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Mark Clague and John H. Zimmerman

flutist, composer, bandmaster, music educator, journalist, and hotelier, was born in Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, Danish West Indies (later U.S. Virgin Islands) and is remembered as the U.S. Navy's first African American bandmaster. Adams was the son of Jacob Henry Adams, a carpenter, and Petrina Evangeline Dinzey, a tailor; both his parents were members of the black artisan class centered around St. Thomas's port. This culture celebrated music and literature and instilled the young Adams with values of hard work and self-education. Although professional musicians were unknown in the Virgin Islands in his youth, Adams dreamt of a musical career inspired by his deeply held belief that music was not just entertainment, but vital to community health.

Adams attended elementary school and apprenticed as a carpenter and then a shoemaker choosing his trade based on the musical abilities of his master ...

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Jeffrey Green

Manager of a hostel for Africans in London in the 1920s and wife of Dr John Alcindor. Born in London of a French father, raised by her mother's family, she trained as a journalist. She was disowned by her family after her marriage in 1911 to John Alcindor, a Trinidadian.

While raising their three children, John (1912), Cyril (1914), and Roland (Bob, 1917), Alcindor also assisted her husband in his west London medical practice, often dealing with patients herself when the Harrow Road surgery was closed.

Along with her husband, Alcindor was active in the Pan‐Africanist movement (see Pan‐Africanism), and during the early 1920s was one of only two white women to serve on the committee of the London‐based African Progress Union, over which her husband presided from 1921.

Her husband's death in 1924 left the ...

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John Garst

the inspiration for the “Frankie and Johnny” song, was born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri. Her parents were Cedric Baker and his wife Margaret (maiden name unknown), and she had three brothers: Charles, Arthur, and James. Charles, who was younger than Frankie, lived with her on Targee Street in 1900. In 1899 Baker shot and killed her seventeen-year-old “mack” (pimp), Allen “Al” Britt. St. Louis pianists and singers were soon thumping and belting out what would become one of America's most famous folk ballads and popular songs, “Frankie and Johnny,” also known as “Frankie and Albert,” “Frankie Baker,” and “Frankie.”

At age sixteen or seventeen Baker fell in love with a man who, unknown to her, was living off the earnings of a prostitute (this kind of man was known as an “easy rider,” a term made famous by W. C. Handy in his ...

Article

Joshunda Sanders

media mogul, model, and actress, was born Tyra Lynne Banks and grew up in Inglewood, California. Her father, Donald Banks, was a computer consultant, and her mother, Carolyn London, was a medical photographer and business manager. The couple divorced when Tyra was six years old, in 1980.

Banks attended Immaculate Heart Middle and High School, an all-girl's private school. She credited her mother's photography business and friends' encouragement with her ability to overcome a self-consciousness during her awkward adolescence that almost made her pursue another path.

“I grew three inches and lost 40 pounds in 90 days,” she told the Black Collegian in an interview about her teen years. “It was just this crazy growth spurt. I felt like a freak: people would stare at me in the grocery store.”

A friend encouraged her to try modeling during her senior year At the time several ...

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George A. Thompson

Brown, William Alexander (fl. 1817–1823), theater manager and playwright, was born in the West Indies, probably on St. Vincent, before 1780. Little is known about Brown’s early life. He worked for some years as steward on passenger ships, then left the sea and settled in New York City, where he worked as a tailor. The 1820 census shows him as a middle-aged free black man, living on Thomas Street with his wife and daughter. At about this time he opened a public garden in the grounds behind the house in which he lived on Thomas Street, between West Broadway and Hudson Street. This was a sort of open-air cabaret, offering light refreshments and music. The “African Grove,” as he called it, served the city’s African-American population, which was excluded from the other, larger public gardens in the city.

The African Grove presumably opened in the spring of ...

Article

Adam R. Hornbuckle

was born in East Orange, New Jersey, the eldest of the two children of Jetta Clark and Dr. Joe Louis Clark. The Clarks lived in Newark, a short distance from her birthplace, until moving to South Orange after the 1967 riots. Her father, who served as the principal of Eastside High School, in Paterson, New Jersey, gained national attention for enforcing discipline and improving academic achievement at Eastside, one of the state’s toughest inner-city schools, and became the subject of the 1989 film Lean on Me, in which the award-winning actor Morgan Freeman portrayed him.

Clark performed with the Alvin Ailey Junior Dance Company until the age of fourteen, when she began to participate in track, concentrating on the half-mile (880 yards), the distance at which her father excelled at William Patterson University (then known as the Paterson State Teachers College) in Wayne, New Jersey. Interviewed for the Best ...

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Stephen Bourne

Trinidad‐borntheatrical agent who settled in Britain in 1948. For nearly half a century this dynamic, outspoken campaigner worked for the recognition and promotion of African and Caribbean arts. In London, in 1948, Pearl Nunez married the Trinidadian folk singer and actor Edric Connor, and in 1956 they founded the first agency to represent black and other ethnic‐minority actors, writers, and film‐makers in the ‘mother country’. In the early 1960s the Connors were instrumental in setting up the Negro Theatre Workshop, one of Britain's first black theatre companies. The company was best known for productions of Wole Soyinka'sThe Road (1965), first staged for the Commonwealth Arts Festival, and The Dark Disciples (1966), a black‐cast version of the St Luke Passion, which was chosen to represent Britain at the first World Festival of Black and African Arts in Senegal.

