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Kansas City Blues

Kansas City blues is a genre of blues music. It has spawned the Kansas City Blues & Jazz festival and the Kansas City Blues Society.

Although Kansas City, Missouri is known primarily for jazz, it has also contributed to the history of and the perseverance of the blues.

Kansas City did not enter into blues history until the 1940s. Kansas City blues artists Pete Johnson and Big Joe Turner recorded a style of music called jump blues, which later provided the foundation for rhythm and blues, and later rock and roll. Charlie Parker dabbled in the blues in the late 1940s with his release of "Now's the Time", a bebop jazz number that gave a nod to the popularity of the blues in Kansas City, by using the familiar blues pentatonic scale and blue notes.

The blues scene in Kansas City produced Jay McShann, Sonny Kenner, Little Hatch and Cotton Candy and the blues was popular in small nightclubs and after-hours jam sessions. Many Kansas City musicians would finish their "paying" gigs at weddings, jazz clubs etc. and then pack up and head to the 18th and Vine-Downtown East, Kansas City district to participate in all-night parties that would sometimes continue well into daylight. The 18th & Vine jam sessions continue today at Kansas City's Musician's Foundation. The Musician's Foundation has immunity from liquor laws, and has not changed its look since the 1940s.

Notable Kansas City blues artists

Sonny Kenner - June 2, 1933 January 23, 2001
Clarence "Sonny" Kenner spent a lifetime entertaining audiences, both in Kansas City and around the world. Born into a family of entertainers, Kenner grew up only a block away from what is now the Kansas City Musicians Foundation. During his career he shared the stage with Bob Hope, Quincy Jones, Red Foxx and Charlie Parker. "I could hardly play when I was on stage with 'Bird," remembered Kenner. "I was too busy just trying to listen to him! He was a real idol of mine." Over the years Kenner became friends with Red Foxx. "We'd hang out together after shows and he would take me to all the parties. I couldn't believe all the movie stars I used to see at those things."

Little Hatch - October 25, 1921 January 16, 2003
Little Hatch was a regionally famous Kansas City harmonica player and band leader from the 1950s until his death in 2003. Little Hatch spent decades tirelessly performing the blues all over Kansas City and the Midwest.

Cotton Candy - January 1, 1931 December 25, 2007
Cotton Candy was Kansas City's queen of the blues. She was an accomplished singer, songwriter, pianist, author, and poet. Cotton was born a New Year's Day baby in 1931. Cotton won numerous awards, including being one of the few women inducted into the Elder Statesmen of Jazz. She is a founding member of the Kansas City Blues Society, and donated her time and energy to a variety of charities.

Charles David Sharp - born July 12, 1954
Charles David Sharp AKA The Mississippi Troubadour AKA Chaz Van Gogh is an accomplished singer, songwriter, and guitarist in the genres of blues and folk-rock. Born and raised in Mississippi, Charles has resided in Kansas City since 2008 culminating in the fusion of Delta and KC blues resulting in the highly received album HIGH SOUTH released in July, 2010. [http://www.jamwave.com/highsouth }

Brody Buster - born August 22, 1984
Kansas City harmonica prodigy Brody Buster became a professional musician at the age of seven. For a short time Buster teamed up with a child street dancer and performed as a duo on Beale Street for tips. It was there that he was discovered by B.B. King who owned a nightclub in the area. King invited the then eight year old Buster to perform at his nightclub on Beale Street, and later asked him to open his new nightclub in Los Angeles, called B.B. King's Blues Club. Buster became a regular at King's club in Los Angeles, where he was spotted by the cast and crew from The Tonight Show, who invited Buster to appear on the show. Buster later performed at the Montreux Jazz Festival hosted by Quincy Jones, where he sat in with several of the headline acts. Today he resides in Lawrence, Kansas, and continues to perform at major concerts and festivals.