Header image  
the heart of seattle  
line decor
  HOME  ::  
line decor
Jackson St. Music History Project


The Jackson St. Music History Project is up!

Thank you to all the volunteers, donors, artists, and students who made this happen. Special thanks to the musicians how make our neighborhood so fresh!

In 2009 the Low Income Housing Institute purchased the vacant lot at 2010 S. Jackson Street (see map) and agreed to allow JPCC to use the east half of the lot for a temporary community art installation. After a series of community meetings to brainstorm ideas for the lot a concept for The Jackson Street Music History Project emerged and begun to take on a life of its own.

What is the Jackson St. Music History Project?

The concept for the Jackson St. Music History Project was inspired by The Corner installation recently removed from 23rd and Union. You can see images of it here. However, instead of images and stories of community residents in general our art honors musicians from the Central District’s rich history of jazz, funk, soul/gospel, and hip hop much of which took place in the music clubs that used to line Jackson Street.

The Pratt Fine Arts Center Youth Art Works was the creative lead on this project and the Jackson Place Community Council organized the logistics and fundraising.  Pratt Youth Art Works Coordinator Lily Hotchkiss matched students from Washington Middle School and Nova High School with local community artists to design, create and install four installations celebrating four genres of music; jazz, funk, soul/gospel, and hip hop.  Each installation used a different artistic medium; photography, screen printing, aerosol, and mixed media.  


Where are resources coming from?

Many of the resources for this project were donated by community residents, businesses, and nonprofits. The budget for the project was $10,000. We raised funds throughout the project through a variety of means.
Thank you to our generous donors!

  • Low Income Housing Institute
  • Goodwill Industries International
  • Field Roast Grain Meat Co.
  • Jackson St. Corridor Association
  • LC Jergens Paint
  • Casa Latina
  • Pratt Fine Arts Center 


What is the history of jazz, funk and soul in the Central District?

The following is the introduction to Jackson Street After Hours: The Roots of Jazz in Seattle by Paul de Barros.

History of Jazz in Seattle: Quincy JonesJazz Musician: Quincy Jones

For such an out-of-the-way place, Seattle has had a remarkable jazz history. The action began as early as 1918, when Lillian Smith’s jazz band played at Washington Hall. It kept going strong all through Prohibition, as an authentic black jazz scene developed around the hub of Jackson Street and Twelfth Avenue. Even Jelly Roll Morton stopped off to play in the district, in 1920; he later wrote a rag, “Seattle Hunch,” to commemorate his visit.




The scene peaked between 1937 and 1951, years in which Seattle came of age as a nerve center of the defense industry. A plentiful supply of soldiers and civilians, out looking for a good time, made Seattle a boomtown for musicians. In 1948, there were over two dozen nightclubs along Jackson Street, clubs where jazz and bootleg liquor flowed as freely as money from a soldier’s pocket. Pianist Gerald Wiggins, stationed at Fort Lewis during the war, put it best: “They did everything but go home.” This same lively scene nurtured the early careers of Quincy Jones, Ray Charles, and Ernestine Anderson.

Other musicians who played in the Jackson Street clubs went on to national jazz careers. Bassists Buddy Catlett and Wyatt Ruther worked with Count Basie. Pianists Wiggins and Jimmy Rowles went to Los Angeles, where they became exceptional accompanists and soloists. Patti Bown forged a career in New York. Still others, such as Floyd Standifer and Roscoe Weathers, never became well known outside the region, but when touring musicians came to town, they treated these Seattle players as peers. The “locals” may not have taken to the road, but they kept an authentic tradition alive at home.


The following is from a 2004 Seattle Times article by Paul DeBarros in 2004.

Thirty years before grunge music put Seattle on the map, late 1960′s groups like Black on White Affair, The Soul Swingers, and Cold, Bold & Together filled airwaves and packed clubs every night of the week. Many groups started to receive widespread attention with invitations to perform on national television and collaborate with mainstream acts. Just as many of the groups were on the verge of breaking out, the fickle public turned its ear to disco, and Seattle’s soul scene slipped into obscurity.

