Bessie Smith Cultural Center of Chattanooga

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Take Our Survey for 2014 Strut Attendees

June 26th, 2014 by bsccadmin


IF YOU ATTENDED THIS YEAR’S BESSIE SMITH STRUT, we’d like to know what you thought of the experience by taking part in an important survey to help us in our efforts to make the Strut even more entertaining and enjoyable.

It’s an easy-to-answer, confidential survey.
Please take a few minutes to complete it now.

Take the Survey Now

Your input would be VERY HELPFUL to us as we:

  1. Attempt to learn about your experiences at the The Bessie Smith Strut in order to make The Bessie Smith Strut even more entertaining and enjoyable in the future.
  2. Quantify, for prospective sponsors, the makeup of the The Bessie Smith Strut audience, and the impact The Bessie Smith Strut attendees have on the local economy; and
  3. Gather required data for granting organizations from which the The Bessie Smith Cultural Center has received vital funding.


Take the survey by clicking here or copy and paste the following link:

Thank you for your participation in our survey and for your support of the 2014 Bessie Smith Strut.

Rose Martin,



Bessie Smith Strut

April 16th, 2014 by bsccadmin

The Bessie Smith Strut will be held on Monday, June 9th with gates opening at 4:30 pm. Talent includes Nikki Hill, Andy Allo, Big James and the Chicago Playboys, Rusty Wright Band, Boukou Groove and headlining will be Grammy nominated blues legend Bobby Rush.

Important things to know about this year’s Strut:

Everyone will be issued an armband prior to entering the site.  Photo ID must be shown for anyone 21 and older.  All children 17 and under are required to be accompanied by a parent, guardian, or responsible adult.  NOTE:  Bobby Rush performance will contain mature adult content not suitable for children.

How much are the tickets?

Tickets purchased are $7 (through June 6) and will increase to $10 after June 6.  Riverbend bands holders may purchase tickets for $7 in advance or at the gate.

Where can tickets be purchased?

Tickets may be purchased at one of the following ticket outlets:

Area Kangaroo Gas Stations

Bessie Smith Cultural Center

200 E. Martin Luther King Blvd.


526 E. Martin Luther King Blvd.

Maggie G’s

400 E Martin Luther King Blvd.


JJ’s Bohemia

231 E Martin Luther King Blvd.


Roshanna’s Hair & Beauty Bar

320 E Martin Luther King Blvd.

Chatt Smokehouse

416 E Martin Luther King Blvd

Advanced $7 Tickets may also be purchased online through Friday, June 6th at  Please note that there is a $1.38 processing fee charged to each online ticket.

Bathroom passes for the Bessie Smith Cultural Center will be available for purchase at the Bessie Smith Cultural Center after gates open.

Where are the entrance gates to the Strut?

While the Strut will be enclosed with fencing this year, there will be three entrances that will provide easy and direct access to the street fest.

Martin Luther King & Lindsay

King Street & 10th Street

Martin Luther King & Peeples

What items are acceptable to bring to the Strut?

Strut goers are encouraged to bring lawn chairs (not the folding type), cameras, and special needs assistive devices to the Strut.

However, the following items are prohibited:

  • Coolers
  • Food or Beverages
  • Glass containers
  • Framed or large backpacks
  • Folding chairs
  • Carts
  • Fireworks or explosives
  • Pets
  • Skateboards, scooters, personal motorized vehicles or bicycles
  • Video/Audio equipment: No video or audio recording will be allowed
  • Metal aerosol containers, including sunscreen
  • Weapons of any kind or firearms
  • Illegal substances (including narcotics or drug paraphernalia
  • Unauthorized solicitations, handbills, sampling, giveaways, etc.
  • No illegal vending is permitted. No unauthorized/unlicensed vendors allowed

Strut goers and their belongings are subject to search upon entry and re-entry of the Bessie Smith Strut.


The Bessie Cultural Center  (Bessie Smith Strut) appreciates the support of


Anonymous Donor

The Benwood Foundation

The Lyndhurst Foundation


Special Thanks to:

Brewer Media

The City of Chattanooga

Friends of the Festival

Republic Parking

Communications and Electronics

The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

Volunteers for 2014 Strut

Bright Ideas: African American Inventors

February 27th, 2014 by bsccadmin
The Bessie Smith Cultural Center is pleased to present “Bright Ideas: African American Inventors” in the museum galleries March 10 – June 14, 2014. Curated by John Edwards of the Mary Walker Foundation, “Bright Ideas: African American Inventors” is an exhibition that aims to highlight the contributions of African American inventors and enlighten and empower others, through knowledge and understanding of these inventors and their extraordinary accomplishments. The exhibit, made up of both panels and artifacts, features inventions that are part of everyday American life from Garret A. Morgan’s traffic light to Alfred C. Black’s ice cream scooper to the infamous super-soaker patented by Lonnie Johnson. The exhibition will showcase the offerings that African Americans have made to inventions that have contributed to the fields of aerospace, health care, communication, science, engineering, agriculture and transportation.
Here are some on-line resources about Black Inventors:
***Extended through August 30, 2014***

