February is a month of jazz, blues, film, theater and more for the Columbia Festival of the Arts.

Among those featured will be headliners like Monterey Jazz Festival on Tour. For three consecutive weekends starting Thursday, Feb. 4, through Sunday, Feb. 21, the festival celebrates its winter offering, “Beyond the Blues,” with a selection of entertaining and socially conscious events.

In addition to Monterey Jazz Festival on Tour, programming includes the works of Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright August Wilson; up-and-coming black playwrights in a series of short works called “Black Lives, Black Words”; Sundance award-winning films; a collaborative blues concert and art gallery reception; afternoon jazz; conversations with Center Stage Artistic Director Kwame Kwei-Armah; and more.

Building on a new, year-round “Arts for Every Season” platform, the festival offers choices with the majority of tickets selling for $15 or less, plus a free opening event.

For jazz lovers seeking an ideal way to celebrate Valentine’s Day, Monterey Jazz Festival on Tour is the perfect premium event for warming up together on Sunday, Feb. 14. Reserved seating tickets at the Jim Rouse Theatre for Monterey Jazz Festival on Tour start as low as $36, with further military, student and senior discounts.

Fourth Tour

Known for its longstanding mission of creating and supporting year-round jazz education and performance programs in local, regional, national and international venues, Monterey Jazz Festival continues its commitment in 2016 with its fourth North American Tour, featuring critically-acclaimed, Grammy-winning jazz artists.

The 2016 edition features Raul Midón on guitar and vocals, Ravi Coltrane on tenor and soprano saxophones, Nicholas Payton on trumpet, musical director Gerald Clayton on piano, Joe Sanders on bass and Gregory Hutchinson on drums; the festival will host this one and only special Maryland stop.

“[Monterey Jazz Fest] on Tour in 2016 is our fourth national tour since our 50th Anniversary Tour in 2008,” said Tim Jackson, artistic director of Monterey Jazz Festival. “It’s a great way to spread the gospel of the Monterey Jazz Festival throughout the land. Our 2016 tour looks to be one our best, and without a doubt, will deliver incredible music by some of today’s finest jazz artists.”

The longest continuously-running jazz festival in the world, the Monterey Jazz Festival has presented nearly every major jazz star — from Baltimore’s Billie Holiday and Louis Armstrong of New Orleans to Esperanza Spalding and Trombone Shorty — since it was founded in 1958.

It’s a Gem

Friday, Feb. 5, brings a community collaboration between the festival, Pittsburgh Playwright’s Theatre and Celebration Church, which will combine to present a staged reading of August Wilson’s “Gem of the Ocean.” This reading features Tony Award-nominated actor Anthony Chisholm, who won his nomination for “Best Supporting Actor in a Play” for his portrayal of Elder Joseph Barlow in Wilson’s “Radio Golf.” Chisholm originated his “Gem of the Ocean” role of “Solly Two Kings” on Broadway.

“Gem of the Ocean” is the first episode of August Wilson’s epic cycle of African-American life in the 20th century. The play, set in 1904, and tells the story of a young black man escaping the hostility of the south to the black boroughs of Pittsburgh. Kwei-Armah, artistic director of Baltimore’s Center Stage, brings not only remarkable talent to Columbia Festival of the Arts, but comes with a fascinating and inspired international career as actor, playwright, singer and broadcaster.

Let’s Talk

Kwei-Armah came from humble beginnings. Originally born in England as Ian Roberts to immigrant parents from Greneda, Kwei-Armah was inspired to trace his own family heritage after watching the television series “ROOTS,” deciding to change his name. He discovered family lines connecting back through a history of slave trade, uncovering his own African roots in Ghana.

On Friday, Feb. 12, from 7–9 p.m., Columbia Festival of the Arts Executive Director Todd Olson will sit down with Kwei-Armah at Oliver’s Carriage House to explore more of the actor’s amazing journey and the future of arts in our community.

For more information and a full schedule of the festival’s winter lineup, and/or to purchase tickets, visit the www.ColumbiaFestival.org.