The Jazz Hall Museum

The Collection

Alabama has produced some of the most notable jazz musicians in the country such as Nat King Cole from Montgomery, and Tuscaloosa’s Dinah Washington just to name a few. The first piano blues solo ever recorded was played by Birmingham-born Clarence “Pinetop” Smith. Sun Ra, whose innovative work remains celebrated worldwide, was born and raised in Birmingham, and native Erskine Hawkins set the standard with his signature tune about Ensley, “Tuxedo Junction.” The Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame honors these luminaries and more with exhibits that showcase their accomplishments.

Visitors take a journey through jazz history, from its humble beginnings in secular, folk traditions through its many contemporary incarnations. Honoring the sacred rituals that gave birth to the genre and the visionaries who kept it alive, the museum attracts not only jazz enthusiasts, but civil rights historians, students, and tour groups. Guided tours are available by reservation and walk-in visitors may access the public archives upon request.

Decades of History

While the Carver is under construction, the museum collection is in storage. Forty years’ worth of archives and artifacts, including Ella Fitzgerald’s dress, instruments, memorabilia, and various personal effects, are being re-evaluated to prepare for new exhibits in the renovated venue. Volunteer interns from Jefferson State Community College’s Sigma Kappa Delta National English Honor Society have agreed to digitize, catalog, and update all archival records for the Jazz Hall’s 245 inductees.



The Carver Renovation

The renovated museum will also share exhibit space with the Birmingham Black Radio Museum, now in development. Graduate students from the University of Alabama’s School of Library and Informational Studies (SLIS) are chronicling, cataloging and preserving information and materials related to the history of black radio in Birmingham.

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The story of jazz music is a story of hope.

It is a testament to the power of people to overcome adversity with grace. Envisioned as the musical complement to the nearby Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame museum shares the joyful stories of resilience, underscoring the civil rights movement.

Learn how you can help the Museum and its mission.

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