Healdsburg Jazz Presents Harlem of the West FREE Zoom Presentation & Discussion: Sun, Jan 31, 5 pm - 7 pm (PT)
On Sunday January 31, 2021, 5 pm -7 pm, Healdsburg Jazz will present a free Zoom Presentation and Discussion hosted by artistic director, composer, and bassist Marcus Shelby and co-hosted by vocalist and bandleader Stella Heath titled “Harlem of the West” featuring legendary saxophonist John Handy, legendary blues artist Sugar Pie DeSanto, and writer and historian Elizabeth Pepin Silva who co-wrote the book Harlem of the West.
The 2-hour Presentation and Discussion will cover the rich legacy and history of Black Music in San Francisco’s Fillmore District during the 1940-50s. The Fillmore was a swinging, integrated, and hopping neighborhood dotted with restaurants, pool halls, theaters, and shops — many minority-owned and boasting more than two dozen active nightclubs and music joints within its one square mile. Although it has been commemorated in songs, poems, and in Maya Angelou’s “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, ” few people today know of the rich history of the Fillmore and its musical legacy because it vanished abruptly and so thoroughly due to redevelopment in the 1960s.
Marcus Shelby, Stella Heath and Elizabeth Pepin Silva will explore the music and lives of artists who were important figures during the “Harlem of the West” era including Saunders King, Pony Poindexter, Teddy Edwards, Johnny Otis, Mary Stallings, Sugar Pie DeSanto, John Handy, Vernon Alley, Eddie Duran, Federico Cervantes, Frank Jackson and many more.
The Presentation and Discussion will also explore the music of many of the most famous performing artists such as Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Duke Ellington, Billie Holiday, Nat King Cole, Ella Fitzgerald, and others who played on Fillmore Street in San Francisco and at other venues that made up “Harlem of the West”.
Our Zoom Presentation and Discussion “Harlem of the West” features 2 legendary artists (John Handy and Sugar Pie DeSanto) who both were young musicians in San Francisco during this era. They will share their personal experiences and memories of “Harlem of the West”, including discussing music and their careers following the “Harlem of the West” era.
World renowned saxophonist John Handy (who went on to record and tour with Charles Mingus) was 18 years old when he first started performing at many of these Fillmore based clubs. John will share music, stories, and “one of a kind” insights about his experience during “Harlem of the West.
Vocalist, songwriter, dancer, and blues legend Sugar Pie DeSanto will also discuss her experiences and memories of “Harlem of the West”. Born October 16, 1935, and raised in The Fillmore, Sugar Pie DeSanto began singing at an early age along with her cousin, Etta James. DeSanto was discovered in her early teens by band leader Johnny Otis when she was singing in a Fillmore talent show at the Ellis Theater. Within a few days, she was in Los Angeles recording her first record.
Our special guest artist historian and writer Elizabeth Pepin Silva (who was the co-author along with Lewis Watts of the book “Harlem of the West") will discuss her research and contributions to the book, which is a beautiful and spectacular photo essay on this important era.