While New Orleans is often identified as the cradle of Jazz, Charleston, South Carolina, due primarily to the presence and influence of the Jenkins Orphanage Band[s], also played an originative role in the artistic development.

Alvin Batiste, New Orleans Clarinetist and Composer


Jenkins Orphanage Band, 1914, London, Gift of Jeffrey Green

Our Mission: The Charleston Jazz Initiative (CJI) is a multi-year research project that documents the African American jazz tradition in Charleston, the South Carolina Lowcountry, and its diasporic movement throughout the United States and Europe between the late 19th century through today. CJI:

  • records oral histories and gathers other primary source material;
  • collects recordings, letters, programs, photographs and other documentary material;
  • presents public programs that examine the influence of social, political, and economic forces on the lives of musicians;
  • commissions and produces original work; and
  • produces documentary stories for public television, print publication, and onsite and online exhibitions.
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Charleston Jazz Initiative
c/o Arts Management Program
School of the Arts, College of Charleston
66 George Street, Charleston, SC 29424
843-953-5474 (phone)
843-953-7068 (fax)
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