There are the music cities you know, and then there’s Trenton, New Jersey. Think of major musical movements over the last century or more: classical avant-garde, opera, jazz, R&B, soul, disco, rock, funk, hip-hop, punk. Trenton musicians were there  – often in leading roles. Some of the most popular and enduring acts of our time have been powered by Trenton musicians. But it’s a story that hadn’t been widely known, until faculty and students at The College of New Jersey and members of the Trenton community came together to establish the Trenton Makes Music project in order to document the contributions of Trenton musicians to the music industry, and the role of music in the evolution of Trenton’s cultural and economic development. In particular, two Trenton-born artists who attained international fame shared their knowledge, time, and blessings to help us get started: Clifford Adams (1952-2015) of Kool and the Gang and Sarah Dash (1945-2021), co-founder of the groundbreaking trio, Labelle. Clifford Adams did not live to see the project come to fruition, but Sarah Dash became our project producer, event host and champion. She was integrally involved in the launching of this website in 2016. She wrote, produced and performed a theme song for us, backed by Trenton musicians including Donald “Pup” Bolding. Give a listen:


This 2016 conversation with her former teacher and mentor, Thomas Grice, is just one of several that she did for the project:


On September 20, 2021, Trenton and the music reacted to the unexpected news of Ms. Dash’s death. Her memorial service was held on October 4 and can be viewed here. We will miss our beloved friend.

On October 16, 2021, the New Jersey Hall of Fame aired the ceremony inducting Ms. Dash and other Garden State notables into its latest class. The tribute, hosted by Danny DeVito, had been recorded before Ms. Dash’s untimely death, and with her family’s consent, the Hall aired it as originally planned. It includes the acceptance speech she recorded and tributes from her Labelle bandmates, Keith Richards, and a fabulous cover of her big disco hit, “Sinnerman.” It can be viewed here.

Sarah Dash loved her hometown, and she loved this project. In the 2016 interview below, she explained why. We were honored and humbled by her generosity, and we will do our best to ensure that the work that the work and trust that she and so many other Trenton artists have invested in this project will not have been wasted.

There are multiple ways to explore the archive. You can use the search box on this page, click on some of the categories and topics at the bottom of this page, or explore our podcasts, our map of Trenton music venues, and our network map.

This is a work in progress. If you have a question, comment, or suggestion, please let us know.