KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Kansas City says a difficult goodbye to two jazz icons. Ida McBeth and Ronald McFadden both passed away this week. Both had an impact on the Kansas City community and the 18th and Vine Jazz District.
Countless jazz legends took the stage at The Blue Room and moved people in more ways than one, including McBeth.
Beyond performances, friends said she would also celebrate her birthday at The Blue Room every year.
“There would be crowds waiting in lines up 18th Street, just to get in and see her,” Karen Anderson said.
Anderson said she would help McBeth with costume changes at her performances. She was also her caregiver when McBeth became ill. More than that, the two were friends for 15 years.
McBeth gifted her a beautiful friendship ring a few years ago. This week, Anderson felt a pull to keep it close.
“For some reason, something said put the ring on,” Anderson said. “I’ve been wearing it for the past week.”
McBeth passed away at the age of 70.
“My heart just stopped,” Anderson said.
Throughout her career McBeth received many awards and honors including “Best Female Jazz Vocalist”, “Entertainer of the Year”, and a dedicated plaque on the American Jazz Museum’s Walk of Fame.
“She would sing with soul. She would sing with her heart,” Anderson said. “If it was a song of laughter she would have the audience engaged. If it was a ballad, she would have you in tears and she would just be so passionate about her singing.”
McBeth’s passing comes two days after the death of Ronald McFadden, who performed with his brother, Lonnie.
McFadden died at the age of 66 after a performance in downtown Kansas City. A cause of death has not been released.
Gerald Dunn said the McFadden Brothers brought joy to every audience and the world is now missing Ronnie’s bright light.
“They’re literally poetry in motion,” Dunn said. “It’s like watching a flashlight, light up in a dark room, you’ve got the light and you’ve got the power source.”
Another music legend passed away last month Geneva Price. Anderson said she was 93 when she died and a 63-year breast cancer survivor.
All of these jazz legends will be missed.
Mcbeth’s gallery will be on display at the Jazz Museum through April.