If It Sounds Good, It Is Good! | April 2018
Music Hall has been a vibrant gathering place for Cincinnati since it was completed in 1879, but much of its story is untold. Though the history of Springer Auditorium is well documented, most Cincinnatians are unaware that some of the most prominent African- American musicians of the 20th century performed on the second floor of Music Hall's South Hall, known for two generations as the Greystone Ballroom. At the same time, Music Hall's North Hall was used for years as a sports arena and served as a venue for many great African-American athletes.
This year's Classical Roots program, "Under One Roof" celebrates the history and artistry of African-American artists and audiences that helped shape Music Hall as one of our community's, region's and country's most important cultural destinations.
Marian Anderson and Leontyne Price made groundbreaking performances in Music Hall's Springer Auditorium; and, the Greystone Ballroom in Music Hall hosted such legendary artists as Billie Holliday, Cab Calloway, Sarah Vaughan, Fats Domino, and Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Louie Jordan and Lionel Hampton, among many others. World Heavyweight Champion Ezzard Charles and World Lightweight Champion and Olympian Wallace "Bud" Smith even boxed the North Hall Arena. These are all giants of American cultural history and represent an essential and vital part of the Music Hall story.
The history of the African-American community here has often been relegated to the margins of our city's narrative - like the two halls, north and south of Music Hall's Springer Auditorium. And yet, when we really look deeply and sincerely into history, the story becomes far richer and more nuanced. There is beauty, courage and eloquence in the Music Hall story that is indeed revealed when we understand we are all under one roof.