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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 ...


Evan Mwangi

Algerian writer and singer who brought Kabyle folk music of the rural Berber community to international audiences and one of the earliest modern Algerian female novelists, was born Marie-Louise Amrouche in Tunisia to a family of Roman Catholic converts who had fled Algeria to escape persecution. Her mother, Fadhma Amrouche, also a writer and musician, was an early influence. Amrouche adopted the nom de plume Marguerite Taos to underscore the influence of her mother; Marguerite was her mother’s Christian name, which the latter was not allowed to use by the Catholic Church, ostensibly because she had not been baptized properly.

Despite her exile, the family returned to Algeria on prolonged visits, from which Amrouche and her brother Jean Amrouche, a poet, got acquainted with the oral literature of their native Kabyle Berber people. Amrouche obtained her brevet supérieur in Tunis in 1934 and went to France the following year ...


Julia A. Clancy-Smith

Tunisian musician, was born in Carthage, a suburb of Tunis, in 1962. North African women have long, rich traditions of vocal and instrumental music. At weddings and other joyous occasions, including religious festivals, female musicians sing, perform, and dance. In addition, the celebrated Tunisian singer and actress Habiba Messika (1893?–1930) composed songs during the period 1920–1930 that are still performed today. One of the most popular singers and composers in contemporary North Africa and Europe is another Tunisian woman, Amina Annabi, whose music—and life—fuses traditional Arab, Middle Eastern, and West African musical genres with Western music, particularly blues, jazz, reggae, rap, and rock and roll. Annabi’s is a complicated story, however, since it is not merely the tale of a talented musician making it in the world music movement from the 1980s on Her life is intertwined with the postcolonial reality of millions of North Africans who reside ...


Roanne Edwards

As a performer, composer, and scholar of ethnic music, Susana Baca has become a leading expert on Afro-Peruvian musical traditions. Since the 1960s she has explored the distinctive rhythms, tempos, and instruments of the small but influential Afro-Peruvian community that has lived in relative isolation for nearly 500 years along the Pacific Ocean coast of Peru. Her research led to the path-breaking 1995 album The Soul of Black Peru, which presented Afro-Peruvian music to an international audience for the first time.

Baca leads a generation of musicians who interpret the Afro-Peruvian traditions first explored in the 1950s by the renowned ethnomusicologist Nicomedes Santa Cruz. Her performances use Afro-Peruvian rhythms that date back to the seventeenth century, as well as native instruments such as the Andean panpipes and the cajon a wooden box which when rhythmically struck with the hand produces a variety of unusual timbres Baca ...


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 ...


William E. Lightfoot

Piedmont-style guitarist, was born near Collettsville in the African American community of Franklin, an Appalachian hollow not far from the John's River in upper Caldwell County, North Carolina. Her grandfather Alexander Reid and father Boone Reid, both born in Franklin, played the banjo in the old-time clawhammer manner, with Boone going on to become an accomplished musician who also played fiddle, harmonica, and guitar, on which he used a two-finger-style approach. Boone Reid had absorbed many kinds of music of the mid-to-late nineteenth century, including Anglo-American dance tunes, lyric folksongs, ballads, rags, religious music, and published pieces that had drifted into folk tradition—popular Tin Pan Alley songs old minstrel tunes and Victorian parlor music Boone and his wife Sallie who sang instilled their love of music in their eight children a process that led eventually to the formation of a Reid family string band that played after ...


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 ...


and founding member of the mizik rasin (roots music) group Boukman Eksperyans (née Mimerose Pierre) was born on 13 November 1956 in Ouanaminthe, Nord-est, Haiti, near the border with the Dominican Republic. Her parents, Emelie Pierre (née Charles-Pierre) and Ovide Pierre, a justice of the peace, encouraged her schooling, but during vacations from school, she learned guitar from her brother and began to sing, with special emphasis on the songs in Spanish that were common in the border region. Although her parents were devout Catholics, Manzè discovered that her grandmother had been a manbo (female Vodou priest).

Manzè is best known for fronting Boukman Eksperyans with her husband Theodore Lòlò Beabrun Jr cowriting and coproducing several of the group s albums Her creative output as a performer and writer reveals the influences of Vodou theology her studies in cultural anthropology and her embrace of social activism all of which resonated ...


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 ...


Nicolás Fernández Bravo

founder of the association “A Turma da Bahiana” of Buenos Aires, was born on 9 September 1948 in the city of São Paulo, Brazil. She is the daughter of Ercilia Francisca de Paula, a housewife, and Joaquín Assumpção da Boa Morte. She attended high school in Brazil, and began her interest in theater and music when still in high school. She is the mother of five daughters, one born in Brazil, another in Uruguay, and three in Argentina, and she has two grandchildren.

In 1971 Boa Morte traveled for two months to the former Soviet Union, representing Brazil as a member of a folkloric ballet called Karkará, an event that would significantly affect her life. As part of a similar desire to promote Brazilian culture overseas, she later traveled with the guitarist Nelson Gilles to familiarize herself with Buenos Aires, where she arrived in September 1971 There she fought ...


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 ...


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 ...


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 ...


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 ...


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 ...


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 ...


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 ...


Kip Lornell

folksinger, was born near Chapel Hill, North Carolina, the daughter of George Nevills a day laborer and part time farmer and Louise maiden name unknown a domestic worker Her parents blue collar jobs were tied to the largely agrarian economy that supported the black community in Orange County One of five children Libba Cotten s formal education did not extend beyond elementary school She was attracted to music as a child and began to play her older brother Claude s banjo and guitar shortly after the turn of the century teaching herself to tune and play both instruments left handed upside down She was exposed to a wide variety of music during a fruitful and creative period for southern music Blues was just beginning to emerge and the ballads that developed in the United States country dance tunes minstrel show songs and sacred songs were all commonly heard ...


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 ...


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 ...