In 2011, the Smithsonian Institution selected Asbury Park as the first host city of its traveling musical heritage exhibit, “New Harmonies: Celebrating American Roots Music.” From March 11 to April 17 more than 14,000 visitors enjoyed the exhibit, including 48 class trips from area elementary and secondary schools. This event, supported by partners Monmouth University and the Asbury Park Press, marked the launch of a yearlong celebration of Asbury Park’s musical heritage. As part of the celebration, noted historian and author Helen-Chantal Pike produced and edited “Asbury Park: Where Music Lives,” an anthology of essays by local musicians expert in gospel, ragtime, jazz, folk, rock and Latin/Caribbean genres; a new website was launched; a documentary was produced chronicling the experience of musicians, producers, and audience members whose extraordinary stories are an integral part of Asbury Park’s musical heritage.
A group of dedicated, generous volunteers realized that the celebration had to continue for years to come; thus, the Asbury Park Musical Heritage Foundation was created, its mission being to preserve, exhibit and promote the City of Asbury Park’s rich musical heritage – past, present and future – and to contribute to the City’s revitalization by securing Asbury Park as a musical destination. Incorporated in 2011 in New Jersey, the Foundation was officially launched on April 28, 2012 at the Berkeley Oceanfront Hotel, steps from the famed Asbury Park boardwalk, with the premier of the documentary “Asbury Park Musical Memories,” celebrating the memories of those who made, witnessed and participated in the musical history of Asbury Park.