Tag Archives: Cultural Heritage

John Coltrane House

In 1952, at the age of twenty-six, with the benefit of a G.I. loan, John Coltrane bought for himself, his mother, his aunt and his first cousin the North 33rd Street property. Coltrane lived here from 1952 until 1958. It was a big, rowhouse, built for a well-to-do middle class at the turn of the 19th century and a huge step up from the cramped quarters in a deteriorating area of town where the family had been living. Coltrane owned and lived in this home longer than any other during his legendary career as a composer and saxophonist.

In 1999, the John Coltrane House was designated a National Historic Landmark, a recognition accorded to places that have “exceptional value or quality in illustrating or interpreting the heritage of the United States.”

John Coltrane Historical Marker

The recognition attests to the value of the house. The building is structurally sound but it needs some repairs. Money is needed to preserve the John Coltrane House for current and future generations.

For information on how you can help, contact the John Coltrane House.

Ebony Lounge

The Ebony Lounge was located in the lower level of the Chesterfield Hotel which was owned by Ernest and Evelyn Harris.

Alonzo Kittrels
of the Philadelphia Tribune reminisced:

[T]he Chesterfield Hotel, a landmark that deserves its own back-in-the-day column, given its significance in the lives of Black people. It was particularly important in the lives of the performers at the nearby Uptown Theater. This hotel was where many performers stayed while appearing at this venue.

Ebony Lounge - SCOOP USA

In a March 28, 1960 conversation with celebrated jazz journalist Ralph J. Gleason, bassist Percy Heath reminisced about his start as a professional musician:

But I remember when Red Garland did come to Philadelphia he was singing and playing “Billie’s Bounce” and “Now’s the Time” and we hadn’t heard those things, and he was sort of an authority on Charlie Parker tunes at that time. But there were an awful lot of promising musicians around Philadelphia. I really started with a trio. At that time we used to play in little cocktail bars and there was hotel there, the Philadelphia Chesterfield Hotel, they had a lounge. We played in there quite a bit and then we’d go around to Wilmington, Delaware, and play some club down there.

Conversations in Jazz: The Ralph J. Gleason Interviews is available on Amazon.com.

Blue Moon Jazz Club and Restaurant

Musicians who appeared here included Johnny DeFrancesco, Norman Connors and his Starship band, guitarist Paul Jackson Jr., Nnenna Freelon, Kim Waters, Jean Carne, Frank Morgan, Dexter Wansel and Pieces of a Dream.

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Sister Rosetta Tharpe

Sister Rosetta Tharpe was inducted into the Philadelphia Walk of Fame in 2017.

Alongside Willie Mae Ford Smith, Sister Rosetta Tharpe is widely acclaimed among the greatest Sanctified gospel singers of her generation; a flamboyant performer whose music often flirted with the blues and swing, she was also one of the most controversial talents of her day, shocking purists with her leap into the secular market — by playing nightclubs and theaters, she not only pushed spiritual music into the mainstream, but in the process also helped pioneer the rise of pop-gospel. Tharpe was born March 20, 1915 in Cotton Plant, AR; the daughter of Katie Bell Nubin, a traveling missionary and shouter in the classic gospel tradition known throughout the circuit as “Mother Bell,” she was a prodigy, mastering the guitar by the age of six. At the same time, she attended Holiness conventions alongside her mother, performing renditions of songs including “The Day Is Past and Gone” and “I Looked Down the Line.”

In time, the family relocated to Chicago, where Tharpe began honing her unique style; blessed with a resonant vibrato, both her vocal phrasing and guitar style drew heavy inspiration from the blues, and she further aligned herself with the secular world with a sense of showmanship and glamour unique among the gospel performers of her era. Signing to Decca in 1938, Tharpe became a virtual overnight sensation; her first records, among them Thomas A. Dorsey’s “Rock Me” and “This Train,” were smash hits, and quickly she was performing in the company of mainstream superstars including Cab Calloway and Benny Goodman. She led an almost schizophrenic existence, remaining in the good graces of her core audience by recording material like “Precious Lord,” “Beams of Heaven,” and “End of My Journey” while also appealing to her growing white audience by performing rearranged, uptempo spirituals including “Didn’t It Rain” and “Down by the Riverside.”

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Sister Rosetta Tharpe Walk of Fame Plaque