In 2004 a group of visionaries formed the Downtown Improvement Committee for the purpose of erecting a statue commemorating the great saxophonist and composer John Coltrane as a High Point, NC native son. Coltrane was born in Hamlet, NC, came to embrace jazz in Philadelphia, PA, but, first learned to play the saxophone while growing up in High Point.
The statue was financed by grants from the Downtown Improvement Committee, the High Point Convention and Visitors Bureau, the High Point Museum, the City of High Point, the Guilford County Board of Commissioners, the High Point Community Foundation and private donations.
The 8 foot tall, bronze statue was created by sculptor Thomas Jay Warren and dedicated on September 20, 2006. It is located at the Coltrane Plaza in downtown High Point. Legendary guitar icon, Carlos Santana wrote the words that were read at the dedication ceremony. Santana has cited Coltrane as a musical influence.
The Friends of John Coltrane officially formed in the summer of 2009 as an outgrowth of the group of individuals who worked to raise funds to commission the statue. In 2009 the group decided to focus their energies on the creation of an annual jazz festival. The very first John Coltrane International Jazz and Blues Festival was held two years later.
Since its inception, the John Coltrane International Jazz and Blues Festival has succeeded in bringing the very top names in jazz, paid homage to the blues, and celebrated the life and musical legacy of the jazz genres greatest artists. The festival attracts a growing audience and enjoys a burgeoning reputation as the destination for Labor Day weekend.