Ode to Dizzy Gillespie, the king of jazz and bepop founder at the annual SC Jazz Festival in Cheraw

“I’m Dizzy Gillespie from Chee-raw, South Carolina”

The King of Jazz in Cheraw

Dizzy's bronze statue on the green

Millions of jazz fans have been delighted by Dizzy’s music for more than a half of century.

Every year on the 3rd weekend in October thousands of music afficionados, tourists and Cheraw locals flock to the SC Jazz Festival to pay tribute to the King of Jazz.

Interesting facts and trivia about Dizzy Gillespie:
• His given name was John Birks Gillespie, friends still refer to him as John Birks.
• Dizzie always played music by ear; it was Norman Powe, Dizzy’s long time friend who thought him how to read music.
• He had a wonderful sense of rhythm. As a little boy he often danced at the Chiquora Club, located behind the Town Hall.
• He was passionate about movies or “moving pictures” as he put it. Dizzy used to sneak in at The Lyric Theatre – present day Theater on the Green – to see the shows that finally the manager offered him a job to keep other kids at bay!
• Cheraw first honored Dizzy Gillespie in 1959 with a big parade. In 2002 the town dedicated a 7 foot bronze statue and a park. Artist Bob Doster and Cheraw school children created the park’s modern sculptures, stainless steel benches and the fence depicting the notes from Salt Peanuts.

Having fun with the chalk on the walk

Having fun with the chalk on the walk

Fun things for kids at the SC Jazz Festival
• Show your bepop skills at the parade with performance by The Equinox Jazz Band
• Dance and listen to the daily free concerts on the Town Green
• Be an artist on the Green: paint with marbles, chalk on the walk, color a gigantic jazzy canvas and get your face painted by the clowns
• Get grooving in the park at Dizzy’s birthday party
• Admire dazzling creations by the Artisans of the SC Cotton Trail

“In Cheraw mischief, money making and music captured all my attention.” – Dizzy Gillespie


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  1. […] magnificent historic houses and churches. Cheraw is famous for the SC Jazz Festival that celebrates her beloved son, Dizzie Gillespie. This weekend the city will open its arms to welcome visitors to the 34th annual Spring Festival. […]

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