The Society of Creative Arts Talent was founded by professional African American musicians and jazz advocates in 1986. It was created as a professional non-profit musician’s organization that advocated for the concerns of the local Columbus African American musicians and for their ability to work and prosper in Columbus, Ohio. These causes and concerns were the direct result of the consolidation of two musicians unions, the segregated African American musicians union Local 589 and the white Federation of Musicians local 103 of the American Federation of Musicians union in the late 1960s. This action by the National American Federation left the membership of the local segregated African American musicians of the American Federation Local 589 without a vice within the local Columbus union for their own personal and collective economic or political aspiration. They lost seniority to acquire jobs or gain meaningful positions within the white union. This occurred due to the National American Federation abolishing the African American Musician’s union membership of all their seniority, rights and privileges, as well as stripping them of all of their previously held positions. The African American musicians of Local 589 had no choice and were forced to begin at the bottom of the newly integrated whit American Federation of Musician’s seniority list if they want to work, perform and earn a living in Columbus, Ohio.
S.C.A.T.’s founders and the past members of the segregated African American, American Federation of Musicians Local 589 felt that their musical traditions, cultural history and legacy and their involvement in Columbus’ entertainment industry was very important and vital to share with future generations. The intention was to preserve, advocate and promote this legacy and to encourage recognition of their achievements.
S.C.A.T. memorializes and gives honors to the many African American musicians who have passed. Local 589 members: Bobby Austin, Rusty Bryant, Harlin Raleigh Randolph, Johnny Lytle, Bobby Shaw, Johnny Little, Billy Brown, Ron Coleman, P. C. Cousar and Joe Yancey just to mention a few of the greats. To receive these honors from S.C.A.T. these African American musicians had to exhibit a quality of musicianship and musical professionalism in their lives as performers, practice their craft, display seriousness for their music and exhibit a professional decorum when performing on stage.
S.C.A.T. has promoted the “RON CLARK JAZZ MASTERS PERFORMANCE SERIES” since 1986. This series has showcased the talent of many local African American musicians such as: Rusty Bryant, Bobby Shaw, Gene Walker, Bobby Austin, Charles Cook and many others. S.C.A.T. intends to continue the “RON CLARK JAZZ MASTERS PERFORMANCE SERIES” and has helped to develop many other performing opportunities and initiatives for its musicians. S.C.A.T. has created many opportunities and initiatives for future jazz advocates and associate members.
S.C.A.T. Jazz Masters Band was created and established at the same time as the S.C.A.T. organization. It allowed the past members of Local 589 to continue to work and perform together and to seek work and performing opportunities. It became an informal but formal musical organization because most of the musicians had been mentored or had performed together for many years. If one or another of these musicians acquired a performing opportunity, they would ask on another to perform with them. On many occasions such as festival, private affairs or Jazz Masters performances, they became a tightly knit organization. There were some new musicians who came into the band, but did not stay due to being younger musicians and they managed to secure other opportunities. When the last founding member, Gene Walker, passed away, the band laid dormant for approximately three years.
The band, now under new leadership, is active again with new members. The band continues with the same focus on keeping the jazz tradition alive and infusing it into the next generation of young people and passing down the musical traditions of the current jazz musicians, who learned their craft on the Columbus Near Eastside. Today S.C.A.T. continues its founders’ legacy through the regular performance of the S.C.A.T. Long Street Project, LLC, as well as educational and historical preservation initiatives.