Who are the Women of Jazz? Spady Museum Answers with New Exhibit

“Jazz: The Joan Cartwright Collection” opens Sept. 23, 2020

Delray Beach, Fla. – September 16, 2020 – When speaking of jazz, most think of jazz legends as male. Dr. Joan Cartwright would disagree.

Instead, the local musician/scholar can point to jazz greats, both regional, national, and international, who are decidedly female. Some of whom inspired their male counterparts to new levels of musical genius.

In its newest exhibit, The Spady Cultural Heritage Museum displays the contents of Dr. Cartwright’s vault, which includes photos, paintings and artwork by Charles Mills. “Jazz: The Joan Cartwright Collection” opens September 23 and runs through January 31, 2021. The exhibit will also feature instruments and albums from local Delray Beach donors.

In her presentation, entitled Amazing Musicwomen, Dr. Cartwright explains that blues singers were an element of the subculture created from Africans who, while enslaved, sang European music. Classical listeners considered them crude and loud. However, jazz liberated singers from the precise pitch and calculated rhythms of European music. The melody was more natural and the rhythm was more like that of speech.

The first black women singers came out of the spiritual and blues styles, and later, developed the jazz styles. Dr. Cartwright includes Gertrude “Ma” Rainey, Bessie Smith, Celia Cruz, Billie Holiday, Lena Horne, and Eartha Kitt among her list of jazz giants.

As part of the exhibit program, Dr. Cartwright and Charlene Farrington, museum director, will host “Blues Women: First Civil Rights Workers,” a musical presentation on the role of women blues singers and composers in the fight for civil rights. The virtual presentation will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, October 8, 2020, via Zoom. Admission is free. To register, send your name and email address to southflorida@wnba-books.org.

Dr. Cartwright, a veteran of jazz and blues for 40-plus years, is a retired vocalist, composer, and author, who has toured and taught in 22 countries. Her ensemble with Jus’ Cynthia and Roberta DeMuro traces the origins of jazz from the west coast of Africa to the clubs of Harlem. Her titles include Blues Women: First Civil Rights Workers, Amazing MusicwomenSo You Want To Be A Singer? and A History of African American Jazz and Blues with interviews with Quincy Jones, Dewey Redman, Lester Bowie, and other noted Jazz musicians and aficionados. In 2007, Dr. Cartwright founded Women in Jazz South Florida, Inc., a non-profit organization promoting women musicians, globally. She hosts an Internet radio show, MUSICWOMAN, featuring women who compose and perform their own music. Dr. Cartwright has two personal CDs – Feelin’ Good and In Pursuit of a Melody.

About the Spady Museum

The Spady Cultural Heritage Museum is the only museum of its kind in Palm Beach County. Located at 170 NW Fifth Avenue in Delray Beach, it is dedicated to showcasing the contributions of members of the African Diaspora to Florida and the U.S. Programs include exhibitions, city tours, and community events. Hours: 11 a.m. – 4 p.m., Tuesday-Saturday, Monday by appointment. Closed Sundays. Admission: $10; Members are free. For more information, call 561-279-8883 or visit www.spadymuseum.com

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IF YOU GO
WHAT: “Blues Women: First Civil Rights Workers,” a musical presentation on the role of women blues singers and composers in the fight for civil rights, hosted by Dr. Joan Cartwright and Spady Museum Director Charlene Farrington

WHEN: 6:30 p.m., Thursday, October 8, 2020

WHERE: The virtual presentation will be held via Zoom.

COST: Admission is free. To register, send your name and email address to southflorida@wnba-books.org.

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