Magic City: How the Birmingham Jazz Tradition Shaped the Sound of America

The Southern Music Research Center celebrates the release of a new book from its founding director, Burgin Mathews. Magic City tells the story of one of American music's essential unsung places: Birmingham, Alabama, birthplace of a distinctive and influential jazz heritage. 

Many of the original research materials that helped shape that book are now available in our archive for you to explore. We've created this exhibit as a guide to these resources — including rare photos, oral history interviews, newspaper advertisements, exclusive recordings, and more — and we encourage you to look around.

It is our hope that this material will serve as testament to a unique, important, and long overlooked musical heritage; that it will provide the book's readers with an expanded and enhanced portrait of the Birmingham jazz community; and that it will prove a valuable, lasting resource for future researchers.

If you have material related to the Birmingham jazz story and would like to see it preserved in our archive, please let us know. We also invite writers, filmmakers, folklorists, photographers, record producers, and others working to document the South's musical legacies — whatever the genre or era — to speak with us about making their own research materials available to the public through our archive. Please email to discuss.