The life of a celebrated jazz musician and band leader, Red Bank’s own Count Basie, will be celebrated at a new exhibit. The artifacts will be displayed at the T. Thomas Fortune Cultural Center in Red Bank as part of a exhibition called, “A Love Letter to Count Basie: From The Great Migration to The Harlem Renaissance,” and illuminates the Red Bank borough-born musical giant William ‘Count’ Basie. The exhibit will also pay homage to some of the most important eras from the Great Migration to the Harlem Renaissance. According to the Cultural Center:

"More than 1,000 Basie artifacts are archived at the Institute of Jazz Studies (IJS) at Rutgers University in Newark. This is the first time the Count Basie collection will be shared publicly since its 2018 acquisition by the institute, the world’s foremost jazz research center, located on the campus of Rutgers University – Newark. The collection —known formally as the William "Count" and Catherine Basie papers and artifacts—is the only body of materials that traces directly to the Basie family and is one of the Institute’s largest collections. Visitors will learn how Basie used his celebrity as an activist, including standing on the picket line with Black and White students who demanded that Florida State University integrate."

The exhibit is part of the center’s “2020: Year of Basie” and will be unveiled at a VIP, socially-distanced reception on September 25th and will be held on the center’s front lawn. If you’re unfamiliar with the Red Bank legend, briefly,the Count Basie Orchestra refined their jazz sound with a heavy emphasis on swing, helping the style become wildly popular. Basie earned nine Grammy Awards and made history in 1958 by becoming the first African-American to receive the award. The theater now known as “The Basie” in Red Bank is named for him.

The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Bill Doyle. Any opinions expressed are Bill Doyle's own.