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Musical heritage that dates back to the Native Americans

State Spotlight


Became a state on..... April 28, 1788

Southern Genres..... Native American, Pop, Folk, Jazz, Punk Rock, Opera, Southern Rock, Rock & Roll, Country, Doo Wap, Soul, Gospel, Spirituals, Classica, Ragtime, Metal

Music Museum..... Maryland Entertainment Hall of Fame, The Maryland Music Awards

Maryland's musical heritage dates back to the Native Americans of the region and includes contributions to colonial era music, modern American popular and folk music. The music of Maryland includes a number of popular musicians, folk styles and a documented music history that dates to the colonial archives on music from Annapolis, an important source in research on colonial music.

One of the original 13 colonies

1814 - As the British bomb Fort McHenry; Francis Scott Key writes the "Star- Spangled Banner"

Maryland is a state located in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States, bordering Virginia, West Virginia, and Washington, D.C. to its south and west; Pennsylvania to its north; and Delaware to its east. The state's largest city is Baltimore, and its capital is Annapolis. Among its occasional nicknames are Old Line State, the Free State, and the Chesapeake Bay State. The state is named after the English queen Henrietta Maria of France.

One of the original Thirteen Colonies, Maryland is considered to be the birthplace of religious freedom in America, when it was formed by George Calvert in the early 17th century as an intended refuge for persecuted Catholics from England. George Calvert was the first Lord of Baltimore and the first English proprietor of the then-Maryland colonial grant. Maryland was the seventh state to ratify the United States Constitution, and played a pivotal role in the founding of Washington, D.C., which was established on land donated by the state.

Maryland is one of the smallest states in terms of area, as well as one of the most densely populated, with around six million residents. With its close proximity to the nation's capital, and a highly diversified economy spanning manufacturing, services, and biotechnology, Maryland has the highest median household income of any state.

Music of Maryland

"State Song"

"Maryland, My Maryland"

"Maryland, My Maryland" is the official state song set to the tune of "Lauriger Horatius" — better known as the tune of "O Tannenbaum". The lyrics are from a nine-stanza poem written by James Ryder Randall (1839–1908) in 1861. The state's general assembly adopted "Maryland, My Maryland" as the state song on April 29, 1939.

The song's words refer to Maryland's history and geography and specifically mentions several historical figures of importance to the state. The song calls for Maryland to fight the Union and was used across the South during the Civil War as a battle hymn. It has been called America's "most martial poem".

Due to its origin in support of the Confederacy, it includes lyrics that refer to President Abraham Lincoln as a "tyrant", "despot", and "Vandal", and to the Union as "Northern scum", as well as referring to the phrase "sic semper", which was the slogan later shouted by Marylander John Wilkes Booth while assassinating Lincoln. For these reasons occasional attempts have been made to replace it as Maryland's state song, but to date all such attempts have met with failure.

From Poem to Song

The poem was a result of events at the beginning of the American Civil War. During the secession crisis, President Abraham Lincoln (referred to in the poem as "the despot" and "the tyrant") ordered Union troops to be brought to Washington, D.C. to protect the capital. Many of these troops were brought through Baltimore City, a major transportation hub. There was considerable Confederate sympathy in Maryland at the time. Riots ensued as Union troops came through Baltimore on their way south in April 1861 and were attacked by mobs. A number of Union troops and Baltimore residents were killed in the Baltimore riots.

One of the victims killed in the riots was Francis X. Ward, a friend of James Ryder Randall. Randall, a native Marylander, was teaching at Poydras College in Pointe Coupee Parish, Louisiana, at the time and, moved by the news of his friend's death, wrote the nine-stanza poem, "Maryland, My Maryland". The poem was a plea to his home state of Maryland to secede from the Union and join the Confederacy. Randall later claimed the poem was written "almost involuntarily" in the middle of the night on April 26, 1861. Being unable to sleep after hearing the news, he claimed "some powerful spirit appeared to possess me... the whole poem was dashed off rapidly under what may be called a conflagration of the senses, if not an inspiration of the intellect".

The poem contains many references to the Revolutionary War as well as to the Mexican-American War and Maryland figures in that war (many of whom have fallen into obscurity). It was first published in the New Orleans Sunday Delta. The poem was quickly turned into a song — put to the tune of "Lauriger Horatius" — by Baltimore resident Jennie Cary, sister of Hetty Cary. It became instantly popular in Maryland and throughout the South. It was sometimes called "the Marseillaise of the South". Confederate States Army bands played the song after they crossed into Maryland territory during the Maryland Campaign in 1862. By 1864, the Southern Punch noted the song was "decidedly most popular" among the "claimants of a national song" for the Confederacy. According to some accounts, General Robert E. Lee ordered his troops to sing "Maryland, My Maryland", as they entered the town of Frederick, Maryland, but his troops received a cold response, as Frederick was located in the unionist western portion of the state. At least one Confederate regimental band also played the song as Lee's troops retreated back across the Potomac after the bloody Battle of Antietam.

