Remembering Providence’s Celebrity Club

Providence, RI. In the 1950s the Celebrity Club was Providence’s premier jazz nightclub, drawing top names including Billie Holiday, Duke Ellington, Sarah Vaughn, Etta James, and Louis Armstrong, some engagements lasting as long as a week.

On Friday, February 22nd, 5 p.m. at the historic Brick Schoolhouse (Providence Preservation Society, 24 Meeting Street on Providence’s East Side), The Rhode Island Black Heritage Society will host “Remembering Providence’s Celebrity Club”. Seven Rhode Islanders have agreed to share recollections of the Celebrity Club. Speakers will regale the audience with personal memories of music, musicians, and the unique experience of an intimate, integrated venue that was the first of its kind in New England. Members of the audience are welcome to share their memories of the vibrant scene if they are so moved.

“I can remember Ray Charles performing there,” noted Steve Kass in an interview regarding a documentary film about the club. The longtime radio talk show host and member of the Rhode Island Radio Hall of Fame was one of Rhode Island’s first rock-and-roll disc jockeys.

In addition to the big names, many local jazz and R&B artists got their start at the Celebrity Club. Located in Randall Square, the club quickly gained a reputation as a world-class venue. It played a crucial role in shaping the city’s musical and social culture. The Rhode Island Black Heritage Society welcomes everyone to join as this event is free and open to the public. Light refreshments will be served. RSVP is strongly encouraged. Call (401) 421-0606 or email

All those in attendance will have the chance to win tickets to a spring semester production from Providence College’s Performing Arts Department, tickets to see progressive hip-hop artist Talib Kweli at the Fete, passes to the Dunkin Donuts Center for the Harlem Globetrotters and a $100 Cardi’s gift card. In the spirit of music appreciation, one very lucky attendee will take home the featured prize of the event: two day-passes to the Newport Jazz Festival.

The Rhode Island Black Heritage Society was founded in 1975 with a mission to preserve three centuries of African American history in the state. The Society has amassed a collection that preserves the evidence of local African Americans’ achievements in military service, business, politics, the arts, and education. The Rhode Island Black Heritage Society also encourages and promotes the study of African American history by hosting tours and lectures for the general public.

Visit for more information or to become a membe

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