God’s Trombones

December 9th, 2013 by bsccadmin

The Creative Underground and Bessie Smith Cultural Center presents James Weldon Johnson’s God’s Trombones: Seven Negro Sermons in Verse on Sunday, February 9, 2014 at 6:00 pm.

God’s Trombones: Seven Negro Sermons in Verse is a 1927 book of poems patterned after traditional African American religious oratory. Johnson observed an absence of attention in folklore studies to what he called a “folk sermon,” then went on to describe its nature and specific examples from his memory:

“I remember hearing in my boyhood sermons that were current, sermons that passed with only slight modifications from preacher to preacher and from locality to locality. Such sermons were: ‘The Valley of Dry Bones,’ which was based on the vision of the prophet in the 37th chapter of Ezekiel; the ‘Train Sermon,’ in which both God and the devil were pictured as running trains, one loaded with saints, that pulled up in heaven, and the other with sinners, that dumped its load in hell; the ‘Heavenly March,’ which gave in detail the journey of the faithful from earth, on up through the pearly gates to the great white throne. Then there was a stereotyped sermon which had no definite subject, and which was quite generally preached; it began with the Creation, went on to the fall of man, rambled through the trials and tribulations of the Hebrew Children, came down to the redemption by Christ, and ended with the Judgment Day and a warning and an exhortation to sinners.”

Tickets are $10 and can be purchased at the Bessie Smith Cultural Center or from any member of the Creative Underground beginning January 10, 2014.

The Fine Art of Jazz

December 9th, 2013 by bsccadmin

Fine Art of Jazz Opens at the Bessie Smith Cultural Center

The Bessie Smith Cultural Center along with Jazzanooga will celebrate Jazz Appreciation Month by hosting The Fine Art of Jazz, an exhibition showcasing the names and faces synonymous with the Kansas City tradition of American jazz. The exhibition will  run through May 24, 2014 in our museum galleries.

Charlie Parker. Pete Johnson. Mary Lou Williams. Count Basie. Jay McShann. Booker Washington.

These and many more musicians and vocalists associated with Prohibition-era jazz found a welcome home in Kansas City nightclubs, bustling with crowds eager for the entertainment. The Roaring 20s saw local and out-of-town musicians forge a distinctive Kansas City style of jazz as they enjoyed the camaraderie of all-night jam sessions with boisterous, noisy clubs as the backdrop. Many of the musicians who got their start in Kansas City’s jazz hub became household names across the nation in the 1930s and 1940s as jazz exploded in popularity, but the genesis of the movement also left its mark forever on the Kansas City music scene. Today the tradition jams on, with clubs across the city featuring jazz nightly.

It is this mixture of activity, tenacity and nostalgic charm that moved Pulitzer Prize winner Dan White to spend almost 20 years photographing and interviewing renowned jazz musicians.

“I began photographing jazz musicians in 1987, hoping to create a visual record of these talented artists and to help preserve Kansas City’s tradition as a birthplace of jazz,” White says. “I’d been listening, watching and talking to those in the local jazz scene for quite some time. They were very open to passing along their knowledge and traditions with anyone who shared their love of the music; I wanted to capture some of this feeling before it slipped away. Players like Rusty Tucker, Speedy Huggins, Milt Abel and Pearl Thuston. They had a certain sound. When they were on, there was nothing like it. I’ve shot more than 50 portraits of these players and singers over the past twenty years. It’s a good feeling to have captured part of Kansas City’s history.”

The result of White’s work is a series of  50 black-and-white portraits of Kansas City jazz musicians and vocalists, complete with commentary from exhibition curator Chuck Haddix, co-author of Kansas City Jazz: From Ragtime to BeBop – A History.

The exhibition is organized and toured by ExhibitsUSA, a national program of Mid-America Arts Alliance. ExhibitsUSA sends more than 20 exhibitions on tour to more than 100 small- and mid-size communities each year. Mid-America is the oldest nonprofit regional arts organization in the United States. More information is available at and

Photo credit:

Dan White, Elmer Price, 1989, archival print, 24 x 24 inches, courtesy the artist. © Dan White.

Museum Hours

Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Saturday, Noon to 4 p.m.
Sunday, Closed

Admission Information