(b St Thomas, VI, Nov 4, 1889; d St Thomas, VI, Nov 24, 1987). American bandmaster, composer and educator. He taught himself to play the flute and piccolo, took correspondence courses from several universities, and received the BMus degree from the University Extension Conservatory of Music, Chicago. In 1910 he formed Adams’ Juvenile Band, which was incorporated into the US Navy when it assumed the administrative duties of the US Virgin Islands in 1917. He was editor of the band department of Jacobs’ Band Monthly (1913–17), the Virgin Islands correspondent for the Associated Press, and the author of articles for various music journals, newspapers and magazines. From 1918 to 1931 he supervised the music programme in the Virgin Islands public schools, modelling it after similar programmes on the mainland. After retiring from the navy in 1947 he produced musical ...
pianist, educator, and philanthropist, was born a slave in Trenton, Kentucky, to Mary Dickinson, also a slave, and Mr. Leavell, likely a scion of the white Benjamin Leavell family, pioneers of Trenton. According to family history, Josephine's father wanted to send her and her sister to Canada on the Underground Railroad, but their mother objected because of the danger and distance. Sometime between 1868 and 1875 Josephine attended the Nashville Normal and Theological Institute (also known as the Baptist Institute), a college for African Americans that was later renamed Roger Williams University. Daniel W. Phillips, a white Baptist minister, had started the school in 1864, teaching Bible classes to freed people in his home. The school was later acquired by Vanderbilt University and incorporated into its George Peabody campus, a teachers' college.
While at the Baptist Institute Josephine studied music particularly piano and ...
Guthrie P. Ramsey
(b Coatesville, PA, Aug 17, 1928). American composer. Born into a musical family, he began piano study with his mother at the age of five and formed his first touring jazz ensemble at the age of 13. He studied at West Virginia State College (BMus 1950), Pennsylvania State University (MMusEd, 1951), the Cincinnati Conservatory (summer 1954) and the University of Iowa (PhD 1958). His teachers included Edward Lewis, Ted Phillips, P. Ahmed Williams, George Ceiga, T. Scott Huston, Phillip Bezanson and Richard B. Hervig, among others. He also attended the Aspen Music School (summer 1964), where he studied with Milhaud. His teaching appointments include positions in the North Carolina public schools and at West Virginia State College (1955–6), Langston University (1958–63) and Tennessee State University, Nashville (1963–9). From 1969 to 1971 he served as ...
Leonard L. Brown
musician, composer, arranger, teacher, scholar, and humanitarian, was born Thomas Jefferson Anderson in Coatesville, Pennsylvania, the only son and eldest of three children born to Thomas Jefferson Anderson Sr., a college professor and school principal, and Anita Turpeau Anderson, a teacher. Anderson's early years were spent in Washington, D.C., and Cincinnati, Ohio. His mother was a pianist who accompanied singers in church. She was his first musical mentor, providing encouragement from a very early age through music lessons on violin and trumpet.
Anderson attended James Monroe Elementary School in Washington, D.C., where he conducted a rhythm band and impressed Esther Ballou a city supervisor of music who told his mother the musical world will hear from your son He later attended Benjamin Banneker Junior High in Washington D C It was during his time in Washington that he discovered the Howard Theatre and the big bands of ...
musician, composer, educator, priest, and artist, was born James Hawthorne in Yamassee, South Carolina, to Mary Hugee and Roland Hawthorne. When he was still a boy he and his family moved to New Jersey, then to New York City—first to Brooklyn and later to Harlem. In Brooklyn James and his parents lived with his grandparents, and his grandfather encouraged him to join the church choir.
His musical talents became more evident after his move to Harlem, when he began to study dance and percussion with Isame Andrews, a specialist in African music and dance and a student of Asadata Dafora. Attracting notice with his vocal skills, Hawthorne was admitted to both the Eva Jessye and the Francis Hall Johnson choirs In the mid to late 1930s he studied African drum making and performance especially the ashiko drum with Moses Miannes Mianns a Nigerian who had come to ...
composer, alto saxophonist, bandleader, and teacher, was born Arthur Murray Blythe in Los Angeles, California, the second of three surviving sons of Charles Blythe, an auto mechanic, and Nancy Blythe, a homemaker and part-time seamstress. Some sources, including his obituary, give a birth date of 5 July 1940. His parents divorced, and when he was four years old he moved with his mother to San Diego. Blythe's first musical inspiration was the rhythm and blues music he heard on local jukeboxes. His mother's passion for the music of
Blackviolinist who performed extensively in Britain. Bridgetower was born in Biała, Poland, the son of John Frederick Bridgetower, who might have come from the Caribbean, and his wife, Marie Ann, a Polish woman who died when their son was young. Bridgetower was said to have been a child prodigy, having made his debut as a soloist in April 1789 in Paris. The environment in which he was brought up was a significant factor in the development of his talent. His father was employed by Prince Nicholas Esterhazy, and John and his son lived at the back of the opera house with the court's musicians. Haydn was also an employee of the Prince, and it is possible that the young Bridgetower studied under him. A few years later, in England, Bridgetower would play the violin in Haydn's symphonies at concerts commissioned by Johann Peter Solomon where ...