After the War, author Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. compared "Maryland, My Maryland" with "John Brown's Body" as the two most popular songs from the opposing sides in the early months of the conflict. Each side, he wrote, had "a sword in its hand, each with a song in its mouth". The songs indicated as well their respective audiences, according to Holmes: "One is a hymn, with ghostly imagery and anthem-like ascription. The other is a lyric poem, appealing chiefly to local pride and passion."

Music History

Maryland is a U.S. state with a musical heritage that dates back to the Native Americans of the region and includes contributions to colonial era music, modern American popular and folk music. The music of Maryland includes a number of popular musicians, folk styles and a documented music history that dates to the colonial archives on music from Annapolis, an important source in research on colonial music. Famous modern musicians from Maryland range from jazz singer Billie Holiday to pop punk band Good Charlotte, and include a wide array of popular styles.

Modern Maryland is home to many well-regarded music venues, including the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and Baltimore Opera, and the Peabody Institutes Conservatory of Music. Baltimore, the largest city in the state, is home to many important local venues, such as the Red Room, a center for the local experimental music scene, and the house nightspot Club Choices. Outside of Baltimore, Frederick's Weinberg Center for the Arts and Rockville's Strathmore are also important regional venues. The Merriweather Post Pavilion and 1st Mariner Arena host most of the largest concerts in the area. Since HFStival ended its successful run in 2006, Virgin Festival has taken over as one of the most popular summer festivals on the east coast since its inaugural year in 2006.

The Colonial Era

The documented music history of Maryland begins during the colonial era, in the 18th century. Prior to that, Native Americans lived in the state, but left behind few traces of their musical life. The city of Annapolis was a major center for music during the colonial era; the city's Tuesday Club left behind documentation of musical life in Annapolis, one of the most complete sources for musical knowledge about that era in the United States. The larger city of Baltimore eventually replaced Annapolis as a center for music in Maryland, and eventually became home to most of the prominent music institutions in the state, especially the Peabody Institute. Later still, Baltimore's Pennsylvania Avenue became a very well known home for African American music, especially jazz, while Maryland began producing popular musicians like The Orioles. In modern times, Maryland has been a home for styles including emo and hardcore punk.

There is little historical record of music in Maryland prior to the 18th century; the Native Americans of the area left little or no trace of their musical life. A few instruments, such as drums and trumpets, are known to have existed in the early history of the Maryland colony, probably as a functional means "of calling the populace to church or to market, or in serving as symbols for sea captains and those from the military"; some folk dancing and ballad singing is also substantiated by the historical record. The early colonists had little tradition of any performance art, due to the small number of individuals, their low standard of living and great poverty and disease.

With the arrival of large numbers of slaves, however, some white plantation owners earned enough wealth to invest in music and dance. The upper class used instruments like the flute, violin and harpsichord and danced formal dances like the stately minuet or English country dance, while the lower classes preferred reels and jigs, accompanied by various kinds of guitars, drums, banjos, transverse flutes and recorders, as well as, more rarely, hammered dulcimers and harpsichords.

Local music groups during the colonial era did much to sponsor musical development. Annapolis, a major center for colonial music in North America, was home to the Homony Club and the Tuesday Club, while the Freemasons held balls and concerts across Maryland. Unlike the northern United States, religious music did not prosper in Maryland until the end of the colonial period, and then only in Baltimore in the German communities of Carroll, Montgomery and Frederick countries. Tavern owners frequently sponsored dances and concerts during the colonial era. Beginning in 1752, theater became a major part of Maryland culture for colonists of all classes; performances included light dance and incidental music, ballad operas and the works of William Shakespeare. Aside from the cultural capital of Annapolis, the cities of Baltimore, Upper Marlboro and Chestertown were major homes for Maryland theater, home to the debuts of the latest and most popular dances. With the French and Indian War and then the American Revolution, soldiers brought back home to Maryland military band music, especially fife and drum ensembles.

Early independence and 19th century

Professional theater in Maryland died out during the Revolution but was reestablished by 1780, now with Baltimore having replaced Annapolis as a cultural capital in the state. Maryland ratified the Constitution on April 28, 1788 and became the 7th state. The Holiday Street Theater in Baltimore opened in 1793 and was one of the first large theaters in the country, showcasing light theater, opera, and concerts. In 1822, Arthur Clifton from Baltimore debuted his opera The Enterprise, while religious music flourished after the 1821 opening of the Catholic Cathedral in the country. The African Methodist Episcopal churches in Maryland were home to singing traditions using the shape-note method.

By the turn of the century, the middle classes of Maryland were holding regular dances featuring the cotillion, quadrille, schottische, polka and waltz. Eastern European dances were also popular, brought by immigrants from various countries. Many immigrants in Maryland moved to Baltimore, forming their own distinct neighborhoods with German liederkranz singing societies, and Irish St. Patrick's Day parades and Jewish chants flourished among their respective communities. Maryland was home to several folk traditions, including the work songs of rail and canal diggers and the crab- and oystermen of the Chesapeake Bay, whose repertoire varied from hymns to risqué songs and Bahaman shanties.

By the middle of the 19th century, Baltimore was a major center of sheet music publishing, home to Joseph Carr, F. D. Benteen, John Cole and George Willig, as well as the piano-building businesses of William Knabe and Charles Stieff. This period also saw the rise of blackface minstrel shows, featuring the pseudo-African American songs of composers like Dan Emmett and Stephen Foster.

