Category Archives: Advocacy

Help Get Muddy Waters a Google Doodle

We all have seen Google Doodles. The drawings “celebrate holidays, anniversaries, and the lives of famous artists, pioneers, and scientists.”

Google Doodle - Ella Fitzgerald

Google Doodle - Dizzy Gillespie

Google accepts suggestions from the public. You can help one of the most celebrated bluesmen, Muddy Waters, get a Google Doodle.

Muddy Waters Google Doodle

American Blues Scene, a popular website, is petitioning Google to create a Muddy Waters doodle:

No figure has inspired an international music explosion quite like blues musician McKinley “Muddy Waters” Morganfield, who left a log cabin in a Mississippi cotton field to break much greater ground with his inimitable guitar and vocal style. After more than 100 years, Muddy Waters’ continuing impact has proven the blues singer to be one of the most significant figures in the history of American Music, inspiring generations of artists and cultural movements like Folk, Chicago Blues, and Rock n Roll.

You can sign the petition here. You can also email Google at and tell them about the “Hoochie Coochie Man.”

The blues master is memorialized on a Chicago high-rise.

Muddy Waters Mural

With your help, Muddy Waters will be immortalized for all Google users.

The Lost Tapes: Malcolm X

February 21 was the 53rd anniversary of the assassination of Malcolm X, El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz.

Malcolm X

Two years ago, I nominated a former residence of Malcolm X for listing on the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places. In the statement of significance, I wrote:

Malcolm X, aka El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz, is a world-renowned human rights activist and American icon whose charismatic leadership laid the foundation for the growth of orthodox Islam among African Americans in the City of Philadelphia, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the nation. His life story is an American story. It is a “Horatio Alger” tale of a misspent youth, personal redemption and triumph in the struggle for racial equality.

During his “misspent youth,” Malcolm was known as “Detroit Red.” He was a fixture on the jazz scene in Harlem. His former residence, 2503 W. Oxford Street, was located a short walk from Philadelphia’s storied “Golden Strip.”

I also noted:

In the years since his assassination, Malcolm has become an American icon. He is the subject of countless books and academic studies, and documentaries, including PBS’ “Malcolm X: Make It Plain.” Spike Lee’s movie adaptation of The Autobiography of Malcolm X was released in 1992. “Malcolm X” featured an Oscar-nominated performance by Denzel Washington.

While the nomination was not successful, all was not lost. We raised awareness of Malcolm’s presence in Philadelphia. “The Lost Tapes: Malcolm X” will introduce a new generation to the human rights activist. The documentary premieres on the Smithsonian Channel on February 26 at 8pm EST.

The Lost Tapes

The documentary traces Malcolm’s life through rare archival footage from his speeches and media interviews. In comments following a recent screening Malcolm’s daughter, Ilyasah Al-Shabazz, said:

We finally have the opportunity to hear directly from our father’s mouth. … I was overwhelmed with emotion when I first saw it and I thought that it was a great piece of work.

For more information, visit the Smithsonian Channel.

We Knew What We Had: The Greatest Story Never Told

Like Philadelphia, Pittsburgh once had a robust jazz scene with legendary venues, including the Granada Theater and the Crawford Grill.

Crawford Vintage

Crawford Grill - Pittsburgh - Historical Marker - 2001

Pittsburgh produced jazz greats such as Art Blakey, Billy Strayhorn, Mary Lou Williams, George Benson, Ahmad Jamal, Stanley Turrentine, Billy Eckstine and Kenny Clarke.

We Knew What We Had2

Thanks to a new documentary, “We Knew What We Had: The Greatest Story Never Told,” the world will know what Pittsburgh had.

The one-hour documentary includes live performance clips of the Jazz Masters, interviews and archival photographs. As important, the filmmakers contextualize Pittsburgh’s jazz culture by exploring social conditions and historical events.

“We Knew What We Had: The Greatest Story Never Told” will air in February. For more information and air dates, visit their website.

