The Journal The Authority on Global Business in Japan

For this year’s event, we wanted to recreate some of the vibes of the legendary Black & White Ball of 50 years ago, while adding some new twists. One of the groups to play at the original ball was the Detroit Soul Brothers, also known as the Funk Brothers. They were a Motown band who got everyone out on the dance floor. There is probably only one person in Tokyo whose roots go back to that source: Jett Edwards.

Most recently known for establishing the Japan Mass Choir—nominated for a 2016 GMA Dove Award for Best Traditional Gospel album—Edwards was born into a musical family. His parents were both gospel and opera singers, and his father taught his boys how to play instruments and perform. The Edwards home was filled with music, as it was frequently visited by gospel greats when they passed through his North Carolina hometown. It is not surprising, then, that Edwards wrote his first hit song at the age of 14. The song was called Lonely Man, and he laughs about that now saying, “what did I know about being a lonely man at age 14.”

From then to now has been a long and winding road. Jett was artist & repertoire director for Jackson Records and has managed, produced, and collaborated with artists such as the Five Blind Boys of Mississippi, Five Blind Boys of Alabama, Swan Silvertones, and Soul Stirrers, as well as Janet Jackson, Diana Ross, The Crusaders, James Brown, Dionne Warwick, Leon Ware, The Temptations, George Benson, and Motown Records. Who better could we ask to hook us up for this gala?

“On this night”, Jett says, “have your dance shoes on and your tux and tails ready to fly,” because he is going to bring those sounds back. His description is “imagine a night where classical meets the street sound: on edge, mad, movin’, groovin’ music that you won’t be able to get enough of.” To achieve this, Jett has reached out to some of the best of the best in Japan and put together Tokyo’s Soul Funk Brothers.

And that’s not all. Our evening reception will start with a great selection of solo jazz. Then our ballroom will open up to the Tokyo Hot Rollers, an all-star string band playing red-hot instrumentals on guitar, mandolin, fiddle, bass, and snare drum. This group will be led by veteran American roots and blues musician Rambling Steve Gardner from Mississippi.

We want to start off with a bang, but then we also know that you and your guests want time to socialize and relax during dinner. We hope you will enjoy our dinner trio who will keep our theme going with some great jazz standards and a few surprises that are akin to those enjoyed at the original Black and White Ball, while maintaining a level that doesn’t intrude on your conversation.

In countless ways, our entertainers also give back to the community, as is part of that great American tradition. While they cannot survive working for free, they have all been most generous with their time in helping to make this evening unique for the ACCJ community and friends.

We hope that you will support the Charity Ball this year by attending or becoming a sponsor. The ball will be held on December 3 at the Hilton Tokyo in Shinjuku with a theme that celebrates the 50th anniversary of Truman Capote’s iconic Black and White Ball, which was held at the Plaza Hotel in New York City. We invite you to come dressed in the spirit of this legendary masquerade gala!

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Barbara Hancock is chair, and Lori Hewlett and Kevin Naylor are vice-chairs, of the Charity Ball Committee.
In countless ways, our entertainers also give back to the community