The Swillburg Neighborhood Association (SNA) is dedicating a sculpture in honor of Blanche Calloway, “one of jazz music’s accomplished and celebrated musicians” according to SNA.
The historic Rochester community event is happening, Saturday, June 17th from 12pm to 3pm at Otto Henderberg Park. The event includes a dedication ceremony at 1 m.
The late Ms. Calloway, an African American jazz singer, was born in Rochester on February 9, 1902, and lived at the former 14 Sycamore Street address in Rochester (NY), near Otto Henderberg Park.
She shared fame and notoriety with her younger brother, late famed jazz musician Cab Calloway. However, Blanche Calloway was an accomplished performer, bandleader, and composer in her own right.
Calloway was a trailblazer for women in the music industry, and as a Black woman, her achievements were even more remarkable. Despite the odds, she made a name for herself as a jazz performer, and her career spanned several decades.
She was 76 years old at the time of her passing on December 16, 1978.
According to SNA, Calloway's contributions to the world of music have often been overlooked due to the historical underrepresentation of women and Black musicians. “The dedication of the sculpture is a way to honor her legacy and ensure that her accomplishments are recognized and celebrated,” SNA said.
The dedication ceremony will include several speakers, including Mayor Malik Evans, Simeon Banister from the Rochester Area Community Foundation, Sara Scott from City Parks and Recreation, Eric Van Dussen from ESL and daughter of Cab Calloway, Cecelia Calloway.
The sculpture was created by Rochester artist Stacey Mrva and depicts Blanche in performance, capturing her dynamic energy and her love for music. The plaza where the sculpture will be located was created by stone mason Mike Santini, who used local stone to create a beautiful space that complements the park's natural surroundings.
This special dedication project was made possible by the SNA’s major financial contributors– the Rochester Area Community Foundation (RACF) and ESL. “RACF’s support made it possible to bring this project to fruition and honor Blanche's legacy,” said SNA.
"We are thrilled to honor Blanche Calloway with this sculpture and celebration," said Joshua F. Jacobs, spokesperson for SNA. "Blanche was a true pioneer in the world of music, and we are proud to bring attention to her legacy and to the vibrant history of Swillburg. We wish to thank the City of Rochester for working with us to make this a reality, and we look forward to celebrating Blanche's life and career with the community."
The event is free and open to the public, and SNA encourages everyone to attend and help celebrate Calloway’s life and career.
Live musical performance is expected by Uptown Groove, as well as food from Bubby’s BBQ. Special event merchandise available.
Parking is expected to be available at Pinnacle School No. 35 on Field Street.
Visit www.swillburg.com for more information or contact Josh Jacobs at (716) 474-0818 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.