St. Charles Preparatory School will welcome alumnus and rising jazz star Aaron Diehl to headline the school's third annual Black History and Culture celebration.
The program is scheduled for 6 to 8 p.m. Feb. 27 at the school, 2010 E. Broad St.
Diehl, who is African American, has made a name for himself in the music industry since graduating from St. Charles in 2003. Born and raised in Columbus, he currently lives in New York. He has collaborated with artists such as Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra. As the 2014 Monterey Jazz Festival Commission Artist, Diehl became one of the youngest artists to receive the honor. He also is the winner of the 2011 Cole Porter Fellowship from the American Pianists Association. He periodically returns to Columbus for performances.
"He's performed at the Lincoln Theatre and other venues in Columbus," said Michael Warner, director of St. Charles Campus Ministry and the school's My Brother's Keeper program. "This will be his first time (performing) at St. Charles."
The Black History and Culture celebration is presented by the school's chapter of My Brother's Keeper, a national mentoring program established by former President Barack Obama in 2014 to address persistent opportunity gaps facing boys and young men of color, according to the organization's website. Through the program, St. Charles students mentor children at the Columbus Collegiate Academy on the near east side of Columbus.
"We also try to provide cultural programs for our students," Warner said. "A few years ago, students created this (Black History Month) event, and it's kind of grown over the years. It was sort of a natural progression to reconnect with Aaron Diehl. He's pretty much a living legend at the school, even though he's only 15 years out."
St. Charles senior Chris Walker, a budding pianist, will open for Diehl. Walker, who also is African American, plays piano with the choir at St. Dominic Catholic Church on the near east side, where Diehl also grew up performing during worship services.
"Chris is following in Aaron's footsteps," Warner said.
The Feb. 27 celebration also will feature St. Charles students performing spoken-word poetry.
Other My Brother's Keeper events include an annual Leadership and Character lecture that has featured speakers such as Ohio State University athletes Archie Griffin and Clark Kellogg. This year's lecture will be held in May, with details to be announced in the coming weeks, Warner said.
"This is our school's effort to connect students of color with our graduates. It's that sense of, 'you can't be what you can't see,' " he said. "This is one of those efforts to address that."
The Black History and Culture celebration is free and open to the public, but reservations are required. For reservations and more information, visit stcharlesprep.org.