History

The Washington Jazz Arts Institute (WJAI) was founded in 1998 by Davey Yarborough and his wife Esther Williams to further his dream of teaching music in a nurturing, mentoring atmosphere. A natural outgrowth of Davey’s success at The Duke Ellington School of the Arts in DC, this dream was born of a desire to inspire young people into careers in music.

Our mission and commitment is to the education, presentation and documentation of Jazz Music in and for the Washington, DC community. The Institute is devoted to the preservation of the past, the promotion of the present and preparation for the future of Jazz in DC. The Institute will work to firmly fix through oral and written history the contribution of Jazz music to the cultural and social development of Washington, DC, and the contribution of Washington musicians to the creation of this uniquely American music form. The Institute has developed a city-wide musical outreach and education program in support of a Jazz orchestra which will expand opportunities for the appreciation of live Jazz in the area and enhance the training and performance opportunities for young musicians.

The WJAI nurtures young musicians by supporting their efforts to create music and to enter into music related careers. Our outreach includes receiving donated instruments and putting them into the hands of aspiring musicians who need them.