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Austin Pride kicks off Thursday with the Pride at Jazz concert

"It's OK to come to one of my shows and twerk," said Bryan Carter about his upbeat jazz concert.

AUSTIN, Texas — Austin Pride is right around the corner, and kicking off festivities on Thursday is an upbeat jazz concert called "Jazz at Pride." 

In a snug, downtown studio, jazz bounces off the walls – but not just the typical jazz sound. This one gets you off your feet.

"It's OK to come to one of my shows and twerk," said Bryan Carter.

Carter brought his concert, "Jazz At Pride," from the Big Apple to the place where everything is bigger.

"You guys are keeping the Renaissance alive here in Austin," said Carter.

The Julliard grad didn't just arrange the show; he is singing, orchestrating and beating down the drums. 

Carter has been on the road with Grammy-winning artists and was the associate orchestrator for the Tony-winning Broadway show "A Strange Loop."

"I work on TV a lot and have done work on 'Saturday Night Live,'" said Carter. "Most recently, I've been playing drums on 'Sesame Street' – shout out to Elmo, Broadway."

Yes, "shout out to Elmo," but there's nothing elementary about the ensemble he put together. Out of the 30-piece orchestra and five singers, only about 10 are part of his original team. The rest are from Austin. 

Singer Kenny Williams is one of the local artists in the concert produced by Bandstand Presents

"There's amazing musicians in the city, and amazing singers, and amazing performers," said Williams. 

Listening to them, you wouldn't know it was their first day playing together.

What's even more remarkable is the meaning behind their now one sound. 

"Growing up, I didn't know any queer musicians anywhere, jazz musicians specifically," said Carter.

Here in Austin, Williams still sees the disconnect between jazz and LGBTQ artists.

"I think this would be the first and probably, hopefully, a new beginning for that being seen more," said Kenny. 

They are already paving the way. A good chunk of the artists are part of the LGBTQ community. 

"We're about creating safe spaces and starting conversations," said Carter. 

Carter plans to take this safe space on the road and share what it truly means to move as one.

Jazz at Pride is Thursday at 7 p.m. at Skybox on Sixth Street.


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