WRTI's NPR Live Sessions Video of the Week: Saxophonist & Key of She Jazz Founder Olivia Hughart

Mar 23, 2020

When saxophonist Olivia Hughart (now a college freshman) was in middle school in Lower Merion, there were few girls in her jazz big band, despite the fact that there were many girls in orchestra and band. In an effort to bring girls together from her school disctrict who shared an interest in jazz, she founded the organization Key of She Jazz.

Watch a video of Olivia and her band play "Sky Scrape" in the WRTI 90.1 Performance Studio here

Since its inception over five years ago, Key of She Jazz has supported girls and women in jazz to keep playing. Most recently, Olivia’s passion project blossomed into the Key of She Jazz Conference as a way to create a conversation among jazz students of all genders, and create opportunities for girls and women to grow and increase participation in jazz.

“Close to a year ago, the mother/daughter team of Amy and Olivia Hughart popped onto my radar. Heather Blakeslee of Jazz Philadelphia reached out to make sure they did and I’m thankful for the introduction,” recalled WRTI Jazz Host and NPR Live Session Executive Producer J. Michael Harrison.

“Olivia, then a high school senior, was on the verge of presenting the first Key of She Jazz Conference at the University of the Arts. The organization and conference are built to support, inspire and encourage girls and young women to get involved with the genre and to also increase the awareness of the women already established in jazz.

In addition to panel discussions and music performances, inaugural conference attendees were reaffirmed by the Key of She Jazz mission to empower “young girls to take up their instrument of choice, continue their jazz studies, and take their skills into the jazz and music industry.”

J. Michael added: “Less than a year later, we decided to invite Olivia in for an NPR Live Session to not only promote the 2nd annual conference, but also to continue to demonstrate our commitment to champion this music and the folks that drive it.

Here was an opportunity to utilize our growing family of platforms to distribute content that impacts the jazz community at large. Olivia’s quartet provided a wonderful set of music.

Unfortunately, the conference itself has, like many events this spring, been postponed. Please keep this now freshman in college (at NYU) on your radar because she’s destined to continue to impress and inspire. In the meantime, enjoy Olivia Hughart and her quartet filmed in the WRTI performance studio in February, 2020.”