Jazz Musicians

A member of the Young Tuxedo Brass Band from New Orleans poses with Ukrainian youth in Kyiv, May 1990.
 

The Music and Freedom We Experienced on the Streets of Kyiv

The story of a joint Smithsonian-Soviet-Ukrainian program in 1990 lends poignant resonance to Russia’s brutal invasion today

Today, Betty Boop is an immediately recognizable cultural icon, appearing on everything from luggage to coffee mugs to chunky heels to board games.

The Evolution of Betty Boop

Film censorship sparked the beloved cartoon character's mid-1930s makeover

“Bless whoever it was who came up with the idea,” jazz historian Dan Morgenstern says in a Smithsonian interview about Armstrong’s rendition of the holiday chestnut.

The Little-Known Recording of Louis Armstrong Reciting 'The Night Before Christmas'

Shortly before he died, the jazz legend offered his own rendition of the classic holiday poem

Buildings in New Orleans' historic French Quarter, pictured here, sustained damage when Hurricane Ida made landfall on Sunday.

Hurricane Ida Destroys New Orleans Jazz Landmark Dubbed Louis Armstrong's 'Second Home'

The historic Karnofsky Tailor Shop and Residence collapsed on Sunday after water pooled on its roof

Norman Granz and Ella Fitzgerald at a microphone, 1950.

Smithsonian Voices

How Norman Granz Revolutionized Jazz for Social Justice

Often remembered for his artful management of legendary jazz musicians, but Granz also saw the potential for themusic to combat racial inequality

Featured in the museum's first temporary exhibition, the Fisk Jubilee Singers introduced spirituals to audiences around the world.

A New Museum in Nashville Chronicles 400 Years of Black Music

The culmination of two decades of planning, the National Museum of African American Music opened its doors last month

Admas. From left, clockwise: Abegasu Shiota, Henock Temesgen, Tewodros Aklilu, and Yousef Tesfaye.

Smithsonian Voices

Why the Newly Released 1980s Album 'Sons of Ethiopia,' by the Ethiopian D.C. Band Admas, Is Going Viral

Admas draws from and rearranges “golden era” Ethiopian music with then-fairly-new synthesizer and drum-machine rhythms.

After composing and transcribing music for my wedding day, Red Baraat was born. Dave Sharma leads the baraat (wedding procession) on dhol, as I walk with my mother, family, and friends. August 27, 2005.

Smithsonian Voices

Musician Sunny Jain Reflects on Jainism, Jazz and the Punjabi Dhol Drum

While the originations of the dhol are not known with complete certainty, what is known is that it is a sound that has migrated

Ory in November 1945, during his comeback after working as a janitor.

Kid Ory Finally Gets the Encore He Deserves

The childhood home of the musician who put New Orleans jazz on the map will soon open to the public

Ma Rainey poses with her band for a studio group shot c. 1924-25.

'The Great Gatsby,' Songs by Ma Rainey and Other Classic Works Are Now in the Public Domain

Canonical books, songs and films became free to use in 2021

Russian physicist and engineer Lev Sergeyevich Termen—who later came to be widely known as Léon Theremin—invented his namesake instrument around 1920. Here, he's pictured in 1928.

Art Meets Science

The Soviet Spy Who Invented the First Major Electronic Instrument

Created by a Russian engineer, the theremin has delighted and confounded audiences since 1920

Ella Fitzgerald performs in Copenhagen, Denmark, in 1961.

Cool Finds

Listen to a Lost Ella Fitzgerald Recording

In 1962, the singer returned to Berlin to reprise a famous 1960 concert. The tapes were forgotten—until now

From L to R: Ellis Marsalis Jr., Bucky Pizzarelli and Wallace Roney

Covid-19

COVID-19 Claims the Lives of Three Jazz Greats

Pianist and educator Ellis Marsalis Jr., trumpeter Wallace Roney, and guitarist Bucky Pizzarelli succumbed to complications caused by the novel coronavirus

American jazz musicians Charlie Parker, on alto sax, and Thelonious Monk, on piano, perform at the Open Door Cafe, in New York City on September 14, 1953.

The Long Journey of Charlie Parker’s Saxophone

The newly acquired instrument, played by the father of bebop, is on view at the National Museum of African American History and Culture

Thomas "Blind Tom" Wiggins (1849-1908), born blind and enslaved, was a musical prodigy who began performing as early as 6 years old.

Hitting the High Notes: A Smithsonian Year of Music

The Tragic Story of America’s First Black Music Star

Thomas Wiggins, an African-American musician marketed as ‘Blind Tom’, had a lucrative career—but saw none of the profits himself

Nina Simone’s Childhood Home Is Under Threat. This Campaign Aims to Save It

The National Trust is hoping to preserve the North Carolina house where Simone first learned to play piano

American actor Doris Day with mutt co-star Hobo on the set of director Charles Walters's film, 'Please Don't Eat the Daisies'.

Hitting the High Notes: A Smithsonian Year of Music

Doris Day's Biggest Hit Is a Song She Could Have Done Without

"Que Sera, Sera" is synonomous with the actress and singer who died on Monday at age 97, though she was never a fan of the tune she called 'a kiddie song'

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Hitting the High Notes: A Smithsonian Year of Music

A Smithsonian Year of Music

A special report pulling together our coverage of music within the Smithsonian collections and around the world

Marina Amaral can often find clues to inform her colorization in the shades of gray in the original image

No Color Photos of Jazz Singer Mildred Bailey Existed... Until Now

An artist shows us that the past was not black-and-white

People crowding in front of Selma's House on the opening day of the Louis Armstrong House Museum in 2003.

Preserving the Home of Selma Heraldo, Neighbor and Friend of Louis Armstrong

Heraldo bequeathed her home to the Louis Armstrong House Museum, which plans to renovate the property with the help of a sizable city grant

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