Funding from a $10,000 National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) grant will undergird the Max Roach Centennial Celebration and Music Festival, hosted by The Elizabeth City State University (ECSU) Department of Music and Visual Arts April 11-13, 2024. Roach was an African American drummer, composer and band leader lauded for his instrumentation and jazz prowess. He died in 2007.

The festival will include jazz history workshops, master classes, K-12 workshops and live performances on ECSU’s campus and in Elizabeth City. ECSU is serving as the planning agency and festival host. All programming is free and open to the public.        

ECSU Music Professor Douglas Jackson sees the event as an opportunity to explore the roots of jazz music.

“Max Roach was born in Newland, N.C. in Pasquotank County. Elizabeth City State University shares this same geographical reference,” Jackson said. “The recognition of Max Roach is also a recognition of the contributions made by jazz musicians born in North Carolina, including Billy Taylor, John Coltrane, Nina Simone and Thelonious Monk.”

Jackson is leading the effort along with local partners, The Museum of the Albemarle, who will host the open plenary, and Arts of the Albemarle who will host the opening night performance. The University of North Carolina constituent jazz programs have been invited to perform and the ECSU Jazz Ensemble will perform and work as event staff. 

“We are thrilled to present this festival to the community,” Jackson said. “It is through the arts that we discover what a rich history we have throughout the state and the scope of jazz music.”   


Elizabeth City State University provides students with a high-quality, affordable education as one of North Carolina’s leading four-year public institutions that is part of the University of North Carolina System. ECSU develops leaders who are courageous, resilient, and empowered through excellent student-centered, experiential learning. We offer baccalaureate, professional, and master’s degrees across a wide variety of interests. Excellence is the standard at Elizabeth City State University – success is our legacy. Come to Discover. Leave to Conquer. Visit