WATCH: Charlie Burrell, American symphonies’ first black musician

Charlie Burrell, often referred to as the “Jackie Robinson of music,” was the first African-American musician to play in a symphony orchestra in the United States.

Charles Burrell at home. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

music; jazz; five points; history; kevinjbeaty; denverite; denver; colorado

Charlie Burrell was the first African American to ever take a symphony contract and performed in Colorado’s first integrated jazz trio.

Burrell, often referred to as the “Jackie Robinson of music,” opened the door for many black musicians to follow in his footsteps, including his cousin — the accomplished jazz bandleader Purnell Steen.

Watch as Burrell and Steen discuss hardships faced in past times, seen through the lens of today’s political and social climate.

Kevin Beaty

Author: Kevin Beaty

Kevin Beaty is a media producer with experience in a variety of settings spanning Hollywood film sets to international backpack journalism expeditions. He is on a never-ending quest to meld artful imagery, functional design and intimate storytelling. His biggest struggle in any given moment is whether to shoot stills or video. Find him on Twitter and Instagram at @kevinjbeaty.