jazz trumpeter, composer, arranger, and educator, was born Cecil Vernon Bridgewater in Urbana, Illinois, into a family of musicians. His mother, Erma Pauline Scott Bridgewater, was the daughter of Ramon Mack Scott, who sang, played saxophone, piano, and drums, and led a band called Mack Scott and the Foot Warmers, in which Erma played piano for a time. Bridgewater's father, Cecil Bernard Bridgewater, played trumpet in the U.S. Navy band during World War II, and he was stationed at Great Lakes Naval Base with other African American musicians such as Clark Terry, Marshall Royal, Jerome Richardson, and others. Bridgewater's grandfather, Preston Bridgewater, played trumpet and cornet professionally with the circus.
When Cecil Bridgewater was a student at Marquette Grade School in Champaign Illinois the school s band director noticed his potential and encouraged his parents to find a private trumpet teacher for ...
Daniel Christopher Jacobson
music educator and musician, was born in Marshall, Texas, the son of Maude Irene Jernigan, a home health-care provider, and Leon Broadnax Sr., a truck driver. Wesley Broadnax is the sixth of seven children, having five sisters and one brother. Broadnax began his musical pursuits at age twelve when he took his first trombone lesson. Throughout his middle school and high school years in the Marshall public schools he participated in every band-related program, including marching band (drum major), concert band, jazz band, and various small ensembles. Between 1983 and 1988 he was selected to the All-Area Bands and Orchestras and the All-Region Bands and Orchestras (for Region IV), and he received first division (“superior”) medals in the Texas University Interscholastic League Solo and Ensemble Contests. In 1988 he was chosen as bass trombonist for the Texas All State Symphony Orchestra Later that year he graduated from ...
Grammy Award–winning guitarist, composer, and jazz educator, was born Kenneth Earl Burrell in Detroit, Michigan, during the Depression to parents about whom little information is available. It is known that he was the youngest of three sons, and that his family enjoyed music as part of their daily lives. His mother played piano and sang in the choir at Second Baptist Church, Detroit's oldest black congregation. Burrell's father played banjo and ukulele, which may account for Burrell's and his brother's mastery of stringed instruments.
Because there was a piano in the home, it became the first instrument Burrell played as a child. He performed once before an audience in a school auditorium. Listening to saxophonists like Lester Young and Coleman Hawkins saxophone was his first love but his family could not afford to buy him one Burrell began playing guitar and at age 12 settled for the inexpensive instrument ...
jazz trumpeter, was born Donaldson Touissant L’Ouverture Byrd II in Detroit, Michigan. His father was both a minister for the Methodist Church and a musician. Byrd studied at Cass Technical High School and, while still a teenager, performed with Lionel Hampton. During 1951–1953 he was in the U.S. Air Force, where he had the opportunity to play with military bands. After his discharge, he finished earning a degree in Music from Wayne Street University in 1954. Byrd moved to New York in mid-1955, where he earned a master's degree in music education from the Manhattan School of Music.
Very busy as a trumpeter as soon as he arrived in New York, Byrd worked with pianist George Wallington, Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers (during part of 1956) and drummer Max Roach. He also co-led the Jazz Lab with altoist Gigi Gryce.
At that time ...
Alexander J. Chenault
was born in Washington, DC, and raised by her adopted mother Beullah Hanson Caldwell, in Baltimore, Maryland. Caldwell had a solidly middle class upbringing. Her father was a carpenter and her mother was an elementary school teacher, who later retired as a principal. Caldwell began piano lessons at the age of four with one of only two African American piano teachers in Baltimore. By the age of seven, Caldwell had given her first piano recital at Morgan State University. She attended the Hamilton Elementary School and Pimlico Middle School—which were both segregated. However, Hansonia attended the racially integrated, all‐girls, Eastern High School where she served as accompanist for the school’s choir. Caldwell graduated from high school in February of 1962.
She then attended Boston University’s School of Performing Arts, and was initiated into the Epsilon chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha in1963 and received her B Mus ...
was born on 14 December 1915 in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. His father was a civil servant who headed up the Department of Water Supply. Casséus’s interest in the guitar was sparked by his aunt, who played the mandolin and helped to raise him when he was a child. In Casséus’s words, following his aunt’s death, “The sight of her mandolin perched on this pile of garbage and the memory of her music has never ceased to haunt me. I burned with desire, for I never forgot Aunt Andrée’s mandolin” (Mathelier, 1995; quoted in Ribot and Ribot, 2003, p. 5). Originally intent on pursuing a law degree, Casséus dropped out of school to focus on playing guitar, and is known as the first professional classical guitarist in Haiti.
