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Scholarship concert honors Harlem Hellfighters April 19

A group of valiant African American World War I soldiers - aka the “Harlem Hellfighters” - brought with them to Europe one of America’s most enduring exports: jazz.

Harlem_Hellfighters_Poster_Illustration_Courtesy_Gary_Kelley

The 19th annual Lytle Scholarship Concert at UC San Diego will take a trip through time and pay homage to those brave men with the concert, “Harlem Hellfighters: Jazz Goes to War,” 3 p.m. Sunday, April 19 at UCSD Prebys Concert Hall.

Proceeds will benefit undergraduate scholarships at UC San Diego. The evening will also include narration to describe the music and its place in history.

Jazz made its path across the Atlantic Ocean in 1918, when one black officer, Lieutenant James Reese Europe, volunteered for military service with members of his Harlem Society Orchestra. They formed the 369th Regimental Band, which, in addition to combat fighting, brought jazz to Paris and popularized it in several European cities.

While members of the 369th Regimental Band fought courageously and were renowned for boosting morale with their music, the U.S. Army still did not allow them to fight alongside white soldiers. As a result, the African American soldiers were attached to the French, who welcomed the soldiers and gave them the moniker, “hellfighters.”

Tickets are $50 general admission, $40 active and former military members or $10 with student ID at rels.ucsd.edu