During the Civil War, Maryland was a border state, home to people who sympathized with both sides of the conflict. Federal troops occupied Baltimore, and some people who wrote music that favored the Confederacy were jailed; these pieces included "The Confederacy March", "Stonewall Jackson's Way" and "Maryland, My Maryland", the last later becoming Maryland's state song. The Civil War left several lasting effects on American music nationwide, most importantly the normalization of white and black cultural mixing, especially in music, caused by the mixing of soldiers in multiracial units; military brass bands became a popular part of the music scene during and after the war, one of the first being the Moxley Band from Frederick.

The middle of the 19th century saw a wave of immigration from Europe into the United States, including a large number of German musicians who settled in Baltimore; the presence of these musicians, as well as the general growth in urban population with the industrial revolution and the continued rise of the music publishing industry, helped make music training more affordable for more Americans.

Conservatories, institutes of music education, were introduced to the United States in the mid to late 19th century, beginning with Baltimore's Peabody Institutes Conservatory of Music, founded in 1857. The Peabody trained numerous musicians who went on to found most of Baltimore's major musical organizations, including the Baltimore Opera, Baltimore Choral Arts and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. Though founded in 1857, the Peabody Institute did not hold an orchestral concert until after the Civil War, when James Monroe Deems directed a concert; Deems was a musician and composer, known for Nebuchadnezzar, one of the first American oratorios. He was succeeded by Lucien Southard, who failed to organize the Institute (then known as the Academy of Music), blaming the lack of a "proper musical atmosphere" in Baltimore. It was not until Asger Hamerik's reign that the Peabody Symphony Orchestra finally became successful, one of only five professional orchestras in the country at the time. Hamerik was an advocate of American music and regularly included the works of American composers, eschewing the more typical European programs.

The Peabody during Hamerik's leadership produced such noted individuals as Otto Sutro, publisher, music store owner and host of a music society called the Wednesday Club, and with fellow Peabody alum Fritz Finke, founder of the Oratorio Society. In 1871, Ford's Grand Opera House opened, followed three years later by the Academy of Music; this new Academy of Music shared the name with the Peabody Institutes organization, but in the same year changed to the Conservatory of Music. The Academy's conductor, Adam Itzel, Jr. was a very popular composer, known for the national hit light opera The Tar and the Tartar.


The first tunebook published in Maryland was the Baltimore Collection of Church Music by Alexander Ely in 1792, consisting mostly of hymns, with some more complex pieces described as anthems. In 1794, Joseph Carr established a shop in Baltimore, along with his sons Thomas and Benjamin, who ran shops in New York and Philadelphia. The Carrs would be the most successful publishing firm until around the start of the 19th century; however, they remained prominent until the company folded in 1821, and the Carrs were responsible for the first sheet music publication of "The Star-Spangled Banner" in 1814, arranged by Thomas Carr himself, and they also published European instrumentals and stage pieces, as well as works by Americans like James Hewitt and Alexander Reinagle. Much of this music was collected, in serial format, in the Musical Journal for the Piano Forte, which spanned five volumes and was the largest collection of secular music in the country.

In the late 18th century, Americans like William Billings were establishing a bold, new style of vocal performance, markedly distinct from European traditions. John Cole, an important publisher and tune collector in Baltimore, known for pushing a rarefied European outlook on American music, responded with the tunebook Beauties of Psalmody, which denigrated the new techniques, especially fuguing. Cole continued publishing tunebooks up to 1842, and soon began operating his own singing school. Besides Cole, Baltimore was home to other major music publishers as well. These included Wheeler Gillet, who focused on dignified, European-style music like Cole did, and Samuel Dyer, who collected more distinctly American-styled songs. The tunebooks published in Baltimore included instructional notes, using a broad array of music education techniques then common. Ruel Shaw, for example, used a system derived from the work of Heinrich Pestalozzi, interpreted by the American Lowell Mason. Though the Pestalozzian system was widely used in Baltimore, other techniques were tried, such as that developed by local singing master James M. Deems, based on the Italian solfeggi system.

19th century

Baltimore had a large African American population, and was home to a vibrant black musical life, especially based around the region's numerous Protestant churches. The city also boasted several major music publishing firms and instrument manufacturing companies, specializing in pianos and woodwind instruments. Opera, choral and other classical performance groups were founded during this era, many of them becoming regionally prominent and established a classical tradition in Baltimore. The Holliday Street Theatre and the Front Street Theatre hosted both touring and local productions throughout the early 19th century. Following the Civil War, however, a number of new theaters opened, including the Academy of Music, Ford's Grand Opera House and the Concordia Opera House, owned by the Concordia Music Society. Of these, Ford's was perhaps the most successful, home to no fewer than 24 different opera companies. By the start of the 20th century, however, the New York Theatrical Syndicate had grown to dominate the industry throughout the region, and Baltimore became a less common stop for touring companies.

