Claremont Striving to Preserve Music History

From the tall trees bending over verdant college campuses to the charming Claremont Village filled with small shops and friendly faces, Claremont prides itself on its unique culture. Now, the Claremont Heritage Foundation is looking to preserve an important aspect of Claremont’s history in a new website, Treasury of Claremont Music. Music makes up an important part of the city’s cultural history, but many do not know the names of the musicians or the stories behind them. The website has now been made as an online resource for all to access and use, in order to better fulfill its mission of documenting this important aspect of Claremont. The undertaking was started by Tom Skelly, a KSPC-FM disc jockey and former Claremont resident. The Claremont Heritage Foundation, a non-profit organization that records Claremont’s history, finished the project and recently launched the website.

This mission is not a new one. Skelly has been working on preserving Claremont’s musical culture for many years. A personal statement from him is included on the website detailing his passion behind the project.

“We are archiving the city’s rich and varied musical culture and history so that Claremont’s past, present, and future musical accomplishments will not be forgotten,” Skelly said. “It is our intention to put the vast array of genres under one easily accessible roof, to honor our local musicians and artists and their achievements, and to share these resources for personal and educational enjoyment. The Treasury of Claremont Music will be a living online resource that showcases our local musicians through photos, biographies, and music.”

The website launched on Oct.12, and currently includes a mission statement, a database featuring musicians around Claremont, and a contact page. Every entry for a musician comes with a photograph and biography detailing their life story and connection to Claremont. Many also come with personal statements from the musicians themselves, as well as links to their work. Planned are additional pages for KSPC radio station, the history of music in Claremont, and musical events in the Claremont area.

However, not everyone is on board with the announcement. One musician featured on the website said that Claremont does little to support music and called the project another attempt by Claremont to build up its own culture.

The point is not baseless. Some of those featured on the website do not live in Claremont and are also involved in nearby cities. Sean Stanley, archivist at the Claremont Heritage Foundation, addressed this point.

“It’s true that not all of the included musicians on the Treasury of Claremont Music reside in Claremont, but they all have strong musical connections to the city,” Stanley said. “The majority of the website entries include a quote about what Claremont means to them, how its music scene fostered their musicianship or creativity, etc. Claremont is a town that places an emphasis on the arts and culture, which is quite unique among many cities in larger Pomona Valley and Inland Empire. Claremont draws many musicians in because of its institutions like the Folk Music Center or Rhino Records, where musicians can come to be surrounded by music, collaborate with others, and perform publicly. I tend to disagree with the notion that the website is just a way to build up Claremont’s legend. There is a history of a strong music scene in Claremont and I see the Treasury as a way to celebrate and honor Claremont musicians (and residents), both past and present, who have been impacted by the musical and artistic community.”

Regardless of the disagreement, the website is a good step forward towards documenting Claremont’s rich cultural history. By honoring the work of local musicians and creating a public setting to view their stories, the Claremont Heritage Foundation is serving the community of Claremont and its residents. While the website is still in its early stages and missing profiles of some historical information, it will continue to be updated for all to enjoy