Hi FI Keeps Tradition Alive

The Hi Fi Jazz Café continues the rich legacy of jazz inside of a historical landmark familiar to Florida A&M students and alumni.

The Hi Fi Jazz Café is located on Adams Street across from Foote-Hilyer Administration Building and adjacent to the popular Olean’s Cafe.

The building was founded in the early 1960s, at which time business owners, art coinsurers, fraternities, sororities, and partygoers patronize in the Hi Fi.

“Dr. White, the bandleader, the sergeant, this is where they all used to party,” owner Nikki Henderson said. “Back In the day Hi Fi was one of the only places to party.”

Before Baja’s Beach Club, Mint Lounge, or the Moon the Hi Fi was Tallahassee’s most popular nightspot.

The property has been bought and sold many times over the past 50 years. Alumni stop by to check the current status of the Hi Fi and tell stories about their past experiences on campus.

Until recently the building was vacant for many years, Henderson and his wife bought the property and renovated it.

“I’ve always wanted a International Jazz Club because I have been into jazz all my life,” Henderson said.

Henderson was an international hair designer for 31 years and his wife works in the real estate industry.

Henderson grew up in Washington D.C. as a “military brat” so he became used to traveling. His travel and line of work brought encounters with artists, hair designers, models, and painters.

“When I decided to put this place together, I wanted to put it together for people in the arts to come through and express themselves, when you walk through this door step outside the box,” Henderson said.

According to the website the Hi Fi Café aims to be a supporter of the musical arts in North Florida. The intimate atmosphere provides the perfect setting for regional and national jazz artists to dazzle audiences. Hi Fi Café is the ideal setting for jazz artists based in Tallahassee.

This historical landmark is not well known by the students today. One would think an authentic jazz café near a Historically Black College and University would draw a large crowd in the black community, according to Henderson

“Most people who came here are from Florida State, which is very surprising considering how much history is here, these are historical grounds,” Henderson said.

The art of Jazz music is becoming lost. The people who play in Jazz Café play there because they love Jazz music.

Passion for Jazz music seems to be losing its luster among FAMU students.

“These guys from Florida State come to play, they want to get their chops together,” Henderson said. “The first thing some FAMU students want to know is how much are you going to pay me.”

Michael Williams a FAMU graduate said, “I come here before I come home sometimes because I’m so comfortable and relaxed here.”

Michael is a trumpet player who regularly performs at Hi Fi on Fridays. He performs with the most advanced bands available and was awarded the Louis Armstrong Jazz Award twice.

The Hi Fi Café is open Thursday through Sunday from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. Admission is $7 with student identification.