2021 Basie Awards presented by Bank of America coming to YouTube, Facebook June 17


The 2021 Basie Awards presented by Bank Of America will take place on Thursday, June 17 at 8:00PM on Facebook, YouTube and theBASIE.org.

In light of the pivots, maneuvers and challenges faced by our area’s high school theater community over the past year, the theme of this year’s Basie Awards is “creativity.” Not just what it takes to act onstage or perform in front of hundreds or even thousands — but the art of imparting creativity into everyday life, whether you’re a performer, a CEO or otherwise. Special guests for this year’s Basie Awards include Broadway actor Jelani Remy (Ain’t Too Proud), Metropolitan Opera tenor Kenneth Floyd, Atlantic Records recording artist and American Idol alum Jax, CBS-New York weatherman John Elliott, Subaru USA CEO and President Thomas J. Doll, Bank Of America New Jersey Market President Alberto Garofalo and others.

“Many schools didn’t get the opportunity to properly present a stage show this year,” said Yvonne Scudiery, who founded the Basie Awards and the Basie organization’s arts education programs, and currently serves as the ceremony’s creative director. “So we chose to concentrate on the importance of creativity onstage and off, by providing ‘mini-categories’ for area students to compete in, but also turning to community leaders for their views on the importance of keeping one’s mind sharp through creative thought.”

Area theater students were invited to submit videos in several categories, including Best Female / Male Vocalist, Dramatic Monologue, and Two Person Scene. Winners in these categories will be announced during the program, as will the recipients of the Count Basie Center’s arts impact scholarships: the Bank Of America Arts Matter Impact Award, Monmouth County Commissioners Basie Center Scholarship for Continuing Education, the Moser Taboada Arts Impact Scholarship, Amy Giinter Fredericks Music Education Scholarship, a scholarship offered by Basie Center Executive Committee member Michael Parent, and a new scholarship named in honor of Scudiery, who retired from full-time work at the Basie in 2020.

Gwen MotenIn addition to these awards and scholarships, Ms. Gwen Moten will be honored with the annual Lifetime Achievement Award. Moten               is an arts and cultural educator whose resume includes presentations and cultural arts positions at the White House, the United Nations, Newark, NJ, and beyond. Her distinguished performing and vocal training career span from Broadway performer to college instructor, from concert artist to choral trainer throughout the world. Her previous honors include The New Jersey Performing Arts Center’s (NJPAC) Community Champion, the Trailblazer Lifetime Achievement Award from the Greater Newark Convention and Visitors Bureau, and the John Cotton Dana Distinguished Lecturer. Additionally, she received a Proclamation recognizing her accomplishments from Newark’s Mayor Ras J. Baraka. In New York City, Moten was given the honor of Opening the NASDAQ Stock Market for her dedication and outstanding contributions to the Muscular Dystrophy Association’s fight against muscular dystrophy and related neuromuscular diseases. Earlier this year, Moten accepted an invitation to become Music Director of the new Count Basie Center Gospel Choir.

“We’re excited for this year’s Basie Awards,” said Adam Philipson, President and CEO, Count Basie Center for the Arts. “But in the back of our heads, and in our hearts, we’re even more excited that next year, we’ll be able to do this onstage at the Basie Center, in front of 1,500 screaming students, parents, school administrators and theater teachers!”