Ed. note: the Historical Society of Federal Way was honored with the 2017 AKCHO Exhibit Award for its exhibit, “Celebrate Jazz: Jackson Street after Hours,” curated by Seattle Times music critic Paul de Barros. Here is the commendation for the exhibit.
“Celebrate Jazz: Jackson Street after Hours” showcased Seattle’s little-known jazz history and the legacy that remains today. Posters, artwork and photographs by Seattle photographer Al Smith and others tell the story of dozens of jazz performers and the venues that hosted them. Several local ‘Before they were Famous’ notables are featured, including Bumps Blackwell, Oscar Holden, Ernestine Anderson, Quincy Jones, a left-handed guitar player named Jimi and a keyboard player from Tampa named R.C. Robinson, later known as Ray Charles.
Why the interest in Federal Way? Many of the featured jazz musicians performed at South King County /Federal Way area lakeside resorts in the 1930s, ‘40s, and ‘50s, including “The Plunge” at nearby Angle Lake. There were a number of roadhouses along Military Road and Highway 99 where jazz was celebrated.
Over 500 people saw the exhibit over the course of the year. The Opening Event was attended by nearly 100 people and a fundraiser – with a program by Mr. de Barros and a dance review by the Arthur Murray Studio Dance Review, drew more than 75 guests. The funds were put toward operating costs to sustain the Historical Society of Federal Way and Museum.
The exhibit revived interest from the Black Heritage Society who have agreed to conserve the exhibit in its entirety in its MOHAI Collections. Historian Linda Holden Givens s wrote a letter of support for Jackson Street After Hours stating that her grandfather, Oscar Holden, would have been sincerely honored to have had his image gracing the exhibit publicity.