Tag Archives: Cultural Heritage

2nd Annual Jazz Legacy Awards

On Monday, July 24, 2017, the jazz community, spearheaded by state Sen. Vincent Hughes and Sheryl Lee Ralph-Hughes, will celebrate seven pioneers in the world of arts and culture:

  • Marshall Allen, Sun Ra Arkestra
  • Joan Myers Brown, PHILADANCO
  • Abiodun Oyewole, The Last Poets
  • Odean Pope, Saxophonist
  • Mickey Roker (posthumously), Drummer
  • Sumi Tonooka, Pianist
  • Tony Williams, Saxophonist

2nd Jazz Legacy Award

The event is free but you must RSVP by contacting Tamica Tanksley via email or by phone at (215) 879-7777.

A Room with a View of the Blues

Earlier this month, I attended a panel discussion on “Art in Public Space” held in the Hamilton Garden of the Kimmel Center. As I waited for the program to start, I checked out the view from the top floor. What I saw left a hole in my heart.

PRI Vacant Lot

The hole is where Philadelphia International Records once stood.


Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff have earned their place in history.

Kenny Gamble - Leon Huff - History

Sadly, the building that held the stories of the songwriters, musicians, producers and arrangers is now lost to history. For the love of money, African Americans’ cultural heritage was erased from public memory.

Gamble and Huff sold the historic building to Dranoff Properties which plans to build a luxury hotel and condos for the one percent. Three years after the demolition of “309,” there’s just a hole in the ground. The reason: Dranoff Properties is waiting for a corporate welfare check to the tune of $19 million before breaking ground on the “biggest, tallest and most expensive” project the company has ever done.

In the poorest big city in the country, spending taxpayers’ money to further enrich the rich is the sound of Philadelphia.

African-American Music Appreciation Month 2017

On June 7, 1979, President Jimmy Carter proclaimed the month of June “Black Music Month.” Every president since then has recognized the contribution of black musicians to the nation’s cultural heritage. In 2009, President Barack Obama changed the month-long celebration to “African-American Music Appreciation Month.”

The tradition continues with President Donald Trump:

During June, we pay tribute to the contributions African Americans have made and continue to make to American music. The indelible legacy of these musicians who have witnessed our Nation’s greatest achievements, as well as its greatest injustices give all Americans a richer, deeper understanding of American culture. Their creativity has shaped every genre of music, including rock and roll, rhythm and blues, jazz, gospel, hip hop, and rap.


We also take time this month to recognize the musical influence of two of the greatest jazz musicians of all time, Dizzy Gillespie and Ella Fitzgerald, as this year marks their centennial birthdays. Gillespie, through his legendary trumpet sound and Fitzgerald, through her pure, energetic voice, treated people around the world to spirited and soulful jazz music. Their work has influenced countless musicians, and continues to inspire listeners young and old.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, DONALD J. TRUMP, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim June 2017 as African-American Music Appreciation Month. I call upon public officials, educators, and all the people of the United States to observe this month with appropriate activities and programs that raise awareness and appreciation of African-American Music.

I kicked off this year’s celebration by attending opening night of Motown The Musical.

The multi-media musical recaps familiar stories about how Berry Gordy Jr. founded the Motown Record Company; Gordy’s affair with Diana Ross; self-destructive Florence Ballard; the tempting Temptations and their rivalry with the Four Tops; songwriter, singer and Motown lifer Smokey Robinson; child prodigy and history-maker Stevie Wonder; and the discovery of The Jackson 5. The Motown breakups include Mary “My Guy” Wells, Marvin Gaye, songwriting and production team Holland-Dozier-Holland, and Diana Ross and the Supremes.

The audience went nuts when Martha Reeves and the Vandellas gave “Philadelphia, PA” a shout-out in “Dancing in the Streets.” Although one knows how the stories end, the retelling is fresh and joyous. The musical culminates with a “family” reunion to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Motown.

