This Queen Rules

Queen Bey was barely out of her teens when she packed her bags, tucked her infant daughter under her arm and headed to Los Angeles. But Bey, now 70, had already started her jazz career before she left Kansas City: She sang at the Orchid Room nightclub at age 12. Bey returned to her hometown in the 1980s to prove herself as a song stylist, stage star (Ain’t Misbehavin’) and screen personality — including an NBC miniseries and director Kevin Willmott’s breakout film, Ninth Street — before moving back to California. “It’s too damn cold in Kansas City,” says Bey, who will be honored at 6 tonight at the Gem Theater. The Gem Cultural and Educational Center will award Bey with its first Urban Light Education Legacy Award. The honor recognizes Bey’s lesser-known role as a teacher of American jazz to thousands of students. “If jazz is going to live on,” Bey says, “it’s through the kids.” For more information, call Pat Jordan at 816-645-1052.

Thu., March 27, 2008