Dorthaan Williams Kirk


One of the first people hired by Newark’s jazz station WBGO and became the face of and a fierce advocate for the station. She served as Director of Community Relations and Special Events, among other roles over the years.

Dorthann has promoted, curated and produced jazz events throughout the region. She is also co-chair of Jazz Vespers at Bethany Baptist Church and consultant producer for Dorthann’s Place jazz series at NJPAC. She is known as “Newark’s First Lady of Jazz”.

In 2003 she received a Discretionary Award from the JJA for her “humanitarian contributions” to Jazz. In 2013, she received the Humanitarian Award from the American Conference on Diversity, Essex County Chapter.  In 2020, the National Endowment for the Arts gave her the Jazz Masters Fellowship for Jazz Advocacy.

Originally from Texas, she was married to jazz legend Rashaan Roland Kirk.

Photo by David Tallacksen, courtesy of WBGO


“DorthAan Kirk is Newark’s First Lady of Jazz” New York Times

A Word With…, WBGO

Dorthaan Kirk Jazz Times

2020 NEA Jazz Master