Awards & Honors
Throughout her jazz career, Jean Kittrell was recognized as an important and influential jazz musician. She received numerous awards from local foundations and jazz festivals. She was recognized many times with her bands for their contributions to the field of traditional jazz. A few of these are highlighted below in chronological order.
2002 – Mayor’s Art Award
Jean received the Edwardsville, Illinois Mayor’s Art Award for her “vast musical accomplishments in jazz piano and countless artistic contributions to the city of Edwardsville,” according to an article published about the event in the Edwardsville Intelligencer. Though she performed largely in St. Louis, Missouri, as well as both nationally and internationally, Jean called Edwardsville home since the 1970s. Edwardsville Mayor Gary Neibur honored Jean with the award in late June of 2002 at the Edwardsville City Park as the St. Louis Rivermen took their intermission break.
2003 – Central Illinois Jazz Festival Dedication
Each year since 1976, the Central Illinois Jazz Festival, which is held in Decatur, Illinois, and put on by the Juvae Jazz Society, dedicates the festival to an influential performer. The 28th annual Central Illinois Jazz Festival was dedicated to Jean Kittrell, hailing her as a Great Lady of Jazz. She performed with the St. Louis Rivermen during the festival, which was held in late January. The program cover and dedication page can be viewed below, along with a photo from the St. Louis Rivermen’s performance.
National Ragtime & Jazz Archive
Jean’s legacy also extends to the National Ragtime & Jazz Archive (NRJA), which she championed as SIUE faculty and member of the greater Edwardsville community. Her work, alongside those of members of the Old Guys Jazz Band, led to the founding of the archive in 1974. To develop the archive, Old Guys bandmembers donated time, funds, and materials. Below are photos from the dedication ceremony, prominently featuring Jean Kittrell and Old Guys members W. Deane Wiley and Warren Brown.
The archive, and those who oversee it, seek to document early recorded jazz in the St. Louis area, and in particular the lives of notable jazz musicians from this area. Today, there are more than 20,000 records in the archive, with additional sheet music, piano rolls, photographs, and oral history materials. Much of the oral history materials come from an oral history project begun in the 1980s and funded through the Illinois Arts Council. Thanks to Jean Kittrell’s donations and the support of her estate and dear friends, including Dr. Mike Mahan and Dotti Miller, the Jean Kittrell Collection is housed within the National Ragtime & Jazz Archive. Included are many of the photographs, text documents, audio, and physical objects used in this exhibit, in addition to a variety of other photographs, print resources, and audio and video recordings. As a prominent and internationally known musician who called Edwardsville home and performed in St. Louis for much of her career, the NRJA is a fitting home for Jean’s collection.