(LEWES, Del.) - Opening night of the fifth annual True Blue Jazz festival swung into action with young, local musicians headlining the evening at Bethany Blues in Lewes.
The Youth Jazz Appreciation night featured student jazz musicians from Rehoboth Elementary School, Beacon Middle School and Cape Henlopen High School.
Peggy Raley and Eddie Sherman, both jazz musicians and co-founders of the festival, said supporting young musicians and music programs in local schools is the mission of the True Blue Jazz festival.
"The arts programs have suffered and everybody's budgets struggled," said Sherman. "So we're trying to just prop things up a little bit by doing what we can in terms of scholarships and bringing workshops to the kids."
All proceeds raised from the True Blue Jazz festival will go toward jazz and music programs as well as aspiring student musicians around Delmarva.
Raley said the festival's youth jazz initiative also offers workshops, meetings with award-winning jazz artists and performance opportunities for students year-round.
"With our Youth Jazz initiative, we not only focus on bringing great professional artists into the schools to work with them but we give the kids an opportunity to actually get out and strut their stuff," said Raley.
The jazz vocalist and local business owner added it's the best way to encourage students that a music career is possible.
"There are no musicians tomorrow if you don't start them today and love them and support them today."
The True Blue Jazz festival runs through Sunday, Oct. 15. Free concerts will be held at the Avenue Inn, the Rehoboth Beach Bandstand and two restaurants, Fable and Indigo. For ticket and lineup information, visit truebluejazz.org.