18th & Vine
Kansas City, Missouri is known for its music–its rhythm and blues, its swing and big bands, and most of all, its jazz. Recognized as one of the cradles of jazz music, 18th & Vine earned the name, "Jazz District" when it became the epicenter of Jazz Music from 1920 to 1940. During the Depression, Kansas City attracted musicians who honed their craft in the dozens of jazz clubs in the Kansas City area. Visitors enjoyed performances from some of the jazz greats: Count Basie, Louie Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, Charlie Parker, and the George Lee Orchestra.
Today Negro Leagues Baseball and jazz music have been resurrected with the massive revitalization of Kansas City's historic 18th & Vine district.
Kansas City Jazz Museum
Let's Get Jazzed. Located in the 18th & Vine Historic Jazz District, is the place where jazz masters such as Charlie Parker, Count Basie, Big Joe Turner defined the sounds of the 1920s, 30s, and 40s. A multifaceted exhibit highlighting the countless musicians who crafted “Kansas City jazz,” a sound known all over the world. Since it's conception in September of 1997, the American Jazz Museum has hosted thousands of world-class jazz performances and is one of the first museums in the country devoted exclusively to this medium.
Negro Leagues Baseball Museum
The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, a centerpiece of a historical renaissance of Negro Leagues Baseball throughout the nation, opened in 1997 sharing its new facility with the American Jazz Museum. A must-visit museum for any baseball enthusiasts, the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum exhibit chronicles the stars and stories of America’s favorite pastime from the leagues’ origin after the Civil War which lasted until 1960. It recognizes the contributions the leagues made to the history of athletics, as well as their contributions to the Civil Rights movement and its importance to baseball overall. Negro Leagues Baseball Museum (NLBM) is designated by the U.S. Congress as "America's Home" to Negro Leagues baseball history. It is the only institution solely dedicated to preserving the history of African American Baseball.
Gem Theater Cultural and Performing Arts Center
Constructed in 1912 as a movie house for African Americans, the Gem Theater is now a jewel in the crown of 18th & Vine with a vintage marquee has been transformed into a state of the art facility for musical and theatrical performances. Originally named the Star Theater, this historic structure, with its wonderful neon marquee, was built in 1912 by the Shriner and Powellson Amusement Company as a silent movie palace serving Kansas City’s African American population. Behind the restored 1912 façade is a modern 500-seat performing arts center, complete with state-of-the-art technology and equipment. The theater's contemporary design means there isn't a bad seat in the house and its beautifully refurbished lobby makes it ideal for special events.
First Friday's at 18th & Vine
First Fridays are a cultural experience of music, art, food, and shopping on every First Friday year round. Shop local artists and a diverse array of food trucks on the Vine. Neighbors in the Historic 18th & Vine Jazz District present lively entertainment! In the Spring, Summer, and Fall, enjoy First Fridays between Vine and Woodland with outdoor jazz, blues, and neo-soul. In November, First Friday moves into the Museums of 18th & Vine Atrium to keep First Fridays hot even if the weather is cool. Stop into the American Jazz Museum and Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, check out live music at the Juke House, Blue Room, Mutual Musicians Foundation, Vine Street Studio, and dance at Kansas City Friends of Alvin Ailey.