This Sunday, 7/19 – Learn about the Bronx’s Jewish Roots at the Bronx Music Heritage Center

This Sunday, July 19, the Bronx Music Heritage Center Lab‘s Bronx Rising! event focuses on the exploration and celebration of the Bronx’s Jewish roots with a screening of the 2012 film Hava Nagila, a Hora dance lesson, and  a performance by Zion80, a band that plays Jewish music infused with Afrobeat funk.

BMHC is located at 1303 Louis Nine Blvd. and the festivities begin at 4 pm.


Image via BMHC

Tribute to Bronx Living Legend Bertha Hope This Sunday! 10/26

This Sunday, October 26, 2014 at 4 pm, the Bronx Music Heritage Center will be hosting a tribute to Bronxite and jazz legend Bertha Hope. Check out the details below:

The Bronx Music Heritage Center honors jazz pianist Bertha Hope, who lived on Lyman Place with be-bop legends Elmo Hope and Thelonious Monk, and formed the all-woman Jazzberry Jam. Join Grammy-nominated host Bobby Sanabria in the landmarked

Morris High School auditorium, in the heart of Morrisania—a celebrated jazz mecca of the Bronx. Featuring a performance by the Bertha Hope Quintet with special guest Antoinette Montague and interview by internationally-acclaimed pianist Valerie Capers.



Morris Campus Auditorium

1110 Boston Road, Bronx, NY

*parking available onsite


FREE ($5 suggested donation)






Jazz pianist Bertha Hope was born on November 8, 1936, to Corinne Meaux and Henry Rosemond. Raised in western Los Angeles, California, Hope-Booker attended Manual Arts High School. As a youth, Bertha played music with and learned from other young musicians in her neighborhood. Some of them became famous later, including Richie Powell and Elmo Hope, the latter becoming her husband in 1957. Bertha studied piano at Los Angeles Community College and later received her B.A. degree in Early Childhood Education from Antioch College.

She moved with Elmo Hope to the Bronx, New York, where she worked at a telephone company during the day while performing at night. After her husband’s passing in 1967, she continued to present his music and remained an active force in the New York jazz scene. Bertha served as an artist-in-residence under the auspices of the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, and through this program, she performed in statewide New Jersey music workshops with Dizzy Gillespie, Frank Foster, Nat Adderley and Philly Joe Jones.

She has worked extensively over the years to transcribe many of the Elmo Hope compositions so that they can be performed and in addition, pay tribute to one of “be- bop’s” underrated contributors. Bertha later married Walter Booker, Jr., and the two worked to keep the music of Elmo Hope alive through her tribute ensemble called ELMOllenium. ELMOllennium featured Walter Booker (bass), Leroy Williams (drums), Virgil Jones (tr), Charles Davis (ts), Roni Ben-Hur (g), Amy London (guest vocalist).  She also plays with another group which she co-founded, the all-female Jazzberry Jam. In addition, She is the leader of The Bertha Hope Trio, which includes Walter Booker and Jimmy Cobb and which has toured extensively throughout Japan. She is an active force in improvised music, as well as a composer and arranger with several recordings under her name, including In Search of Hope and Elmo’s Fire (Steeplechase); Between Two Kings (Minor Records) and her latest on the Reservoir label, Nothin’ But Love.

Bertha has also taught an advanced jazz ensemble at The Lucy Moses School and an Introduction to Jazz program at Washington Irving High School in New York City, which was sponsored by Bette Midler.



Morris High School is part of the Morris High School Historic District, listed on the National Register of Historical Landmarks. Founded in 1897, it was the first high school built in the Bronx and one of the original New York City Public High Schools. Originally named Peter Cooper High School, the name was changed to Morris in honor of Bronxite Gouverneur Morris, a signer of the Articles of Confederation and considered the primary author of the preamble of the Constitution. The campus served as Morris High School until 2001, when it was divided into five separate schools: Morris Academy for Collaborative Studies; Bronx Leadership Academy II; Bronx International High School; School of Excellence; and High School for Violin and Dance.

