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About the Program: Central Ave
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Our 2023 season MUSIC = POWER is all about examining the visionary artists who made music that shaped public consciousness and drove meaningful social change. So, naturally, we are remounting one of our most popular and most talked-about events from 2022: Central Avenue.

In the early to mid-20th century, Central Avenue became the center of L.A.’s musical soul. This famous stretch of South Central L.A. was a hub of bubbling nightlife.  Bright sounds burst from every block and brought a community together in ways only art and music can.


On Central Avenue, music and identity were intertwined, and art became lived experience for African Americans in Los Angeles. In this performance, MUSE/IQUE honors and celebrates the legacy of Central Avenue with tributes to many of the brilliant visionaries and artists and who made an impact here, including Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Etta James and so many more.

MUSE/IQUE first performed this program in 2022 at a special assembly for more than 750 students, teachers, and staff at Thomas Jefferson High School, giving many students their first exposure to live music on a grand scale. Thomas Jefferson High School is an important cultural focal point in the story of Central Avenue, with a long list of notable alumni, including Etta James!

One year later, we are reprising this program, one of our most talked about and celebrated, with most of the original artists. Continue below to read more.

Revisit the 2022 press coverage we received:

Digital Program - Central Ave
About the artists - Central Ave


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Sy smith, vocals

This Los Angeles-based Emmy-nominated singer/songwriter has been dubbed by her peers the "queen of underground soul”. A native of Washington, DC and graduate of Howard University, Sy Smith is considered one of the leaders of the indie soul movement , plus she’s recorded and/or toured with some of the biggest names in R&B, hip-hop and jazz (including Whitney Houston and Sheila E.). Since 2015, she’s performed tributes to Ella Fitzgerald and other iconic women of jazz at Carnegie Hall, The Kennedy Center, Toronto’s Massey Hall and more. Sy currently tours with Grammy-winning trumpeter Chris Botti and is featured in his 2021 PBS special w/ the Dallas Symphony wowing audiences with her range (which effortlessly goes from whimsical/romantic mezzo-soprano, to a soul-stirring whistle-tone). Sy is humbled and thrilled to return to the stage with MUSE/IQUE for this homage to the musical history and legacy of Central Ave. 



LaVance Colley has fused the presence, range, and fervor of a Gospel singer with the versatility of Jazz, and the heart of R&B to develop a style all his own. As an accomplished vocalist his credits include working with legends like: Beyonce Knowles, John Legend, Shawn Mendes, Pharrell Williams, Diana Ross, and Lizzo, to name a few. LaVance is also widely recognized as the lead vocalist, and Emcee on tour with international sensation group Postmodern Jukebox. His live performances and studio sessions are truly spectacular and highly sought after by many artists in the industry.

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The dc 6 singerS collective, vocals

The DC6 Singers Collective are a Los Angeles-based ensemble of dynamic and energetic a cappella, gospel, and Motown singers. Together, the DC6 Singers Collective have brought their shared passion for music as well as their uplifting and charismatic performances to audiences across the country. In harmony, the DC6 Singers Collective delivers a unique approach to gospel and Motown standards and breathes new life into classic and current pop standards. 

The MUSE/IQUE Orchestra

Led by Rachael Worby

Arrangements by

Jared Jenkins
Myron McKinley (piano)

Jamey Tate


Myron McKinley


Donald Barrett


Ian Martin


Tony Pulizzi


Pat Posey

Brian Scanlon

Damon Zick


Jeff Bunnell

Dan Fornero

Chris Gray


Bob Lawrence

Fred Simmons

Brady Steel Orchestra Contractor

Sponsors - Central Ave

Thank you to our generous season sponsors:

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Anonymous (2), Avery and Andrew Barth, Michael Casey, Nancy and Michael Harahan, The Havner Family Foundation, Ellen and Harvey Knell, The Jerry and Terri Kohl Family Foundation, Lois Madison: The Madison Foundation for Families, Debbie and Rick Powell, and Alyce de Roulet  Williamson.

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