Calendar of Events

The Clayton Center Performing Arts Center Raleigh Durham Chapel Hill

Ocean City Jazz Festival
Jul 3 @ 7:00 pm

ocean city jazz festHistory, a limited-live audience, and social media come together as the award-winning Ocean City Jazz Festival marks its eleventh anniversary with a bang.

After being sidelined last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, The Ocean City Jazz Festival unveils an eye-popping, eclectic lineup for its 2021 edition. The trademark phrase of the festival is “Jazz with a Higher Purpose,” as it is a celebration of the legacy and culture of the Ocean City Community, an African-American beach established during the Jim Crow era. On July 3, you can immerse yourself in this uniquely jazzy experience while supporting a great cause.

The 2021 iconic event will be live-streamed from the Clayton Center at 111 E 2nd St, Clayton, with a limited live audience of approximately 150 people.

Hosted by the Ocean City Community’s nonprofit — the Ocean City Beach Citizens Council — and presented by First Citizens Bank, the festival boasts an incredible lineup of talent that caters to both jazz purists and lovers of contemporary jazz.  This year’s artists include the smooth jazz chart-buster, Willie Bradley, and jazz fan favorite, Duke University Jazz program Director John Brown and the John Brown Little Big Band.

The festival began in 2009, when the Ocean City Community celebrated its 60th anniversary with entertainment by a Fayetteville, N.C. jazz saxophonist and his accompanist on the porch of the Ocean City Community Center in North Topsail Beach. All in attendance, both visitors and residents, enjoyed the celebration and launched the annual Ocean City Jazz Festival as a vehicle to promote and celebrate the history of the Ocean City Community and to help preserve its culture. Proceeds are used for community preservation; promotion of the history of the Ocean City Community and it significance to the state; to foster music education by underwriting jazz workshops; and underwriting of festival costs. While many of the historic Black beaches in America have seen gentrification and lack of restoration, Ocean City still remains as active an destination.

The live event will be ticketed with general admission of $35 in advance. Purchase tickets here.

For festival info, visit the Ocean City Jazz Festival website.

About the Historic Ocean City Community

After World War II, Edgar Yow, an enterprising white Wilmington attorney and former mayor purchased six miles of beach property on Topsail Island. As mayor, Yow was acquainted with many members of the black community and realized that in the Jim Crow era there was a need for beachfront recreational opportunities for African Americans.

Yow, called upon Dr. Samuel Gray and later Wade Chestnut and his siblings Bertram, Robert and Louise Chestnut. Gray and the Chestnuts purchased several tracts of land from Yow and formed an inter-racial corporation, Ocean City Developers for the development of the community.  Ocean City Beach was established in 1949 and is the first community in the state that African Americans could purchase oceanfront property.

The close-knit community, now a part of North Topsail Beach, continues to grow. Despite the passing of time, Ocean City remains a community united in values and tradition.