Widowed in 1968 ...

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Leslie H. Fishel

George Thomas Downing was born in New York City, the son of Thomas Downing, a restaurant owner, and Rebecca West. His father's Oyster House was a gathering place for New York's aristocracy and politicians. Young Downing attended Charles Smith's school on Orange Street and, with future black abolitionists J. McCune Smith, Henry Highland Garnet, Alexander Crummell, and Charles Reason and Patrick Reason, the African School #2 on Mulberry Street. He completed his schooling privately and in his mid-teens was active in two literary societies.

Before he was twenty Downing participated in the Underground Railroad and worked with his father to lobby the New York legislature for equal suffrage. In 1841 both were delegates to the initial convention of the American Reform Board of Disenfranchised Commissioners one of many organizations formed by African American males to fight for the elective franchise in New York ...

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Leslie H. Fishel

abolitionist, businessman, and civil rights advocate, was born in New York City, the son of Thomas Downing, a restaurant owner, and Rebecca West. His father's Oyster House was a gathering place for New York's aristocracy and politicians. Young Downing attended Charles Smith's school on Orange Street and, with the future black abolitionists J. McCune Smith, Henry Highland Garnet, Alexander Crummell, and Charles Reason and Patrick Reason, the African School on Mulberry Street. He completed his schooling privately and in his mid-teens was active in two literary societies.

Before he was twenty Downing participated in the Underground Railroad and worked with his father to lobby the New York legislature for equal suffrage. In 1841 both were delegates to the initial convention of the American Reform Board of Disenfranchised Commissioners one of many organizations formed by African American men to fight for ...

Article

Stephanie Y. Evans

advertising executive, magazine publisher, and radio network founder, was born in Louisville Kentucky, to W. Leonard Evans Sr., an executive with the Urban League, and Beatrice, an executive with an insurance company. Shortly after his birth, his family moved to suburban Chicago, where he was raised. Evans attended the Chicago public schools, after which he graduated from Wilberforce Academy in Ohio in 1931. It was a family tradition to go to college at Fisk in Nashville, which he did for several years, studying sociology and learning to do research. He then transferred to the University of Illinois, where he received a degree in business in 1935. He also studied law at Chicago's Kent College of Law.

In 1943 Evans married Maudelle and the couple would go on to have two sons Evans became interested in researching the black consumer and after working for such ...

Article

Joy Elizondo

Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, to an ex-slave, Gabino Ezeiza first picked up a guitar at the age of fifteen. Drawing from a rich oral tradition of earlier payadores, he gradually attracted an impressive following by taking his improvisational virtuosity on the road. The payada, a duel-like exchange in which singer-guitarists spontaneously compose formulaic refrains, is derived from both Spanish versification and African traditions of musical contests. In Argentina, it is considered “popular literature,” inextricably tied to the most symbolic of national figures: the gaucho of the pampas (roughly equivalent to cowboys on the range). While still a teenager, Ezeiza began writing for La Juventud, a Buenos Aires newspaper for and by members of the black community. From 1876 to 1878, while still building a reputation as a payador, publishing poetry, and writing news, he became the editor of La Juventud.

Before the twentieth ...

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Leila Kamali

African‐American jazz vocalist and vaudeville star. Born on 20 October 1901 in Brooklyn, New York, Hall made her debut with the 1921 Broadway musical Shuffle Along. She went on to perform at Harlem's famous Cotton Club, alongside great bandleaders and musicians including Duke Ellington, Fats Waller, and Cab Calloway, and introduced her signature wordless phrase on the recording of ‘Creole Love Call’ in 1927.

From 1928 to 1929 Hall starred in the musical Blackbirds, the show that featured her notable hits ‘I Can't Give You Anything But Love, Baby’ and ‘I Must Have That Man’. Her solo concert tour brought her to London in 1931, and she visited again in 1938, appearing in The Sun Never Sets at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, and this time settling in Britain.

Hall hosted her own radio series making her the first black star to be given a ...

Article

Jay-Z  

Jennifer A. Bratyanski

rapper and business mogul. Shawn Corey Carter grew up quickly in the shadows of the Marcy Housing Projects of Brooklyn, New York. His parents Gloria Carter and Adnes Reeves split up when Jay-Z was a teenager, leaving him and his three siblings vulnerable to the urban environment of New York. His father's departure left the teenage Jay-Z free to explore the streets for an alternative family structure. He found his way into the dangerous world of crack cocaine and became, as he later stated in an interview in Rolling Stone, addicted to hustling. His moniker “Jay-Z” reportedly derives from combining an early nickname with the name of a subway line that traverses Queens, Brooklyn, and Manhattan.

