Visionaires hosting ‘An Evening of Jazz'

Members of the Visionaires during an event in January to kick off their 75th anniversary celebration. (Special to the Guardian)

Published: Wednesday, March 6, 2013 at 2:12 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, March 6, 2013 at 2:12 p.m.

Enjoy an evening of music and dancing while helping to raise scholarship funds for graduating seniors at the inaugural "An Evening of Jazz" sponsored by the Visionaires, a social and civic club in Gainesville.



What: “An Evening of Jazz” with The Visionaires with music, dancing and refreshments.
When: 7-9 p.m. March 16.
Where: Senior Recreation Center, 5701 NW 34th St.
Tickets: $25 in advance.
Information: Call 352-317-8291.

The benefit will be held from 7-9 p.m. March 16 at the Gainesville/Alachua County Senior Recreation Center at 5701 NW 34th St. Tickets are $25 each in advance by calling 352-317-8291 or via email at They will not be sold at the door. Light refreshments will be served, but those attending can bring their own adult beverages and food, too.

Cynthia Chestnut, public relations chairwoman and past president of the Visionaires, said "An Evening of Jazz" will be one of the monthly activities in celebration of the group's 75th anniversary.

Chestnut said Gainesville singer Jimmy Young, lead vocalist of the Passion Band, will provide song favorites from such legendary musicians as Otis Redding, Marvin Gaye and Jerry Butler.

"This inaugural event is more about music and dancing," Chestnut said. "It's an event to meet and greet and have fun dancing and listening to rich music. It's a dressy affair, but not formal."

Proceeds will benefit scholarships for graduating seniors, including the Visionaires Achievement Scholarship and the Daphne Duval Williams Scholarship, which honors Visionaires founding member Daphne Duval Williams.

Chestnut said the group's 75th anniversary celebration kicked off in January with a Founder's Day Candlelight Ceremony at the George A. Smathers Libraries at the University of Florida. The group's Founder's Day, which was held last Sunday, was observed with a church service at Wesley Chapel United Methodist Church in the Arredondo community.

Gussie Campbell, president of the Visionaires, said the club was created in 1938 by eight Gainesville women who wanted to provide civic, cultural and educational activities in the community. She said they sponsored concerts and provided the first scholarship in 1946 for graduating seniors.

"We're still continuing to focus on civic, social and educational activities," said Campbell, adding that activities include voter registration and sponsoring the annual Take Our Daughters to Work Day, which takes place in April.

The founding members were Christola Wilkerson Jones, who just died last year at 102, Mamie Taylor Cook, Viola W. Jackson, Frederica C. Jones, Mozelle Knowles, Irene Lewey, Florence W. Smith and Daphne Duval Williams.

Currently, there are 23 members and membership is by invitation only.

Campbell said the Visionaires celebrated their 50th anniversary with a jazz event, so it's fitting the 75th anniversary is celebrated with a jazz event.

"We want to do things our founders enjoyed doing and we enjoy as well," Campbell said. "We want the community to come and enjoy ‘An Evening of Jazz.' It's all about community and getting together and enjoying music and fellowship."

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