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date: 23 September 2020

Newborn, Phineas locked

(14 Dec. 1931–26 May 1989),
  • Barry Kernfeld


jazz pianist, was born Phineas Newborn Jr. in Whiteville, Tennessee, the son of Phineas Newborn Sr., a drummer, and Rosie Lee Murphy. While Newborn Sr. led a band at the Flamingo Club on Beale Street in Memphis, the six-year-old Phineas began jazz and classical studies with Georgia Woodruff, his first-grade teacher. He later studied arrangement with Onzie Horne and learned to play trumpet, baritone horn, French horn, and tuba in high school. He began his professional career in 1945 as a pianist. Prodigiously gifted, he was inspired by the great jazz pianists of the 1930s, above all the virtuoso Art Tatum. Yet he also spent years accompanying rhythm and blues and urban blues musicians, with whom he toured the South during school vacations. Newborn began playing with his father's band by the age of fifteen and was a regular member from 1948 to 1950 ...

A version of this article originally appeared in African American National Biography.

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