African American circus bands helped spread the tradition of ragtime and blues across the country decades before the Harlem Renaissance.
In 1919, jazz bandleader P. G. Lowery joined the Ringling Brothers’ circus. As a young man, he had trained at the Boston Conservatory. He’d been heading up black circus bands ever since.
Like all black musicians of the day, Lowery was almost always relegated to the sideshow tent. But his talent and renown won over fans all the same.
Learn more about THE CIRCUS, and find where to watch the full film, at https://pbs.org/circus