Mo’ Curious: Bean’s Origins

How lived experiences shaped a jazz giant

During a career that lasted over five decades, tenor saxophonist Coleman Hawkins travelled the world. Born in St. Joseph, Missouri in 1904, the talented young man attended music school in Kansas. He left Missouri for good in 1921 to seek his fortune and fame.

Coleman Hawkins

Bean, as he was nicknamed, lived much of his adult life in Europe and New York. He died in New York in 1969.

This episode of Mo’ Curious explains the St. Joseph of Hawkins’ youth. Drawing on the oral histories of a community leader, an activist and a pair of scholars, this episode explores how racism locally and opportunity elsewhere led Hawkins away from his native Missouri.

Mo’ Curious is an occasional podcast about the history of our 24th state. Thanks for listening. Be sure to tell your friends and your grandma about Mo’ Curious. (They may even think you are cool for knowing about this here Missouri history podcast.)

Photo credits: / UMKC Dave E. Dexter Jr. Collection

By Trevor Harris

I got involved in community radio back in 1990 and later worked in public radio. I enjoy listening to people's stories. Collecting them seemed like a logical marriage of my love of audio gathering and preserving the stories of those around me.

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