Art in the Bluegrass: Lexington Smooth Jazz Fest

Michelle Aiello


Cole is one of the founders of The African American Forum, Inc. The Jazz Fest is an extension of what his organization has been doing for 25 years.

“We have done all things: gospel, plays, and all facets of the performing and visual arts. Jazz seemed to be a natural fit because of what it can do to bring people together,” Cole said.

Jazz festivals are not uncommon across the country; however, the Lexus Jazz Fest is unique. Six years ago, with the addition of Lexus as a title sponsor, the event grew into a cultural experience that is uniquely Kentucky. 

It’s about regional arts, culture, cuisine and contemporary American Jazz.

“We are honored to work with the African American Forum, Inc. to bring the fun and excitement of jazz to the Kentucky Horse Park. We feel that by embracing the arts, we can help provide a social, economic and educational impact in our community. Lexus of Lexington is proud to be part of this event that continues to grow year after year,” said Matt Agosto, General Manager, Lexus of Lexington.

The festival started as a one day event. Now it’s held during three days at three different venues.

The three-day music celebration begins Thursday with Jazz: Live at the Library downtown. That event is free.

Friday, AARP of Kentucky sponsors an evening of smooth jazz at the Embassy Suites with a regional artist. This setting will allow for a more intimate experience with the music.

The Summer Breeze Saturday All Star Jazz Showcase will feature Euge Groove and Avery Sunshine at the Kentucky Horse Park.

A testament to just how special this festival is, is captured with the story of ten people from New Orleans, the birthplace of jazz. Last year they traveled to Lexington for the festival and were so impressed, they are returning and bringing even more friends this year. That’s an endorsement.

While the music is attracting audiences from across the country, there is something bigger happening. With music as the great unifier, the Lexus Jazz Fest is being recognized as an event where you will find the most diverse audience in central Kentucky.

“We live in a global society now. We understand cultures. If you have a diverse audience, if you are open minded and you have conversations about culture and opportunity, you will see relationships evolve after coming to this event,” Cole said.

The three-day event begins Thursday, August 9th. To purchase tickets, visit