How it Began
Original Key of She Jazz Ensemble, est. 2012
Key of She Jazz was founded in 2012 by (then) 11-year-old Olivia Hughart and a friend who noticed they were among the only female players in their middle school jazz big band, despite nearly equal numbers of girls and guys in band and orchestra. With the help of their director (Dr. Jenny Neff!), they brought together girls in jazz throughout their district, built connections, and inspired the younger girls to keep playing. In high school, Key of She continued to grow, including girls from across the district. As a high school senior, Olivia expanded her vision and held an amazing live Key of She Jazz conference in April 2019 that featured phenomenal women in jazz, performers, panelists, and speakers and was attended by more than 200 girls and their bandmates, band directors and educators, parents, and supporters. Our 2020 conference was canceled just weeks prior due to the pandemic, but since then, we've held four Virtual Weeks with attendees from across the USA and around the globe! We are working on dates for our next live event and are committed to growing Key of She Jazz and expanding our community of support. Join us!
Our mission is to support and encourage girls and young women in jazz, starting in the middle school years through high school, college, and beyond so that we inspire change and ultimately help equalize the ratio of girls to guys in jazz, starting in schools. We also aim to grow the community of support including jazz students of all genders, jazz and music directors/educators, parents, and allies. We do this with free events that create conversation and build understanding of the obstacles to women in jazz, recognize jazz women whose contributions have been under-recognized, and create opportunities for connection among all, so that jazz girls and young women can feel supported and increase participation in jazz.
Key of She hopes to make a more lasting impact, encouraging young girls to take up their instrument of choice, continue their jazz studies, and take their skills into the jazz and music industry.
We are 100% volunteer, and we fundraise as a charitable sponsored project of
Settlement Music School, a 501(c)(3) in Philadelphia.
Olivia Hughart is a jazz saxophonist, woodwind doubler, composer, advocate, and a recent graduate from New York University, with a major in Jazz Studies with a minor in Public Policy and Management. She is a gigging and recording musician with bands in New York City, Philadelphia, and beyond. Hughart is a member of the NYChillharmonic, the Grace Fox Big Band, and the Andrew Neu Big Band, has subbed for Triad Brass, New Heights Brass Band, DIVA Jazz Orchestra, and is frequently called for off-Broadway productions. Hughart has attracted the attention of the press from various publications including Philly Magazine, NPR Live Sessions, WRTI, NYU News, Cool Jazz Radio, Shoutout LA, Voyage LA, and various podcasts. Hughart is a Presser Scholar, 2023 JEN Mary Jo Papich Women in Jazz Scholarship winner, 2020 Bruce Montgomery Foundation Springboard Grant Winner, and 2020 Pennsylvania Project Stream Grant winner.
Founder & Artistic Director
Amy Hughart is the managing director of Key of She Jazz, moving things forward as Olivia manages her full-time student schedule. Amy has been an independent communications consultant since 2001, working with corporations, nonprofits, and small businesses on a variety of projects including strategic communications, marketing, employee communications, messaging, branding, corporate writing, and more. She is a long-time supporter of Settlement Music School where she has served as president of the Wynnefield Branch Board and vice president on the Central Board. She was also chair of the parent committee for Lower Merion Jazz Band, organizing jazz festivals for the past six years. She has a bachelor's degree from University of Rochester and an MLA from University of Pennsylvania and is an amateur pianist in her spare time.
Dr. Jenny Neff is Olivia's primary advisor for Key of She Jazz. She is Associate Professor and Chair of Music Education at the University of the Arts School of Music and is the Director of the Master of Music and Summer Music Studies programs at UArts. She previously taught music for 25 years in public schools at various K-12 levels in Connecticut and Pennsylvania, primarily in instrumental music. Prior to UArts, Dr. Neff taught instrumental music at Bala Cynwyd Middle School in Lower Merion School District. Dr. Neff is the Eastern Division Rep for NAfME's Council for Band and is the State Representative for PA for Women Band Directors International. She is part of the PMEA Teacher Mentor Program and serves as trainer for PMEA's online Model Curriculum Framework Tool. She conducted Concert Band at New England Music Camp for four summers and has been a guest conductor and clinician in Maryland and Pennsylvania. Previously, she toured Europe for five summers with high school musicians as Symphonic Band Director and String Ensemble Director for American Music Abroad.
Dr. Neff received her Doctorate in Educational Leadership from Immaculata University. She has her bachelor's and master's degrees in Music Education from Michigan State University, where she studied French horn.
Rocky the Dog
Rocky The Dog is Key of She's guardian-in-chief. He enjoys playing with his stuffed alligator, cow, and reindeer, loves going outside and having snacks and treats as a reward from his hard work with Key of She. Rocky is a rescue and was found as a stray on the streets of New York City. He holds his degree in leash walking from the Doggie University.