THE HOWARD THEATER
"Jazz is the sound of our heritage. It is an American idiom with African roots -- a trunk of soul with limbs reaching in every direction." Edward Kennedy "Duke" Ellington
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The Howard Theater opened on August 22, 1910, in a primarily African-American area of Washington, near Howard University which lead to the theater’s name. It sat around 1,200 and was designed by architect J. Edward Storck and built for the National Amusement Company. During the mid-1920’s, it was sold to Abe Lichtman, a white theater owner of theaters that catered to African-Americans. As you can see from the vintage photograph above, it was billed as the “largest colored theater in the World.”
Before the Apollo, before the Regal, there was The Howard Theatre. At its inception it was "the largest colored theatre in the world."
Sadly shuttered and neglected since the early 1980s, the once majestic building with its "trunk of soul" has survived death in order to be reborn in time to celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2010.
Howard Theatre Restoration, Inc.
For most of the 20th century, The Howard Theatre, located in the heart of Washington, DC, near the corner of 7th and T, held audiences captive with music, dance, drama and comedy.
Speakers like Booker T. Washington shared the stage with musicals, road shows, vaudeville acts, theater productions and community programs.
Later, Washington's favorite son Duke Ellington opened a new era of jazz big bands on The Howard's stage as well as Count Basie
Earl "Fatha" Hines
Lionel Hampton Big Band
When the nation was deeply divided by segregation, The Howard Theatre provided a place where color barriers blurred and music unified. The Washington Bee dubbed it the "Theatre for The People" for it was the place where dignitaries,
like President Franklin D. Roosevelt and the First Lady gathered with everyday folks to see both superstars and rising stars – many of whom debuted at The Howard Theatre.
Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaugh,
Big Joe Turner "Shake Rattle and Roll"
Lucky Thompson, Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, Billy Eckstine Big Band 1944
"SASSY" Sarah Vaughn
Washington DC's John Malachi, piano gave Sarah the nickname "SASSY" Sarah Vaughn
Miles Davis, James Moody, Sarah Vaughn, Eddie Jefferson,
Billie Holiday, Lester Young "Prez", Coleman Hawkins, Gerry Mulligan
Nat King Cole
The Ink Spots
" MR. DYNAMITE " JAMES BROWN - THE GODFATHER
LITTLE JIMMY SCOTT
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Rudy Ray Moore
Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers
Curtis Mayfield and The Impressions
Pati Labelle and the Blue Bells
The Four Tops
Jr. Walker & The All Stars
GLADYS KNIGHT AND THE PIPS
Chuck Brown & The Soul Searchers
Folks say Peety Green of Station WOL AM single handedly stopped the riots in Washington DC by Broadcasting on the radio for 48 hrs straight. Telling the people to stop and go home. Stop burning down your neighborhoods when Martin Luther King was assasinated in 1968
The Howard Theatre inspired change, yet felt the impact of a nation in flux following the 1968 riots when Martin L. King was assasinated.. Eventually, the degradation of the neighborhood forced the theater to close. After several false starts in the late '70s and early '80s to reinvigorate The Howard, the curtains fell.
BLOG UNDER CONSTRUCTION - MORE BEING ADDED DAILY
All Visitors, please send memorable photos, share stories and events from the good ole days at the Howard Theater
Coming Soon an entire segment and interviews on Blog Talk Radio dedicated to the Rise, Fall, and ReBirth of Washington DC's and America's Crown Jewel "THE HOWARD THEATRE.