Harlem’s Hidden Treasure, Now an Official Historic Landmark
by Keith “The Captain” Gamble
Ahoy Mates! This is The CAPTAIN speaking!
Well, it’s been a long time — I mean a long time — since we’ve been here at HARLEMUSIC! I’m so pleased to be back to give you the 411 about the comings and goings-on in the Harlem music scene.
Since the waning of the restrictions imposed by the pandemic, the live music landscape is looking up! Harlem’s venues such as: Red Rooster, Patrick’s Place, Silvana and The Shrine, etc. are featuring the flavor that serves to define Harlem-Live Music!
One such venue is peculiarly different from the rest. Yes, they all have in common the live music thang…but THIS venue has the most hallowed, revered, revolutionary and historic background of them all! I’m talking about a stalwart but somewhat obscure entity in Central Harlem. An institution that has featured (and even housed) some of the greatest and most legendary musical artists of American popular music a.k.a. JAZZ. The name of the place is the New Amsterdam Musical Association -colloquially referred to as NAMA.
Let me give you a little background, my dear Mates. NAMA has been around since 1904 & incorporated in 1905. It is the oldest (first) Jazz organization in the history of the world! It was a safe haven for talented Black musicians who came to NYC to perform and make some dollars.
Due to the segregation practices of the times, Black players were shunned by the white-controlled Musicians’ Union. Some of these musicians had no place to stay. As a bold result, NAMA, with a brownstone on 130th St., acquired in 1922, provided accommodations and connections for gigs. In return, the cats would put a little something in the BOX downstairs. As the musicians got on their feet, they would bring other musical brothers into the fold. And the growth continued! Making a way out of no way…for ourselves…by ourselves!
To insure that the legacy of Eubie Blake…Billie Holiday…Ethel Waters…James Reese Europe…Miles Davis…even Langston Hughes…(all of whom have passed through that prestigious portal) forges on, NAMA is presenting a gala fundraiser at the internationally celebrated Harlem School Of The Arts at the Herb Alpert Center! June 25, 1922 is the day they acquired the 107 W 130th St. building. It’s only fitting that the event be held on that date 100 years late —June 25, 2022!
The Gala will feature some of the finest, most talented and legendary performers in Harlem History! There are too many to list, but among them: Patience Higgins, Ronnie Burrage, Charles Carrington…MYSELF (lol) and the hostess-with-the-mostest, author and WBGO 88.3FM Jazz radio on~air host/icon Sheila Anderson!
NAMA needs our support in bringing the 100 year old building into the 21st century. If you love and respect the contributions that the Harlem community has provided for over a century, you are invited to attend this important, auspicious occasion… and donate! My dear Mates, you have the prime opportunity to GIVE, thereby keeping what’s ours…OURS!
Here’s what you can do now, my dear Mates, log-on to:
http://DiscoverNAMAeventbrite.com for Tickets
https://namaharlem.org to Donate
This is the CAPTAIN speaking…That is ALL!!!