Remembering Ida McBeth, Kansas City’s 'queen of jazz and blues'
McBeth, who died Wednesday at age 70, was known for her captivating stage presence and deep, commanding voice. She was a mentor and role model for younger generations of Black women coming up in the Kansas City jazz scene.
For the second time in two days, the Kansas City jazz community has been rocked by the passing of one of its core members.
On Wednesday morning, the legendary Ida McBeth died at 70.
McBeth was a pioneer in a music scene dominated by men, and paved the way for future generations of Black women artists.
“She was kind. She was gracious. She was an educator, because she wanted women to survive,” local vocalist Mille Edwards told Steve Kraske on KCUR's Up To Date. “She wanted women to be in the scene and in control of their destiny.”
Chuck Haddix, host of KCUR’s The Fish Fry, likened McBeth’s performances to a religious experience.
“You would go see her and it was almost like you were going to church. You're in that room, and she's just mesmerized the audience, like she's preaching the song. It's so much soul from the heart,” Haddix recalled.
Her passing came just a day after Ronald McFadden died. He was one-half of the McFadden Brothers, the tap-dancing team that entertained audiences around the world.
Edwards said McBeth and McFadden are part of a music tradition that helped put Kansas City on the map.
“They loved Kansas City. No matter where they went. They always came home," she said. "Because Kansas City was home.”
- Chuck Haddix, host of The Fish Fry and director of the Marr Sound Archives
- Mille Edwards, local vocalist