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Dominique Achille

was born to Marguerite Raymonne Ferdinand and Philéas Gustave Louis Achille on 31 August 1909 in Fort-de-France, Martinique, then a French colony. His father was the first man of color who passed “agrégation” (the highest teaching diploma in France) in the English language in 1905. Achille’s family history can be traced back to slaves who were freed in 1794. He spent his childhood and teenage years in Martinique, in an upper-middle-class family.

In 1926 he began studying English at Louis-le-Grand High School and at the Sorbonne in Paris, where Georges Pompidou and Léopold Sedar Senghor were among his peers. In the 1930s he contributed to La Revue du Monde Noir The Review of the Black World issued in Paris by his cousins Paulette and Jane Nardal This publication addressed cultural links between colored writers poets and thinkers through the world because at that time no specific review ...

Article

Charles K. Wolfe

musician, was born in Bellwood, Smith County, Tennessee, the son of John Henry Bailey and Mary Reedy, farmers. Bailey grew up in the rolling hills east of Nashville and as a child listened to what he later called the “black hillbilly music” played by his family. His grandfather Lewis Bailey was a skilled fiddler who won numerous local championships and a family string band often appeared at local fairs and dances DeFord s fascination with the harmonica an instrument that was especially popular in Middle Tennessee resulted from a childhood illness When he was three he was stricken with polio and was bedridden for several years to amuse himself he practiced the harmonica Lying in bed and listening to the distant sound of trains hunting dogs and barnyard animals DeFord became adept at working imitations of these into his playing creating unorthodox bent notes and mouthing patterns into ...

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Mariana Isabel Lorenzetti

accompanied Carlos Gardel, the celebrated singer of Argentine tangos, with his compositions and music. He was born on 25 September 1894 in the neighborhood of San Cristóbal in the city of Buenos Aires. He was self-taught, and his father, Tristán Barbieri, helped him develop his talent for the guitar from a young age. At the age of 17 he married Rosario Acosta, with whom he had five children: María Esther, Carmen Luz, Adela, Guillermo Oscar, and Alfredo Barbieri (who was Carlos Gardel’s godson). He was the grandfather of Carmen Barbieri, who is today a well-known actress and comedian. The anthropologist Norberto Cirio (2012) confirmed in his writing that Barbieri’s ancestors were of African descent.

In 1916, Barbieri began to play with his accompanist Luciano Cardelli, nicknamed “El tanito,” playing serenades and baptisms in the neighborhoods of the city of Buenos Aires. According to the tango historian Horacio ...

Article

Judith E. Smith

was born Harold George Bellanfanti Jr. on 1 March 1927 in New York City. He was the son of West Indian immigrants Melvine Love and Harold Bellanfanti, who came to New York with temporary visas and then stayed on without legal status. Love was the daughter of a black sharecropper and a white Scottish overseer’s daughter who followed several of her siblings from St. Ann’s Parish, Jamaica, to New York. She arrived in 1926 and found uneven employment as a domestic day worker Belafonte s father was the son of a black Jamaican mother and a white Dutch Jewish father who had come to Jamaica by way of West Africa He worked as a cook in New York and on the United Fruit Company boats traveling between New York and various Caribbean and Latin American ports The spelling of the family name varied as part of his parents efforts ...

Article

Eric Paul Roorda

a baritone singer of criollas, boleros, merengues, and other Dominican music, was the first internationally known Dominican musical performer, and one of the pioneers of radio performance and the music recording industry in his country. He was born in Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic, on 22 January 1906, with the given name Eleuterio, to the unwed parents Julián Álvarez Brito and Liborio Aragonés, and raised by his single mother. He started working with her at a young age in the Venus restaurant, running orders, and grew up as a laborer in a variety of other menial pursuits, such as apprentice to a blacksmith and as a shoemaker, tobacco packer, furniture mover, boxing referee, and, most famously, as a shoeshine boy, an occupation in which he gained attention by singing beautifully as he worked.

