MUCH OF GULLAH MUSICAL HISTORY CAN BE TRACED TO HILTON HEAD
As a musician and active member of the Hilton Head Island Gullah community, Lavon Stevens has always been fascinated by local history.
“Not to take anything away from New Orleans, but I’m reading a book right now that makes a strong case that jazz music was actually started in Charleston,” Stevens said. “The impact that Charleston had in the world of jazz is one of those things that has gotten lost in time.”
According to the Charleston Jazz Initiative, a multi-year research project that documents the African American jazz tradition in Charleston and its movement throughout the U.S. and Europe from the late 19th century through today, the beginnings of jazz music on the southeastern coast of the United States was centered here.