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Susan Leigh Foster

Senegalese dancer and choreographer was born in Benin the daughter of a Senegalese colonial civil servant and the granddaughter of a Yoruba priestess When she was ten years old her family moved to Dakar Senegal From an early age Acogny showed exceptional talent for and love of dancing After pursuing a degree in physical education she went to France in the early 1960s where she studied ballet and modern dance Upon returning to Senegal she began teaching dance classes in the courtyard of her home and in the lycée where she was hired to be in charge of physical education In these classes she began to develop a codification of what she calls African dance Establishing an inventory of positions and steps as well as a spatial stability to each position s appearance she developed a dance technique based on an aesthetic of groundedness a sense of dynamism moving up ...

Article

James Clyde Sellman

was born in Tunapuna, Trinidad and Tobago, to Malcolm and Elitha Addison. Her father was an electrician, and her mother was a schoolteacher and housewife. She later recalled that “my father used to play the guitar, and my brothers were also involved in music, so music was always around me” (Blood, 2013). Her first stage appearance came in 1959 or 1960. Her brother Winston was performing at a community show in Tunapuna and called her out of the audience. She later appeared on television and on Radio Trinidad’s Sunday Serenade. While still a teenager, she made her first recording—a single for Arawak Records, featuring Paul McCartney’s “My Love” backed by her own song, “Tricked and Trapped,” on the B-side.

Her first full-length album, Born to Shine (1976 was released on the Trinidadian label KH Records It featured American style gospel inflected soul music and ...

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Baqi<ayn>e Bedawi Muhammad

pioneer Sudanese woman singer and activist during the struggle for Sudanese independence and the first woman to perform on the radio in Sudan. Born in 1905 in Kassala City in the eastern region of Sudan, Ahmad was the eldest among her seven siblings, including three brothers and four sisters. Among them was a sister Jidawiyya who played a crucial role with Ahmad in their journey as female musicians. Ahmad’s family was originally from Nigeria and migrated to Sudan in the late nineteenth century as pilgrims on their way to the holy places in Saudi Arabia. Her father, Musa Ahmad Yahiyya, was from the Fulani-Sokoto ethnic group, while her mother, Hujra, was from Hausa. Ahmad’s nickname is Aisha al-Falatiyyia, a reference to her father’s ethnic group, the Fulani, or Fallata, as they are known in Sudan.

The documented history indicates that Sudan served as a crossroads to the holy places in ...

Article

Curtis Jacobs

was born Geraldine Molly Leotaud on 29 May 1933, in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad, into a mixed-race, middle-class, single-parent, devoutly Roman Catholic family. Her mother, however, was also a keeper of Shango religion, a legacy of the Yoruba peoples brought to Trinidad during the African slave trade.

She grew up in a hybrid cultural milieu of Christianity and Yoruba religious tradition (called “Ifa” today). She later recalled her early life as a Roman Catholic, with its elaborate ceremonies, and her love of participation in them, when she was allowed to carry the censer. Beginning in her teens, she was an avid student of dance, and met Beryl McBurnie, founder of the Little Carib Theatre, which first opened at Port-of-Spain in 1947. McBurnie, herself a dancer of some repute, was very interested in the traditional dances of the descendants of the formerly enslaved Africans. From 1952 to 1965 Molly ...

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Christine Gangelhoff

was born in Kingston, Jamaica, on 30 September 1949. Her mother, Doris Monica Mills Alberga, was an academic who founded a high school in Jamaica. Her father, Christopher Gerald Alberga, managed a factory. Both parents enjoyed musical activities non professionally: her mother played the piano and violin and sang; her father played clarinet.

Alberga grew up in an intellectual and creative environment. Her family lived on the campus of her mother’s high school, where she was exposed to the classics and the sound of piano lessons from an early age. She took up the piano herself at the age of 5 and had the early dream of becoming a concert pianist. While still young, she began composing music and taught herself to play guitar. She performed both with the Jamaican Folk Singers and with Fontomfrom, an African-dance troupe. In 1970 Alberga won the Biennial West Indian Associated Board ...

Article

Halbert Barton

was born on 18 June 1937 in Ponce, Puerto Rico, and raised in the neighborhood of Bélgica, the hotbed of the southern tradition of traditional Puerto Rican bomba, la bomba sureña. The life of “Doña Isa” connected the few thriving family-based bomba communities of the 1940s–1960s to the municipal bombazos of the 2000s. As a girl she used to accompany her mother, Teresa Dávila, and father, Domingo Albizu, to the regional bomba competitions between the communities of Felix Alduén in Mayaguez and William Archevald in Ponce, from the early 1940s to the early 1970s (Lasalle, 2014). These friendly rivalries had an enormous ripple effect on the development of bomba outside the San Juan metro area in the latter half of the twentieth century and the beginning of the twenty-first.

