The Asbury Carlton Hotel around 1911 in Asbury Park.
What was it like in the late 1800s which witnessed the beginnings of Black Vaudeville and ragtime music?
Find out during a presentation Thurs., Sept. 28 at 6:30 p.m. at the Asbury Park Library, 500 First Ave., Asbury Park when the Asbury ParkMuseum’s Charlie Horner will explore the role of Asbury Park’s “whites only” grand hotels in the evolution of late 1800s and early 1900s Black music and dance.
Early Black entertainers faced threats, violence, discrimination, and numerous racial insults. Earning only a fraction of what white entertainers made, even the biggest Black stars took summer jobs, often as hotel waiters. Still, they persevered.
For their noble efforts, early Black entertainers paid a horrible price. To work in the Jim Crow Era, many had to tailor their repertoire and acts to include racially degrading minstrel songs. For this, future generations would discredit them and minimize their contributions. In truth, these trailblazing music pioneers opened the door for all future Black entertainers.
At the presentation you’ll hear music clips of Asbury Park hotel employees’ wax cylinder recordings – the first banjo and Black vocal quartet recordings ever made. You’ll learn how a dance called the Cake Walk grew out of slavery times and paved the way for dances from the Charleston to swing dance. And you’ll find out why early mega-stars of Black Broadway chose Asbury Park to refine their shows.
Charlie Horner, vice president of the Asbury Park Museum, is a world-renowned expert in the history of early Black music. He and Pamela Horner researched and authored the book, “Springwood Avenue Harmony: The Unique Music Legacy of Asbury Park’s West Side, Volume 1, 1871 – 1945.” They are hoping to have Volume 2, 1946 – 1980 released by the end of this year. Charlie also co-wrote Norman Seldin’s autobiography, “You Don’t Know Me.”
The event is free and light refreshments will be served.
The Asbury Park Museum (AP-Museum.org) is an all-volunteer, 501c3 non-profit organization whose mission is to re-introduce, educate and advance an understanding, and appreciation of the history of the diverse, progressive, resort and urban community of Greater Asbury Park, New Jersey. The museum strives to strengthen the bonds of the community and provide a venue for community wide civic engagement, as well as pride and inclusion.
The September 28 event will also begin the Asbury Park Museum’s 2023 – 2024 membership drive.