I remember like it was yesterday watching the television special, Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, Forever. In 1983, I sang the songs at the top of my lungs, danced in front of the TV, and marveled as Michael Jackson debuted the moonwalk. At the Academy of Music, I danced in my seat and tried not to sing too loud.

But it wasn’t just the songs and dancing that kept a smile on my face. I love that the music is contextualized. Motown addresses racial segregation in the South and the North, the senseless war in Vietnam, the March on Washington, the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and the Black Power Movement. By the 1970s, the “Motown Sound” was the sound of the struggle for racial justice.

Motown The Musical is playing at the Academy of Music through June 11. For ticket information, visit kimmelcenter.org.

Jazz Appreciation Month 2017

Founded by the National Museum of American History in 2002, April is Jazz Appreciation Month.

JAM Collage

The Smithsonian kicks off its celebration with a loving tribute to Ella Fitzgerald, the “First Lady of Song.”

The First Lady of Song - Ella Fitzgerald at 100

To find new ways to celebrate Jazz Appreciation Month, visit Smithsonian Jazz.

Jazz Night Auditions at the Apollo Theater

April is Jazz Appreciation Month. The Apollo Theater is kicking off the celebration with auditions for a special Jazz Night edition of Amateur Night.

Jazz Auditions - Apollo Theater

Got jazz talent? Alright then grab your instrument, accompanist, CD, flash drive, MP3 player or dancing shoes and head on up to Harlem on Saturday, April 1. The Apollo will provide 88 key keyboard, drum kit, guitar and bass amps.

Jazz Amateur Night at the Apollo - April 1

For more information on how to audition and eligibility rules, go here.

All That Philly Jazz Named One of the Best Jazz Blogs on the Planet

All That Philly Jazz was named one of the top 50 jazz blogs and websites for jazz musicians, teachers and students. We came in at #41. The list includes JazzWax and Jazz at Lincoln Center.

Way to go!

Top 50 Jazz Award - 2.9.17

For more news and mentions, check out ICYMI: All That Philly Jazz in the News.

Empire Records

Empire Records Shop was located on the edge of “The Strip” at 52nd and Market Streets.

Empire Record Shop - Overlay -Zoom

Empire Records was the oldest, continually-operated Philadelphia jazz record shop (1930 to 1970). In an online profile, Bill Morlitz shared his story:

I was born in Camden NJ since my mom’s cousin was head of Obstetrics at West Jersey Hospital on February 1, 1950 and have lived my whole life in Philadelphia and/or its suburbs. My dad had the first jazz record shop in Philadelphia so at an early age, I was immersed in the music business. Maybe that’s why I can’t sing a note on key nor have the 10 years of piano lessons stayed with me. Chopsticks is beyond me.

During my teens, I was fortunate to personally meet many great jazz artists including Ray Charles, Dizzy Gillespie, Milt Buckner (who developed the locked wrist rhythm style of piano playing and was Lionel’s pianist), Lionel Hampton and many others. Grover Washington, Jr. worked in the store on the weekends and we used to go listen to jazz sets together. My photography is included on his “Live at the Bijou” album.

Read More

Wharton Settlement House

Legendary saxophonist, composer and arranger Benny Golson began his career in Philadelphia with Benjamin Clarence “Bull Moose” Jackson. In Whisper Not: The Autobiography of Benny Golson, the NEA Jazz Master recounted:

Three weeks after I joined the band, we landed a gig at the Wharton Settlement, 22nd Street and Columbia Avenue, a public venue for basketball, dances, swimming, checkers (anything to keep kids from idleness on city streets). We were paid: too good to be true, but welcome. Jackson’s band played stock arrangements that cost seventy-five cents each, most of which written by Spud Murphy or Van Alexander (who recently died at age one hundred) and other writers I have forgotten. Our repertoire included “Take the A Train,” “One O’Clock Jump,” “Tuxedo Junction,” “Jumpin’ at the Woodside,” “The 9:20 Special,” “Stardust,” “Down for Double,” and a variety of honorable standards. Sure enough, I received four dollars that night. It was months before I actually spent those precious few dollars, but I was on my way.

