Only a few days after the passing of James Cotton, one of the country's greatest blues harmonica players, we lost one of our greatest...
Phyllis Diller is widely considered the first female stand-up comic to perform as a solo act. While she is mainly known for her career in...
We asked Eric Jentsch, deputy chair and curator in our Division of Culture and the Arts, for his NCAA bracket picks. Then he disappeared...

Blog Posts in "Music"

Photo of a large space with high ceilings. Tables in the center include space for inventing. Cabinets on both sides contain cases with museum objects, including what looks like a guitar. Above, in lights, is a sign that says "Spark Lab."
Around age eight I decided I wanted to play the violin. Fortunately, my parents had the access and money to buy a new instrument for me....
Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald sit in front of a microphone
Within the Ella Fitzgerald Papers collection, a hidden gem reveals a surprising connection between Fitzgerald and President John F. Kennedy...
Illustration for sheet music that says "Fair Hawaii" at the top in yellow text atop green palm trees. A woman in a lei and grass skirt sits in the center looking at a red, setting sun
In recent years, the ukulele, or jumping (lele) flea (‘uku) in Hawaiian, has received a renewed appeal. I've heard the instrument make...
Image from stage showing multiple tiers of audience packed into the seats
Are you a Wagner fan? If so, you were likely excited by the Washington National Opera's presentation of The Ring of the Nibelungen, a cycle...
Sheet music cover with witches
How would you describe a witch? Black pointy hats probably spring to mind, as well as a range of distinguishing ugly features like crooked...
Latin Jazz postage stamp
On October 16 and 17, the museum's own big-band-in-residence, the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra (SJMO) will kick off their 25th...
Document listing radio stations
Independence Day is often celebrated with picnics, parades, fireworks, and music. While I can't help with the first three, music is...
Black and white photo of people of all ages exiting through a door, some holding programs. Signage advertises upcoming concerts and shows.
The Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation's Places of Invention explores what happens when the right mix of...
D.C.-area musicians Little Benny on saxophone and and MeShell Ndegeocello on bass. Photograph by Thomas Sayers Ellis, used with permission.
Experience live go-go music on Thursday, June 11, 2015, as part of our America Now! Music Festival.In the early 1970s, musical pioneer...
3 guitar heads
Happy 100th Birthday, Les Paul!June 9, 2015, is an important day for the guitar and music world: It is the centennial of the birth of...
Dole pineapple ad in very saturated color with can, fruit, and ukulele
The ‘ukulele, or ukulele, as it's spelled in American English ("uke" for short), is one of the first things that many people associate with...
Watercolor of Strayhorn in progress
April is Jazz Appreciation Month (JAM), with a variety of events and programs throughout the museum and country designed to...
Sheet music cover
On March 3, 1931, President Herbert Hoover signed a congressional act that made Francis Scott Key's "The Star-Spangled Banner" the...
Queen Elizabeth II meets Duke Ellington
Smithsonian Jazz Intern Jake Huss shares the stories behind the selections heard at the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra's holiday...
Shoes on box
As the Museum gears up to open new exhibitions in 2015, 2016, and 2017, our curators have combed the country, looking for the richest...
You can learn a note or two of jazz history every day, just by reading @CelebrateJAM's tweets. Adam Whitehurst, the intern behind the...
Slack key guitar
What do cows have to do with slack key guitar music? Sarah Coffee from our education outreach team explains.For this month's episode of the...
Signed leather with silver studs
Rocking leather jackets, teased hair, and loud music, Nova Rex traveled across America in the 1980s and early 1990s, living the rock 'n...
For a good part of the twentieth century, Harlem’s Apollo Theater was one of the most prestigious, important, and well-known venues for...