Jazz pianist and Maplewood native Ray Kennedy has died after a battle with multiple sclerosis, St. Louis Jazz Notes reports. He was 58. Kennedy grew up as part of a musical family in Maplewood, where his family owned a music store, Kennedy Music. He graduated from Maplewood Richmond Heights in 1975.
My earliest memories were made in Maplewood, Missouri, a small suburb of St. Louis. It was home for many of my cousins, aunts and uncles, and a destination for city dwellers moving west looking for greener landscape and cleaner air. I’ve been told that my first days were the hottest days on record in Maplewood — temperatures reached over 110 degrees mid July, 1954. Most likely many infants were covered with heat rash in and around our sweltering apartment building at Bellevue and Lyndover.
What was it like to be a traveling salesman, or musician, in the mid- to late-1920s? The answer: NOTHING like today. Frank Auston Kennedy and Raymond Huston Kennedy, father and son, were, each of them, in 1928, working men out on the road. Frank and Raymond were my grandfather and father. In 1928 Frank was 52; Raymond was 21.
Wanda Kennedy Kuntz, whose parents owned Kennedy Music for decades in Maplewood, has published a book about the store and the times. Kuntz is holding a book release and signing party at The Book House ( 7352 Manchester Road), Sunday December 7.
Her book is Kennedy Music — An Historical Novel based on the Kennedy Family, Maplewood, MO. In Kennedy Music, Ray is a charismatic, hot-swing trumpet player who comes to
Maplewood and opens a music school and store at the height of the Great Depression, according to Kuntz. Mae is a demure, starstruck beauty 20 years his junior. Together they work to raise a family and keep their small business afloat as the world—and the music industry—changes around them.
Sunday, December 7, 1-3 p.m., Wanda Kennedy Kuntz is holding a book release and signing party at The Book House in Maplewood (7352 Manchester Road). Wanda has published a historical novel about her parents’ store, Kennedy Music, An Historical Novel based on the Kennedy Family, Maplewood MO. She is offering a free signed copy of her book to the first person to answer one of these questions about Maplewood’s past. To receive the book you need to include your name, and attend the book signing party on Dec. 7 at The Book House.