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Kansas City’s jazz community mourns the sudden loss of performer Ronald McFadden

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In 2022, the McFadden brothers were inducted into the Jazz Walk of Fame in Kansas City’s historic 18th and Vine District
Courtesy of the American Jazz Museum
In 2022, the McFadden brothers were inducted into the Jazz Walk of Fame in Kansas City’s historic 18th and Vine District

McFadden, was one-half of the internationally known McFadden Brothers. He died, passed unexpectedly after a performance with his brother Lonnie McFadden at the Loews Hotel in downtown Kansas City.

Kansas City lost one of its best-known jazz stars when Ronald McFadden died on Monday. As part of the Kansas City jazz duo the McFadden Brothers, he was known for his performances with his brother, Lonnie McFadden, where he sang, tap danced and played the saxophone.

McFadden's death, after a performance at the Loews Hotel with his brother Lonnie on Monday, stunned Greg Carroll, a vibraphonist, former chief executive officer of the American Jazz Museum and leader of Kansas City Jazz Alive. He said he couldn't believe the news and it gave him a numb feeling.

"I thought Ronald was fine. I even had a chance to watch him do his thing back in October and he seemed to be in great health," Carroll said. "So I just, I couldn't believe it. I had to make several phone calls to see if it was true."

Up To Date host Steve Kraske, who interviewed the McFadden Brothers last year, called the brothers consummate entertainers. Ronald and his brother Lonnie were among the few who performed tap dancing as well as singing and playing instruments.

Carrol said even though Ronald McFadden played the saxophone and sang, Ronald knew his two main instruments were his left foot and his right foot.

Carroll and David Basse, singer and host of the syndicated jazz program “Jazz with David Basse,” joined KCUR's Up To Date to discuss the passing of Ronald McFadden and his influence on Kansas City and jazz.

  • David Basse, singer and host of the syndicated jazz program “Jazz with David Basse”
  • Greg Carroll, vibraphonist, former chief executive officer of the American Jazz Museum and leader of Kansas City Jazz Alive
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When I host Up To Date each morning at 9, my aim is to engage the community in conversations about the Kansas City area’s challenges, hopes and opportunities. I try to ask the questions that listeners want answered about the day’s most pressing issues and provide a place for residents to engage directly with newsmakers. Reach me at steve@kcur.org or on Twitter @stevekraske.
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