Published by Temple University Press, Golson’s autobiography is available for purchase here.

In Case You Missed It: In the News

New historical markers coming to Philadelphia
Axios Philadelphia, January 18, 2023

A How-to Guide for Fighting Big Development
The Philadelphia Inquirer, January 2, 2023

The Drama Around Turning the John Coltrane House Into a Philly Jazz Monument
Philadelphia Magazine, December 7, 2022

City’s public input survey shows most area residents want a Harriet Tubman statue
The Philadelphia Inquirer, November 22, 2022

Overwhelming public response has been cited as the reason why the city was willing to pay $500K for a version of this Tubman statue. Now that claim is disputed.
The Philadelphia Inquirer, October 28, 2022

Creative Philly announces new survey for public input on an ‘African American’ statue
The Philadelphia Inquirer, October 5, 2022

Harriet Tubman deserves a permanent statue in Philly. Few others are worthy.
The Philadelphia Inquirer, September 22, 2022

Mayor Kenney, Creative Philly announce they will issue open call for artists for $500K Harriet Tubman statue
The Philadelphia Inquirer, August 30, 2022

7 City Council members urge arts office to seek ‘remedy plan’ and ‘prioritize’ Philly artists for Harriet Tubman statue
The Philadelphia Inquirer, August 26, 2022

John Coltrane’s sons file suit to claim ownership of Philly’s Coltrane House
The Philadelphia Inquirer, August 16, 2022

Black Music Sunday: Time to celebrate some ‘bright moments’ with Rahsaan Roland Kirk
Daily Kos, August 7, 2022

Philadelphia has created its first historic district designated to recognize Black history
The Philadelphia Inquirer, July 8, 2022

A journey by bike to Strawberry Mansion and the homes of Jazz legends Sun Ra and John Coltrane highlights the inequity of historic preservation in Philadelphia
Artblog, June 30, 2022

This July 4th, let’s honor Frederick Douglass and “agitate”
The Philadelphia Inquirer, June 30, 2022

Charles Blockson’s grade school teacher told him Black people have no history. He set out to prove her wrong.
The Philadelphia Inquirer, June 17, 2022

South Philly’s Black ‘main street’ is a step closer to becoming a historic district — and making history
The Philadelphia Inquirer, June 15, 2022

What could save the John Coltrane House in Strawberry Mansion? This artist and public historian are betting on NFTs
Technical.ly Philly, May 4, 2022

The clock is ticking to save John Coltrane’s Strawberry Mansion home
The Philadelphia Inquirer, April 21, 2022

Walking through Philadelphia with “The Green Book” as a guide
The Philadelphia Inquirer, April 9, 2022

How a jazz legend’s resting place was lost and found, 50 years after his tragic death
NPR Morning Edition, February 16, 2022

Lee Morgan Memorial Special on WCOM-FM with host Larry Reni Thomas February 20, 2022
JazzCorner, February 15, 2022

For a second time, Civic Design Review panel votes ‘disappointment’ in apartments proposed for Temple students
The Philadelphia Inquirer, February 5, 2022

Op-Ed: Don’t Let Temporary Monument Overshadow Neglected Black History in Philly
Hidden City Philadelphia, January 18, 2022

Civic Design panel tells developer of student housing near Temple University: Go back to the drawing board
The Philadelphia Inquirer, December 8, 2021

Housing plan draws opposition
The Philadelphia Inquirer, December 7, 2021

The Rich Legacy of Philadelphia Free Jazz
Bandcamp Daily, November 22, 2021

Let’s reimagine Marconi Plaza as a monument to Native and Black Americans | Opinion
The Philadelphia Inquirer, November 11, 2021

Philly Historic Commission official resigns, says Kenney meddled in vote over LGBTQ, African American landmark
WHYY/PlanPhilly, October 12, 2021

Living Spaces: Preserving Jazz Homes
JazzTimes Magazine, August 9, 2021

Philly Council passes protections for Doctors’ Row Black historic district
WHYY/PlanPhilly, June 24, 2021

