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The B-Sharp Music Club of New Orleans

May 21, 2018

The B-Sharp Music Club was established in 1917 by Camille Nickerson, a musician, composer, and music teacher for the Nickerson music school. According to Ellen C. Thornton, author of "Highlights of 35 years' service by B Sharp Music Club", the original purpose of the club was Camille Nickerson’s desire to “lead her pupils into the wider field of musical thought and to cultivate a finer artistic taste.” In the early stages of the group’s existence, only students of Nickerson’s music school were allowed to join, but membership was soon extended to a broader scope of musicians and artists.

 

Once they had officially organized, the group came up with a list of three goals: “1. To inspire its members, through well-planned monthly-meeting programs, to a greater love and appreciation for music. 2. To foster in the community, through the monthly 'Pleasant Hour' programs, a love of good music generally, and of Negro Music in particular. 3. To promote affairs of art featuring local and visiting artists; and, incidentally, to benefit artists, Club, and community.” The free to the public “Pleasant Hour” programs began in 1922 and they featured “musical numbers, community singing, readings and short talks.” The Christmas, Carnival, and Mother’s day “Pleasant Hour” programs were the most popular.  In the same year, the Junior B-Sharp Music Club was founded for young musicians to become involved. In the early 1950s, the club began sponsoring an annual scholarship contest for music students.

 

The club would remain active and relevant well into the 20th century. The importance and impact the club had on New Orleans is explained by Dillard’s dean of music, Dr. Frederick D. Hall, in a speech given in 1957 at a banquet honoring the B Sharps. Dr. Hall commended the club for all of their fine work and noted that the group must “continue as a vital contributor to the cultural life of New Orleans, and to instill in the lives of all people that only the best will suffice.”

 

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