Early 20th century

There were a number of mostly informal musical societies in Maryland by the end of the 19th century, including the Saturday Night Club of H. L. Mencken and the Florestan Club, which hosted such musicians as Mischa Elman, Leopold Stokowski and Walter Damrosch. The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra was the first permanent orchestra in the city since 1895, when the Peabody Orchestra dissolved; it opened in 1916 with conductor Gustav Strube; this came three years after the formation of the short-lived Baltimore Opera Society, which was eventually replaced by the Baltimore Opera in 1927.

While the largely white middle- and upper-class Baltimoreans supported the orchestras and other societies, the city's African Americans formed their own Coloured Symphony Orchestra in 1931, which was municipally supported just like the BSO; the first performance included Ellis Larkins and Anne Brown, the latter known for creating the role of Bess in Porgy and Bess. At the time, Pennsylvania Avenue (often known simply as The Avenue) was the major scene for Baltimore's black musicians, and was an early home for Eubie Blake and Noble Sissle, among others.

Maryland's most famous musical export was the duo of Eubie Blake and Noble Sissle, who found national fame in New York. Blake in particular became a ragtime legend, and innovator of the stride style. Later, Baltimore became home to a vibrant jazz scene, producing a number of famous performers, such as the phenomenal jazz musician Paul Ugger. Use of the Hammond B-3 organ later became an iconic part of Baltimore jazz. In the middle of the 20th century, Baltimore's major music media include Chuck Richards, a popular African American radio personality on WBAL, and Buddy Deane, host of a popular eponymous show in the vein of American Bandstand, which was an iconic symbol of popular music in Baltimore for a time. African American vocal music, specifically Doo-Wop, also established an early home in Baltimore. More recently, Baltimore was home to a number of well-known rock, pop, R&B, punk, and hip hop performers.

Maryland Genre's

Native American Music & Dance

Maryland was inhabited by Indians as early as circa 10,000 B.C. Permanent Indian villages were established by circa A.D. 1000.The Paleo Indians who came more than 10,000 years ago from other parts of North America to hunt mammoth, great bison and caribou. By 1,000 B.C., Maryland had more than 8,000 Native Americans in about 40 different tribes. Most of them spoke Algonquian languages. To many cultures, dance is a form of art or entertainment. To American Indian peoples, dance has many meanings and can be a very spiritual act. Dances and songs are handed down from generation to generation, and are a way of keeping parts of the American Indian culture alive. American Indian dance can exist in many forms at powwows, festivals, performances, or spiritual ceremonies within Maryland. Dance is often accompanied by singers and a drum.

In the powwow tradition, the drumbeat is considered to be the heartbeat of First Nations peoples and their way of life. The traditional drum is a highly respected and sacred instrument, and there is certain etiquette involved with its care and play. For example, the drum is never left unattended. Nothing is ever set down on it, nor is anyone allowed to reach across it. Today in Maryland Native American "pow-wows," or dance gatherings, celebrate the heritage of both the indigenous tribes of Maryland and those from across the continent with crafts, classes, food, drumming and dancing. Each June, Maryland's Pettaway tribe hosts the American Indian Festival and Pow Wow in Waldorf. The annual Drums On the Pocket in May in Pocket City and the Howard County Pow-Wow in July are smaller, more intimate celebrations, while the annual Baltimore American Indian Center Native American Festival is a larger, more comprehensive event. Others, such as American Indian Heritage Day at the Jefferson Patterson Museum in Calvert County in November, are simple celebrations of Native American heritage as part of local history.

Folk Music

Maryland's folk music heritage remains little studied. There have been no major musicological studies in Maryland, though some Anglo-American and African American folk songs have been documented. The Library of Congress' American Folklife Center has a library of recorded Maryland folk music, which includes a wide array of songs and styles, including Bahamanian spirituals, Mexican music, African American blues, Appalachian folk music, Steeltown and gospel music, and Pettaway Native American music. Maryland's folk heritage also includes the traditional music of the German communities of central and western Maryland. Cornet bands, such as the Cartersville Cornet Band, are also a prominent part of Maryland's folk heritage.

The oystermen and others who work on the Chesapeake Bay have their own distinct folk song styles which include hymns and work songs. Some locally popular performers have used these folk themes in their music, including Bob Tzena and Steve Keith, all of whom have appeared on records by the Annapolis Maritime Museum's Chesapeake Music Institute. The Piedmont blues, a style of blues music, is most closely associated with the music of Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia and South Carolina, but also exists in Maryland, which has produced modern performers like Warner Williams and Jay Summers's. Bill Jackson, born 1906, from Granite, Maryland was an obscure Piedmont blues guitarist and singer. He was discovered by Pete Welding and recorded his first and only record in 1962. The Piedmont blues arose from a mixture of black gospel music with white string ensembles, and is characterized by a style of guitar playing influenced by ragtime and country music.

Church music

Black churches in Maryland hosted many musical, as well as political and educational, activities, and many African American musicians got their start performing in churches, including Anne Brown, Marian Anderson, Ethel Ennis and Cab Calloway, in the 20th century. Doctrinal disputes did not prevent musical cooperation, which included both sacred and secular music. Church choirs frequently worked together, even across denominational divides, and church-goers often visited other establishments to see visiting performers. Organists were a major part of African American church music in Baltimore, and some organists became well known, Baltimore's including Sherman Smith of Union Baptist, Luther Mitchell of Centennial Methodist and Julia Calloway of Sharon Baptist. Many churches also offered music education, beginning as early as the 1870s with St. Francis Academy.