Will demolition moratorium help historic preservation for Christian Street’s Doctors’ Row? City Council takes a look
The Philadelphia Inquirer, June 14, 2021

Philly’s Next Big Challenge
The Philadelphia Citizen, June 8, 2021

City seeks input on public artwork coming to Penn’s Landing
Metro Philadelphia, May 19, 2021

The spelling of ‘Frederick Douglass’ has been fixed in SEPTA’s subway mural
The Philadelphia Inquirer, April 20, 2021

SEPTA’s new mural has misspelled the first name of Frederick Douglass, prompting dismay
The Philadelphia Inquirer, April 19, 2021

‘Looking for Lady Day:’ A 6abc special on the life of Billie Holiday in the City of Philadelphia
6abc, April 4, 2021

Protecting the John Coltrane House
City of Philadelphia, March 9, 2021

Fires and demolitions threaten Strawberry Mansion block where historic John Coltrane house struggles for survival | Inga Saffron
The Philadelphia Inquirer, March 5, 2021

One of city’s landmark works of public art is coming out of storage and into its own park
The Philadelphia Inquirer, March 4, 2021

Small Donors Build a Big Legacy for the African American History Museum
This Is Capitalism, February 18, 2021

The unexpectedly short history of the Gloria Casarez mural, whitewashed from the Gayborhood
Billy Penn, January 4, 2021

Demolition in Philly dropped by half in 2020 — Is that a good thing?
WHYY/PlanPhilly, January 2, 2021

It’s time for Philadelphia to reckon with historical racism as an obstacle to preservation | Editorial
The Philadelphia Inquirer, January 1, 2021

New art installation in jeopardy after mural of queer activist Gloria Casarez in Philly’s Gayborhood whitewashed without warning
The Philadelphia Inquirer, December 24, 2020

Predictions for nonprofits 2021
Generocity, December 23, 2020

Black Philadelphians who recall the 1960s assess race relations in a still-divided country
The Philadelphia Inquirer, November 12, 2020

Henry Minton House, Systemic Racism and Historic Preservation
Design Advocacy Group Forum, October 18, 2020

All That Jazz?
Philadelphia Weekly, August 13,2020

Developer drops plans to build townhouses on Pa. farm that served as Underground Railroad site
PennLive and The Patriot-News, August 13, 2020

Why do majority-white city commissions pick the Philly history saved and celebrated?
WHYY/PlanPhilly, August 6, 2020

The threat to a John Coltrane mural shows how development can erase Black history in Philly
The Philadelphia Inquirer, July 29, 2020

Philly Jazz Legends: Billie Holiday
Free Library, July 29, 2020

Second John Coltrane mural to fall victim to new development, developer offers to recreate it
The Philadelphia Tribune, July 21, 2020

Let’s talk about the Philadelphia monuments we need to preserve | Inga Saffron
The Philadelphia Inquirer, July 9, 2020

All That Philly Jazz Director Faye Anderson Interview
Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, June 2020

3 Black Philadelphians whose statues should replace Frank Rizzo
The Philadelphia Inquirer, June 4, 2020

The Rizzo reign is finally over. Thank Black Philadelphia.
WHYY/PlanPhilly, June 3, 2020

Here are 15 Black nonprofit and community voices to listen to in Philadelphia
Generocity, June 2, 2020

Regional Roundup: Memorial Day Edition
WHYY Radio Times, May 25, 2020

Meaning and Memory: Making a Place for Culture in Historic Preservation
Hidden City Philadelphia, April 27, 2020

Singing the coronavirus blues
Broad Street Review, March 16, 2020

Mapping Out Philadelphia’s Jazz History
National Public Radio “Here & Now,” March 10, 2020

Historic Preservation, Public Memory and Social Justice
Design Advocacy Group, March 5, 2020

Hope and Despair Surround Philly’s African American Landmarks
Hidden City Philadelphia, February 28, 2020

Regional Roundup – 02/24/20
WHYY Radio Times, February 24, 2020

Preserving John Coltrane’s house can help save Philly’s soul
The Philadelphia Inquirer, February 16, 2020

