Fundraiser for the SWNA Scholarship Program

By Vyllorya Evans

Among the stellar jazz performers that Westminster’s Jazz Night DC has promoted, on August 9 at 6 p.m., saxophonist extraordinaire Ben Sands, affectionately known as SW’s Favorite Son, will lead a winning line-up, premiering his autobiographical presentation of art, music and the spoken word. “I believe in giving back to the community, specifically organizations and institutions that have helped me to become who I am today,” says Sands. At the event, funds will be raised for SWNA’s 2019 Scholarship Program assisting the many well-deserving students embarking on or continuing their higher and technical education this fall. Sands proudly speaks of how he was one of SWNA’s earliest scholarship recipients and used his scholarship money to buy his first saxophone.

As a youngster, Ben attended Syphax, Amidon and Anthony Bowen elementary schools, all in Southwest. It was at Jefferson Junior High School where he began studying saxophone and bass clarinet. He then attended McKinley Tech High School as a music major and later Howard University where he majored in Music Education.

Sands has conducted the Calvin Coolidge Senior High School band for the past 36 years, but he is not just a musician. His versatile accomplishments are represented in acting, art and playwriting. His acting experience includes Arena Stage performances of “The Great White Hope” and “Six Characters in Search of an Author.” His art work has been displayed at the Catholic University John Pope Museum, and his original play titles include “Ma,” “Father Strong” and “Be Like Water.” He has written and performed various musical compositions and conducted school and church choirs and professional ensembles. As Sands continues to encourage his students, he also has been a mentor to younger SWNA scholarship recipients by helping them out of tough situations. He is doing for others what SW has done for him—creating opportunities to grow.

So come out and experience “This is My Story,” an interactive musical experience. You will sing, dance and connect with the collective strength and unity that our SW community continues to work towards building. You will sing, dance and connect with the story that Sands will weave around you, as you witness for yourself why he is known as SW’s Favorite Son. Donations in support of SWNA’s 2019 scholarship recipients gladly accepted during the show or you may donate online at or mail a check to PO Box 70131, Washington, DC 20024-0131. Please note the contribution is for the Scholarship Fund. Donations are tax deductible under IRS 501 (c)(3).  

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