While Afro Puerto Rican bomba music and dance has suffered marginalization since its inception in early colonial times ...

Article

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 ...

Article

Shennette Garrett-Scott

cabaret and vaudeville singer and performer, was born Eliza May (or Mae) Alix in Chicago, Illinois, to Rossetta (or Rasetta) Hayes and Ernest Alix; her parents’ occupations are not known. When Alix was a teenager, her mother remarried; it is not known if Alix's father died or if her parents divorced. Alix lived with her mother; stepfather, Arthur Davis; older sister, Josephine Alix; and younger stepsister, Ellen Davis, in Chicago.

Alix probably began her career singing and performing in chorus lines and local shows. By the early 1920s, she had already established a modest local name for herself when jazz clarinetist and bandleader Jimmie Noone took notice of her in 1921 She continued her collaboration with Noone s Apex Club Orchestra for a series of recordings for Vocalion Records in the late 1920s and early 1930s including recordings of My Daddy Rocks Me and Birmingham Bertha a song ...

Article

(b Campbell, oh, March 17, 1930). American mezzo-soprano . She studied at Wilberforce University and the Hartford School of Music, later with Sarah Peck More, Zinka Milanov and Paul Ulanowsky. Chosen by Leonard Bernstein to sing in a performance of his Jeremiah Symphony in 1951, she made her opera début the following year in Thomson’s Four Saints in Three Acts, and later took part in the first complete recording. She made her début with the New York City Opera as Queenie in Kern’s Show Boat; her other roles included Azucena, Mistress Quickly, Jocasta, Eurycleia in Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria, Teresa in La sonnambula and the title role in Joplin’s Treemonisha. She first appeared at the Colón, Buenos Aires, in 1964 as Jocasta in Oedipus Rex and has also sung with Boston Houston San Francisco and Santa Fe opera companies In ...

Article

Donna Waller Harper

dancer, choreographer and actress, was born Deborrah Kaye Allen in Houston, Texas, to Andrew Allen, a dentist, and Vivian Ayers-Allen, a poet and librarian; her parents had two other children, the actress Phylicia Rashad, and Hugh Allen, better known as Tex. Although she exhibited an early interest in dance and desired to join the Houston Foundation for Ballet, she was denied admission when she applied in the 1950s in what her mother saw as a clear example of discrimination. Her parents were able to pay for private ballet lessons with the Ballet Russes. She later traveled and trained in Mexico City with the Ballet Nacional de Mexico. In 1964 she returned to Houston where she once again auditioned for the Houston Foundation for Ballet This time she was not only accepted to the prestigious organization but was awarded a scholarship Her talent won her ...

Article

Kathleen Thompson

Ambitious, talented Debbie Allen has broken ground for black women in a variety of roles, primarily behind the scenes of the entertainment industry—directing, producing, writing, and choreographing television shows, films, and musical theater.

Debbie Allen was born into a remarkable family in Houston, Texas. Her father, Andrew Allen, was a dentist, and her mother, Vivian Ayers Allen, is a poet who has been nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. Her sister, Phylicia Rashad, is a well-known actor, and one of her brothers is Andrew “Tex” Allen, a jazz musician.

Allen decided early that she wanted to be a dancer She began her training when she was three and by the time she was eight she had decided to go into musical theater When she tried to enroll in the school of the Houston Foundation for Ballet she was rejected for reasons her mother considered discriminatory As a ...

Article

Sarah Mosher

was born on 22 April 1910 in the city of Fort-de-France in the French Overseas Department of Martinique. Born into an upper-middle-class, bourgeois mulatto family, Alpha’s childhood was one of considerable socioeconomic privilege and ease. The names and occupations of Jenny Alpha’s parents are not listed in any written sources. During her youth, she knew the writer and founder of the Negritude movement, Aimé Césaire, who attended school with her brothers in Fort-de-France. Her father, who was known for his passion for the stage, introduced his daughter to the theater arts at a young age.

In 1929 at the age of 19 Alpha moved to Paris to study history and geography at the Sorbonne with the ultimate goal of becoming a teacher She soon left her studies however to pursue a career as an actress in classical theater But her skin color in addition to the political tensions between ...

Article

Isadora Grevan

was born Adriana Alves on 12 December 1976 in São Paulo, Brazil. She was born in the Jabaquara neighborhood in the South Zone of the city. When she was 1 year old, her parents moved to a neighborhood on the outskirts of the city. Her parents and grandparents were born in the state of Bahia in Cruz das Almas. She was raised as a Catholic and always attended public schools, receiving a B.A. in marketing and advertising from Bandeirante University of São Paulo (Uniban) in 2004.

