This annual festival honors and celebrates Columbia’s considerable and meaningful contribution to the birth and evolution of American music. Missouri, the ‘hub’ of ragtime, boosts 3 incredibility influential ragtime composers: Scott Joplin, James Scott, and Columbia’s very own John William “Blind” Boone.
Ragtime, the first completely American musical style, grew out of African American communities in St. Louis and New Orleans. By the start of the 20th century it became widely popular throughout North America and was listened and danced to, performed, and written by people of many different subcultures. A synthesis of African syncopation and European classical music, this distinctly American musical style led the way to stride piano, jazz, and blues.
John William “Blind” Boone, the son of a former slave, overcame blindness, poverty and discrimination to become an amazing composer and concert pianist. His philosophy “Merit, Not Sympathy, Wins” is as valuable a lesson today as it was in his time. Boone is credited, along with Louis Moreau Gottschalk, with giving legitimacy to black music.
The “Blind” Boone Early Jazz & Ragtime Festival, held in the beautiful and historic Missouri Theatre, features world-class musicians, insights into history, and, most of all, FUN! Celebrate with us as we pay tribute to the musical heritage of Columbia, and the birth of American Music.