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  • Writer's pictureNina Cherry

Josie Williams (dates unknown)


Josie Williams was a trumpet player and bandleader, and is one of the first known women jazz instrumentalists and bandleaders on the Kansas City jazz scene. Williams led a 15 piece union band in the early 1920s which employed two female saxophonists: Mrs. Hoon and Mrs. Wells. Unfortunately, their full names remain unknown. It is also possible that Williams led a 13 piece “all girl” band, but this is not confirmed.

An all-woman band, perhaps led by Josie Williams, the only known, local, woman bandleader of the time. Photograph courtesy of the Black Archives of Mid-America

In 1924, Williams was elected treasurer for the Local No. 627, the Black musicians union, which operates today as the Historic Mutual Musicians Foundation.

Newspaper ad with photo; Kansas City Call; December 8, 1922, courtesy of Chuck Haddix

Unfortunately, there are no mentions of Josie Williams in the papers beyond the mid-twenties. It is unknown what happened to Williams or when her union membership lapsed.


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