History      Founder & Executive Director

Founded on February 12, 1988 by John T. Peek, his wife Carrie Whaley Peek and musician Tommy Stewart, the African American Philharmonic Jazz Orchestra (AAPO) was formed to provide a showcase for professional musicians and composers of African American descent in the Atlanta area. According to a 1986 article by the Rockefeller Foundation, there were only 186 black musicians in the entire country who were qualified to participate in major orchestras. At the time the AAPO was founded, there were only 4 all black orchestras in the country and at least one or no more than two black musicians were playing in most major orchestras.

The AAPO provides a performance venue for the presentation of musicians that would otherwise be denied the opportunity to perform in fully staged orchestra concerts. The musicians are experts on their respective instruments. Each member has been auditioned and carefully selected to build an orchestra, which exhibits a complete range of artistry on the featured contemporary, classical, jazz, and gospel works. It was founded under the umbrella of Music South Corporation to respond to the musical needs and interest of the Metropolitan Atlanta community.



John T. Peek is the Music Director for the African-American Philharmonic Jazz Orchestra and Chorale as well as The African-American Jazz Orchestra. (They are both referred to as AAPO Jazz or AAPO Philharmonic. )

Mr. Peek is a native of Atlanta, Georgia. A graduate of Booker T. Washington High School. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree with Distinction from Clark College, now known as Clark Atlanta University.

He studied under the direction of Waymon Carver and Dr. J. Dekoven Killingworth. Mr. Peek also studied trumpet with Max Friedentard (first Chair) Trumpeter with the show "Oklahoma," studied conducting at the Conductors Institute, Columbia S.C. University School of Music.

Over the years Mr. Peek's musical talents have been numerous and diverse, ranging from directing his own musical groups, teaching and consulting to many schools and church music programs. He has performed with many national and international artists such as Ray Charles, B.B. King, Arthur Prysock, Woody Herman, Ruth Brown, Little Richard, Dinah Washington, Dizzy Gillespie, Louis Armstrong, Natalie Cole, Slappy White, The Temptations, The Dells and Barry White. He was an early mentor to Atlanta's own Duke Pearson and other famous musicians. Mr. Peek has had the distinct honor of conducting the Trujillo, Peru Symphony Orchestra while visiting Truillo, Peru.

He holds professional memberships in the Trumpet Guild of America, The National Black Music Caucus and is a Board Member of American Federation of Musicians Union 148-462 .Mr. Peek is married to Carrie Whaley-Peek, who along with musician and composer Tommy Stewart are the organizers of Music South Corporation.

Giving and fill the hall with joy and music! When you support the African American Philharmonic Jazz Orchestra (AAPO) you are giving to one of the oldest institution of its kind. Here are just a few ways in which your support paves the way for continued public enrichment:

  • Expanding our educational programs and workshops for children, seniors, families

  • Developing and presenting our own musicians

  • Hosting popular groups and bands

  • Create unique moments by honoring our leaders

  • Maintaining and preserving our sound and history

AAPO is a 501 3(c) non-profit organization. Your donations are tax-deductible.



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