The Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission and the African American Jazz Preservation Society of Pittsburgh (AAJPSP) will honor the legacy of Pittsburgh jazz musicians with the installation of a historical marker in honor of African American Musicians Local 471 of the American Federation of Musicians, a fitting tribute and memoir to the rich musical history that was a part of the Hill District.
Notable members of Local 471 included Mary Lou Williams, Erroll Garner, Art Blakey, Stanley Turrentine, Billy Strayhorn, Ray Brown and Ahmad Jamal. They were part of a distinguished group of players who went on to become international performers, great influences on the development of jazz throughout the latter part of the 20th century. These musicians and the union’s venue, the Musicians Club, were at the heart of a rich culture that developed in the lower Hill District. As ambassadors to a uniquely American art form and as noted figures of the Hill District, it is only fitting that the rich history and the musical gifts they bestowed on our community be commemorated with a memorial honoring their contributions.
The installation ceremony will also honor recently deceased AAJPSP president, Charles “Chuck” Austin and will take place at 11:30am on Saturday, June 23, 2012 near the former location of the Musicians Club, the union’s venue, on Crawford Street between Wylie and Webster Avenues in the Hill District. Ceremony speakers include George Clewer, President of Local 60/471 American Federation of Musicians; R. Danielle Lavelle, Pittsburgh City Council; Rosemary Trump, President, Pennsylvania Labor Historical Society; and Warren Watson, Judge, Court of Common Pleas (retired) & former Local 471 member. A reception and two panel discussions, The 471 Experience: Dialogue and Oral Historyand Black Musicians Unions: Moving the Legacy Forward follow immediately afterwards at 1pm in the Hillman Auditorium at the Hill House Association. On Friday, June 22, keynote speaker, producer and writer Willard Jenkins, will moderate a panel, Segregated Musicians’ Unions: Significance, Survival and Impact, at 7pm at The Big Room at the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council located at 810 Penn Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15222.
The African American Jazz Preservation Society of Pittsburgh is an outgrowth of the realization that a great deal of the rich cultural contributions made in the field of jazz originated from musicians who were born, raised, are living or have lived in Pittsburgh. AAJPSP is dedicated to the preservation, promotion, and dissemination of the history and accomplishments of Local 471 and jazz and blues musicians from Pittsburgh. AAJPSP seeks to present programming that creates an appreciation for the African American contribution to America’s original art form by exploring the artistry, personal stories and experiences of the musicians who helped develop the jazz scene.
The panel discussions and ceremony are free of charge and open to the general public. For more information about this program, please contact AAJPSP at 412.867.1721 or Harry Clark, Ph.D. at 412.389.2264.