Lena Horne Forever

On Tuesday, the U.S. Postal Service will issue the Lena Horne Forever stamp. The 41st issuance in the Black Heritage series honors the legacy of Lena Horne:

Horne began her career as a dancer at Harlem’s Cotton Club and later became a featured vocalist with touring orchestras. The rampant racial discrimination she encountered from audiences, hotel and venue managers and others was so disconcerting that she stopped touring, and in 1941, she made her move to Hollywood. A year later, she signed a contract with MGM — one of the first long-term contracts with a major Hollywood studio — with the stipulation that she would never be asked to take stereotypical roles then available to black actors. Her most famous movie roles were in “Cabin in the Sky” and “Stormy Weather,” both released in 1943.

During World War II, Horne entertained at camps for black servicemen, and after the war worked on behalf of Japanese Americans who were facing discriminatory housing policies. She worked with Eleanor Roosevelt in pressing for anti-lynching legislation. In the 1960s, Horne continued her high-profile work for civil rights, performing at rallies in the South, supporting the work of the National Council for Negro Women, and participating in the 1963 March on Washington.

On Horne’s passing in 2010, President Barack Obama said:

Over the years, she warmed the hearts of countless Americans with her beautiful voice and dramatic performances on screen. From the time her grandmother signed her up for an NAACP membership as a child, she worked tirelessly to further the cause of justice and equality. In 1940, she became the first African American performer to tour with an all white band. And while entertaining soldiers during World War II, she refused to perform for segregated audiences – a principled struggle she continued well after the troops returned home.

From sultry Selina Rogers in “Stormy Weather” …

… to sweet Georgia Brown in “Cabin in the Sky” …

… and Glinda, the Good Witch in “The Wiz,” the legendary performer entertained millions.

Horne’s activism and willingness to speak truth to power inspired millions, including the writer.

Lena Horne Collage2

The trailblazer and civil rights activist will be in the public’s memory forever.

Lena Horne Forever

The First Day of Issue Stamp Dedication Ceremony will be was held at Symphony Space in New York City. The Lena Horne Forever stamp is on sale nationwide at post offices and online at The Postal Store.

Bix the Jazz Bot

All That Philly Jazz stems from Music Hack Day, a music-related hackathon. So innovation is in our DNA.


I am excited to report that All About Jazz has launched Bix the Jazz Bot, a chatbot that curates personalized online content. The chatbot was created in collaboration with Gupshup, the world’s leading chatbot and bot development platform. Michael Ricci, founder and president of All About Jazz, said:

Bix is a convenient way to get the stories and news our readers value most. Whether it’s album reviews, live reviews, or interviews, Bix is your personal guide and takes you on a deep dive into our website.

Beerud Sheth, CEO of Gupshup, added:

Consumers are looking for new ways to explore and engage with new and recognizable artists and content, and publishers are likewise looking for ways to retain and attract new readership. Chatbots are the future of consumer engagement, and we’re excited to work with All About Jazz to make their content accessible and available on-demand.

For information on how to access Bix, visit All About Jazz.

Jazz Congress 2018

The inaugural Jazz Congress will be in session January 11-12 in New York City. Co-produced by Jazz at Lincoln Center and Jazz Times, the conference will “bring together artists, media and industry leaders in the global jazz community to exchange ideas in order to nurture and grow the jazz community and the underlying business and organizations that promote, produce, present, market and support the music.”

Trumpeter Wynton Marsalis, Managing and Artistic Director at JALC, said:

Jazz at Lincoln Center is excited to host this much needed community initiative. We will stimulate an inclusive environment, explore new ways to expand audiences for our music, and learn from one another. With so much discordant non-communication around the world and in our country, now is the perfect time for us to come together for serious discourse around and about our cultural, business and aesthetic objectives.

Marsalis added:

Jazz has what our modern world needs. Let us all take pride in our collective advocacy of this great music by identifying, declaring and demonstrating our common ground.

The program includes panels focusing on race and gender, and audience development. Hall of Fame basketball legend Kareem Abdul-Jabber, a jazz enthusiast whose father was a trombonist, will deliver the keynote address. Abdul-Jabbar will talk about the role jazz can play in today’s society.

I am particularly interested in the panel discussion on jazz, politics and activism. One of my objectives with All That Philly Jazz is to contextualize jazz within the framework of movements for social change. Indeed, the jazz culture was about intersectionality before the term was coined.

Checker Cafe

Some of the sessions will be livestreamed. You can join the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #JazzCongress. For more information, visit