Commissioner Alicia Reece Creates Cincinnati Black Music Walk of Fame

Meet Commissioner Alicia Reece, a passionate Cincinnati native and politician who made it her mission to develop the city’s first-ever Black Music Walk of Fame.

The Cincinnati Music Festival kicks off on July 20 and this year’s festival will be like no other as it includes the grand opening of the Cincinnati Black Music Walk of Fame! The new public exhibit serves as an unforgettable celebration of Black music, culture, and lifestyle and Cincinnati’s role in producing musical greats that made major impacts on the industry worldwide.

It’s engaging and immersive in ways that take visitors through an augmented reality experience where they can perform alongside Penny Ford and Bootsy Collins, and hear music while walking through eight-foot-tall media towers.

But the new Walk of Fame wouldn’t exist if not for Commissioner Reece who founded the interactive outdoor exhibit as a result of her family’s music legacy and knowing the significant role Black Ohio musicians played in the creation of today’s sound.

The Hamilton County Commission President is the daughter of the late Barbara Howard, a professional singer who once opened for Stevie Wonder, and Steven Reece, a former Motown intern who went on to start his own record label. Growing up surrounded by music, which included house visits from the likes of Bootsy Collins and Penny Ford, it only made sense for Commissioner Reece to honor her parent’s legacy by developing the city’s official Black Music Walk of Fame.

Located between the Andrew Brady Music Center and National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, Reece made sure a new “music corridor” would be added that celebrated the city’s Black music icons in an area known for once serving as a safe space for escaped slaves.

“it’s perfect to create what I call this music corridor because the missing link was black music legends that are from our area,” Reece told BLACK ENTERPRISE.

It took $24 million to develop the wheelchair-accessible space that honors Black music and serves as the first-of-its-kind experience. It wasn’t easy to accomplish, but it’s a feat Commissioner Reece is encouraging other Black women to do in an effort to preserve Black history and celebrate the contributions of the Black community.

“As a Black woman, this is the first time an African American woman is doing a development of this kind in our state, and probably in our country,” she said.

“I think for me, it’s very, very important because I want to inspire other Black women to be able to develop these types of major projects in major real estate.”

Commissioner Reece takes great pride in her monumental accomplishment that she credits to the Black entrepreneurship she was engulfed in during her childhood. In fact, she can vividly remember seeing the pride her father expressed when he was featured in an issue of BLACK ENTERPRISE Magazine.

“I came through Black entrepreneurship, a family-owned business. And so I understand the struggles of how to make something out of nothing,” she said.

“I’m always intrigued and inspired to do that. And every time we do that, we’re opening a door and open it a little bit wider for other African Americans to be able to have these opportunities.”

Each year new inductees are added with Bootsy Collins, Charles Fold, The Isley Brothers, and Otis Williams among the 2021 inductees, and Penny Ford, techno-funk band Midnight Star, hip hop producer Hi-Tek and jazz musician Wilbert Longmire being inducted in 2022, via the Cincinnati Enquirer.

Big names are set to be inducted in 2023, including the band Deele, featuring LA Reid and Babyface, Louise Shropshire, Philippe Wynne and the Godfather of soul, James Brown, WLWT reports.