The "Grand Lady of 7th Street," Esther Mabry, owned Esther’s Orbit Room, one of the great blues and jazz clubs in West Oakland. Esther's Orbit Room, which opened in 1959, was last of the "Harlem of the West Coast" jazz clubs in West Oakland. The club was located on 1724 - 7th Street and closed in 2011.
Famous performers at Esther's Orbit Room included Tina Turner, Lou Rawls, Etta James, B.B. King and Al Green.
According the the Oakland Tribune:
"Esther Brown was only 22 when she left Texas to follow a friend to Oakland. She worked as a ticket clerk for the Oakland Mole, but it was not long before she landed a job as a waitress at Slim Jenkins Supper Club on Seventh Street, one of dozens of hopping jazz and blues clubs and black-owned businesses that lined both sides of the bustling commercial district before BART and the U.S. Postal Service moved in and wiped most of it away. Mabry saved her tips and opened her first place, Esther's Breakfast Room, in 1950. It was a popular gathering spot for cabdrivers and shift workers at the shipyards, rail yards and Alameda Naval Air Station. That's where her husband, William, worked when he first wooed her. The couple bought the building in 1959 and expanded to offer cocktails and live music in 1961. The Orbit Room opened in 1963."
Esther Mabry died on May 31, 2010 at the age of 90.
Interview with Esther Mabry from 2002, via AAMLO:
Interview with Esther Mabry from 2009:
In 2021, the East Bay Permanent Real Estate Cooperative acquired the property with plans to revitalize it. 1,2
Links and References
- Esther Mabry of Esther's Orbit Room in Oakland, California Esther Mabry Interview (2009)
- The blues return to Oakland's 7th Street Los Angeles Times
Esther Mabry, owner of Esther's Orbit Room in West Oakland, dies at 90 Oakland Tribune
Oakland Streets breakdown of the closure of the Orbit Room.
SFGate on the Esther's Orbit Room
Blues Historian on Esther Mabry
Oral history interview with Esther Mabry African American Museum and Library at Oakland
This Oakland co-op wants to revive the legendary Esther’s Orbit Room and the Seventh Street corridor Oaklandside June 9, 2021
Esther's Orbit Room ebprec.org