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Joyce Wein, 76; Helped Found Women’s Group, Newport Folk Festival

From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Joyce Wein, 76, a co-founder of the Newport Folk Festival and of the New York Coalition of 100 Black Women, died Monday of cancer at a New York City hospital.

Granddaughter of a slave, the former Joyce Alexander graduated from Simmons College in Boston. She worked as a biochemist at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston and at Columbia University Medical School in New York. But after her 1959 marriage to jazz impresario George Wein, whom she met backstage at a jazz concert, she joined him in working on the Newport Jazz Festival, which he founded in 1954. The interracial couple enjoyed presenting a joint lecture they titled “Love and Jazz Across the Color Line.”

Wein also helped her husband organize the Newport Opera Festival, the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, the Hampton Jazz Festival and the Grande Parade du Jazz in Nice, France. In 1963, the Weins joined folk singer Pete Seeger and his wife, Toshi, in founding the Newport Folk Festival, which helped fuel the popularity of folk music.

As a co-founder of the New York Coalition of 100 Black Women, Wein also worked on several scholarship programs and charitable projects. In 2003, the Weins donated $1 million to establish the George and Joyce Wein Chair in African American Studies at Boston University.

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