arts & culture

Photo: Dan White

Dan White has documented the jazz scene in Kansas City for more than two decades. A new exhibit in the Changing Gallery at the American Jazz Museum displays 50 of White's black and white photographs, along with anecdotes from interviews.

Vocalist Myra Taylor is a veteran of the original Kansas City swing sound and started out singing and dancing in the early 1930s on 18th and Vine. Throughout her long career, she's shared the stage with Jay McShann, Sarah Vaughan, Nat "King" Cole, and many others. Taylor continues to perform in her hometown often as part of the quartet known as the Wild Women of Kansas City. Myra Taylor turns 89 on Friday, February 24.

Remembering Milt Abel

Feb 12, 2006
Photo: Marr Sound Archives

Jazz bassist and vocalist Milt Abel - part of Kansas City's jazz scene for five decades - died on February 3, 2006 after a long illness. Abel grew up in Philadelphia, where he learned to play the stand-up bass, baritone horn, and trombone as a teenager.

Kansas City, MO – KCUR?s Laura Spencer talked to some of the musicans he played with over the years in Kansas City and others who say his musicial talent will not be forgotten.

Kansas City, MO – Coretta Scott King, who died last Monday, was known as the strong, solid woman who stood behind Reverend Martin Luther King Jr., in life and after his assassination. Reverend Jesse Jackson described her as the glue that kept Dr. King's home and movement intact. To find out about being the wife of a preacher and activist, we turned to Dianne Cleaver, known by most people as the wife of 5th district Congressman Emanuel Cleaver. He was the first African American mayor of Kansas City and a long time civil rights activist.

Painter Anthony Ramos has shows at the American Jazz Museum and the Bruce R Watkins Cultural Center. He was in Kansas City recently for a series of talks around the city and spoke to KC Currents host Delores Jones.


Kansas City, MO – It's been two years since Kansas City Kansas native Janet Murguia was named president and CEO of the National Council of La Raza, a leading Latino civil rights organization. She was in town on Friday to address young people at a leadership conference at UMKC. Sylvia Maria Gross asked her about some current challenges in educating Latino youth, both locally and nationally.


Musician and artist Loren Pickford is a veteran of jazz scenes in Los Angeles, Boston, and Paris. Pickford lived in New Orleans from 1990 to 2005, and here shares the story of his first day in the Big Easy.

Kansas City, MO – Pickford and his wife, Sheila, relocated from New Orleans to Kansas City, Missouri after Hurricane Katrina.

Every Monday night, a jam session at the Blue Room draws a rambunctious crowd of genuine music-lovers, many of whom attend with religious devotion.

Cultural Convention and Visitors Bureau President Anita Dixon says her vision of 12th Street, from the Paseo to Brooklyn, is as an enclave for jazz artists.

T. Michael Stanley (913) 341-7229

Original airdate: November 2006. Versatile singer Ida McBeth has been serving up jazz, blues, soul and funk to Kansas City audiences for 30 years.

A Nutcracker Debut

Dec 20, 2005
Photography by Steve Wilson

Earlier this year, the Kansas City Ballet School offered a weekly ballet class to twenty Latina girls at Gladstone and Primitivo Garcia elementary schools. And five of those girls were cast in this year's production of The Nutcracker, including 5th grader Christina Sayed who's a lead angel.

Kansas City, MO – In order to unravel the mystery of the Steptoe neighborhood in Westport, you'd have to go back about one-hundred-forty years to the times of the Civil War when Missouri's fate as a free versus a slave state hung in the balance.

Joe Louis Mattox, a historian at the Bruce R. Watkins Cultural Heritage Center, has looked into the neighborhood's history. He sat down with Sylvia Maria Gross to tell us how he first became interested in Steptoe.


Kansas City, MO – El Dia de los Muertos (the Day of the Dead) is a Mexican celebration to celebrate, remember and prepare special foods in honor of those who have departed. The holiday reflects the Mexicans tradition of reacting to death with mourning along with happiness and joy.

Kansas City, MO – Muslims began fasting from dawn to dusk earlier this month when a new crescent moon signaled the start of Ramadan, Islam's holiest month. The month-long holiday commemorates the time 1500 years ago that Muslims believe the first verses of the Koran were revealed to the Prophet Mohammed. The faithful try to be especially pious this month and refrain from food, drink, smoking and sex - all the sensual pleasures - during daylight.

The face of jazz music on KCUR will change after this weekend. The long running program Just Jazz will end.

Kansas City, MO – The face of jazz music on KCUR will change after this weekend. The long running program Just Jazz will end. Laura Ziegler has this look back at the show and the hosts who made it unique.

Years before the first of her 76 appearances on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson - years before there was a Tonight Show with Johnny Carson - vocalist Marilyn Maye was learning the art of putting across a song from someone she heard mostly on the radio: Frank Sinatra.

Goin' to Kansas City Plaza at 12th and Vine

Kansas City, MO – In recent years, the 18th and Vine area has been redeveloped, but 12th and Vine has really been the jazz center of Kansas City. Ollie Gates of Gates Barbeque is now coordinating the redevelopment of the 18th and Vine plaza and tours the area.

Kansas City Latin American Film Festival

Kansas City, MO – UMKC professor Louis Imperiale talks about the Argentine film Wild Horses. Imperiale will be presenting the 1995 film at the Latin American Cinema Festival of Kansas City, which begins this month at the Rio Theater in Overland Park. Films from Argentina, Mexico, Colombia and Peru will be presented every Saturday until October 1.

Kansas Citian Angela Cozart's Evacuation

Kansas City, MO – Recent Dillard University graduate Angela Cozart fled New Orleans just before Hurricane Katrina hit. She tells the story to KCUR's Delores Jones.

Excerpt from Imam Hassan Al-Qazwini

Saxophonist and composer Ahmad Shahid Alaadeen, talks about his new album "New Africa Suite." He spoke with KCUR's Lee Ingalls.

Ailey Camp is over now, and the young people who participated in the intensive six week dance program are waiting out the hot days of August for school to begin. This is the final audio diary in our series with Ailey Camper Memory Brown.

Memory Brown Final Audio Diary

Harmony-NCCJ Unite

Maria Hinojosa, Mary Sanchez on Latino news coverage

Kansas City, MO – Latino USA's Maria Hinojosa was in town last week to speak at the Midwest Latina Conference. Hinojosa recently left CNN to become a senior correspondent on PBS's NOW, with David Brancaccio. A few days ago, she joined the Kansas City Star's Mary Sanchez and KCUR's Sylvia Maria Gross for a conversation about Latinas in the media.

The some 200 Kansas City young people selected to be part of this year's AileyCamp are more than halfway through the intensive 6-week program.

The Kansas City Friends of Alvin Ailey began its 17th summer camp recently. In the first of three parts, we'll talk to Ailey Camper Memory Brown. Brown is 14 years old and lives with her grandmother. She was ecstatic when she got accepted to Ailey camp.

Kansas City, Missouri – The Kansas City Friends of Alvin Ailey began its 17th summer camp recently.

Back in the 1920s and 30s, Kansas City was a lively mix of political wheeling-and-dealing, organized crime, and the hot sounds of jazz.

One of Kansas City's most respected artists Ken Ferguson passed away in December. In April, a memorial service was held in his honor.

Kansas City, Missouri – Memorial service for Ken Ferguson, Saturday, April 2, 2005 at Community Christian Church, 4601 Main St., Kansas City, Missouri.

design by Rhondda Francis

A conversation with Dr. Thomas Aber and Dwight Frizzell about BCR - described as "the world's only Afro Nuclear Wavabilly Funk Swing Reggae Turska band." (Dec. 2004)