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Kansas Museum's Blues Exhibition Celebrates Pioneers In Music

Courtesy Patricia Patterson
Pianist Harold Cary was the first black to have his own music show on KMUW at Wichita State University in the 1940s.

The Kansas African American Museum in Wichita will celebrate the blues this weekend with a new exhibition that showcases the genre's history and legacy.

Credit Carla Eckels / KMUW
Wichita blues expert Patrick O' Conner, author of "Wichita Blues: Discovery."

The Bring It On Home exhibition features several artists including Wichita pianist Harold Cary. Local blues expert Patrick O' Conner says Cary helped integrate clubs south of Central Street for black musicians.

Credit Courtesy Caela Kinchion, granddaughter of Harold Cary
Harold Cary performs with a band inside the KMUW studios in this archive photo. Cary played jazz, blues and gospel music.

"And even then, he could play in the bar, but they had to take their breaks out in the alley in the car because that’s just the way it was," O'Conner says. "But Harold did a lot because he broadcast on KMUW back in the '40s and all the fraternity and sorority kids had him play their parties at home and their parents said, 'We want him in our clubs,' so he played the Candle Club, a lot of clubs all over town."

Cary died in 2001. TKAAM's exhibition also includes two women blues artists: violinist Barbara Kerr, sister of museum founder Doris Kerr; and Remona Hicks, known as Miss Blues.

The blues exhibition opens with local blues entertainment on Saturday from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Carla Eckels is director of cultural diversity and the host of Soulsations. Follow her on Twitter @Eckels.To contact KMUW News or to send in a news tip, reach us at news@kmuw.org.

Carla Eckels is Director of Organizational Culture at KMUW. She produces and hosts the R&B and gospel show Soulsations and brings stories of race and culture to The Range with the monthly segment In the Mix. Carla was inducted into The Kansas African American Museum's Trailblazers Hall of Fame in 2020 for her work in broadcast/journalism.