5 Philly jazz sites besides the Coltrane House that need historical preservation
The Philadelphia Inquirer, February 16, 2020

Philadelphia jazz great John Coltrane’s house ‘at risk,’ preservationists say
The Philadelphia Inquirer, February 8, 2020

Philly’s John Coltrane House Added to PA 2020 At Risk List
Mid-Atlantic Regional Center for the Humanities, Rutgers University, Camden, NJ, February 7, 2020

Strawberry Mansion’s famous John Coltrane house named ‘at risk,’ boosting chance for survival
Billy Penn, February 6, 2020

Meaning and Memory: Making a Place for Culture in Historic Preservation
Extant Magazine, Winter 2020

Philly’s ’20th century Underground Railroad’ hides in plain sight
WHYY Podcast, January 2, 2020

Philadelphia’s building boom spawned a demolition boom in 2019
WHYY/PlanPhilly, December 19, 2019

An activist’s plea to resurrect the crumbling Strawberry Mansion home and legacy of jazz legend John Coltrane
Philadelphia Weekly, September 26, 2019

Historic Philly Underground Railroad stop that freed 9,000 slaves is saved from brink of collapse
Billy Penn, September 20, 2019

This is What You Need to Know About the 2019 John Coltrane Celebration in Philadelphia
WRTI, September 17, 2019

7 ‘Green Book’ sites to discover in Philly
WHYY/PlanPhilly, September 12, 2019

Proposed sale of landmark Painted Bride building is going to court
The Philadelphia Inquirer, September 4, 2019

Top Events for September
CityWide Stories, September 3, 2019

Hey, Mayor Kenney: Here are 20 buildings that Philadelphians want historically preserved
The Philadelphia Inquirer, June 13, 2019

Ridge Avenue and the Golden Strip
Sounds of the Circle, May 21, 2019

Changing City: How Should Philadelphia View Its Historical Buildings?
WHYY Radio Times, May 9, 2019

‘Disappearing Blackness’: The campaign to show how African American history in Philly is being erased
Philadelphia Daily News, April 26, 2019

A historic haven for black Philadelphians slated for demolition
WHYY/PlanPhilly, April 9, 2019

Did you know the cover of a Nat King Cole album was shot in Elfreth’s Alley?
Billy Penn, March 18, 2019

Unmarking African American history in Philadelphia
WHYY, January 24, 2019

Unmarking African American History in Philadelphia
WHYY/PlanPhilly, January 23, 2019

Where’s the historical marker for influential Harlem Renaissance figure? Nobody knows
Philadelphia Daily News, January 9, 2019

Citizen Salon Spotlight: Faye Anderson
Arthur Ross Gallery Blog, December 11, 2018

The Schomburg Center Invites the Public to Explore Victor Hugo Green and The Green Books
GothamToGo, November 15, 2018

A former Underground Railroad stop is on the brink of collapse in Spring Garden
Billy Penn, October 29, 2018

54 apartments are about to replace the historic Royal Theater
Billy Penn, October 25, 2018

How to save your favorite Philly buildings from development
Billy Penn, October 2, 2018

Philadelphia music legend Kenny Gamble remembers ‘Queen of Soul’ Aretha Franklin
Philadelphia Business Journal, August 17, 2018

It Ain’t History–Yet. We Seek Ideas On How And Why To Save The Philadelphia History Museum
Hidden City Philadelphia, July 18, 2018

Blue Note Salon at Icebox reflects on art, jazz and activism in North Philadelphia
Artblog, June 13, 2018

How a walk around Philly could change how you think about your daily life
The Philadelphia Inquirer, May 1, 2018

‘Jazz and Justice’: Where art meets activism
The Philadelphia Tribune, April 17, 2018

Philadelphia Hopes to Harmonize Historic Preservation
Next City, December 26, 2017

Never Listed
Extant Magazine, Winter 2018

Monumental matters in Philadelphia
PlanPhilly, November 16, 2017

Who is Sister Rosetta Tharpe? The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominee is buried here in Philly
Philly.com, October 5, 2017