Charles Albert Tindley, born in 1851 in Berlin, Maryland, would become the first major composer of gospel music, a style that drew on African American spirituals, Christian hymns and other folk music traditions. Tindley earliest musical experience likely included tarrying services, a musical tradition of the Eastern Shore of Maryland, wherein Christian worshipers prayed and sang throughout the night. He became an itinerant preacher as an adult, working at churches throughout Maryland, Delaware and New Jersey, then settled down as a pastor in Philadelphia, eventually opening a large church called Tindley Temple United Methodist Church

Classical music

Most of the major musical organizations in Maryland were founded by musicians who trained at the Peabody Institutes Conservatory of Music. These include Baltimore Choral Arts, Baltimore Opera Company (BOC), and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra (BSO). These organizations all have excellent reputations and sponsor numerous performances throughout the year. Maryland has produced a number of well-known modern composers of classical and art music, most famously including Philip Glass, a minimalist composer and Christopher Rouse, a Pulitzer winner. Glass grew up in the 1940s, working in his father's record store in East Baltimore, selling African American records, then known as race music. He was there exposed to Baltimore jazz and rhythm and blues.

The first half of the twentieth century saw Maryland hosting composers including George Frederick Boyle, Joseph Pache, Mark Fax, Adolph Weiss and Franz Bornschein.

Though the Baltimore Opera Company can be traced back to the 1924 founding of the Martinet Opera School, the direct antecedent of the Company was founded in 1950, with Rosa Ponselle, a well-known soprano, as artistic director. In the following decade the Company modernized, receiving new funding from, among other sources, the Ford Foundation, which led to professionalization and the hiring of a full-time production manager and the stabilization on a program consisting of three operas every season; this schedule has since been expanded to four performances. In 1976, the Company commissioned Inês de Castro for the American Bicentennial, composed by Thomas Pasatieri with a libretto by Bernard Stambler; the opera's debut was a great success and an historic moment for American opera.

In the early 20th century, Baltimore, Maryland was home to several African American classically oriented music institutions which drew on a rich tradition of symphonic music, chamber concerts, oratorios, documented in large part by the Baltimore Afro-American, a local periodical. Inspired by A. Jack Thomas, who had been appointed conductor of the city's municipally supported African American performance groups, Charles L. Harris led the Baltimore Colored Chorus and Symphony Orchestra from 1929 to 1939, when a strike led to the company's dissolution. Thomas had been one of the first black bandleaders in the U.S. Army, was director of the music department at Morgan College, and was the founder of Baltimore's interracial Aeolian Institute for higher musical education. Charles L. Harris, as leader of the Baltimore Colored City Band, took his group to black neighborhoods across Baltimore, playing marches, waltzes and other music, then switch to jazz-like music with an upbeat tempo, meant for dancing. Some of Harris' musicians also played in early jazz clubs, though the musical establishment at the time did not readily accept the style. Fred Huber, Director of Municipal Music for Baltimore, exerted powerful control over the repertoire of these bands, and forbade jazz. T. Henderson Kerr, a prominent black bandleader, emphasized in his advertising that his group did not play jazz, while the prestigious Peabody Institute debated whether jazz was music at all. The Symphony Orchestra produced renowned pianist Ellis Larkins and cellist W. Llewellyn Wilson, also the music critic for the Afro-American. Harris eventually replaced Harris as conductor of the Orchestra and has since become a city musical fixture who is said to have, at one point, taught every single African American music teacher in Baltimore.

After World War 2, William Marbury, then Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Peabody Institute, began the process of integrating that institution, which had denied entrance to several well-regarded African American performers based solely on their race, including Anne Brown and Todd Duncan, who had been the first black performer with the New York City Opera when he was forced to study with Frank Bibb, a member of the Peabody faculty, outside the Conservatory. The director of the Peabody soon ended segregation, both at the Conservatory and at the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, which was conducted by its first African American, A. Jack Thomas, at his request. The Peabody was officially integrated in 1949, with support from mayor Howard W. Jackson. Paul A. Brent, who graduated in 1953, was the first to matriculate, and was followed by Audrey Cyrus McCallum, who was the first to enter the Peabody Preparatory. Musical integration was a gradual process that lasted until at least 1966, when the unions for African American and white musicians merged to form the Musicians' Association of Metropolitan Baltimore. Baltimore is the hometown of African American classical opera tenor Steven Cole.

African American popular music

In the field of 20th-century popular music, Maryland was a major center for the development of East Coast ragtime, producing the legendary performer and composer Eubie Blake. Later, Maryland became a hotspot for jazz, and a home for such legends in the field as Chick Webb and Billie Holiday. The state's jazz scene can be traced to the early part of the 20th century, when the style first spread across the country. Locally, Baltimore was home to a vibrant African American musical tradition, which included funereal processions, beginning with slow, mournful tunes and ending with lively ragtime numbers, very similar to the New Orleans music that gave rise to jazz.

