Nearly four months after the death of journalist and broadcaster Fatimah Ali, close friend Aqueelah Jamal is teaming with musicians, poets and other artists to celebrate her life and love for the arts.
Jamal, who is the current host of “Jazz and Conversation” on WURD 900AM, first met Ali while working at Temple University’s radio station WRTI 90.1 FM and the two became close friends since.
“From the first time I met her, saw her, heard her first speak, there was a connection,” said Jamal of that time. “We rekindled our relationship about a year ago in March when I happened to go outside and there she was.”
Jamal would discover that Ali, who had since made a name for herself on air, happened to live right up the street from her at the time.
“Not only were we neighbors but we reignited our friendship,” she said. “We always had a strong bond but this time it became even stronger.”
The two broadcasters worked at WURD and would have coffee several days a week. One Saturday in January, tragedy struck when Jamal lost her brother. Ali made a dish of baked zucchini for the repast. This was the last time Jamal would see Ali.
“I was shocked to learn that she had passed away herself overnight in her sleep,” said Jamal, who was leaving work at the time when she heard the news of Ali’s passing.
“For me, burying my brother on Saturday and then learning of her death Tuesday, it was a bit much.”
Following her burial, there was later a memorial service for Ali where guests included Mayor Michael Nutter and poet Sonia Sanchez.
Ali was herself no stranger to the arts, according to Jamal. Apparently, Miles Davis was her favorite musician.
Ali’s sister, Brenda, is married to bassist Marcus Miller and her daughter Khadija Ahmadiya is a professional dancer. Ali had personal connection to the world of the arts.
“Fatimah was a big supporter of music, of arts and culture and she was really on a crusade to make sure that it got back out on the forefront,” Jamal said.
It’s for this reason that Jamal wanted to set aside time during Women’s History Month, to celebrate Ali’s legacy, her love for arts and culture and who love and appreciation for her life.
On Saturday, there will be an event titled “For the Love of Fatimah Celebration” at 40th and Market streets in West Philadelphia’s Natalie’s Lounge from 3 to 7 p.m.
“We just want to show our appreciation to Fatimah who left us much, much too soon,” Jamal said.
According to Jamal, the afternoon event will feature music, live entertainment and spoken word performances.
“Everybody has been touched by her [Fatimah Ali],” she said. “Musicians, spoken word artists, they’re all coming out for the love of Fatimah Ali.”
There is no cover charge for this event but there will be a donation box available for those who wish to make contributions for the children of Ali.