Every April, the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C. selects a jazz icon to feature on the annual Jazz Appreciation Month poster. This year’s poster honors performer, bandleader, and
composer “King” Benny Carter.
A Lifetime Member of Local 47, Benny Carter — known simply as “King” to his fellow musicians — was a largely self-taught artist who became one of founding fathers of big band swing music. Early in his career, Carter arranged and composed scores for Fletcher Henderson, Benny Goodman, Chick Webb, and McKinney’s Cotton Pickers, as well as for his own highly respected orchestras.
Carter was also known as a pioneer in breaking down racial boundaries in jazz. In 1937, he led the first interracial, multi-national orchestra while living in Europe. After his three-year residency in Europe, which was dedicated to spreading jazz throughout the continent, Carter settled down in Los Angeles, where he become one of the first African Americans to compose
music for films and television.
In a salute to Carter’s contribution to jazz as well as to highlight his exhaustive collection at the National Museum of American History, the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra will be presenting “Benny Carter: The Groundbreaking King of Jazz” to kick off Jazz Appreciation Month 2016. The poster photo originated from the Benny Carter Collection, located in the Archives Center at the National Museum of American History.
How to Request a JAM 2016 Poster
For JAM 2016, the National Museum of American History will be holding a limited free poster giveaway for individuals and organizations on a first come, first served basis while supplies last. Posters will be mailed out during the months of March and April 2016. Simply fill out the online request form here. It’s that easy!