Adriana Alves’s acting career started when she joined the Teatro Escola Chehfa theater group in São Paulo in 1995. She took theater and acting classes and acquired membership in Sindicato dos Artistas de São Paulo (Sated-SP), equivalent to the Screen Actors Guild in the United States. In 1998 she made her stage debut in the play O sorriso do palhaço The ...

Article

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 ...

Article

Scott Yanow

jazz singer, was born in Houston, Texas, the daughter of Joseph Anderson, a construction worker, and Erma Anderson. She sang as a young child along to her parents’ Bessie Smith and blues records. Her father sang in a gospel quartet in church and Ernestine became active in the church choir, sometimes taking solos. She taught herself to play the piano by ear and loved to listen to the big bands on the radio, and when she heard Sarah Vaughan, she became determined to become a professional singer. She was so enamored of Vaughan's singing that for a short time she sounded just like her, until she realized that the point of it all was for her to carve out her own musical identity, not copy her idol.

Anderson began singing professionally quite early. She was fifteen years old when she performed with the trumpeter Russell Jacquet ...

Article

Mary Krane Derr

multi‐instrumental musician, teacher, and orchestra conductor, was born in Lynchburg, Virginia. Some sources give her birth year as 1885; however, according to U.S. census data, it was most likely 1882. Her mother, Betty Anderson, was born March 1849 in Virginia. Little is known about Hallie Anderson's father except that he was also a Virginia native. When Hallie was three, the family migrated to New York City. As a child, Hallie took public school and private music lessons. She received classical training at the New York German Conservatory of Music. Although it did not record her occupation, the 1900 census noted that Hallie's mother was a widow who could neither read nor write, and who had seven living children. Betty Anderson was then living with three of her children, all of whom could read and write: Charles (born Sept. 1872), a waiter; John ...

Article

Barry Kernfeld

jazz singer, was born in Gilroy, California, the daughter of Jobe Smith. Her mother's name is unknown. Anderson's given name is sometimes spelled “Ivy.” She studied voice at Saint Mary's Convent from age nine to age thirteen, and she sang in the glee club and choral society at Gilroy grammar and high school. While spending two years at the Nunnie H. Burroughs Institution in Washington, D.C., she studied voice under Sara Ritt.

Anderson performed in Los Angeles, California, around 1921, and in 1922 or 1923 she joined a touring version of the pioneering African American musical revue Shuffle Along, which brought her to New York City. She performed in Cuba in 1924, at the Cotton Club in New York City in 1925, and then in Los Angeles, where she was accompanied by the bands of Paul Howard, Curtis Mosby, and Sonny Clay ...

Article

Philip Herbert

African‐Americaninternational contralto born in February 1897 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She graduated from Southern High School, Philadelphia, and her talent was recognized and supported by the black community. Roland Hayes mentored her development. Studies with the famous Giuseppe Boghetti enabled her to win first prize in a competition and gain confidence. Her first recital in New York's Town Hall revealed her unease with foreign languages, and nearly caused her to give up singing. Boghetti encouraged her to go on, but she was unable to forge a career in the United States.

Anderson moved to London in 1925 and stayed with John Payne. She studied with Amanda Aldridge, received coaching in German from Frederic Morena and in French from Madame Pasquier, and met the composer Roger Quilter, who introduced her to fellow musicians. Her European tour was successful, winning the admiration of Jean Sibelius, Arturo Toscanini ...

Article

Alan Blyth and Max de Schauensee

(b Philadelphia, Feb 27, 1897; d Portland, OR, April 8, 1993). American contralto. After graduating from South Philadelphia High School, she studied in her native city with Giuseppe Boghetti but was refused entry to the Philadelphia Music Academy on racial grounds. Having won first prize in a competition sponsored by the New York PO, she appeared as a soloist with the orchestra at Lewisohn Stadium on 27 August 1925. After further study with Frank La Forge, she made a number of concert appearances in the USA, and her European début took place at the Wigmore Hall, London, in 1930 She was subsequently lionized throughout Europe winning from Toscanini the reported tribute A voice like yours is heard only once in a hundred years By then a mature artist Anderson gained high critical acclaim for her first appearance at Town Hall in New ...

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Claudia Durst Johnson

Born in Philadelphia, Anderson sang in a church choir and at age nineteen began formal voice training. At twenty-three, she made her debut with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra. She later toured in concert in many European and South American capitals. Her foreign acclaim prompted an invitation to tour in the United States, where for two decades she was in demand as a performer of opera and spirituals. In 1939, because she was an African American, Anderson was barred by the Daughters of the American Revolution from performing in Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C., an event that exposed the depth of racism in America. Her open-air Lincoln Memorial concert that Easter, arranged by Eleanor Roosevelt and Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes, drew an audience of 75,000 and was broadcast nationally. On 7 January 1955 Anderson became the first African American to sing with the ...