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African American Musicians in Kansas 1860-1920

  • February 18, 2023
  • 1:00 PM - 2:00 PM
  • Advanced Learning Library, Conference Rooms B & C

African American musicians from 1860-1920 are often part of an under-told story in Kansas history. Not defined as traditionally Black music, these musicians played in mandolin quartets, cornet bands, orchestras, and string bands. They performed as itinerant musicians and jubilee singers at civic events, weddings, fairs, barn dances, and private homes. They were an important feature of the musical landscape of Kansas, and their history mirrors the history of Kansas itself: the struggle of abolition, the Civil War, and Western migration. This talk explores the dynamic musical history of African Americans, and the social and cultural impacts in Kansas. Presented by Lem Sheppard, who will also perform musical samples.


Lemuel Sheppard’s presentation will introduce the audience to these musicians and the songs they performed in Kansas from 1860 to about 1919. Some of the music may be familiar as many of the songs were popular tunes of the day, but the people and places make up an untold story in this unique chapter in Kansas history and may redefine “Black Music” as we think of it today.


Presented by: Lem Sheppard


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