On Thursday evening Sept 28, the Asbury Park Museum will present a multimedia presentation by our own Charlie Horner entitled “Singing Waiters & Cake Walks: Asbury Park’s Grand Hotels and the Evolution of Early Black Music and Dance.” The program will be held at 6:30 PM at the Asbury Park Library, 500 1st Ave, Asbury Park NJ. All are invited and the event is free to attend. Light refreshments will be provided. Reservations are not required – just show up. A Summary of the presentation is as follows:
The late 1800s witnessed the beginnings of Black Vaudeville and ragtime music. This led to the birth of jazz, blues and the African American entertainment and recording industry. All forms of commercial Black music were derived from the music of these formative years.
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.
Classic Urban Harmony’s Charlie Horner, also vice president of the Asbury Park Museum, 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. 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.
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.