Panel 1: Playing the Changes

Described under the heading Accessible Text
Exhibit Panel 1


Audio Clip for Panel 1

1. Jeremy A. Smith (Special Collections Librarian at Oberlin Conservatory) introducing the traveling exhibition:


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Accessible Text

Following is the complete text of the Panel 1 image.

Playing the Changes: The Life and Legacy of Milt Hinton

Milton John Hinton (June 23, 1910–Dec 19, 2000) was a legendary bass player and photographer. Over the course of his seven-decade career, he became one of the most recorded bassists in history. He also took tens of thousands of photographs that capture his behind-the-scenes life in music. 

As the grandson of a slave growing up in rural Mississippi, Milt knew the realities of racism. Discrimination continued during his Jim-Crow-era travels with the Cab Calloway Orchestra. Later, in the 1950s, segregation persisted when Milt worked to break through the color line in New York recording studios.

But Milt knew how to play the changes. Musically he worked with performers across the spectrum of styles. Socially he navigated the evolving expectations of what it meant to be an African-American in the U.S. in the 20th century.

Through it all he combined talent with perseverance to overcome life’s adversities. And over the course of a storied career, Milt’s successes as a musician, photographer, mentor, husband, and father created a legacy that will last for generations to come.

Background image:
Milt and Mona Hinton, 1988, photo by Arthur Elgort

Lower banner from left to right: 
Milt in 1941, 1953, 1959, ca. 1975, and 1979