Wes Montgomery

Indianapolis bridge renamed for jazz guitarist Wes Montgomery

Contributed By: The 411 News

IBLC applauds adoption of resolution honoring Hoosier artist

INDIANAPOLIS – Last week (Feb. 15), the Indiana House of Representatives voted to adopt Senate Concurrent Resolution 7, prompting the Indiana Department of Education (INDOT) to rename the I-65N bridge over I-70 and North College Avenue in Indianapolis the "John Leslie 'Wes' Montgomery Memorial Bridge."

The resolution was authored by Sen. Andrea Hunley (D-Indianapolis) and Sen. Greg Taylor (D-Indianapolis). Sen. Jean Breaux (D-Indianapolis) and Lonnie Randolph (D-East Chicago) signed as co-authors.

Born on March 6, 1923, John (Wes) Leslie Montgomery is one of the most influential jazz guitarists of all time. Montgomery is known for his unconventional technique: using his right thumb to pluck the strings of his guitar instead of a pick. The self-taught guitarist began his career playing gigs around Indianapolis clubs and eventually blossomed into a Grammy Award recipient.

"Montgomery's musical contributions to both Indianapolis and the global jazz genre cannot be overstated," said State Rep. Gregory Porter (D-Indianapolis), a bill sponsor. "As a Black artist navigating the tumultuous racial landscape of the early 20th century, the odds were stacked against him from the start. But Montgomery beat those odds, which inspired Black artists across the country to do the same. Even today, Montgomery's works are considered foundational to modern jazz music and continue to shape aspiring artists around the world."

"Wes was not only an extremely talented individual, but a close family friend," State Rep. Vanessa Summers (D-Indianapolis) said. "His dedication to his craft knew no bounds and is more than deserving of recognition."

"This resolution aims to ensure Montgomery's legacy is memorialized in our state's history," State Rep. Earl Harris (D-East Chicago) and IBLC Chair said. "We in the IBLC are thrilled that our legislature recognizes the importance of celebrating the successes of Indiana's Black community, and we urge INDOT to do the same."

Story Posted:02/19/2024

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