The SFJAZZ Gala was one of the most highly anticipated events on the City’s social calendar, and with a female-focused lineup including Mavis Staples, Bonnie Raitt, Rosanne Cash and Lizz Wright— plus a high-dollar turnout of $1.35 million raised —it didn’t disappoint.
Staples, hailed as a living legend in jazz music, was given the Lifetime Achievement Award at the glossy gathering. It’s the latest among many recognitions for the Chicago native, who in her 70-year career (she started performing at age 11) has earned two Grammys and gotten nods from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Kennedy Center, Blues Hall of Fame and Gospel Music Hall of Fame.
“We recognize Ms. Staples’ inclusive approach to the roots of American music as a parallel to our mission at SFJAZZ,” the institution said of the acknowledgment.
The vibe at the fair was — pun absolutely intended — jazzy, attracting a who’s who of Bay Area music lovers, who snazzed up their black-tie best with a fedora here and pair of sparkly boots there.
Mayor London Breed took the stage to declare January 30 official “Mavis Staples Day in the City” — what luminary hasn’t been given an official day by the mayor at this point? We’re not mad about it! — while the other performers included Rick Holmstrom, John Leventhal, Charlie Musselwhite, Robin Hodge Williams and Friends Gospel Choir, SFJAZZ Collective and the SFJAZZ High School All-Stars.
Chaired by Mick Hellman and Denise Young Smith, the affair brought out philanthropists Joachim and Nancy Bechtle, Ann and Roger McNamee, Lisa Pritzker and Rick and Adam Swig, among other heavy hitters.