By Matt Micucci
Kansas City’s Local 627, African-American Musician Union was founded in 1917, and is now known as the Mutual Musicians Foundation.
A National Historic Landmark, the building is also entered in the National Register of Historic Places and the Kansas City Landmarks Commission Register, and still stands to this day in Kansas City, Missouri’s hisoric 18th and Vine district at 1823 Highland Avenue.
Since 1930, musicians gather there on Friday and Saturday nights after midnight to jam into the early hours of the morning. It is also for this reason that it is considered to beground zero for what is known as one of the four pillars of the entire creation of jazz in American history.
On top of that, the foundation serves as a rehearsal space for members, a classroom for visiting students and a place for private parties. It is, in fact, a living museum, as the Foundation preserves and also develops the rich heritage of Kansas City.
On June 16-18, 2016, the Mutual Musicians Foundation International (MMFI) will hold an awards gala for surviving black musicians and performers of the “colored” unions, begun be the American Federation of Musicians.
“We recognize that few people in the world know of the contributions of these segregated unions to art and culture in America and since the desegregation era, many of these great musicians and performers are in their late 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s and dying daily. We want to bring as many as we can find to Kansas City, do oral and video histories and preserve the memory of their talents for generations to come.” said Anita J. Dixon, Executive Director of the MMFI.
The Foundation is currently requesting all who may have belonged to a segregated musicians union or was represented by a black organizer of the American Federation of Musicians, to contact them with their information so that they may arrange for travel to Kansas City in June for the ceremony. To get in touch, you can e-mail [email protected] or call at (816) 612-0864, and the deadline is April 31, 2016.