When I was a boy growing up in Indianapolis in the 1940s I loved listening to “The Ink Spots” on the radio. They were a pop vocal group who became internationally famous in the 1930s and 1940s, and in 1939 their hit song “If I Didn’t Care” sold nineteen million copies; in 1989 they were inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame.
I had no idea they were from Indianapolis. I had no idea that one of their original members, Jerry Daniels, once taught music at Crispus Attucks – nor did I realize the music department of that high school was as highly regarded as their Oscar Robertson team that twice won the state basketball championship.
I knew that guitarist Wes Montgomery and trombonist J.J. Johnson were from Indianapolis, though I didn’t know that they got their start on Indiana Avenue, nor did I know that Indiana Avenue had once been the seedbed and performance center of some of the great jazz musicians in this country – Indianapolis natives who were known throughout the world, though not by the white population of their hometown. Such are the fruits of segregation.
I learned about this from Aleta Hodge, a former fellow writer on The Shortridge Daily Echo, who is writing what promises to be an important book called Indiana Avenue: Life Along and Near the Avenue and a Musical Journey from 1915 to 2015 (Ragtime, Blues, Jazz, Spiritual, Bebop, Doo Wop, Motown, Opera and Hip Hop.)
Aleta is a guest on “The Uncle Dan Story Hour” that will air on WFYI (90.1 FM) on Monday night, August 14 at 9PM. Be sure to tune in on this, the last of our nine shows scheduled by WFYI. Other guests are poet Tasha Jones, Cindy Booth of Child Advocates, and Pam Blivens-Hinkle of Spirit and Place.
This may be our finest hour. (Our time slot will be taken over in the fall by Andrew Luck.)
Tune out with your mental memory of our star saxophonist Sophie Faught playing her plaintive rendition of “I’ll Be Seeing You.”