Alphonso Trent: Man Who Used Music to Fight Racism

This Week in Texas Music History, we’ll honor a man who used music to fight racism.

Alphonso Trent died on October 14, 1959. Born in Fort Smith, Arkansas in 1905, he achieved his greatest success in Dallas during the 1920s as the leader of the Alphonso Trent Orchestra, the first all-black jazz band to appear regularly at the famed Adolphus Hotel. The band’s weekly radio broadcasts from the Adolphus Hotel attracted a large following of both black and white fans from throughout North Texas.

Because Alphonso Trent and his Orchestra attracted a large and racially diverse audience, they received threats from the Ku Klux Klan and other racist groups. Despite this, Trent and his band continued to perform, thereby helping lay the foundation for the big-band sound of the 1930s and inspiring such Texas artists as legendary jazz guitarist, Charlie Christian.

Next time on This Week in Texas Music History, we’ll meet a singer who was known as the “Sweetheart of the Americas.”

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