Fort Mose Jazz and Blues Series to host the legendary Count Basie Orchestra and more

St. Johns County officials and members of the Fort Mose Historical Society speak at an event announcing a jazz and blues concert series to be held on the grounds of Fort Mose Historic State Park in St. Augustine in February 2022.

Grammy-winning artists come together to fundraise for Fort Mose in St. Augustine and raise awareness of the site’s significance with a jazz and blues series in February in St. Augustine.

Officials made the announcement Wednesday morning at Fort Mose Historic State Park, the site of the first free and legally sanctioned African settlement in what would become the United States.

Fort Mose was established by Spanish Florida Governor Manuel Montiano in 1738, but Africans began to flee to Spanish Florida even earlier.

“They fled south on foot to Spanish St. Augustine, crossing swamps and dense tropical forests. Along the way, they enlisted the help of the locals, creating the first ‘underground railroad’,” according to the Fort Mose Historical Society. “Not all of them survived. Those who reached St. Augustine obtained asylum from the Spanish government.

Historical re-enactor James Bullock said at the press conference: “For a lot of people it was a destination they risked everything to get to.”

Amythyst Kiah performs his song

Amythyst Kiah performs his song “Fancy Drones” at the Americana Music Association Awards at the Ryman Auditorium on September 22, 2021, in Nashville. Kiah will perform in a jazz and blues series in February in St. Augustine.

Where the story lives: Event celebrates the history – and future – of St. Augustine’s Fort Mose

Departmental commission: Longtime St. Johns County Commissioner Jeb Smith resigns to serve as Farm Bureau chair

For years, supporters of Fort Mose have tried to raise funds to build a depiction of a fort that once stood on the grounds.

To support this effort and bring more attention to the site, the Fort Mose field will host several acts from February 11 to 25 as part of the Fort Mose Jazz and Blues series:

  • February 11: Taj Mahal

  • February 12: Christian McBride

  • February 18: Count Basie Orchestra

  • February 19: Amythyst Kiah

  • February 24: Gregory Porter

  • February 25: Tank and the Bangas

Tickets will go on sale at 10 a.m. Friday at the St. Augustine Amphitheater Box Office, Ticketmaster and on the event’s website, Discoverfortmose.com. Prices range from $ 40 to $ 120 per ticket.

Blues musician Taj Mahal will perform in St. Augustine in February.  (Photo by Chris Pizzello / Invision / AP)

Blues musician Taj Mahal will perform in St. Augustine in February. (Photo by Chris Pizzello / Invision / AP)

The series is produced by the St. Johns County Cultural Events Division, which operates the St. Augustine Amphitheater and Ponte Vedra Concert Hall. It is supported by the Fort Mose Historical Society, the St. Johns County Tourist Development Council, the St. Augustine Distillery, the St. Johns Cultural Council and Flying Saucer Presents.

City Manager John Regan offered the city’s help in providing parking and shuttles for the events, and he invited officials to make a presentation to the city committee on the event.

Seven-time Grammy Award-winning Christian McBride takes the stage with A Christian McBride Situation at the Seventh Montclair <a class=Jazz Festival 2016. McBride will be performing in St. Augustine in February.” data-src=”https://s.yimg.com/ny/api/res/1.2/tjMy1ZPUYwf4D9WYNYD5mw–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTcwNTtoPTQ3MQ–/https://s.yimg.com/uu/api/res/1.2/3ms2ZDRKK_ve5nW4q8Qbtw–~B/aD0yMDAzO3c9MzAwMDthcHBpZD15dGFjaHlvbg–/https://media.zenfs.com/en/the-st-augustine-record/fe1c308ba6981a166422e0e484c78c41″/>

Seven-time Grammy Award-winning Christian McBride takes the stage with A Christian McBride Situation at the Seventh Montclair Jazz Festival 2016. McBride will be performing in St. Augustine in February.

Fort Mose Land

James Oglethorpe captured Fort Mose in 1740 and the inhabitants of the fort were evacuated to the city. The Fort Mose militia returned and defeated Oglethorpe’s forces.

Despite the victory, the Spaniards abandon the first Fort Mose and allow the inhabitants of the fort to live in the city. About 12 years later, the Spaniards forced black residents to rebuild Fort Mose on a new site to the north, the remains of which have been uncovered by archaeological excavations.

Fort Mose’s second settlement lasted until Spain gave Florida to Britain and the residents of Fort Mose left for Cuba, according to the park service.

Today, Fort Mose Historic State Park includes a history museum on approximately 40 acres. But there is no visible vestige of a fort.

Visitors often wonder where the fort is located, Fort Mose officials said at the press conference. The depiction of the fort would be used to help tell the story of the site.

At the conference, Bullock read a statement from the perspective of Captain Francisco Menendez, who led the Fort Mose militia. He was joined by Fort Mose Historical Society President Charles Ellis and Vice President Thomas Jackson, as well as St. Johns County Cultural Events Division Director General Gabe Pellicer and County Commissioner for St. Johns, Henry Dean.

Jackson explained how the land was saved from development and turned into a state park, and how it gained national and international recognition.

The site is designated by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization as the Slave Route Project Memorial Site. It is also on the National Register of Historic Places and the Florida African American History Trail, according to the Florida State Parks Foundation.

Pellicer said that many of the artists who will perform are familiar with the history of Fort Mose.

Pellicer shared a quote from Scotty Barnhart, director of the Count Basie Orchestra, after asking Barnhart if he was interested in participating.

“He said, ‘Fort Mose is one of the most important places in American history and especially African American history,” Pellicer said. “It represents the ideals of freedom, democracy and the aspirations of people to live their lives to the fullest and participate in a society with all the rights and privileges accorded to them as equal human beings. Their story is all of us. Their story is what jazz music represents: the willingness to work hard to help make our community a better place for all. “

This article originally appeared on St. Augustine Record: Fort Mose Historic State Park to host Grammy-winning artists in 2022

Comments are closed.