SOUTH ORANGE, NJ — Lee “Boz” Boswell-May of South Orange, retired hearing officer at New York State Public Service Commission and wife of musician Earl May, has died at age 74. She was a lifelong resident of South Orange, and an advocate for human rights, evidenced when she and her family helped integrate the dormitories at Glassboro State, as seen in this biographical documentary, as well as music in general and jazz in specific.
She was an active volunteer with South Orange Performing Arts Center, and curated the Jazz in the Loft series.
“We are all stunned and saddened,” said Dee Billia, SOPAC director of external relations. Lee “was a Jazz singer herself and a tireless advocate for Jazz in the region. She played a huge role in Giants of Jazz — a 23 year SOPAC tradition, Jazz in the Loft and other music activities in South Orange. She was a lifelong resident of South Orange and was a historian for the African-American experience in our area. She meant a great deal to all the Board and staff.”
South Orange Village Trustee Steve Schnall remembered her this way: “I am so grateful to have had many opportunities to work and speak with her, but I especially recall and enjoy the great times at "Giants of Jazz" which have been hosted at SOPAC the last bunch of years. Her story is amazing as she has made such an impact on our Community, the Jazz world and beyond. We will miss her.”
“You were everyone’s biggest fan and supporter...never asking why...always willing to help,” said musician Mike Griot on his Facebook page. “Music coursed through your soul like the Nile, and all we could do was be awestruck by its beauty. You were the fabric of our expansive musical family — a lover of all genres: as long as sincere people expressed their joy, you gave them the reward of your undivided attentions. You offered your support to almost every gig, event, concert, festival or project I’ve pursued for the last decade or more. I never imagined a day like this...without a warm “well hello, Michelob” (nickname) or a full throttle hug.”
Griot, who lives in the Valley Arts district of Orange after 20 years of South Orange residency, added, “Your gift of your dear husband Earl May’s Acoustic Bass (“Coltrane”) was among the most generous gifts I’ve ever received. I promise I’ll keep playing it in tribute to him...and YOU, my dear Lee Boz May. I miss my friend.”
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