Casséus studied with the Haitian composer and ethnographer Werner Anton Jaegerhuber in the early 1930s Like his teacher Casséus challenged the ...
alto saxophonist, band leader, and educator, was born on Chicago's South Side. While Coleman has chosen not to reveal many details about his childhood, he has underscored his father's love of jazz and his encouragement of his son's violin study in elementary school. At fourteen Coleman switched to the alto saxophone, but rejected his father's advice to explore Charlie Parker. Instead, Coleman adopted Maceo Parker, a saxophonist in James Brown's band, as his idol. He then organized a group of schoolmates in a funk band that emulated the Brown sound.
During his freshman year at Illinois Wesleyan University Coleman experienced a watershed moment The school s jazz band rejected his candidacy citing his lack of proficiency in improvisation This rejection moved Coleman to study Charlie Parker s recordings in the hopes of acquiring Parker s seemingly intuitive ability for spontaneous innovation He combined an immersion in Parker ...
The son of the first African American professor at Princeton University, Anthony Davis studied classical music as a child in New York and as an undergraduate at Yale University he played free-jazz with Anthony Braxton. After earning his B.A. at Yale in 1975, Davis moved to New York City, where he supported himself as a Jazz pianist. As Davis developed musically, his compositions deviated from traditional jazz. He often abandoned improvisation and drew elements from Western classical music and African and South Asian rhythms. His recordings from this period include Hidden Voices (1979) and Lady of the Mirrors (1981). In 1981 Davis formed an eight-piece ensemble, Episteme, whose repertoire included a combination of improvised and scored music, blurring the distinction between jazz and classical music.
In the 1980s Davis began focusing much of his work on historical subjects. Middle Passage (1984 ...
Ronald P. Dufour
pianist and composer, was born in Paterson, New Jersey, son of Charles Davis and Jeanne C. Davis. The family lived in New York City until Anthony was five and then moved to Pennsylvania, where his father, an English professor, founded the African American studies program at Penn State University. Anthony grew up around college communities and began to study music with Penn State faculty members when he was in junior high school. He focused at first on classical piano but became interested in jazz after listening to Thelonious Monk, and he began to explore improvisation when he was around fifteen. Davis studied English, philosophy, and music at Yale, where he received a BA in Music in 1975 Yale provided little support for his interest in jazz however so his training there was largely in European classical music To pursue his growing interest in non Western music ...
Ivonne Samira Molinares Guerrero
was born in the city of Medellín, in the department of Antioquia, Colombia. She was the adopted child of Valerio Gómez and Teresa Arteaga, with whom she lived at the School of Fine Arts (Bellas Artes) in Medellín from 1940 to 1950, a place they occupied as caretakers.
It was in this educational setting that Gómez had her first experiences with the piano at age 3, since she would listen in on classes given there. Once the students and professors finished their daily work and left the building, she would sit before the instrument to practice her musical notes. Her first classes were with the musical pedagogue Martha Agudelo de Maya, and at age 5 she was already playing complete children’s songs.
As piano was her great passion Teresita abandoned her primary school studies in third grade and dedicated herself exclusively to studying piano performance In the early 1950s ...
guitarist, teacher, composer, arranger, and civil rights advocate, was born in Norfolk County, Virginia, to Exum Holland a farmer. His mother's name is not recorded.
Justin Holland recognized at an early age that rural Virginia offered few opportunities for an ambitious young African American. Born on a farm in Norfolk County to free parents in 1819, Holland was only fourteen when he set out for Boston. Massachusetts was the first state to abolish slavery (in 1783 and Boston had a small but comparatively thriving black population Holland found work that provided in his words a good living in nearby Chelsea and became immersed in the energetic cultural life of the city He had shown a knack for music from a young age but farm life provided little opportunity to develop musical talent Now inspired by the performances of Mariano Perez one of the ...
(b Norfolk Co., VA, 1819; d New Orleans, March 24, 1887). American guitarist and composer. At the age of 14 he went to Boston, where he began to study the piano, guitar and flute. He later studied at Oberlin College (1841–3, 1845) and in Mexico before moving to Cleveland, Ohio, where he was a guitar teacher and composer until 1886. Declining health then forced him to retire and move to New Orleans. His numerous pieces for guitar solo include Elfin Waltzes, Maiden’s Prayer, Spanish Fandango and Three Tyrolien Airs. A pioneering African American composer for the guitar, he also wrote duets for guitar, pieces for guitar and piano, arrangements of operatic airs for guitar and violin or flute, and many songs with guitar accompaniment, and he published the book Choral Reform (c1845 His instruction ...
pianist, impresario, opera director, producer, television host, and educator, was born in Harlem, New York, to Walter Jones, born 1910, and Lucille Fairs, born 1908, a housewife from Wilmington, North Carolina. His father worked at the Capitol Theatre, which premiered the film version of Gone with the Wind.R. Wellington Jones had a sister, Jean Jones, now deceased. His maternal grandmother, Sukie Fairs, was a slave as a child and lived 106 years. His paternal grandfather was killed by the Ku Klux Klan in Scotland Neck, North Carolina, in the early 1920s. His great grandparents were slaves and part of the Cherokee Nation.
Wellington Jones graduated from New York's famed High School of Music and Art in 1958, and earned both his bachelor's degree (1962) and master of arts degree (1964 in Music ...