Some of New Orleans jazz’s most beloved figures are women, from Sweet Emma Barrett to Aurora Nealand. Yet in many historical accounts of jazz history, women are relegated to the background or not mentioned at all. Like many aspects of the culture around it, early jazz was a world defined by men, and women’s public roles were restricted by widespread stereotyping and discriminatory practices. As vocalists, instrumentalists, instructors, dancers, patrons, journalists and researchers, women have been integral to the development and artistry of jazz in New Orleans. This exhibition presents accomplished musicians from the early days of jazz to the present. It also explores how these artists have navigated their way as women in a predominantly male musical culture.
Women of Note examines the cultural, social and economic impact of women on jazz through historical photographs, instruments, recordings and other artifacts from the world-renowned collection of the New Orleans Jazz Museum at the Old U.S. Mint. Interactive exhibits include a video archive of performances of great women jazz musicians from the past and the present. Listening stations will also feature selections of commercial recordings, New Orleans Jazz Club radio broadcasts, live recordings and recordings made at the New Orleans Jazz Museum’s Performance Arts Center.