15 november 1968 & towards a black university conference concert @hughes memorial umc
#OTD 15 November 1968 Hilton and His Comrades and the Bel-Aires prepare for their upcoming concert tomorrow at the Hughes Memorial Methodist Church (18 54th St SE). The Hilltop newspaper shared that the mixing of jazz and religion as a new concept. (Indeed, the New Thing Art & Architecture Center and St Margaret’s Church inaugurated a weekly jazz series c1967.) “This is a new concept because in the past jazz and religion were considered incompatible.”
Hilton Felton, organist and bandleader, told the capacity crowd in the church auditorium:
“What the world needs now is love, and we came to shower the audience with it. Using one of the greatest forces known to mankind…we hope to create harmony among all people. What better place than a church is there to do this?”
The band members included:
Wayman Brown, Jr. (tenor sax)
Tom Bryant, Jr. (drummer)
Joe Collins (alto sax)
Hilton Felton (organ)
Chester Griffin (base)
Vincent Holmes (trombone)
Patricia Lily (flute
T. L. Scotten (trumpet)
Their hit of the night was “A Message for Black People,” composed by Felton. According to Joe Collins, “It was as if our every note was a formula for love and the audience’s reaction was a chemical reaction catalyzed by the necessary elements of peace.”
The Bel-Aires members were:
Their songs included “A Very Good Year” and “Now I’m in Trouble.”
Your comments are welcome below. Did you, family members or neighbors attend the concert at Hughes Memorial? What do you remember about it? Do you have photographs or a program? Do you remember “A Message for Black People”? Were you a member of Hughes Memorial? How many people could the auditorium hold? Who was the pastor? You may comment privately here.
Photo source: Courtesy Hughes Memorial United Methodist Church. date unknown. Photographer unknown. Fair use.
John Turner, “Hilton & Group Take Jazz to Church,” Hilltop 22 November 1968.