegacy on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

A complete interview with the Edwards will be part of KCPT’s digital series “Show Me” on kcpt.org/showme.

CORRECTION: This story originally stated that the couple had purchased the Kansas City Workhouse (the Castle) and the story has been amended to reflect that the Kansas City Workhouse is owned by the Kansas City Business Center For Entrepreneurial Development. Also, their itinerary incorrectly listed Lucerne instead of Montreaux.

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