Local jazz great Aletra Hampton dies at 92

Local jazz great Aletra Hampton dies at 92
Aletra Hampton

Andrea Morehead/Eyewitness News

Indianapolis - The Indianapolis jazz community is mourning the death of Aletra Hampton.

The local music legend died Monday night at the age of 92, leaving behind a legacy of faith, purpose, and a family's musical message. She was best known as a member of the Hampton Sisters with her sisters Carmalita, who died in 1987, and Virtue, who passed away this past January. In the late 1940's, she played in the family's jazz band, "The Duke Hampton Band", which included her brother, internationally-known jazz trombonist Locksley "Slide" Hampton.

Aletra and Virtue played together until 2006, playing music their way.

"We hear the songs by tape or by record and then we put the words down and then we express the song the best way we possibly can, we're not copying anybody," Aletra told Eyewitness News in 2004.

They were both in their 80's, playing old school standards to a diverse crowd. Those songs were recorded on a CD produced by the Indiana Historical Society in 2004.

"They would take on jazz standards like "Duke's Place" or "God Bless The Child" and make it their own," said Mark Szobody of the Indiana Historical Society in 2004.

Aletra was still performing this summer, including a concert on the canal, a tribute to Indiana jazz legends.

"Even in a wheelchair on stage, she captured the audience," Szobody said. "She still had that magnetism that stage presence and everyone absolutely loved her."

One of the leaders at the Madame Walker Theatre described Aletra Hampton as a jazz pioneer. She was remembered as feisty, animated and a performer with a strong voice.

"God gave us strength until it's gone," Hampton said in the 2004 interview.