Benjamin “Bennie” Moten was an influential pianist and bandleader whose career was essential to the development of Kansas City-style jazz.
Andrew "Skip" Carter’s fascination with radio started early. Raised in Savannah, Georgia, he built his first radio set at age 14.
As a prominent big band leader, Andy Kirk popularized the Kansas City sound nationwide.
Musical giant Charlie Parker was a key creator of bebop, the jazz style marked by improvisation, quick tempos, and virtuosic technique. Born in Kansas City, Kansas, and raised in Kansas City, Missouri, Parker attended Lincoln High School.
An actress and singer closely identified with the role of Bess in the opera Porgy and Bess, Etta Moten Barnett was born in Texas and studied music and drama at Western University in Kansas City, Kansas.
James Columbus “Jay” McShann was a prominent and influential jazz pianist and band leader. Growing up in Muskogee, Oklahoma, he defied his parents’ disapproval of his musical inclinations and taught himself to play the piano.
Ironically nicknamed “Speedy” for his slow, soft-shoe dancing style, L. C. Huggins’ roots stretched back to the city’s Golden Age of Jazz.
Lafayette Alonzo Tillman is remembered most for being one of Kansas City’s first African American police officers.
Among the great jazz musicians, Mary Lou Williams was a piano prodigy and became a professional performer while in her teens.
Maj. N. Clark Smith was a prominent musician, composer, and instructor and one of the most accomplished African American bandmasters of the early 20th century.