The Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History (The Wright Museum) presents an event-filled weekend Oct. 13-14 to commemorate the centennial of jazz legend Thelonious Sphere Monk. Special guests include Thelonious Monk’s son, T.S. Monk, the definitive biographer of Thelonious Monk, Dr. Robin D.G. Kelley, and the Marion Hayden Ensemble featuring Grammy Award winner Kamau Kenyatta.
Thelonious Monk was one of greatest jazz musicians of all time and one of the first originators of bebop. The Wright Museum will honor the pioneer performer’s legacy with a two-night celebration.
On Friday, Oct. 13, the program titled “The High Priest” will begin at 6 p.m. with a film screening of “Thelonious Monk: American Composer” followed by a conversation between T.S. Monk, and Dr. Kelley, who is a distinguished professor and Gary B. Nash Endowed Chair in History at UCLA. A book signing of Dr. Kelley’s “Thelonious Monk: The Life and Times of an American Original” will take place after the program.
On Saturday, Oct. 14, doors open at 6:30 p.m. for the Monk’s Dream Concert celebration featuring the Marion Hayden Ensemble and Grammy Award winner Kamau Kenyatta. The concert will begin at 7 p.m. in The Wright Museum’s General Motors Theater. Hayden is a Detroit native bassist, band leader and a 2016 Kresge Artist Fellow.
“I agree with Dr. Kelley — the 100th birthday of Monk is arguably the most anticipated celebration of any jazz artist since Duke Ellington’s centennial in 1999,” said Charles Ezra Ferrell, vice president of public programs at The Wright Museum. “We are truly thrilled to devote two days of fantastic programming to celebrate Monk’s rich life, powerful music and enduring legacy.”
The Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History was founded in 1965 and is located in the heart of Midtown Detroit’s Cultural Center. The Wright Museum’s mission is to open minds and change lives through the exploration and celebration of African American history and culture. And Still We Rise: Our Journey Through African American History and Culture — the museum’s 22,000 square foot, immersive core exhibit — is the largest, single exhibition surveying the history of African Americans. The Wright Museum houses over 35,000 artifacts and archival materials, and offers more than 300 public programs and events annually.