Colored Musicians Club
Designated a historic preservation site in 1999, the Colored Musicians Club is the only remaining Black-owned and operated club of its kind in the United States. The club’s origins are found in Local 43, a chapter of the American Federation of Musicians. The then all-white musicians’ union refused to allow African-Americans to join, which resulted in the formation of a separate union chapter (Local 533) on February 3, 1917. This made Buffalo the eighth city in the nation to have racially segregated musicians’ unions.
The Colored Musicians Club would find a permanent home at 145 Broadway in 1934. Incorporated on May 14, 1935, the club had space upstairs for practice, rehearsals, and performances, while downstairs the union would hold meetings. The club operated a separate entity from Local 533, which enabled them to continue going when African-American locals in other cities would lose real estate when merging with the larger, more powerful white Locals in the 1960s.
This collage juxtaposes Westside Gunn from Griselda, a successful black musician from a popular Buffalo rap group, in front of the Club to show the convergence of Buffalo’s musical history, past and present.