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WRTI Spotlight

The Great Migration and the Journey of Jazz

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This year, 2016, marks the 100th anniversary of the first Great Migration, the movement of millions of African-Americans from the rural south to other parts of the U.S. that promised greater social and economic justice and opportunities. The migration included many excellent jazz musicians, some of whom became household names. For these artists, the Great Migration also provided inspiration for their creative expression.

In WRTI’s original series The Great Migration, Bob Perkins explores the life and times of jazz artists who participated in this mass movement. The 16-part series continues into September 2016 when we celebrate what would have been the 90th birthday of John Coltrane, who left North Carolina to become one of the most distinctive voices in jazz.

For more information on activities celebrating the Great Migration and jazz, visit the Philadelphia Jazz Project's website.

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2. Wife and manager of Louis Armstrong, the singer, pianist, and composer Lil Hardin.
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3. Philadelphia: a major stopping-point in the Great Migration.

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4. One of the biggest names in entertainment was part of the Great Migration: Ray Charles.

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5. WRTI's Bob Perkins talks about his own family's part in the Great Migration.

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6. John Coltrane, Part 1: the early life of the jazz legend, from North Carolina to Philadelphia.

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7. The great trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie, who landed in Philadelphia from South Carolina.

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8. The Great Migration and the Harlem Renaissance
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9. John Coltrane, Part 2: the meteoric rise.
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10. Philadelphia saxophonist and music director Sam Reed's impact on jazz and pop music.
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11. Ella Fitzgerald, who never forgot her childhood.
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12. Charlie Parker, a true pioneer of jazz.
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13. Double Bassist Percy Heath, from the Tuskegee Airmen to the Modern Jazz Quartet and beyond
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14. John Coltrane, Part 3: his epic solos—and what some musicians thought about them!
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Hank Crawford was a gifted arranger and performer. He was also part of the great migration.