“Kansas City Dreamin'” Explores the Heartbeat of Jazz in the City’s Musical Legacy

by Madonna

Kansas City, MO – Jazz, born in New Orleans, reached maturity in the vibrant heart of Kansas City. “Kansas City Dreamin'” is a local music documentary that pays tribute to the city’s rich musical heritage and its profound influence on American music.

Produced and directed by Diallo Javonne French, a Kansas native, the documentary delves into the essence of jazz’s history in Kansas City, often described as the city’s heartbeat.


“Jazz music in Kansas City is really kind of the heartbeat of the history here,” French explains.


The film traces the journey of jazz from its roots in the 1930s to its impact on modern-day artists, highlighting the pivotal role Kansas City played in its development.


Dr. Dina Bennett of the American Jazz Museum notes, “There was this whole movement of musicians around this area. A lot of them gravitated to Kansas City because of the number of clubs we had.”

Kansas City was particularly appealing due to the relatively lax enforcement of prohibition, making it an ideal location for jazz clubs. By the 1930s, the city boasted over 300 such clubs, with the best ones located between 12th and Vine and 18th and Vine.

“Kansas City Dreamin'” pays tribute to iconic artists such as Big Joe Turner, Janelle Monae, Count Basie, and Charlie Parker. The documentary features interviews with influential figures like Melissa Etheridge, Bobby Watson, Tech N9ne, Oleta Adams, Kevin Willmott, and Mayor Quinton Lucas, all of whom encourage Kansas City natives to build upon the city’s rich musical history.

Mayor Lucas emphasizes, “You are Charlie Parker. You are Janelle Monae. You are Lonnie McFadden. You are all these folks. You can do it big, bold, and exceptionally.”

Tech N9ne, a proud Kansas City native, adds, “We wanted to build right here in KC — homegrown. It means a lot. You want to be rooted where you are from. I couldn’t see it any other way.”

Before the documentary can reach a global audience, the acquisition and approval of archival footage and music is required, a process expected to cost around $35,000. However, French is unwavering in his commitment to sharing this vital piece of history.

French shares his passion, stating, “I made the film for those people that live here locally because a lot of people that live here don’t know this history. But my goal is really just to have it streaming somewhere where people all over the world can watch the film.”


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