Phoebe Jacobs, Jazz Advocate
Phoebe Jacobs, born in 1918 in the Bronx, began her career in jazz as the hat check girl at her uncle’s club, where she met and worked with jazz greats such as Sarah Vaughan, Eubie Blake, Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman, and Ella Fitzgerald. “Sarah would say to me, ‘Gee, do you know where I can get my dress shortened’ or where can I have my nails done?’ They use to ask me things and I would do them for them. Then over the years they began to count on me.”
Jacobs worked in public relations for various jazz record labels and clubs, and became Louis Armstrong’s publicist, and, eventually, the Executive Vice President of the Louis Armstrong Educational Foundation, Inc.
In her role with the Armstrong Foundation, Jacobs was instrumental in efforts to honor his legacy, including the drive for the 1995 Louis Armstrong postal stamp. She is also a founding member of the Jazz Foundation of America (JFA), an organization devoted to aiding older jazz and blues musicians in financial difficulty or those experiencing health problems. (JFA’s Executive Director, Wendy Oxenhorn, was the guest of Harlem Speaks on February 26, 2009.)
In 2003, Jacobs was honored with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Award for Leadership which she received at the concert “Here’s to the Ladies: A Celebration of Great Women in Jazz.” In 2007, her 89th birthday was celebrated at a JVC Jazz Festival concert at the Danny Kaye Playhouse.
It was a great way to honor Women’s History Month with a true jazz legend and dedicated philanthropist.
Listen to Audio from this event: