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Artist analyzes t-shirt made of photographs



Performance Series of Legends

The Performance Series of Legends brands the Ellington concert series, which started in 2006, after our successful benefit concerts held at the Kennedy Center for the Duke Ellington School of the Arts. Ellington’s first Legends’ performers were alums, Dave Chappelle (’91) and Denyce Graves (’81). Both alumni donated their time and energy to perform before thousands of fans, resulting in tickets and sponsorships for both shows bringing in over $660,000 for Ellington.


The net sale proceeds helped save teaching jobs at Ellington and spawned interest from other leading performing artists such as Stevie Wonder, Earth, Wind and Fire, and Smokey Robinson to support Ellington too. These five performances cumulatively raised $2 million.


With the Performance Series of Legends, and other special events, we hope to continue to gain national and international recognition for the school, raise even more funds to support the Duke Ellington School of the Arts, and most importantly forge close partnerships with companies and individuals committed to the arts, young people and education as a whole.

Major Events and Annual Benefits Archive

  • 2006 Headliner: Dave Chappelle 

  • 2007 Gala at Hogan Hartson/Warner Theatre – Headliner: Jasmine Guy

  • 2008 Spring Soiree at Halcyon House – Honoring Barbara and Sid Dickstein

  • 2009 Headliner: Denyce Graves

  • 2010 Headliner: Stevie Wonder

  • 2011 Headliner: Earth Wind and Fire 

  • 2012 Headliner: Smokey Robinson

  • 2013 Headliner: Patti LaBelle

  • 2014 Headliners: Sting & Paul Simon

  • 2015 Headliner: Bobby McFerrin

  • 2016 Evening at Duke’s Place Gala featuring a special performance by El DeBarge

  • 2017 Evening at Duke’s Place Gala featuring special performances by Leonard, Coleman & Blount and Sylver Logan Sharp

  • 2018 Evening at Duke’s Place featuring performances by Brandon Victor Dixon, Rayshun LaMarr, and Roz White



Netflix released Dave’s monologue that he gave at the June 20 event at Duke Ellington School of the Arts. It’s called What’s in a Name and you can watch it here.

Cover: Dave Chappelle - What's in a Name" event

To find out more about the event and fundraising campaign, download the Event Program here

Help us close the funding gap so Duke Ellington School of the Arts can keep art at the heart of its dual academic and arts curriculum. 

 Over the next 12 months, we challenge 1M supporters to donate at least $10 each so the school can endow its eight art departments.

Contributions are tax-deductible to the fullest extent allowed by law.

Our tax ID is 52-1152273.

Why Become a Sponsor?

What do FedEx, Renaissance Hotels, T-Mobile, Feld Entertainment, The Kennedy Center, The George Washington University and firms like Morgan Lewis, Dickstein Shapiro and Sullivan and Cromwell all have in common? The Duke Ellington School of the Arts! They have all been leading supporters of Duke Ellington by sponsoring the Performance Series of Legends and remain dedicated to investing in DC’s youth. What better way that to give back to your community than through nurturing youth that will shape our future?


The continued success of our students has led to a growing national reputation for the Duke Ellington School of the Arts. Our students and alumni are routinely chosen to perform in local, national and international venues, including repeated appearances at the White House. After over 40 years in operation, Ellington alumni are now Grammy and Tony-award winners, Emmy-nominated actors and arts administrators for leading arts institutions around the nation. In the Washington metropolitan area alone, there are more than 600 alumni who collectively earn and invest more than $25 million into the local economy. So when you partner with Ellington, you are building your brand with a true Washington institution that cultivates young people that become leading scholars, artists and citizens of our community and the world!

Please donate today so that all District youth, regardless of background or ability to pay, can have access to a life-changing arts education.

Contributions are tax-deductible to the fullest extent allowed by law.

Our tax ID is 52-1152273.

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