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History

Kansas Museum's Blues Exhibition Celebrates Pioneers In Music

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Courtesy Patricia Patterson
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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.

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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.

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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.