St. John Coltrane Church celebrates 50th anniversary in San Francisco

St. John Coltrane

San Francisco – You are invited to join us in celebrating our 50th anniversary at Grace Cathedral on July 20th with a free concert for the public.

Since its inception in 1969, the Saint John Coltrane African Orthodox Church (SJCAOC) has been dedicated to the spiritual artistry of its namesake, the great American jazz musician and composer, whose instrument was the saxophone. Coltrane was and will forever be a monumental spiritual entity who began in bebop and hard bop idioms of jazz but eventually pioneered the essence of free jazz.

The St. John Coltrane Church celebrates a Love Supreme Mass at Grace Cathedral on Dec. 8, 2014.

This canonized figure led at least 50 recording sessions and appeared on a wide swath of albums created by other legendary musicians, to include Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk, and Duke Ellington, among others. Over the course of his career, Coltrane’s music took on an increasingly spiritual dimension. He remains one of the most influential saxophonists in music history.

It is because of this significance that he remains the only jazz musician to be canonized. Over these 50 years, SJCAOC has operated in the city of San Francisco, California. Former Mayor Willie Brown stated, “Coltrane was so important that I proclaimed every July 20th as John Coltrane Day in San Francisco.”

“We are thrilled to partner with Grace Cathedral to celebrate our 50th anniversary of honoring the spirituality of John Coltrane and his music in San Francisco,” said Franzo King, the church’s co-creator and Archbishop. “With this free concert we are happily launching another 50 years of honoring Coltrane and other jazz luminaries whose music was graced to possess profoundly deep spiritual narratives that touch everyone, regardless of religion. The doors of the Church of John Coltrane are always open to the citizens of San Francisco and tourists that visit our illustrious city.”

The music of the church can be best described as “jazz gospel.” In fact, there is no other entity in the known universe like the Coltrane Church. No one else is taking verses from the Bible and interweaving them with the music of Coltrane. The church has a global following of musicians and aficionados.

At St. John Coltrane Church, everyone is welcome both to listen and to make music. Longtime members and first time visitors are invited to bring their instruments and join in.

The church is one of the remaining cultural legacies of the “Harlem of the West,” as the Fillmore District was commonly known starting in the 1940s. The Fillmore was a swinging, integrated and hopping neighborhood dotted with restaurants, pool halls, theaters and shops with a large swath owned and operated by African Americans reflecting dozens of active nightclubs and music joints.

The Coltrane Church is sustaining this legacy with an unheard of and astonishingly 41-year track record of broadcasting the music of Coltrane on KPOO.FM in San Francisco. In fact, Pastor Wanika Stephens, has been the indomitable current standing DJ for the last 19 years spinning the tunes of Coltrane et al who played with him. Pastor Stephens says, “People are just crazy about Coltrane. Our objectives are not to proselytize and/or convert people to religion but rather to simply bring Coltrane’s spiritual connection to listeners.”

The church’s business objective for the next 50 years is to create a multifaceted entertainment company that develops compelling content for worldwide distribution. The plan is predicated on an annual music festival and an annual celebration of Coltrane’s birthday in September. Our canvases will be television, music, podcasts, live events, VOD, magazine and Internet, all the while marketing and promoting the great city of San Francisco.

St. John Coltrane Jubilee 50

At the St. John Coltrane Jubilee 50, the Evening Vespers Concert features Teodross Avery, Richard Howell, Rev. Max, Marcus Shelby, Destiny Muhammad, Ele Howell, Karl Nueckel, Pascal Bokar, African Dancers,

Voices of Compassion, Ministers of Sound and Social Justice and Saint John Coltrane Church vocalist Ann Mack. Speakers are Rev. Wanika K. Stephens, Dr. Nicholas Baham and Archbishop Franzo King.

The Jubilee is Saturday, July 20, 7-9 p.m., at Grace Cathedral, 1100 California St., San Francisco. Donate and register at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/acknowledgement-tickets-64287485600?aff=ebdshpsearchautocomplete.