The novels, poems and essays of James Baldwin are stimulating words, sharpened with the truth, that instigate change and promote activism in some form or another. He was a word warrior-activist rallying for a change in society’s thinking.

In honor of Baldwin’s legacy, and of one of the most profound voices of the 20th century, the second annual Live Ideas Festival at New York Live Arts (NYLA) will present “James Baldwin This Time!” a year-long, city-wide celebration that runs from April 2014 to June 2015 at various venues throughout the city.

This year would have marked the playwright’s 90th birthday (Aug. 2, 1924). The year of James Baldwin will open with 20 events over five consecutive days, reflecting various facets of his life, beginning April 23.

“Jimmy at High Noon” is a series of five daily readings April 23 to April 27, at noon.

The opening keynote conversation April 23 will feature Bill T. Jones, choreographer and executive artistic director of New York Live Arts; Carrie Mae Weems, novelist and essayist; and Jamaica Kincaid, writer, at 8 p.m.

April 26, Carl Hancock Rux will present “Stranger on Earth.” The piece, performed by Rux and vocalist Marcelle Davies Lashley, imagines a chance meeting between writer Baldwin and singer Dinah Washington at a jazz club in Harlem in1963. Together they address the issues of race, identity, music and the future of a world they are struggling to understand (2 p.m. in the NY Live Arts Theater).

It is quite natural that writer, director and actor Rux would produce a piece featuring the jazz singer Dinah Washington and Baldwin. Baldwin was an avid jazz fan and was often seen in Harlem jazz clubs with singer Billie Holiday and others.

His short story “Sonny’s Blues” (1957), which later appeared in the 1965 story collection “Going to Meet the Man,” was considered by some to be the best jazz short story ever written.

April 25, Mark Stewart, the singer/songwriter/playwright who uses the stage name Stew, will present “Stew on Native Song,” a preview of “Notes of a Native Song,” a new work by Stew, commissioned and produced by Harlem Stage (8 p.m.).

All performances and discussions will take place in the NY Live Arts Theater, located at 219 W. 19th St. in Chelsea (Manhattan). Admission ranges from $10 to $60. For a complete schedule, visit or call 212-691-6500.

Most recently, musician, arranger and composer Maxine Roach; flautist and tenor saxophonist Carol Sudhalter; and drummer (bandleader of Jazzberry Jam) Paula Hampton were featured on the panel Women in Jazz (as part of the Maxine Sullivan Women in Jazz Series) at the Bronx Music Heritage Center Lab (1303 Louis Nine Boulevard, near Freeman Street). The Women in Jazz series was co-produced by Virginia Capers, a pianist who resides in the Bronx.

The women discussed their personal experiences of successfully surviving in the male dominated world of jazz. “Women still aren’t well represented, so we are carrying on the tradition,” said Hampton.

Akura Dixon and Quartette Indigo followed the panel. The string quartet featured violinists Gwen Laster, Ina Paris and Patrisa Tomassini, and Dixon, cellist, composer and conductor.

“I started my first string ensemble in the 1970s and have been doing it ever since,” said Dixon. “My music has an Afro-centric flow, so I look for musicians who can play classical music but also know how to improvise and follow the flow.” She grew up in the Bronx and started studying cello in the fourth grade.

The ensemble opened with the standard “Moon River” and moved on to Ahmad Jamal’s “Poinciana,” closing out with a rousing boogey-woogey blues tune that elicited a standing ovation.

The event Bronx Rising! was presented by percussionist, composer, producer and activist Bobby Sanabria, along with Elena Martinez (the co-producer of “From Mambo to Hip Hop: A Bronx Tale”). They are the co-artistic directors of the Bronx Music Heritage Center.

Bronx Rising! is a monthly event curated by Sanabria and Martinez. Although the jazz haven of the Bronx, along with its legacy of Latin music and hip-hop, has lost its buzz they are working diligently to bring the music back to the Bronx. “We are looking to bring back the majestic culture that was taken away,” said Sanabria.

This year is the third season of Bronx Rising! “All the programs are relevant to the Bronx,” said Martinez. “Either the musicians are from the borough, or there is a historical reference. Our ultimate goal is to get as many Bronxites as possible to come out. We are happy that folks from other boroughs, and even New Jersey, attend. That is definitely a plus, and it spreads the rich cultural history of the Bronx.”

Later this year, WHEDco will break ground on Bronx Commons, a 361,000 square feet development in the Melrose neighborhood that will permanently house the Bronx Music Heritage Center. With performance, rehearsal and archival space, the BMHC will become the hub for celebrating and disseminating the influential musical forms that are rooted in the Bronx.

Bronx Commons will be a vital part of the community, with 270 affordable green apartments, residential/work space for elder musicians, a green grocer, a hydroponic rooftop garden and recreational space.

During the 1950s, the Bronx was a jazz beehive, with a swinging buzz that gave Manhattan clubs a good run. The Boston Road Ballroom is where Thelonious Monk and Billie Holiday performed. Nancy Wilson performed at the Blue Morocco with Cannonball Adderley. Musicians such as Jimmy Owens, Elmo and Bertha Hope, Stan Getz, Irene Reid, Maxine Sullivan and Dave Valentin all lived in the Bronx.

May 17, 6 p.m. to 10:30 p.m., Bronx Rising! will present a screening of “Revolutionary Medicine: A Story of the First Garifuna Hospital” at 6 p.m.; the Afri-Garifuna Ensemble, featuring Lucy Blanco at 7 p.m.; and a dance party with DJ Pwhyte at 8:30 p.m. Bronx Rising! events are free to the public. Donations are appreciated.

The Bronx Music Heritage Center, in its effort to promote Bronx music, cultivate Bronx artists and provide free cultural programs to the community, also offer free classes (two days a week) in hip-hop/break dancing, visual arts and percussion. For information on all the events and activities, visit