Lee Boswell-May Passes, South Orange Mourns

by The Village Green
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Lee Boswell-May, a lifelong South Orange resident and promoter of music and community, has passed away at the age of 74.

Lee was born in Orange on September 24, 1945, raised in South Orange, earned her degree at Glassboro State College, was married to jazz bassist and legend Earl May, was the curator of Jazz in the Loft at SOPAC and stage manager of Giants of Jazz. She was a tireless cheerleader for jazz and for South Orange.

Village Green was alerted to Lee’s passing by several community members including Dee Billia of SOPAC who shared these thoughts and the video biography of Lee below. This story will be updated when we have more information.

From Dee Billia:

We received word that our wonderful curator for Jazz in the Loft, Lee May, passed away. We don’t have any more information at this time, but we are all stunned and saddened. Lee was married to world-class bass player Earl May, was a Jazz singer herself and a tireless advocate for Jazz in the region. She played a huge role in Giants of Jazz, 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 was an important figure in our community and will be missed. 


From Mike Griot via Facebook:

I have lost my friend.

You were everyone’s biggest fan and supporter…never asking why…always willing to help. 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.
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.😥🙏🏽💔

Lee May with Mike Griot

From Gregory Burrus via Facebook:

Very very sad that my live music buddy Lee May has moved on to the heavens. If I did 70 events in a summer she was at every South Orange Downtown After Sundown event, Jazz On Sloan and Spiotta Park and when I did 24 Hours of Music she was there all day. She was in 100 degree heat of Maplewood 4th of July managing the stage for over 8 hours, there in Blues Muse and W.O South Mountain Blues Festival, SOPAC Jazz In the Loft and so many other events, she was there all over South Orange, Maplewood and Newark Bethany Jazz Vespers.

Lee was wife of Bass player Earl May so she made it a point to talk to every bass player at every event. and very sad Coronavirus canceled my last Jazzy Nights at Fox and Falcon where she was to be an honoree for her lifetime SO residency, her history of South Orange and the fact she was a true music lover supporter and more. She hung out at every local venue and supported the musicians. Lee (Boz) May will be missed tremendously. We will do a tribute later and all I can say is RIP Good Buddy.

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