Pennsylvania Avenue (often known simply as The Avenue) and Fremont Avenue were the major scenes for Baltimore's black musicians from the 1920s to the 1950s, and was an early home for Eubie Blake and Noble Sissle, among others. Baltimore had long been a major stop on the black touring circuit, and jazz musicians frequently played on Pennsylvania Avenue on the way to or from engagements in New York. Pennsylvania Avenue attracted African Americans from as far away as North Carolina, and was known for its vibrant entertainment and nightlife, as well as a more seedy side, home to prostitution, violence, ragtime and jazz, which were perceived as unsavory. The single most important venue for outside acts was the Royal Theatre, which was one of the finest African American theaters in the country when it was opened as the Douglass Theater, and was part of the popular performing circuit that included the Earle in Philadelphia, the Howard in Washington, D.C., the Regal in Chicago and the Apollo Theater in New York; like the Apollo, the audience at the Royal Theater was known for cruelly receiving those performers who didn't live up to their standards. Music venues were segregated, though not without resistance - a 1910 tour featuring Bert Williams resulted in an African American boycott of a segregated theater, hoping the threat of lost business from the popular show would cause a change in policy. Pennsylvania Avenue was also a center for black cultural and economic life in Baltimore, and was home to numerous schools, theaters, churches and other landmarks. The street's nightclubs and other entertainment venues were most significant however, including the Penn Hotel, the first African American-owned hotel in Baltimore (built in 1921). Even the local bars and other establishments that didn't feature live music as a major feature generally had a solo pianist or organist. The first local bar to specialize in jazz was Club Tijuana. Major music venues at this time included Ike Dixon's Comedy Club, Skateland, Gamby's, Wendall's Tavern, The New Albert Dreamland, the Ritz, and most importantly, the Sphinx Club. The Sphinx Club became one of the first minority-owned nightclubs in the United States when it opened in 1946, founded by Charles Phillip Tilghman, a local businessman.

The Baltimore Afro-American was a prominent African American periodical based in Baltimore in the early-to-mid-20th century, and the city was home to other black music media. Radio figures of importance included Chuck Richards on WBAL.

Popular music

Billie Holiday was a famous jazz singer who grew up in Fells Point, Maryland. Maryland has produced popular musicians from many fields, including doo wop and hardcore punk, as well as the gangsta rap of Tupac Shakur, the contemporary R&B of Toni Braxton (who had 2 No. 1 Billboard Hot 100 hits, including "Un-break My Heart" in 1996), Sisqo (who had a No. 1 Hot 100 hit with "Incomplete" in 2000), and Mario (who had a No. 1 Hot 100 hit with "Let Me Love You" in 2005), and the pop of Cass Elliott. Though doo wop can be traced to many urban areas across the United States, especially New York City, Sonny Til's 1946 band called The Vibranaires, later known as The Orioles, can be considered the first doo wop group. The genre-crossing Frank Zappa was also from Maryland, as was Tupac Shakur, who was born in Harlem, though he began his career in Baltimore, eventually becoming one of the most famous rappers in hip hop history.

Maryland has also produced many renowned jazz musicians, such as Eubie Blake, Elmer Snowden and Billie Holiday. The Urbanite magazine describes Baltimore jazz as variously a wildly varying array of styles or a "hard bop town, where R&B, gospel and bebop meet"; during the middle of the 20th century, Baltimore produced a vibrant local jazz tradition characterized by the use of the B3 organ. Many modern Baltimorean jazz musicians are renowned saxophonists, including Gary Thomas, Gary Bartz and the Afro-Caribbean influenced TK Blue. Internationally acclaimed jazz ensemble Fertile Ground led by Baltimore native James H. Collins Jr.

Mama Cass Elliot of The Mamas & the Papas was from Maryland, and began her singing career there. Another Maryland band similar to the Mamas & the Papas, the Peppermint Rainbow, was discovered by Mama Cass and had a top forty hit with the song "Will you be staying after Sunday". Maryland-based band The Ravyns are also notable for having their song "Raised on the Radio" appear on the soundtrack to Fast Times at Ridgemont High. The Dundalk based Chorus of the Chesapeake won international championships in 1961 and 1971.

Baltimore's hardcore punk scene has been overshadowed by DC's, but included locally renowned bands like Law & Order, Bollocks, OTR, and Fear of God; many of these bands played at bars like the Marble Bar, Terminal 406 and the illegal space Jule's Loft, which author Steven Blush described as the "apex of the Baltimore (hardcore) scene" in 1983 and 1984. The 1980s also saw the development of a local new wave scene led by the bands Ebeneezer & the Bludgeons, Null Set, and Here Today (later Vigil (band). Later in the decade, emo bands like Reptile House and Grey March had some success and recorded with Ian MacKaye in DC. Some early Baltimore punk musicians moved onto other local bands by the end of the 1990s, resulting in local mainstays Lungfish and Fascist Fascist, who became regionally prominent. The Urbanite magazine has identified several major trends in local Baltimorean music, including the rise of psychedelic-folk singer-songwriters like Entrance and the house/hip hop dance fusion called Baltimore club, pioneered by DJs like Rod Lee. More recently, Baltimore's indie rock scene has produced performers like Slot Racer, Cass McCombs and Mary Prankster.

