In the post World War II era, dozens of young African Americans in South Central Los Angeles found their way to careers in music. In a community facing challenging social conditions and with little to no outside support, they would become artists, supported by the best that their community and culture had to offer, from neighborhood and family to schools and churches, private teachers, formal and informal spaces and institutions, and more than a few unsung heroes.
“The neighborhood was tough, but it’s not like it is today…. I mean I knew that we were not rich people, but I never, ever felt poor.” — pianist Bobby West
“I was sitting up there tripping off of James Brown, and my cousin came in very angry. ‘You need to stop all that bullshit and get turned on to jazz music, because it’s a way of life.’ That freaked me out, man, and I was freaked for the rest of my life.” — trumpeter Jon Williams
“Our music is contributive, rather than competitive.” — pianist Horace Tapscott