Exploring the Musical Diversity of St. Louis

From jazz & rock to American music & hip-hop - explore musical diversity & history of St. Louis! Learn about famous artists & institutions.

Exploring the Musical Diversity of St. Louis

The state of Missouri has a long and storied history when it comes to music. From jazz and rock to American music and hip-hop, the region has been home to a variety of bands and world-class institutions such as the St. Louis Symphony and the Fox Theatre. St.

Louis was an important place for early blues and jazz, as well as for country and bluegrass. Kansas City is known for its own distinctive jazz style, thanks to artists like Charlie Parker, Count Basie, and Lester Young. Ragtime was popularized in Sedalia, Missouri by Scott Joplin and his editor John Stark, as well as James Scott. Country blues singer-songwriter Lottie Kimbrough was born in West Bottoms, Kansas City, Missouri.

The St. Louis Symphony is one of the oldest orchestras in the United States. The University of Missouri School of Music was established in 1917 in Columbia, Missouri, and has thousands of students. Missouri jazz artists include Dixieland's clarinetist, composer, and jazz and ragtime band director Wilbur Sweatman; trumpet player, saxophonist, accordionist and bandleader Charlie Creath; ragtime musician and songwriter Scott Joplin; saxophonist and bebop composer Charlie Parker; tenor saxophonists Coleman Hawkins, Ben Webster and Jimmy Forrest; pianist and conductor Bennie Moten; trumpet players Peters Shorty Baker, Clark Terry, Lester Bowie, Louis Metcalf and Baikida Carroll; violinist Eddie South; alto saxophonist, arranger and composer Lennie Niehaus; saxophonist, clarinetist, arranger, composer and band director Oliver Nelson; clarinetist Pee Wee Russell; double bass player Wendell Marshall; trombonists Joseph Bowie and Melba Liston; alto saxophonists Luther Thomas and Jimmy Woods; saxophonist and composer Ahmad Alaadeen; guitarists Grant Green, Pat Metheny and Norman Brown; drummer Phillip Wilson; organists Wild Bill Davis, Milt Buckner and Charles Kynard; soft jazz musicians Bob James and David Sanborn; and singers Anita O'Day and Oleta Adams. The area's history of broadcasting country music dates back to nearby Springfield, Missouri in the mid-1930s when Ralph D.

Foster's KWTO began broadcasting live performances to other stations across the country. The station's most famous program was Ozark Jubilee which was broadcast live on ABC-TV across the country starting in 1955. Foster became an important figure in the region's music history with a museum named after him on the College of the Ozarks campus. Other national country television shows originating in Springfield were Five Star Jubilee and Talent Varieties. The television artists Porter Wagoner and Speck Rhodes were from West Plains, Missouri. In the mid-1980s the Saint Louis area (and nearby southern Illinois) was home to garage rock band The Primitives and rock band Blue Moons featuring Mark Ortmann from Festus on drums and Brian Henneman.

Angel Olsen is a folk and indie rock singer-songwriter from St. Louis while Nathaniel Rateliff grew up in Hermann before moving to Colorado to work in an evangelical ministry before dedicating himself to music professionally. In his book Music in St. Louis: A Legacy of Song, author Joe Neumeyer notes that movies used musicals in very specific ways with dramatic movies only using musical numbers to emphasize emotional strengths while music was mostly kept in the background. However St.

Louis combined both approaches which allowed for “a more complex treatment of music” setting a precedent for future films. St. Louis Union Station was once one of the largest passenger rail terminals in the world helping to transfer passengers from all over the country. Both authors admit that it was easier to choose great deceased musicians for their book than more contemporary musicians from St. Louis but they still managed to highlight all the tributaries that converge to create a large river from St.

Louis' music. Branson's modern music festivals include the Old-Time Fiddle Festival, Branson Jam, and State of the Ozarks Fiddlers Convention. According to Penny Moon who plays in several bands as well as runs the largest band agency in the metropolitan area St. Louis' music scene is very diverse with a lot of musical genres being played here mixing musicians who are known around the world with those who only know a few hundred people here in St. Louis. In addition a surprising number of songs featured in musicals are diegetic taking place in the real world rather than being interrupted by a musical number. Uncle Tupelo was a St. Louis-area band that mixed punk rock with country influences becoming a pioneer of alternative country. Louis' music from 19th century social music to pre-war blues and jazz icons as well as rock & roll new wave American music has become an interesting conversation between lovers of music scenes record labels and musicians who never planned to change the world from their homes in St.

Louis or Kansas City which also have active hip-hop scenes with Tech N9ne being born in Kansas City while Eminem hails from St. Louis. No book has connected all these dots or traced the evolution of what makes this city one of the most important places for invention and enjoyment of music.

Loretta Shemanski
Loretta Shemanski

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