You are here

A Love Letter to Count Basie: From the Great Migration to The Harlem Renaissance

September 26, 2020
Cover of Count Basie press manual

The exhibit will open to the public on Saturday, September 26 with two viewing sessions from 1 to 3 p.m. and 4 to 6 p.m.

The T. Thomas Fortune Cultural Center will open its doors and front lawn for the long-awaited exhibit, A Love Letter to Count Basie: From The Great Migration to The Harlem Renaissance, that illuminates the Red Bank borough-born musical giant William “Count” Basie. The exhibit will also pay homage to some of the most important eras from the Great Migration to the Harlem Renaissance.

More than 1,000 Basie artifacts are archived at the Institute of Jazz Studies (IJS) at Rutgers University–Newark. This is the first time the Count Basie collection will be shared publicly since its 2018 acquisition by the institute, the world’s foremost jazz research center. The collection—known formally as the William "Count" and Catherine Basie papers and artifacts—is the only body of materials that traces directly to the Basie family and is one of the institute’s largest collections. 

“This exhibit is especially fitting considering the racial tension we are experiencing in the nation,” said Gilda Rogers Vice-President of the T. Thomas Fortune Foundation.  “Count Basie’s music broke through racial barriers and brought people together, during a time of lawful segregation in America.” Visitors will learn how Basie used his celebrity as an activist, including standing on the picket line with Black and white students who demanded that Florida State University integrate.

The exhibit will open to the public on Saturday, September 26, weekends only, with two viewing sessions from 1 to 3 p.m. and 4 to 6 p.m. Due to safety precautions, only 20 people may attend per session and a mask is required. Please call ahead to register (732-383-5483) or email info@ttfcc.org. Donation: $15 for adults and $5 for children and seniors.