Morris High School was a musical haven for many students over the years, spawning many groups such as the Chords, particularly during the doo-wop era. The area around the school, especially Boston Road, was once a jazz mecca with dozens of clubs where music was played nightly by greats such as Thelonious Monk, Elmo, and Bertha. Notable alumni of the school include United States Secretary of State Colin Powell, United States Attorney Benito Romano, comedian Milton Berle, and dancer Arthur Murray.

The building is a collegiate Gothic Revival structure designed by C.B.J. Snyder and completed in 1904. The auditorium, now named Duncan Hall, contains elaborate Gothic plasterwork, steel-ribbed vaults set within Tudor arches, stained-glass windows, and a pipe organ facade. It is decorated with several murals, most prominently the French artist August Gorguet’s monumental 1926 World War I memorial entitled After Conflict Comes Peace. In 1982, the auditorium interior was designated by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission.



Honoring acclaimed jazz pianist Bertha Hope

Featuring a performance by the Bertha Hope Quintet, with a newly composed piece by Ms. Hope:

Bertha Hope, piano

Kim Clarke, Bass

Lucianna Padmore, drums

Jura Pukl, tenor sax

Angelisha Rodgers, trumpet

With special guest Antoinette Montague

Hosted by multi-Grammy-nominee Bobby Sanabria

On-stage interview by pianist Valerie Capers


BMHC Black History Month Celebration

Have I ever mentioned how much I love the Bronx Culture Trolley? In addition to learning something new and amazing about the Bronx every time I’m on board, the looks people in the neighborhood give this vintage trolley rolling the South Bronx are just priceless.

Saturday, the Bronx Music Heritage Center hosted its Black History month celebration consisting of a trolley tour of historic music locations in the Bronx, an artisan market, a presentation by February’s subject of The Spotlight, Morgan Powell, and a performance by Malang Jobarteh.

The trolley tour was led by Dr. Mark Naison (a.k.a. Notorious Ph.D), an African American studies professor at Fordham who has also studied the musical history of the borough. It included stops such as the Big Pun mural, unofficial block party hub P.S. 99, and Maxine Sullivan’s house.  The trolley moseyed along to an energetic soundtrack featuring songs from Elmo Hope to Tito Puente to Luther Vandross and Aventura.

The Bronx was once home to many famous jazz clubs such as Hunts Point Palace and the Blue Morocco. People, myself included, tend to know a bit more about the Bronx’s hip hop roots, but would be surprised to learn about the borough’s rich jazz history.

Dr. Naison attributed the borough’s astounding music history to the shared cultural interactions in the borough. ” People [referring to the rest of the U.S] can look to the Bronx to see how people can live together,” he said, noting that creativity can bloom in what may seem like the least likely of places.

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As mentioned above, the trolley tour ended back at the BHMC lab where local businesses Natures’s Garden Beauty Supply, ECWM African Market, Island Lunch Box, and Crusticks sold food and a variety of wares.

Mogan Powell treated the audience to a glimpse into the Bronx River’s history and those who have fought to protect the Bronx’s environment and overall health.

To round out the event, Gambian musician Malang Jobarteh performed a collection of melodic tunes on this very unique-looking instrument called a kora (Seriously. Look it up. I want one in my house just so I can look at it.)

BMHC has a bunch of other really awesome events lined up, so make sure you check their website to keep tabs on them.

P.S. The Wall Street Journal did a very nice write up of the trolley tour, which features a video that is worth checking out. (I am in the background looking cute.)

Unwinding with the Bronx Culture Trolley

Well, that title is a bit of a misnomer. I didn’t actually hop on the trolley last night as I just walked to one of the participating venues, but just go with me on this.

I was really not in the mood for any sort of activity after getting out of work at 6 and had every intention of going home, but I decided to head to Pregones Theater anyway, where Afro-Cuban musician Gene Golden was performing and being honored as a Bronx Living Legend by the Bronx Music Heritage Center.

Golden performed along with Clemente Medina and Los Amigos and what was cool was there were musicians in the audience who hopped up on stage and started playing and singing along. It was definitely a nice way to end the evening.

For those who have never experienced the Bronx Culture Trolley or its various events (Bronxites and non-Bronxites alike), it is THE best way to get a taste for the culture that is growing and thriving in the borough and go somewhere beyond the zoo or to Yankee Stadium. Click here to find out information about the trolley and other cultural events sponsored by the Bronx Council on the Arts.