Savannah is preparing to celebrate the life, legacy, and talents of Doctor Ja Jahannes, considered an international renaissance ma, mentor to hundreds, and a talented artist to countless others. Dr. Jahannes many works truly had an impact for people around the globe. He came to Savannah State University in 1981. His daughter says condolences have come in from four continents around the world, since word spread of his death on July 5, 2015. Now, a celebration of his life is set for Saturday, July 18, 2015, at Johnson High School in Thunderbolt. It is the first of four such memorials services planned in the United States, according to his daughter, Sara Lucia Jahannes.
Dr. Jahannes life spanned 72 years, in that time, is talents won numerous awards and he shared those talents with the world on a wide variety of levels. Dr. Jahannes was a psychologist, university professor, pastor, writer, novelist, playwright, poet, librettist, music producer, spoken word artist, social critic and columnist. He wrote and produced numerous plays, edited, wrote and published 11 books, including a collection of essays and a volume of poetry, “Black Gold: An Anthology of Black Poetry.” In addition to more than 200 articles, reviews and poems, he also wrote two oratorios, two symphony librettos, two opera librettos, a song cycle and lyrics for more than 100 songs. ” He really is a true renaissance man…so he is famous for an entire spectrum of things.” Lucia said of her father. He directed numerous theater and performance productions and lectured in Africa, Asia, South America, the Caribbean, the Middle East and Europe. Jahannes taught for many years at Savannah State University. He also was the pastor of Abyssinia Baptist Church in Savannah. He embraced the modern social media, appearing as Dr. Whys, host of a community page about spoken word on Facebook.
At the time of his death, Jahannes was focused on breathing some new life into the last play he wrote, “Thought My Soul Would Rise & Fly”, was penned in 2006. His daughter, Lucia, is the director of the latest production, that features the music of her father. She says the story features Hostess City history, set in some turbulent times of change in Savannah. ” It’s about the 60’s, civil rights movement in Savannah. So he also believed that we should tell our own history and we should take control of that…and it parallels the plight between the black struggle and the jewish struggle right here in Savannah. So we learn a lot of historical personas as well as events.” Jahannes said. The play is expected to sell out, but there are still some seats left for the single night run at the Jewish Educational Alliance, Sunday, July 26, 2015. The Celebration of the Life of Dr. Ja Jahannes is scheduled at Johnson High School in Thunderbolt, Saturday, July 18, 2015. The program begins at 2-pm. A reception will follow, with many of Jahannes works available. For tickets to “Thought My Soul Would Rise & Fly” are available at the link below.