Smithsonian to honor women of jazz, Miss. band - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

Smithsonian to honor women of jazz, Miss. band

WASHINGTON (AP) - The first integrated women's big band, which began in a Mississippi school, is getting some special attention from the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History.

Beginning Tuesday, the museum will display archival materials from the International Sweethearts of Rhythm. The group was founded in 1937 by students at the Piney Woods School in Rankin County, Mississippi. They performed at churches, state fairs, dance halls and eventually the Apollo Theater in Harlem.

Surviving members of the band will be honored Tuesday as they donate items to the museum.

This first all-female jazz band will be a focal point of the museum's 10th annual Jazz Appreciation Month in April. This year's programs focus on the legacies of women in jazz.

Later, the museum also will highlight jazz pianist Mary Lou Williams.

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