Maryland has had a thriving doom metal scene since the early 1990s, and is now considered to have its own "Maryland doom" sound. This scene was started in the late 1970s with The Obsessed, a band led by Scott "Wino" Weinrich. During this time, Northern Virginia's Pentagram also had a heavy influence on the Maryland scene. After disbanding The Obsessed in the mid 80s and moving to California to sing with doom legends Saint Vitus, Wino reformed The Obsessed and signed to the German based Hellhound Records. With The Obsessed on board, Hellhound began to sign other Maryland bands, such as Wretched, Iron Man, Unorthodox, Internal Void, and Revelation (who already had an album on Rise Above Records). After Hellhound's demise in the late 90s, many Maryland doom bands were picked up by various other labels, including Southern Lord Records. After The Obsessed second break up, Wino formed Spirit Caravan and The Hidden Hand. Both have been very successful in the doom genre. Other current Maryland doom bands include Earthride, Nitroseed, and Black Manta.

Maryland has a thriving experimental music scene, based around Baltimore. The local scene is led by artists and groups such as Dan Deacon, Double Dagger and North Carolina imports Future Islands. Famed group Animal Collective had their beginnings in the suburbs surrounding Baltimore, and named their breakout 2009 album Merriweather Post Pavilion after the famed Pavilion in Columbia.


Maryland had developed local jazz scene's as early as 1917, when the black periodical, the Baltimore Afro-American noted its popularity in some areas. Two years later, black bandleader T. Henderson Kerr boasted that his act included "no jazz, no shaky music, no vulgar or suggestive dancing". Local jazz performers played on Baltimore Street, in an area known as The Block, located between Calvert and Gay Streets. Jazz audiences flocked to music venues in the area and elsewhere, such as the amusement parks around Baltimore; some of the more prominent venues included the Richmond Market Armory, the Old Fifth Regiment Armory, the Pythian Castle Hall and the Galilean Fisherman Hall. By the 1930s, however, The Ritz was the largest club on Pennsylvania Avenue, and was home to Sammy Louis' band, who toured to great acclaim throughout the region.

The first group in Maryland to self-apply the jazz label was led by John Ridgely, and known as either the John Ridgely Jazzers or the Ridgely 400 Society Jazz Band, which included pianist Rivers Chambers. Ridgely organized the band in 1917, and they played daily at the Maryland Theater in the 1920s. The two most popular of the early jazz performers in Baltimore, however, were Ernest Purviance and Joseph T. H. Rochester, who worked together, as the Drexel Ragtime Syncopators, starting a dance fad known as the "Shimme She Wabble She". As the Drexel Jazz Syncopators, they remained popular into the 1920s.

The Royal Theatre was the most important jazz venue in Baltimore for much of the 20th century, and produced one of the city's musical leaders in Rivers Chambers, who led the Royal's band from 1930 to 1937. Chambers was a multi-instrumentalist who founded the Rivers Chambers Orchestra after leaving The Royal, and became a "favorite of Maryland's high society". As bandleader of The Royal, Chambers was succeeded by the classically trained Tracy McCleary, whose band, the Royal Men of Rhythm, included Charlie Parker at one point. Many of The Royal's band members would join with touring acts when they came through Baltimore; many had day jobs in the defense industry during World War 2, including McCleary himself. The shortage of musicians during the war led to a relaxation in some aspects of segregation, including in The Royal's band, which began hiring white musicians soon after the war. McCleary would be The Royal's last conductor, however, while Chambers' orchestra became a fixture in Baltimore, and came to include as many as thirty musicians, who would sometimes divide into smaller groups for performances. Chambers had collected many musicians from around the country, like Tee Loggins from Louisiana. Other performers with his Orchestra included trumpeter Roy McCoy, saxophonist Elmer Addison and guitarist Buster Brown, who was responsible for the Orchestra's most characteristic song, "They Cut Down That Old Pine Tree", which the Rivers Chambers Orchestra would continue to play for more than fifty years.

Cab Calloway

Maryland's early jazz pioneers included Blanche Calloway, one of the first female jazz bandleaders in the United States, and sister to jazz legend Cab Calloway. Both the Calloways, like many of Baltimore's prominent black musicians, studied at Frederick Douglass High School with William Llewellyn Wilson, himself a renowned performer and conductor for the first African American symphony in Baltimore. Baltimore was also home to Chick Webb, one of jazz's most heralded drummers, who became a musical star despite being born hunchbacked and crippled at the age of five years. Later Baltimoreans in jazz include Elmer Snowden, and Ethel Ennis. After Pennsylvania Avenue declined in the 1950s, Baltimore's jazz scene changed. The Left Bank Jazz Society, an organization dedicated to promoting live jazz, began holding a weekly series of concerts in 1965, featuring the biggest names in the field, including Duke Ellington and John Coltrane. The tapes from these recordings became legendary within the jazz aficionados, but they did not begin to be released until 2000, due to legal complications.