His successes as a hustler translated into his earliest rap lyrics, which eventually became his first album, the widely acclaimed Reasonable Doubt. The album was released in 1996 by Roc ...

Article

Daniel Donaghy

boxing promoter. Donald King was born to Clarence King, a steelworker, and Hattie King, in Cleveland, Ohio. Don King's father died in 1941 in a steel foundry explosion. In spite of his father's premature death, or perhaps because of it, King sought a life for himself beyond the poor neighborhood in which he grew up. He dreamed of becoming a lawyer, and in order to pay for his education at Western Reserve University (now Case Western Reserve University), he worked as a numbers runner for local illegal gamblers, transporting illegal betting slips to various bookies in the Cleveland area. Before long, King rose to become one of the city's leading bookmakers. He made more than enough to pay for college, but he quit school after one year to focus on a career in gambling.

King had many run ins with the law in his teens and early ...

Article

John Gilmore

Alias of Aldwyn Roberts (1922–2000), calypsonian born in Arima, Trinidad and Tobago. He was already a successful performer in his native island when, while on a tour of Jamaica, he decided to join his fellow calypsonians Lord Beginner (Egbert Moore, 1904–80) and Harold Phillips (1928–2000) in taking a passage to England on the Empire Windrush.

Kitchener provided two of the most iconic images of post‐war Caribbean migration to Britain. The Pathé newsreel that recorded the arrival of the Windrush in 1948 featured a still youthful Kitchener singing ‘London Is the Place for Me’, which he had written on the ship, and later recorded on disc in 1951. And it was Kitchener who led the invasion of the pitch when the West Indies cricket team won at Lord's in June 1950 though it was Lord Beginner who celebrated those little pals ...

Article

James Sellman

Johnny Pacheco made his mark during the 1960s and 1970s as part of New York City's Latin music scene. Pacheco was born in Santiago de los Caballeros, Dominican Republic. His father, Rafael Azarías Pacheco, was a prominent clarinetist and conductor of the Orquestra Santa Cecilia, a leading Dominican orchestra. In the late 1940s his family moved to New York City. Johnny Pacheco learned to play saxophone, flute, and percussion in high school. In 1959 Pacheco joined the pianist Charlie Palmieri as the flutist in the newly formed group Charanga Duboney.

Charanga Duboney, featuring a Cuban-style charanga flute-and-violins front line, inspired an early 1960s charanga craze among Latino New Yorkers. In September of 1959 Pacheco left Palmieri to organize his own charanga. With the album Pacheco y su Charanga (1961) he introduced the pachanga an energetic dance style that combined elements of the charanga ...

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Phillip A Cantrell

Rwandan writer and the subject of the 2004 film Hotel Rwanda, was born in 1954 in Gitarama, Rwanda, to a Tutsi mother and a Hutu father, although Rusesabagina himself claims to be a Hutu. Rusesabagina separated from his first wife, Ester, in 1981 following the birth of three children. He remarried in 1987 to Tatiana, a Tutsi, and fathered two children, a son and a daughter who died in infancy. Rusesabagina graduated from Utalii College in Nairobi, Kenya, with a degree in hotel management and worked as an assistant to the general manager at the Hôtel des Mille Collines in Kigali, Rwanda, from 1984 to 1992. In 1992, he was promoted to general manager of the Diplomate Hotel in Kigali. Rusesabagina gained international acclaim as the subject of the film Hotel Rwanda, which was released in 2004 and nominated for an Academy Award Rusesabagina s ...

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Ayesha Kanji

entrepreneur, music executive, and promoter, was born in Queens, New York, to Daniel and Evelyn Simmons, both graduates of Howard University in Washington, D.C. Simmons's father was a politically active schoolteacher who worked for the New York Board of Education; his mother was an artist and recreation director for the New York City Department of Parks. Simmons had two brothers; his older brother, Danny, became an artist, while his younger brother, Joey, became the rap artist popularly known as “Run” (Reverend Run) of the music group Run-D.M.C. Simmons and his brothers grew up in the middle-class Queens neighborhood of Hollis attending integrated schools in the politically charged 1960s and were influenced by their father s social activism protesting racial discrimination and promoting black empowerment Simmons s mother encouraged him to embrace both the arts and entrepreneurship but despite his sound upbringing and his ...

Article

developer and owner of extensive amusement businesses in the last years of the Russian Empire, and then in Constantinople/Istanbul, present-day Turkey, was born in Coahoma County, Mississippi, the son of Lewis and Hannah Thomas. His parents, both enslaved prior to the Civil War, had purchased a two-hundred-acre farm in 1869, the second largest of six farms, out of 230 in the county, that were owned by people of African descent.

Twentieth-century references to Thomas generally give his name as George (Fyodor) Thomas. The reason for assigning the name “George” are obscure, possibly originating with a wealthy American traveler in Europe, employing the common paradigm that Pullman porters were commonly called “George” whatever their real name. Only when Vladimir Alexandrov, professor of Slavic languages and literature at Yale University, published a comprehensive biography of Thomas in 2013 was his real name established along with his place of birth and ...