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Philip Herbert

Composer, contralto, successful vocal coach, accompanist, and teacher. She was the youngest daughter of the famous African‐American actor Ira Aldridge, and born in Upper Norwood, London. Early on she was educated at a convent school in Belgium. At the age of 17 she was awarded a scholarship to study singing at the Royal College of Music. Her teachers included Jenny Lind and George Henschel for singing, along with Frederick Bridge and Frances Edward Gladstone for harmony and counterpoint.

Aldridge's career was successful and varied, as a contralto until an attack of laryngitis damaged her voice, an accompanist, vocal coach, and later a composer. She accompanied her brother Ira Frederick Aldridge on musical tours until his death in 1886. She also accompanied her sister Luranah in concerts at many well‐known London venues at the turn of the 20th century.

Aldridge also played a seminal ...


Doris Evans McGinty

Lulu Vere Childers was born in Dryridge, Kentucky, the daughter of former slaves Alexander Childers and Eliza Butler. She studied voice at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music and in 1896 was awarded a diploma that was replaced by a bachelor's degree in 1906 when the conservatory began granting degrees. The Oberlin Conservatory chapter of Pi Kappa Lambda, a national honor society, elected her a member in 1927. She studied voice further with Sydney Lloyd Wrightson at the Washington Conservatory of Music, with William Shakespeare, and with Oscar Devries at Chicago Musical College.

As a singer Childers enjoyed modest distinction. During her college years and shortly afterward, she performed in the Midwest with the Eckstein-Norton Music Company, a quartet of singers and their accompanist teamed with concert pianist Harriet A. Gibbs The group contributed their earnings to the development of a music conservatory at Eckstein Norton University ...


Dominique-René de Lerma

(b Danville, KY, Feb 12, 1903; d Washington DC, Feb 28, 1998). American baritone. After attending Butler University, Indianapolis (BA 1925), and Columbia University Teachers College (MA 1930), he joined the voice faculty of Howard University in Washington, DC, where he remained until 1945. He made his début in 1934 as Alfio in Cavalleria rusticana with the Aeolian Opera in New York, and later became the first black member of the New York City Opera, where he first appeared as Tonio (1945). Also active in musical theatre, he created Porgy in Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess at the Alvin Theatre, New York (1935). He appeared in the London production of The Sun Never Sets (1938) and as the Lord’s General in Vernon Duke’s Cabin in the Sky (1940 New York his performance as Stephen ...


James Ross Moore

Duncan, Todd (12 February 1903–27 February 1998), singer and teacher, was born Robert Todd Duncan in Danville, Kentucky, the son of John Duncan, a garage owner, and Lettie Cooper Duncan, a music teacher. Duncan's B.A. (1925) came from Butler University; his M.A. (1930) from Columbia University's Teachers College.

Duncan taught music at the University of Louisville's Municipal College for Negroes from 1926 to 1929. While working on his master's degree, he studied voice with Sara Lee, Edward Lippo, and Sidney Dietch. In 1931 Duncan took a position at Howard University in Washington, D.C., where before retiring in 1945 he became head of the public school music and professional voice departments.

Duncan's singing career blossomed after a one-night, all–African-American production of Cavalleria Rusticana at New York s Mecca Temple in 1934 the year he married Gladys Jackson They had one child and remained married until Duncan s ...


Robert Todd Duncan was born in Danville, Kentucky. By the time he auditioned for Porgy and Bess creator George Gershwin in 1935, Duncan already held a master's degree from Columbia University and had been a professor of voice at Howard University since 1931. Eschewing the traditional Spirituals that other performers had sung as audition pieces, Duncan sang an obscure Italian aria, and Gershwin offered him the part. Duncan did not immediately accept, however. As a classically trained Opera singer who years later described himself as a “stuffed shirt” and who thought of the popular Gershwin as merely a composer of show tunes, Duncan insisted on first hearing Gershwin's music for the opera. The music convinced Duncan to play Porgy. His performance in the original Broadway production in 1935, as well as in revivals in 1937 and 1942 earned him lasting acclaim from reviewers who considered ...