2020 marks 100 years from the birth of saxophonist and composer Charles Parker, Jr. In celebration of this centennial, the Charles H. Wright Museum is honoring Parker's impact and achievements from August-October 2020 through reflections, discussions, and more.


Detroit-based artists will be showcased in a 30-minute autobiographical video that highlights their early introduction to their art forms, key collaborators, rare photographs, artistic inserts, and statements about their key influencers, including the impact “Bird” has on their artistic vision and expression. Features include:

  • Ralph Armstrong, world-class bassist (August 7th, virtual)


  • Rafael Leafar, Kresge Fellow, multi-instrumentalist & Alex White, drummer (August 11th, virtual)


  • James Carter, world-class saxophonist and flutist (August 14th, virtual)
  • Wendell Harrison, Eminent Kresge Artist, saxophonist (August 18th, virtual)
  • Robert Hurst, 7x Grammy Award and 4x Emmy Award-winning, bassist, composer, and university instructor (September 25th, virtual)

Bird Lives! Michigan Humanities Sponsored Conversations

  • Reflections on the Music & Intellect of Charles Parker, Jr. - A conversation between two Detroit jazz legends: saxophone virtuoso James Carter and his mentor Larry Smith, a saxophonist in the musical lineage of Bird (August 22nd, virtual)
  • Yardbird Suite, 1920-1940: A Bio Poem - Written and performed by 2011 Kresge Eminent Literary Artist Bill Harris, accompanied by Kresge Fellow Pamela Wise and her Ensemble, followed by a dialogue with the audience. (August 29th. Free, onsite, ticketed, limited seats, face masks and social distancing required)
  • Bird – Monk | Racism & the Political Economy of Jazz - Noted historians Dr. Gerald Horne and Dr. Robin D.G. Kelley discusses Thelonious Sphere Monk and Charles Parker, Jr., who, along with Dizzy and Miles, were two of the founders of Bebop, the revolutionary music that encodes Black Americans' expression of freedom and self-determination. (August 30th, virtual)
  • JazzSpace Detroit: The Photography of Detroit Jazz Legends - Awarded author and journalist Herb Boyd talks with prolific jazz photographer Barbara Barefield, about her wonderful photographs of Detroit jazz musicians and insights about Bird and the Detroit musical scene. An audience Q&A will follow this conversation. (September 12th, virtual)

2020 CONCERT OF COLORS | Leafar Village presents Bird Lives!

A Musical Celebration of the Centennial of Charles Parker, Jr. - Kresge Fellow and multi-instrumentalist Rafael Leafar will be joined by Ian Finkelstein, keys and bass; Alex White, drums; Djallo Djakate, drums; Marquis Johnson, drums; Sterling Toles, DJ turntable; & Deshawn Reid, MC/Spoken Word in this special musical tribute.

This program will also include a special tribute to radio personality Ed Love of WDET, and formerly of WJZZ and WCHD. (October 7th -10th, virtual)

Visit: for the full line-up.

Thank you for your support.