Brito met the composer Julio Alberto Hernández in 1926 in the city of Santiago de los ...

Article

Jeremy Rich

a village located in the mid southern region of Zimbabwe His father was a white German and his mother was a black African from Zimbabwe He took care of his family s goats and cattle as a boy in his home town before he moved from Midlands Province to Gutu in Masvingo province He initially attended Chavengwa primary school close to his village and went on to complete his primary education at Mavorovondo By his early adolescent years Brown had taken up the guitar and he sometimes skipped classes to practice his favorite instrument After some time he relocated to the large southern Zimbabwean city of Bulawayo where he attended Founders High School Brown s multiracial background put him at risk with both the white settler government of Ian Smith and black guerilla movements While at Founders Brown met Gabriel Green who became a personal friend and musical collaborators for ...

Article

Eric Gardner

musician, educator, and activist, was born to free parents in Drummondtown, Accomack County, Virginia. His father died when Carter was about eight, and his mother, whose maiden name was probably Drummond, cared for Dennis. When one of his cousins, Henry Drummond, was bound out to an area slaveholder named Thomas R. Joynes because of his status as an orphan, Carter's mother began to fear that her son would also be enslaved should something happen to her. Determined that her son stay free, she moved with him to Philadelphia in about 1825. There Carter's musical talents flowered, in part under the tutelage of the famous black Philadelphia bandleader Francis Johnson.

Carter toured with Johnson's band sporadically during the 1830s, 1840s, and early 1850s, reportedly joining Johnson's 1837 trip to Great Britain and an 1851 trip to Sulphur Springs Virginia In addition to working as a musician Carter ...

Article

Guillermo Anderson

was born Delvin R. Cayetano to George and Victoria Cayetano in 1954, in Dangriga, Stann Creek District, Belize. He attended Holy Ghost School in Dangriga from 1960 to 1969. Cayetano spent his childhood in his hometown and began painting and playing music at an early age.

A self-taught musician, Cayetano is credited with the creation of punta rock, a modern version of punta, a rhythm and dance of the Garifuna tradition played with drums, originally at funeral rites. Traditional punta is played with two drums, maracas, and a turtle shell. According to Cayetano, the idea came to him in 1978 at the end of an annual tribute to Thomas Vincent Ramos, a Garifuna cultural leader of Belize, when the youth attending a Garifuna ceremony started playing traditional punta with vulgar lyrics, displacing the elder musicians, who picked up their drums and left.

Concerned that new generations of Garifuna ...

Article

Stephen Bourne

Trinidadianactor and singer who settled in Britain in 1944. Two weeks after his arrival he made his debut on BBC radio in Calling the West Indies. Connor's appealing voice and charming personality endeared him to the British public, and he became a major television and radio personality. Connor saw himself as an ambassador for Trinidad and promoted Caribbean folk music and dance wherever he could. He married Pearl Nunez (also from Trinidad) in London in 1948.

For almost two decades Connor played featured roles in a number of British and American films, including Cry, the Beloved Country (1952) and Moby Dick (1956). In 1958, when Paul Robeson turned down the role of Gower in Shakespeare'sPericles for the Stratford Memorial Theatre he recommended Connor for it Connor thus became the first black actor to appear in a Shakespeare season at ...

Article

Curtis Jacobs

was born Edwin Esclus Connor in Mayaro, in the southeast corner of Trinidad on 2 August 1913 into a black family. His mother was a member of the Moravian Archer family of Tobago. His father was from a Roman Catholic Trinidadian family. Both were cast out of their respective families when they decided to marry. The Anglican Church offered sanctuary.

Mayaro was a place of cultural ferment where most of Trinidad s folk art and culture abounded and provided the basis of his career in the performing arts Being born into a musical family Connor was a singer in great demand at concerts by the time he reached his teens His formal education began at ten and at fifteen won a scholarship to the Royal Victoria Institute to study at Port of Spain the capital of Trinidad and Tobago His sister told him You do not belong to us you ...

