Valley Arts & Entertainment empowers women, students through music

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Huntsville native Patrice Bivins (center) started Valley Arts & Entertainment. (Valley Arts & Entertainment via Facebook)

Huntsville native Patrice Bivins has been involved in music for most of her life, and knows the importance music has in the development of strength and confidence in people. And her organization, Valley Arts & Entertainment, does just that — empowerment through music.

VAE, established in 2006 and based in Huntsville, is a charitable organization that supports students and women in jazz, and provides dynamic programming and services to engage and promote the careers of emerging and established artists.

How Patrice Bivins got it all started

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Huntsville native and accomplished musician Patrice Bivins started Valley Arts & Entertainment in 2006. (Valley Arts & Entertainment via Facebook)

Bivins discovered her musical talent and gained an appreciation for music through piano lessons at age 11.

“Although I was unable to complete piano lessons, my strong drive and determination would not hinder my desire to learn music. I began to play piano by ear for the junior and senior choirs at our church until around age 15. I also began playing clarinet in elementary school.”

Patrice Bivins, founder, Valley Arts & Entertainment

Bivins enrolled in Springfield College in Massachusetts to pursue her dream of becoming an Olympic gymnast and physical education teacher, and competed for three years before deciding to take a break from the sport.

While visiting relatives in California, she enrolled in UCLA and turned her focus back to music. After completing her studies at UCLA, Bivins earned a Bachelor of Science in business management from Athens State University and a Master of Public Administration and a Master of Business Administration from Florida Institute of Technology.

She returned to Huntsville in 2003 and began forming her nonprofit, a charitable organization that supports students and women in jazz.

What does Valley Arts & Entertainment do?

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VAE assists students interested in developing careers in jazz, including vocalists, writers and composers. (Valley Arts & Entertainment via Facebook)

Bivins’ organization performs a variety of services to the community through music education:

  • Provides dynamic programming and services to engage and promote the careers of emerging and established artists.
  • Provides meaningful musical encounters to underserved audiences by partnering with schools and other community organizations.
  • Assists students interested in developing careers in jazz, including vocalists, writers and composers.
  • Supports financial needs through a music scholarship program.

“I am so proud of this music program,” Bivins said. “When I received the Internal Revenue Service (nonprofit) determination letter for VAE, it was one of my proudest moments.”

Alabama Women in Jazz Festival

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The Alabama Women in Jazz Festival is in its ninth year. (Valley Arts & Entertainment)

Valley Arts & Entertainment is making plans for the 9th Annual Alabama Women in Jazz Festival, scheduled for Sept. 9-10 at the Harrison Center, located at 6156 Pulaski Pike, Huntsville, AL, 35810.

The festival began as the Huntsville Women in Jazz Festival, but Bivins expanded its reach to include all of Alabama. The event features musicians, composers, vocalists, educators and blues performers from across the state.

Bivins received the 2015 Women in Jazz Day Proclamation from the city of Huntsville and is the first African American woman to become a jazz festival promoter in Huntsville.

For more information, visit valleyartsandentertainment.org.

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Michael Seale
Michael Seale
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