On Dec. 16, the Jersey-based Gia Maione Prima Foundation and The Trombone Shorty Foundation co-hosted a Tunes for Toys concert and toy drive at Warren Easton High School in New Orleans. Trombone Shorty played with the New Breed Brass Band and others, and attendees were asked to bring a new toy to be given to New Orleans youth.
This event — like many others in New Jersey, New York and elsewhere, in addition to Louisiana — exemplifies the foundation’s history of supporting the arts since 2011. It was established that year with the assistance of the late Gia Maione Prima’s longtime friend and lawyer, Anthony J. Sylvester. “We are delighted to continue to support Tunes for Toys, an annual toy drive and holiday music concert,” said Sylvester.
Gia Maione Prima, Louis Prima’s widow, was a singer and a devotee of the fine arts. Her vision remains alive through the work of Sylvester, trustee and partner in the Florham Park law firm, Sherman Atlas Sylvester and Stamelman.
The Gia Maione Prima Foundation is a founding supporter of NJArts.net and has renewed its donation to the site in 2022; its sponsorship enables our site to continue to produce independent arts journalism. We are very grateful for the foundation’s continued support and Sylvester’s advocacy in keeping the arts and arts journalism alive.
“As a founding supporter of NJArts.net, the Gia Maione Prima Foundation is pleased to announce its renewed sponsorship of 2022,” said Sylvester. “It is important to have a vital media outlet that serves the New Jersey arts community.”
NJArts.net became a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) organization in late 2020.
The foundation makes donations to tax-deductible organizations that support and encourage an appreciation of American jazz, American popular music and jazz performances, as well as the fine arts. It is particularly active in New Orleans (Louis Prima’s hometown) and New Jersey (where Gia Maione Prima grew up).
The foundation is supporting the expansion of the Jay and Linda Grunin Center for the Arts at Ocean County College in Gia Maione Prima’s hometown, Toms River, in partnership with the college, The Ocean County College Foundation, and the Ocean County Vocational Technical School Performing Arts Academy. In recognition of the partnership, a new 243-seat theater at the Grunin Center, to be named the Gia Maione Prima Foundation Studio Theater, will open in the spring.
In November, the Prima Lobby opened at The Vogel at the Count Basie Center for the Arts in Red Bank.
The Foundation also has supported New Jersey organizations such as NJPAC in Newark, the Morristown Jazz and Blues Festival, Jazz House Kids in Montclair, the Morris Museum in Morris Township and the State Theatre in New Brunswick.
Sylvester started working with Gia Maione Prima in the ‘90s when she moved back to New Jersey from Louisiana to care for her ailing mother. The two became close friends and worked to preserve and maintain Louis Prima’s catalog. She died in 2013, two years after she and Sylvester created the foundation.
A classically trained singer, Gia first started working with Louis Prima when she landed a place in his popular nightclub act in 1962. Later they married and had two children. Their son, Louis Prima Jr., performs his parents’ music and other material with his band, The Witnesses; their daughter, Lena Prima, is an award-winning singer-songwriter who lives in New Orleans.
Louis Prima died in 1978 but his music — including standards such as “Sing, Sing, Sing,” “Jump, Jive an’ Wail” and “Just a Gigolo/I Ain’t Got Nobody” — is still used frequently in movies, TV shows and ads.
For information on the foundation, visit giamaioneprimafoundation.com.
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Since launching in September 2014, NJArts.net, a 501(c)(3) organization, has become one of the most important media outlets for the Garden State arts scene. And it has always offered its content without a subscription fee, or a paywall. Its continued existence depends on support from members of that scene, and the state’s arts lovers. Please consider making a contribution of any amount to NJArts.net via PayPal, or by sending a check made out to NJArts.net to 11 Skytop Terrace, Montclair, NJ 07043.