SC Jazz History: Jenkins Orphanage Band

South Carolina is the birthplace and home to many jazz influencers. Once such group is the Jenkins Orphanage Band of Charleston, South Carolina. Jabbo Smith, who was Jazz’s #2 trumpeter, got his start with the Jenkins Orphanage Band. In the late 1930’s, Jabbo reportedly is the one who encouraged a 17 year old Sarah Vaughn to enter the Apollo Theater where she got her start. What a small world of jazz it was…

Also, in the early 20’s, the famous music and dance sensation known as the “Charleston,” was introduced from Gullah culture by members of the Jenkins Orphanage Band. If you watch the video, you see children dancing in front of the band doing the earliest versions of the trendsetting dance.


Submitted by contributing editor Latwanna Flake