RED BANK, NJ: On September 25, 2020, the T. Thomas Fortune Cultural Center will open its doors and front lawn for the long-awaited exhibit, A Love Letter to Count Basie: From The Great Migration to The Harlem Renaissance, that illuminates the Red Bank borough-born musical giant William ‘Count’ Basie.

More than 1,000 Basie artifacts are archived at the Institute of Jazz Studies (IJS) at Rutgers University in Newark. This is the first time the Count Basie collection will be shared publicly since its 2018 acquisition by the institute, the world’s foremost jazz research center, located on the campus of Rutgers University – Newark. The collection —known formally as the William "Count" and Catherine Basie papers and artifacts—is the only body of materials that traces directly to the Basie family and is one of the Institute’s largest collections. 

“This exhibit is especially fitting considering the racial tension we are experiencing in the nation,” said Gilda Rogers Vice-President of the T. Thomas Fortune Foundation. “Count Basie’s music broke through racial barriers and brought people together, during a time of lawful segregation in America.” Visitors will learn how Basie used his celebrity as an activist, including standing on the picket line with Black and White students who demanded that Florida State University integrate. 

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Event Details & Advance Tickets  

The VIP Reception takes place on September 25, 2020, from 6pm-9pm. Tickets are available online for a $50 donation and includes a preview of the exhibit, a souvenir book, and light fare with beverages.

Visit to purchase tickets. Questions? Contact .

This mostly outdoor, VIP event will be the center’s first in-person exhibit since the pandemic. All attendees are required to purchase their tickets in advance and select the time slot during which they will attend.

Visitors are required to wear masks and will not be allowed to view the exhibit without being escorted inside the center.

This exhibit was created in conjunction with the Institute for Jazz Studies and is sponsored by Morgan Stanley, OceanFirst Bank, Investors Bank, Denholtz Properties, the Community YMCA, Monmouth Arts, Two River Theater and Detour Gallery.

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