signature theatre


From U Street to Lenox Avenue: Piano Jazz and the Music of Fats Waller

February 10, 2019

Busboys and Poets, Shirlington Location
Free, No Reservations Required

In celebration of black excellence in music, come hear from DC natives and experts on jazz history about the genre’s roots here in the nation’s capital. The event will take place in between performances of Ain’t Misbehavin’: The Fats Waller Musical Show right across from the Theatre at Busboys and Poets’ Shirlington location.

This dynamic conversation will be led by Shellée Haynesworth (Executive Producer/Creator of Black Broadway on U Project), Rev. Dr. Sandra Butler-Truesdale and Dr. Regennia Williams (authors of Washington, DC, Jazz), and Mark G Meadows (acclaimed DC jazz musician and music director of Ain’t Misbehavin’).

Washington, DC, Jazz Images of America Book

Be the first to buy Washington, DC, Jazz at this event, part of the Images of America series. Book signing to follow.

Home to “Black Broadway” and the Howard Theatre in the Greater U Street area, Washington, DC, has long been associated with American jazz. Duke Ellington and Billy Eckstine launched their careers there in the early 20th century. Decades later, Shirley Horn and Buck Hill would follow their leads, and DC’s “jazz millennials” include graduates of the Duke Ellington School of the Arts. For years, Bohemian Caverns and One Step Down were among the clubs serving as gathering places for producers and consumers of jazz, even as Rusty Hassan and other programmers used radio to promote the music. Washington, DC, Jazz focuses, primarily, on the history of straight-ahead jazz, using oral histories, materials from the William P. Gottlieb Collection at the Library of Congress, the Felix E. Grant Jazz Archives at the University of the District of Columbia, and Smithsonian Jazz. This volume also features the work of photographers Nathaniel Rhodes, Michael Wilderman, and Lawrence A. Randall.


Dr. Regennia Williams is a scholar, curator, and Fulbright alumna with more than 20 years’ experience teaching at the post-secondary level. Dr. Williams is the founder and executive director of The RASHAD Center, Inc., a Maryland-based nonprofit organization, and a part-time faculty associate and instructor in the Lifelong Learning Institute at Maryland’s Montgomery College.

Rev. Dr. Sandra Butler-Truesdale is the founder and chairperson of DC Legendary Musicians, Inc.; music programmer at WPFW FM Radio; and associate minister at Washington’s Metropolitan AME Church. A native Washingtonian, she has worked with performers like Ray Charles and James Brown and served as an elected member of the DC Board of Education.

Mark G. Meadows is an internationally-known jazz performer and instructor based in Washington, DC. He has performed with Bobby McFerrin, Kendrick Lamar, Kamasi Washington, Terence Blanchard, and more, and he currently teaches jazz at Duke Ellington School of the Arts, American University, and Shenandoah University. Meadows has branched out into musical theater in the starring role of Signature’s production of Jelly’s Last Jam and as the Music Director for Ain’t Misbehavin’: The Fats Waller Musical Show.

Shellée M. Haynesworth is an award-winning, independent multimedia producer, brand builder, writer and storyteller at Indigo Creative Works. She is the Executive Producer/Creator of the Black Broadway on U Project, which examines and preserves at the intersection of technology and cultural storytelling techniques the under-told story of Washington, DC’s black historic U Street Corridor once known as “Black Broadway.” A multi-generational Washingtonian, Haynesworth is very passionate about preserving the black history and cultural legacy of this storied U Street community, which once served as a very important gateway for African Americans in the 20th century.

  • Presented in partnership by Signature Theatre and Busboys and Poets Books.