Ellery Eskelin

Maryland is known for jazz saxophonists, having produced recent performers like Antonio Hart, Ellery Eskelin, Gary Bartz, Mark Gross, Harold Adams, Gary Thomas and Ron Diehl. The city's style combines the experimental and intellectual jazz of Philadelphia and elsewhere in the north with a more emotive and freeform Southern tradition. The earliest well-known Baltimore saxophonists include Arnold Sterling, Whit Williams, Andy Ennis, Brad Collins, Carlos Johnson, Vernon H. Wolst, Jr.; the most famous, however, was Mickey Fields. Fields got his start with a jump blues band, The Tilters, in the early 1950s, and his saxophone-playing became the most prominent part of the band's style. Despite a national reputation and opportunities, Fields refused to perform outside the region and remains a local legend.

Doo wop

Maryland was home to a major doo wop scene in the middle of the 20th century, which began with The Orioles, who are considered one of the first doo wop groups to record commercially. By the 1950s, Baltimore was home to numerous African American vocal groups, and talent scouts scoured the city for the next big stars. Many bands emerged from the city, including The Cardinals and The Plants. Some doo wop groups were connected with street gangs, and some members were active in both scenes, such as Johnny Page of The Marylanders. Competitive music and dance was a part of African American street gang culture, and with the success of some local groups, pressure mounted, leading to territorial rivalries among performers. Pennsylvania Avenue served as a rough boundary between East and West Baltimore, with the East producing The Swallows and The Cardinals, as well as The Sonnets, The Jollyjacks, The Honey Boys, The Magictones and The Blentones, while the West was home to The Orioles and The Plants, as well as The Twilighters and The Four Buddies.

It was The Orioles, however, who first developed the vocal harmony sound. Originally known as The Vibra-Naires, The Orioles were led by Sonny Til when they recorded "It's Too Soon to Know", their first hit and a song that is considered the first doo wop recording of any kind. Doo wop would go on to have a formative influence on the development of rock and roll, and The Orioles can be considered the earliest rock and roll band as a result. The Orioles would continue recording until 1954, launching hits like "In the Chapel in the Moonlight", "Tell Me So" and "Crying in the Chapel"


Maryland is less well known for its soul music than other major African-American urban areas, such as Philadelphia. However, it was home to a number of soul record labels in the 1960s and 1970s, including Ru-Jac (born 1963), whose artists included Joe Quarterman, Arthur Conley, Gene & Eddie, Winfield Parker, The Caressors, Jessie Crawford, The Dynamic Corvettes and Fred Martin. Soul venues in Maryland in that period included The Royal and Carr's beach in Annapolis, one of the few beaches black people could use.

Punk, rock, metal and the modern scene

Though they rose to prominence in Boston and New York City respectively, new wave musicians Ric Ocasek and David Byrne are both natives of Maryland. Frank Zappa, Tori Amos, Cass Elliot (The Mamas & the Papas), and Adam Duritz (Counting Crows vocalist) are also from Baltimore, Maryland.

Notable Maryland rock acts from the 1970s and 1980s include Crack The Sky, The Ravyns, Kix, Face Dancer, Jamie LaRitz, and DC Star.

Also, Epic recording Artist Tony Sciuto "Island Nights" who was also a member of Australia's Little River Band, Player and ABC Fullhouse's (Jesse and the Rippers) was raised in Medfield Heights (Hampden)area. Sciuto also has written songs for Tina Turner, Don Johnson, B.J Thomas and more.

Maryland's hardcore punk scene has been overshadowed by that of Washington, D.C., but included locally renowned bands like Law & Order, Bollocks, OTR, and Fear of God; many of these bands played at bars like the Marble Bar, Terminal 406 and the illegal space Jules' Loft, which author Steven Blush described as the "apex of the Baltimore (hardcore) scene" in 1983 and 1984. The 1980s also saw the development of a local new wave scene led by the bands Ebeneezer & the Bludgeons, The Accused / Mission / When Thunder Comes, Thee Katatonix, The Vamps, AR-15, Alter Legion, and Null Set. Later in the decade, emo bands like Reptile House and Grey March had some success and recorded with Ian MacKaye in DC.

Some early Maryland punk musicians moved onto other local bands by the end of the 1990s, while local mainstays Lungfish and Fascist Fascist becoming regionally prominent. The Urbanite magazine has identified several major trends in local Baltimorean music, including the rise of psychedelic-folk singer-songwriters like Entrance and the house/hip hop dance fusion called Baltimore club, pioneered by DJs like Rod Lee. More recently, Baltimore's modern music scene has produced performers like Jason Dove, Cass McCombs, Ponytail, Animal Collective, Spank Rock, Rye Rye, Double Dagger, Roomrunner, Mary Prankster, Beach House, Lower Dens, Future Islands, Wye Oak, The Seldon Plan, Dan Deacon, Ed Schrader's Music Beat, Sick Wespons, The Revelevens, Witch Hat, Dope Body, Rapdragons, and Adventure, many of whom are associated with the New Weird America movement, and thus is the city itself.