Bringing Coltrane Back to North Philly
The Root, September 29, 2017

When Does Historic Preservation Become Social Justice? Public Art and Cultural Heritage Preservation
Preservation Leadership Forum, National Trust for Historic Preservation, July 26, 2017

As Philly Is Designated a National Treasure City, Don’t Forget Black Historic Sites, Say Advocates
NBC10, June 15, 2017

Philadelphia’s music history – a DIY tour
PSN News powered by the Associated Press, May 29, 2017

Jane’s Walk 2017: Walking tours to take in Philly this weekend
Curbed Philadelphia, May 1, 2017

Pearls on Ridge
PhillyHistory Blog, April 26, 2017

Historic Preservation and Social Justice
PlanPhilly, February 28, 2017

Ridge Avenue’s last standing jazz club
The Philadelphia Inquirer, February 24, 2017

Preserving Philadelphia’s Built African-American Heritage: A Conversation with All That Philly Jazz’s Faye Anderson
Extant Magazine, Fall 2016

Battle over proposed sale of first black Catholic church intensifies
Philadelphia Daily News, June 12, 2016

North Central: Philadelphia Celebrates Its Rich Jazz History
Philadelphia Neighborhoods, April 20, 2016

In Sharswood, remembering the music on Ridge Avenue
Philadelphia Daily News, April 16, 2016

Why Are Some Of The City’s Most Historic Black Churches Being Sold?
CBS Philadelphia, March 15, 2016

Luxury housing takes over Black landmarks in Philly
The Philadelphia Tribune, March 12, 2016

Malcolm X House Nominated for Listing on Philadelphia Register of Historic Places
SlideShare.net, March 2, 2016

Redevelopment In Sharswood: Will It Come At The Expense Of Preservation?
Hidden City Philadelphia, February 24, 2016

Breaking Through Historic Preservation’s Color Line
Hidden City Philadelphia, February 4, 2016

Housing Authority discusses Sharswood renewal project at Planning Commission
PlanPhilly, November 18, 2015

Three Key Historic Neighborhood Buildings Recommended For Register
Hidden City Philadelphia, September 16, 2015

Short-term art: When murals fall to developers
Philadelphia Daily News, June 5, 2015

Billie Holiday, The Roots join Walk of Fame
The Philadelphia Inquirer, May 31, 2015

Lost and found jazz in Philadelphia
Al Dia News, April 9, 2015

At Last, Billie Holiday Being Nominated For Broad St. ‘Walk Of Fame’ Plaque
KYW Newsradio 1060, April 7, 2015

Remembering Billie Holiday
The Philadelphia Inquirer, March 29, 2015

Video: Faye Anderson on All That Philly Jazz
Generocity, March 20, 2015

Share stories, preserve history with All That Philly Jazz app
The Philadelphia Tribune, March 6, 2015

All That Philly Jazz documents region’s rich jazz legacy from bebop to hip-hop
Examiner.com, March 6, 2015

Fast Forward Philly: What’s Next for Philly?
DesignPhiladelphia, October 10, 2014

Philly Jazz App: app to map Philly’s jazz history
Technical.ly Philly, August 28, 2013

All That Philly Jazz app breathes life into the local jazz scene
The Key, August 28, 2013

Where Music Lives: In A Jazz Past Resurrected
WRTI, July 3, 2013

Philadelphia Pyramid Club

Founded in 1937 and formally opened three years later, the Philadelphia Pyramid Club was a small, exclusive club for black professionals. Its mission was to foster the “cultural, civic, and social advancement of Negroes in Philadelphia.” The membership fee was $120, and monthly dues were $2.40.


The club hosted a wide range of social and cultural activities, including performances by Marian Anderson and Duke Ellington and, after 1941, annual art exhibitions for African American artists. It also hosted events with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer, father of the atomic bomb. During the Pyramid Club’s heyday, its membership rolls were a Who’s Who of black Philadelphia.

The club was dissolved in 1963.

Pyramid Club Historical Marker