When Willie Wactor III heard he could help The Kansas African American Museum by playing his beloved saxophone, he said yes. He knew his performance could bring people to the museum and help raise money.
“I want people to be aware that the museum is here,” Wactor said. “Anything I can do to help them, I am there.”
The second annual Jazz Fest will help raise money for new exhibits and education projects at the museum.
The museum decided to mix music, barbecue, fundraising and a little bit of history. Because the event takes place at the downtown museum, patrons will get a glimpse at the current exhibit, “Freedom Summer 1964.”
During the summer of 1964, many white college students from northern colleges were recruited to help with voter registration for black Mississippians. Because of the state’s low percentage of black voters, Mississippi was chosen for the movement.
Throughout the summer, many volunteers were beaten and arrested, and three were killed. This monumental campaign led the way toward the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
The show will be on display through Oct. 18.
Wactor will play the alto and tenor saxophone, along with the keyboard. He will be joined by four others, including Jeketa Paschal on vocals.
“I’m hoping that they (concertgoers) get a taste of something new,” Wactor said. “Maybe it causes you to dance, maybe it’s spiritual, maybe it’s emotional. I want to create something memorable.”
Wactor grew up in Louisiana. Right before sixth grade, he moved to Wichita and took up the saxophone. Before his move, the piano had been his primary instrument.
During the concert, Wactor, a Wichita State University graduate, will play several original compositions from his two CDs: “Can’t Stop” and “Ecouter” (the French word for listen). He also will play music by Ray Charles and Grover Washington Jr. and other well-known jazz musicians.
The museum hopes this concert will help jump-start a new level of giving and awareness.
“It’s a great night of fellowship and music,” said Jacquette Thompson, the museum’s volunteer and visitor services coordinator. “I hope all jazz lovers and friends of the museum come out and have fun and fellowship.”