The American Jazz Museum Kicks Off 25th Anniversary

Celebrate With Us

September 2022 marks the 25th anniversary of the opening of the American Jazz Museum, and we look forward to commemorating the occasion with local visitors and tourists all year long. To kick off the celebrations, American Jazz Museum will host Believe In: Legacy 25 on Saturday, April 30th. Believe In is our second-annual gala, presented both virtually and in-person, featuring the seven-time Grammy nominated Mingus Big Band. The band celebrates the music of composer and bassist Charles Mingus and can be heard in prestigious venues of New York City and around the world. This event also coincides with International Jazz Day, a perfect day to celebrate Charles Mingus’ centennial year and this landmark year for the museum.

Prior to the Mingus Big Band Concert at the historic Gem Theater, an interactive reception will be hosted in the Museum Atrium. Guests are invited to enjoy a selection of heavy hors d’oeuvres and cocktails before touring the Museum galleries. Inside the galleries, special footage of live performances in the 18th & Vine Historic Jazz District will be on display. Performances from District icons such as The Blue Room, Black Archives of Mid America, Soiree Steak & Oyster House, and the Mutual Musicians Foundation will be highlighted. For guests only interested in attending the Mingus Big Band concert, general admission tickets are also available.

This event will officially kick-off our 25th Anniversary festivities, a year full of reflection and celebration!

Visit to learn more about this event and purchase tickets.


How It All Started  

The American Jazz Museum emerged through the revitalization of Kansas City’s Historic 18th & Vine District. Community efforts, city-wide investments, and charitable support rekindled the musical legacy of the early 20th century. The opening of the American Jazz Museum marked an important moment in a fifty-year conversation about how best to preserve and build on the legacy of the local community. Due to national discriminatory policies and local residential segregation, African Americans in Kansas City built a thriving and dynamic community centered around 18th & Vine. Jazz – particularly the unique Kansas City swing – remains the sound of the community and one of its gifts to the world.

On September 5, 1997, the debut event, hosted by Billy Dee Williams, highlighted the best of national and regional talent including Dianne Reeves, Al Jarreau, Harry Belafonte, and George Duke as bandleader. Headliners also included Tony Bennett, Claude “Fiddler” Williams, Jay McShann, and Pat Metheny. The inaugural celebration lasted three days. While the opening gala on Friday night at the Gem Theater was a ticketed event, a large screen was erected on 18th Street where the ceremony was displayed live and for free to the local community. The following days were filled with seminar discussions featuring local talent, thrilling audiences as they were able to engage with local musicians all weekend.


Looking Ahead

To honor the 25th anniversary, we’ll also bring back our In the Yard celebration the weekend before Charlie “Yardbird” Parker’s birthday on August 29th, with a special awards recognition ceremony, film series, and stellar live performances. Additionally, in September, we’ll open a banner exhibit honoring a quarter-century at 18th and Vine, set to run until International Jazz Day in April 2023.


With Our Thanks

We cannot thank the Kansas City community enough for their decades of support of the American Jazz Museum. It is our goal over the next year to celebrate not only our organization and its accomplishments, but our community. The 18th & Vine Historic Jazz District is an incredible asset to Kansas City and the landscape of Jazz around the world. These 25 years are just the beginning, and it is through the help of our donors and patrons that he legacy of American Jazz Museum will live on for generations to come.

Whether you attend one of our special events or purchase a ticket to tour our Museum galleries, your dollars are an investment in the continued story of American Jazz Museum. If you are interested in discussing the various opportunities to support our organization, please contact Lisa Alpert, Director of External Affairs & Communications, at