Dwyane Wade’s latest title: director of culture and vibes at California jazz festival
Class of 2023 Hall of Famer and wine entrepreneur says he’s at Blue Note Jazz Festival ‘to add to the vibe’
Three-time NBA champion. NBA Finals MVP. Thirteen-time NBA All-Star. Olympic gold medalist. Utah Jazz and WNBA Chicago Sky minority owner. Basketball Hall of Famer.
Basketball legend Dwyane Wade has a lot of basketball titles, but there is a new one about music, wine and the former Miami Heat star’s swag. Wade was named the first director of culture and vibes for the Blue Note Jazz Festival in Napa, California, this weekend.
“Once it came out, I got so many people hitting [me up like], ‘Yo, that’s a fire title.’ Everybody loved the title,” Wade told Andscape. “We worked with the Blue Note team to find something that was cool, man. I had the opportunity last year, my wife and I, and friends of ours, to go experience Blue Note and didn’t know what to expect. Obviously, I knew it was going to be curated music and things of that nature.
“But what I loved about it was just everybody out on the lawn sitting in chairs or on your blanket sitting. And I was just looking around and I was like, ‘This environment, this is how I want the wine community to look and to fit.’ It was so diverse, man. It was so calm and such a vibe, whether it was grown-ups to kids, there. Everyone was there for the experience. There wasn’t no bulls— going on. It was just good music, good conversation, all the things.”
The second annual Blue Note Jazz Festival will take place Friday through Sunday at the Silverado Resort and Spa in Napa and was curated by five-time Grammy Award-winning pianist Robert Glasper. It will also be hosted by legendary comedian Dave Chappelle. Glasper will perform with De La Soul, Lalah Hathaway, Terrace Martin and Bilal. The festival will highlight the 50th anniversary of hip-hop and includes such rap, jazz and R&B artists as Mary J. Blige, Nas, Chance the Rapper, George Clinton, Talib Kweli and Digable Planets.
Glasper affectionately nicknamed the Blue Note Jazz Festival “Nappy Valley” in tribute to it being frequented by African Americans. Glasper said he is most excited to see Nas perform for the first time in 15 years and Mary J. Blige for the first time.
“What was cool about the festival was during my set there were so many people, other artists just on the side of the stage there watching,” Glasper told Andscape. “I was just picking people off the side of the stage. Like, ‘Come on, come do this. Oh, come on, let’s do something.’ And BJ’s [The Chicago Kid] running up, ‘Hey, I have an idea.’ And Dave Chappelle brought up [comedian] Katt Williams.
“And it was just like randomly we on the side of the stage picking. So, it was kind of like a pickup [basketball] game in a park. We’ve got that kind of vibe.”
Wade is most looking forward to hearing an R&B artist from his native Chicago.
“Obviously, we got headliners, legends like Nas and Mary,” Wade said. “But I think another cool thing about the festival is I got a chance last year and I get a chance again this year to see BJ The Chicago Kid, right? I don’t get a chance to see BJ The Chicago Kid often. I get a chance to see Talib Kweli. I did something with Talib Kweli back when I released my first shoe in New York when I was at Converse. I haven’t seen him since.”
Another title Wade has is wine owner. He founded Wade Cellars in 2014 in partnership with the Pahlmeyer family. Wade has earned a reputation for making affordable wine and has been an active member of the increasing numbers of African American winemakers. Along with Wade Cellars, the festival will also include wines, spirits and other products from Black-owned and local businesses in Mary J. Blige’s Sun Goddess Wines, Pur Noire Urban Wineries, Highway Vodka, Phillip Ashley Chocolates, the McBride Sisters Wine Company, The Duckhorn Portfolio, and Theopolis Vineyards. Wade Cellars has also been a partner in “When We Gather,” a series of wine dinners and tastings in Black-owned establishments.
Wade hopes that more African Americans can find success in the wine world.
“We all drink, we all enjoy a nice glass of something at the festival,” Wade said. “And I’ve gotten a chance to experience wine and experience where wine has taken me in the rooms that I’ve been in. And I’m like, ‘Man, we need to get in these rooms. We need to understand what this industry is.’ Not only are there a lot of jobs created and opportunities within this space, but it’s also a beautiful space to be in when it comes to connecting.”
So as director of culture and vibes, what exactly does Wade have in store for the Blue Note Jazz Festival?
“If you love music, if you love creativity, just to watch these [artists] sit up there and just create right on the spot and just come up with, play a tune,” Wade said. “Let me hear a voice and just play stuff, man. It was incredible. So, the vibe is created. My job is to come in and just continue to add to the vibe. And my adding to the vibe is trying to expose people to something that just was not exposed to us.”
Part of the vibe that Wade enjoyed last year was seeing spectators playing spades and dominoes and a grown and sexy, mature, well-dressed crowd. He added that behind the scenes music artists and Chappelle were playing on a basketball hoop.
“Oh, you told him about when I dunked on you in one-on-one?” Glasper told Wade.
Said Wade: “I ain’t get to that yet.”
After the festival, Wade will focus on being inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame on Aug. 11 and Aug. 12 at ceremonies in Connecticut and Massachusetts. Other headliners include fellow members of the Hall of Fame’s Class of 2023 Dirk Nowitzki, Tony Parker and Pau Gasol, Becky Hammon and Gregg Popovich. Wade is the Miami Heat’s all-time leader in points, assists, steals, field goals made and games played, his No. 3 jersey was retired by Marquette University and the Heat, and he is a member of the NBA 75th Anniversary Team.
Wade has played with such Hall of Famers as Shaquille O’Neal, Alonzo Mourning, Ray Allen, Gary Payton and Chris Bosh. Even so, Wade has chosen to be presented into the Hall of Fame on Aug. 12 by Hall of Famer and former NBA star Allen Iverson.
“It was important to me that I touched the culture when I did this,” Wade said. “And Allen Iverson is somebody who gets forgotten for what he means to this game and what he means to a community and to a culture. And so, I want to bring that back to the front in the forefront and give him his flowers like he deserved and just tell him how important he was, man, to not only me, but to all the little boys that looked like me and look like him.
“He probably doesn’t get the chance to hear that all the time. We talk about [Michael] Jordan all the time. We talk about LeBron [James], we talk about Kobe [Bryant]. We don’t talk about A.I. He’s one of the [great] ones. So, I’m thankful that he said yeah, and I can’t wait for him to be the one to present me.”