Count Basie – Through His Own Eyes premieres Thursday, February 13 at 8:30 p.m. as part of Black History Month.
Known as “the King of the Swing Kings,” bandleader and pianist Count Basie brought the blues to the big band podium and redefined jazz. This revealing biography, told in his own words, uncovers his private world through home movies, photos, and personal letters; rare performances with Frank Sinatra, Billie Holiday, and Sammy Davis, Jr.; and interviews with former band members – shedding light on Basie’s relationship with his wife Catherine and disabled daughter Diane, the “hidden core of his creative life.”
Count Basie was born on August 21, 1904 in Red Bank, NJ, where he first learned musicianship under his parents’ tutelage and at the Palace Theater. His legacy is honored today at Red Bank’s The Count Basie Center for the Arts. He performed at the historic venue 1961 a few weeks after being part of President John F. Kennedy’s inaugural ball and multiple times until his last appearance in 1983, less than a year before his death from cancer on April 26, 1984. The center’s programming today includes contemporary films, theater, concerts – from rock tribute bands to Tony Bennett – ballet, and more.