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New tenants at B Sharp's Jazz Cafe building seek to preserve heritage

Posted at 6:33 PM, Jul 10, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-10 18:33:14-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — A little house with a big musical history.

When B Sharps Jazz Café closed in May, people were upset that a legacy of music in Tallahassee was ending.

But that's not the end. The building will reopen with different tenants and a slightly different name, but a similar mission to keep music and arts alive in Frenchtown.

When Renee Matthews-Jackson, CEO and co-founder of the Frenchtown Coalition for the Arts, heard that B Sharps Jazz Café was closing, her first reaction was denial. So she took action.

Her organization is signing the lease on Thursday to rent the iconic building.

"This will be our venue to host our artistic and community events, and it will keep that part of Frenchtown alive," said Matthews-Jackson.

Owners Gerri and Clarence Seay say they are thrilled to have B Sharp's legacy of music, art and culture in Tallahassee's historic African-American Frenchtown neighborhood live on.

"It's very important to have Black art, especially in a Black community," Seay explained. "Because we started the music in the black community and it has to continue."

The house is on the National Historic Registry. The main room seats about 50 people. Over the years, legendary musicians like Wynton Marsalis have played there among many others.

But there won't just be music in the newly renamed ‘FCA’s B-Sharps.' The coalition supports and unites all kinds of artists.

"It's visual art, performance art and all of the disciplines that go into making theater," Matthews-Jackson explained.

Mathews-Jackson says Frenchtown is the oldest Black neighborhood in the state and the Coalition aims to preserve that history and make their motto a reality for the Frenchtown community.

"Unleashing the impossible through the arts," said E. Marie Sissle, the chief operating officer of the Frenchtown Coalition for the Arts.

'FCA's B-Sharps' is located at 648 W Brevard Street and they plan to open soon.

The Frenchtown Coalition for the Arts is also raising money for upcoming projects. If you would like to donate just go to their Facebook page here.