In celebration of African American Music Appreciation Month, the Plainville Historical Society has posted a history of Plainville’s African American musicians and bands on its website, plainvillehistoricalsociety.com. The article is written by Gail Johnson Williams, the historical society’s specialist in local African American history.
A Plainville native, Williams has presented numerous programs related to the important role of the African American community in town.
What is so special about her latest work is that Williams herself is part of the story. She was a long-time member of Sam Kimble’s band and was the only woman R&B electric bass player among area bands.
In the 1990’s, she founded Nzinga’s Daughters, a well-known women’s group that has performed African and African American music.
In the article posted to the historical society website, Williams brings the world of local African American music alive. She tells of parties and music at the Halsted home on Pearl Street in the 1920s, George Peters’ bands, such as the Majestic Orchestra in the 20s and 30s, and Amateur Night at the Strand Movie theater in the center of town.
Two legendary band leaders, Sam Kimble and Bob Beverly (Royalaires and the Velvetones), also are covered in the article, as are the musical connections with the A.M.E. Redeemer’s Zion Church over the years.
Williams also describes the story of Nzinga’s Daughters and the message of social consciousness which has been woven into the group’s songs and performances.
The article concludes with a list of additional African American musicians from Plainville.
The writer’s work documents and preserves a rich legacy. The historical society invites the public to learn about this important and fascinating part of the town’s cultural history.
-- Press Release