Georgia Music Hall of Fame (Macon, Georgia)
Georgia’s rich legacy reads like a music who’s who, past and present: Otis Redding, Little Richard, James Brown, Ray Charles, Ma Rainey, Thomas Andrew Dorsey (who wrote “Precious Lord” and is considered the “father of modern gospel music” by many), L.A. Reid, Jermaine Dupri, Usher, TLC and producers Dallas Austin and Bryan-Michael Cox. Permanent exhibits like the Gospel Chapel, Jazz & Swing Club and Rhythm & Blues Revue keep the music going.
(Image courtesy of Georgia Music Hall of Fame)
STAX Museum of American Soul Music (Memphis)
Standing in the legendary neighborhood known as Soulsville USA because of its many soulful residents that included “Soul Man” Dave Porter, Ms. Soul Diva Aretha Franklin, who lived there as a child, and Earth, Wind & Fire’s Maurice White, the STAX Museum of American Soul Music is hot buttered soul unfiltered. Its many exhibits include a studio where Otis Redding recorded, the actual Soul Train dance floor where visitors can get their own Soul Train line going and walls full of hit records. It’s a fitting tribute to timeless sounds that still stir the soul.
(Image courtesy of STAX Museum of American Soul Music)
American Jazz Museum (Kansas City)
Kansas City figures very prominently in jazz’s early development. That’s why the American Jazz Museum, located on the corner of 18th and Vine where John Coltrane first met Charlie Parker (whose statue is pictured) in the cradle of the legendary jazz district, refuses to let the heritage and history of jazz die. Exhibits on Charlie Parker, Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington are enhanced by the Blue Room, the museum’s own fully operational jazz club, as well as the recently restored John Baker Film Collection, which shows rare performance footage.
(Image courtesy of American Jazz Museum)
Memphis Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum (Memphis)
Located on historic Beale Street, at the corner of the legendary blues Highway 61 leading into Memphis, the Memphis Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum offers great insight into all the forces that helped make Memphis an American music hub in its heyday. Highly interactive, the sound of Memphis, the sound of America really, especially from leading area labels like Stax (Otis Redding, Isaac Hayes, Staple Singers, Johnnie Taylor), Hi (Al Green) and Sun (Howlin’ Wolf, Elvis Presley) is fully on display.
(Image courtesy Memphis Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum)
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum (Cleveland)
African-Americans had a significant hand in molding the influential genre of rock and roll and The Rock and Roll Museum hasn’t forgotten. That’s why Chuck Berry, Ray Charles, Michael Jackson, Fats Domino, Jimi Hendrix, Otis Redding, Ike and Tina Turner and Aretha Franklin, among so many countless others, are very much a part of the overall story. From listening to music to viewing films, amazing photographs and rare artifacts as well as reading little known anecdotes, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum is well worth a trip to Cleveland.
(Image courtesy of the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame and Museum)
Motown Historical Museum (Detroit)
It’s hard to believe that all the magic of Hitsville USA happened in such a tiny house on 2648 W. Grand Boulevard but it did. With a roster of artists that included Smokey Robinson, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, The Temptations, The Supremes, The Four Tops and, of course, The Jackson 5, Berry Gordy changed pop music history. See the actual rooms that provided the many songs that created the soundtrack of a generation. For Motown buffs, the Motown Historical Museum is an absolute must.
(AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
Experience Music Project at Seattle Center
Admittedly, its pairing with the Science Fiction Museum is a little odd at first, but the Experience Music Project Center hits many high notes. Among them is the ample homage paid to Jimi Hendrix (whose guitar is pictured) in its permanent Northwest Passage exhibit. Another treat is the oral history program, which is packed with interviews from such key music innovators as Nile Rodgers, Ruth Brown, DJ Kool Herc, Grandmaster Flash and Koko Taylor.
(Image courtesy of the Experience Music Project at Seattle Center)
The B.B. King Museum and Delta Interpretive Center (Indianola, Mississippi)
There’s no bigger living ambassador of the blues than B.B. King and, with the B.B. King Museum and Delta Interpretive Center located in his Delta hometown of Indianola, Mississippi, B.B. King has ensured that the thrill won’t leave anytime soon. Of course King’s own 60+ year career is the highlight but many decades of blues and African American history are also packed in there. Visitors can even play instruments to create their own blues songs in the Guitar Studio.
(Image courtesy of The B.B. King Museum and Delta Interpretive Center)
The GRAMMY Museum (Los Angeles)
Winning a GRAMMY® is the ultimate achievement for most people in the music industry so the GRAMMY Museum in Los Angeles chronicles the very best, including the late great Michael Jackson. Currently on display until the end of the summer, Michael Jackson: A Musical Legacy should not be missed. In addition to his signature fedora, gloves and elaborate jackets, footage from Jackson’s numerous appearances on the GRAMMY® Awards are very much part of the exhibit. As a treat, visitors can even moonwalk to “Billie Jean” as tiles light-up the floor.
(Image courtesy of The GRAMMY Museum)
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Summer and music have always made memorable companions. This summer, jam, swing, rock and roll through the heat by soothing the soul with a little bit of rhythm and blues at these musical gems highlighting African-American and American musical roots.