Article

washboard musician, raconteur, and hobo, was born William Edgar Givens in the sawmill town of Dupont, Florida. His mother ran a “juke joint,” a tavern where the music and the liquor flowed. Little other information about his parents is available. As a boy, Givens would watch the dancing and listen to the music through a hole in the wall of his sleeping room. It was in this manner that he discovered rhythm. He practiced on buckets and pots around the house and gave little shows for his siblings and the neighborhood children.

At a young age, he was adopted by his preacher grandfather, who changed the boy's name to William Edward Cooke. He left his grandfather's home in 1917 and made his way to south Florida, working odd jobs, including clearing land for roads, among these the great Dixie Highway, U.S. 1. In 1931 he took to the ...

Article

Nate Plageman

Nigerian musician and juju pioneer, was born in Offa, Kwara State, Nigeria. His father, a carpenter for the Nigerian Railways Corporation, enrolled Dairo in a Church Missionary Society primary school in Offa. After two years, financial strain forced Dairo to abandon his studies and return to Ijebu-Ijesa, where he took up work as a barber despite his young age. After leaving school, Dairo developed a keen interest in juju, a genre of popular music that originated among the Yoruba people of Western Nigeria. Early juju musicians fused elements from local music (including oriki or Yoruba praise songs), popular percussive styles, and palm-wine guitar music together into a new form that emphasized choral singing and call-and-response vocal phrasing. At the time of Dairo’s childhood in the 1930s and 1940s, juju ensembles performed in a range of settings and had broad appeal but their members found themselves subject to ...

Article

Anita Gonzalez

an ensemble that uniquely captures the jarocho song traditions of the Veracruz region and disseminates this work through national and international recording and touring. De la Rosa Sanchez was born 29 March 1947 and was raised in Acayucan, Veracruz, Mexico. He is widely acknowledged for his expertise in playing and teaching others how to play the jarocho harp. Jarocho music is attributed in part to African influences in the eastern coastal region of Mexico, an area that supported sugarcane plantations during the colonial period. Jarocho music is a locally specific style that speaks to the larger Mexican community as an expression of the mestizaje, or racial mixing, of the coast. It is known for its integration of stringed instruments with storytelling lyrics that allude to coastal lifestyles and romance. The song La Bamba is one of the most well-known traditional jarocho tunes.

In 1973 he created the group ...

Article

Heather A. Maxwell

master Mande musician of the kora, was born on 10 August 1965, in Bamako, the capital of Mali; his father was Sidiki Diabaté (c. 1922–1996) and his mother was Nene Koita. Known as one of the most versatile and creative kora players of his generation, Grammy Award–winner Toumani is also widely recognized as the best kora player of his generation. He is also credited for combining the kora with modern electronic instruments and ensembles, galvanizing it as an instrument of choice in world music.

The kora is a melodic twenty-one-string, calabash harp unique to the Mande region in West Africa. It is exclusively played by a few patronymic groups of the hereditary jeli endogamous group (griot in French The Diabatés are one of the most prestigious families associated with the kora Toumani s ancestors trace back to the royal courts of the thirteenth century during the time ...

Article

Jeremy Rich

An English doctor recommended to Dutiro’s parents the name Chartwell, which came from Winston Churchill’s summer home. Chartwell attended primary school in Glendale, but eventually quit his formal education in the seventh grade. As a boy he was very interested in music. The Salvation Army had a band in Glendale, and Dutiro played a coronet in the group. However, he became a passionate player of the mbira thumb piano as well. His two brothers, Charles and Chikomborero played the mbira at bira religious ceremonies and Dutiro often missed Sunday school because he was too tired from playing the mbira on Saturday nights His cousin Davies Masango played in a police band and managed to recruit Dutiro to join a music group put together by the white settler government of Rhodesia to try to placate Africans during the long guerilla war for independence in the 1970s The band toured villages ...

