Keeping the Heritage Alive -Aminta Gadson
Co-founder of the
John Coltrane House Philadelphia
On October 27, 2004, my father, Norman Gadson, became the
proud owner of the John Coltrane House. My dad absolutely loved jazz. He kept a collection
of several thousand records that covered all genres of jazz, and he was always
playing his records. He constantly talked about the music, the musicians, who
he saw perform, where, and in what year. He had seen Coltrane perform with the
Like most local jazz
fans, my father felt a sense of kinship with Coltrane as a fellow Philadelphian.
For years, Coltrane had walked the same neighborhood streets, ate in the same
restaurants, and had played the local bars and clubs. Everybody knew somebody
who knew Trane or had met Trane or had seen him show up unexpectedly in the
neighborhood after he moved to New
York City. John Coltrane was homegrown and Philly’s
My father had rehabilitated many properties over the years. The
winter of 2004-05 he lived at the Coltrane House, working on little repairs
here and there. In the spring of 2005, he was discovered near death in
the Coltrane House, in a diabetic coma.
After weeks of hospitalization, my dad was on his feet again, but he
never completely recovered. He was in and out of the hospital for the next two
years. He died December 26, 2007.
Even though he was seriously ill, my dad kept working on
the Coltrane House. He also held meetings with supporters concerned about the
future of the property who were interested in having it become a jazz or arts
center or historic house, or all three. In 2006, he organized a Coltrane
birthday tribute at the property, featuring saxophone player Odeon Pope. By 2007, my father had become too frail to put together another
birthday celebration or do much work on the property.
My mother, Lenora Early, and I recently established The John Coltrane House
organization, a 501c3. Its mission is to
raise money to restore the property and establish the house as a memorial that
honors the life of John Coltrane and educates people about jazz.
Below is a photo of my dad proudly holding the John Coltrane
House National Historic Landmark commemorative plaque. The photo is from the
2006 Coltrane birthday celebration.