Marcus Shelby

The Healdsburg Jazz Festival is getting a two-year, $65,000 grant from the James Irvine Foundation to create a jazz choir representing the cultural diversity of Sonoma County.

The project will be led by Marcus Shelby, noted Bay Area jazz composer, educator and musician.

Shelby and the Healdsburg Jazz Festival will assemble the new jazz choir to perform at a series of concerts featuring Shelby’s musical compositions based on the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s, and his new arrangements of gospel classics.

A call for choir members will go out in January, with rehearsals scheduled to begin in February and continue through April.

The new choir will perform three concerts per year with Shelby’s 19-piece jazz orchestra.

“We want to involve Sonoma County’s ethnically diverse population by offering direct performance opportunities for participants to work alongside professional musicians,” said Jessica Felix, founder and creative director of the Healdsburg Jazz Festival.

The Healdsburg Jazz Festival is celebrating its 15th year in 2013, and will present a 10-day festival from May 31 to June 9 at various Healdsburg venues.

The James Irvine Foundation is a private, nonprofit grant-making foundation dedicated to expanding opportunity for the people of California to participate in an inclusive society.