Article

Maria Lina Picconi

was born in the district of Comas in the city of Lima, Peru. His family was originally from Puerto Eten, in Lambayeque, a northern region of Peru. He began his artistic activities at the age of 13, studying dramatic arts and music. He created a group called Teatro de Ritmo (Theatre of Rhythm), which staged a theatrical series that advocated against discrimination and racism in Córdoba, while also affirming the presence of indigenous and Afro-American communities. In the 1990s, Esqueche moved to Argentina and has lived in Córdoba since 2003, where he has become an important advocate for Afro-American visibility.

In 2010, together with Alejandro Ludueña, Susana Juárez, and other Córdoba residents, Esqueche created the group Afrodescendientes de y en Córdoba (African Descendants from and in Córdoba). The following year, he presented his play Tubo de escape in Córdoba and the surrounding areas Based on ancestral African ...

Article

Bill McCulloch and Barry Lee Pearson

songster and one-man band, was born in Jonesboro, Georgia, near Atlanta. Raised by a succession of foster families, he never knew his father and barely knew his mother. “My mother used to give me away to different people and they were so darn mean to me I used to run away,” Fuller told interviewer Richard Noblett many years later Fuller showed an early aptitude for making musical instruments constructing a mouth bow at age seven or eight He was eight and still being cared for by a foster family when his mother died He dropped out of third grade and spent the next year or two working various jobs including tending cattle outside Atlanta and carrying water at a grading camp At age ten he ran away from foster care for good staying briefly with his sister and her husband in the Atlanta area where he learned to ...

Article

Darien Lamen

and representative of the Amazonian musical tradition of carimbó, also known as “Mestre Verequete,” was born on 26 August 1916 to Maximiana Gomes Rodrigues and Antônio José Rodrigues in Quatipuru, a village located near the Atlantic coast in the eastern Amazonian state of Pará. His mother died when he was 3 years old, and much of Augusto’s early childhood was spent close to his father, a migrant from the neighboring state of Maranhão, who worked as a cattle dealer and judicial officer. Antonio participated in a number of musical troupes that performed for the feast days of locally important Catholic saints. Like many other inhabitants of African descent in the region, Antônio and Augusto were devotees of Saint Benedict “the Black” (also known as Benedict the Moor). Augusto later recalled fondly that his father was responsible for his initiation into the musical traditions of the region (Rodrigues, 1996 ...

Article

Gordon Root

Luiz Gonzaga grew up in the small village of Exú in the parched, semiarid zones of the sertão (the backland region of northeast Brazil). His father, a farm worker by trade, played the sanfona (Brazilian accordionlike instrument), and his mother sang novenas (prayers of request) in the local church. While still a young boy, Gonzaga became enthralled with the sound of the sanfona and expressed a desire to learn to play. His mother, however, would not allow him to pursue his interest. Nevertheless, the eager Gonzaga managed to explore the instrument in secret, sneaking away to a festival or the marketplace and practicing on other musicians' sanfonas.

In a short time Gonzaga developed a reputation for his talent on the instrument, and the neighbors began to ask him to play. At first, Gonzaga had to do so secretly but eventually his mother consented.

At the age of eighteen Gonzaga ...

Article

was born to Jamaican parents in eastern Cuba on 11 September 1925, where his father (Arthur Bertram Hall) was a plantation worker. They relocated to Jamaica in 1940 after his mother’s death. Hall lied about his age and joined the Royal Air Force in late 1942, training as a mechanic and generally based near Kidderminster in Worcestershire but delivering and fitting aircraft parts all over Britain. He studied electrical engineering in Leeds, where he married Janet Massie (1922–1985). He worked as an electrician and raised three children. British interest in American folk music and jazz was growing, and Hall played and sang in amateur sessions. In September 1958 the quartet the Spinners was founded—sometimes called the Liverpool Spinners to distinguish them from the Detroit Spinners.

The quartet Tony Davis Mick Groves Hughie Jones and Hall played in London where they did research in the library of ...