"There was a very vibrant, very strong music scene here," recalls Cold Bold & Together (CBT) percussionist Tony Gable. "Every soul band in Seattle had their distinct vibe and sound. And that character is a real plus, because we didn't all sound the same even though we're all living in the same city. Most of us were living in the same area, the Central Area, out on Rainier, Empire at the time, a little Beacon Hill, a little Capitol Hill. So [we had] all of this culture and sound. And also we were coming out of the hippie movement of the late '60s and heading into the era of black awareness, black is beautiful. You got politics, you got Vietnam, all those things are happening at the same time. Now I look at it in retrospect and think maybe that's why we did that. We're making comments, we're jamming”.


Robert Nesbitt, a deejay for the now-defunct Seattle soul music station, KYAC, evokes the scene in his liner notes for “Wheedle’s Groove”. “You could find the masterful showman Manual Stanton of Black and White Affair doing flips and spins while playing bass on a Monday at the Gallery,” writes Nesbitt.  “Meanwhile, on the same night, you might catch Robbie Hill, flashing like a Christmas tree in a red rhinestone-studded jumpsuit, matching red Big Apple cap and the huge hair, keeping the beat for his band Family Affair a the District Tavern.:

Cold Bold and Together

Though the Seattle funk scene was mainly local, some of the musicians went on to greater things. CBT keyboard man Phillip Woo played with Patti LaBelle and Whitney Houston.  Pat Wright's lilting romance, "Little Love Affair," was picked up by a London deejay and reissued on a compilation two years ago.  And Kenny G, of course, went on to superstardom.

"Kenny was suggested to us by the people at Franklin High School," remembers Gable. "He looked kind of geeky, but they said, 'Give him a chance.' I had to go over and talk his dad into letting him play in this all-black band."

aSeattle's golden era of funk came to an end around 1978, when disco invaded the town. A quarter century later, the memories are still vivid and many of the musicians are around to celebrate this untold story.









About 100 members of Seattle's black soul music community gathered at Garfield High School to shoot a historic photograph
Pictured are Michael Mitchell; David Stusser; Solomon Harris Jr.; Vanessa "Lady Vee" Miller; Kibibi Monie; Norm Bellas; George Griffin; Patrinell "Pat" Staten Wright; Rudy H. Caluza; Gordon Butler; Paul Anderson; KhalifYasin; Michael "Biggie" Lewis; John Lee Rodde; Anthony Atherton; Teresa "Tess" Thomas; Marlita "Cookie" Pauis; Bonnie C; Johnny Lewis; Joe Villa; Overton Berry; Clarence Acox; Kay Kuniyuki; Danny Welsh; Ural Thomas; Lisa Oliphant-Brown; Gary Hammon; Frank Brown; Robert Nesbitt; Gregory Lewis; Ken Drake; James Moody; Dan Bonow; John Sakura; Herbert Owens; Elmer Dixon; Gerald "Tugboat" Turner Jr.; Clarence "Bash" Robinson Jr.; ClevenTiceson; Curtis Hammond; Len Hammond; Blumeadars Mitchell Culpepper; Muhammad "Qadir" Tolson; Dwain Bickham; Terry Johnson; Cathy J. Ruse; Aaron Dixon; Tom Provo-Bensusen; Steven Banks; Deems Tsutakana; Kevin Thomas; William Espy; Matt Shaw; Scott King; Jerry Henderson; Mark Adams-Bensusen; George Horton; Jamar Jenkins; Dave Holden; John Stoudemire; Gloria Greenwood; Dennis Blackmon; Reginald "Sonny" Brunson; Dr. Leonard Rhodes; Bernadette Bascom; Allenda Jenkins; Jared Jenkins; Robbie Hill; Ron Buford; Tony Gable; William Hill; Herman "HB" Brown



Audio and Video

Map of Jackson Street Music History site


Google Voice:

Click the Google Voice icon below to connect with the Jackson Street Music History Project oral history line.

Provide your phone number and name and Google will then call you back and automatically connect you to JSMHP. You can then leave your message or comments. There is no fee.

JSMHP Google Voice Mail Number (1-803-62-STORY)