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Lois Bellamy

composer, educator, choral conductor, music professor, singer, and author, was born to Dr. Daniel Webster Boatner, former slave, and Sophie Stuart, in New Orleans, Louisiana. Dr. Daniel Webster Boatner was born in South Carolina and was nine years old when Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863 Edward Boatner s grandmother was a slave who was determined that her son Daniel would receive a good education She worked very hard scrubbing floors washing cooking and nursing children of wealthy whites to send him to school Dr Boatner attended Fisk University in Nashville Tennessee and graduated from New Orleans University where he received his bachelor s and master s degrees After earning his doctorate from Gammon Theological Seminary at Atlanta Georgia he served on the faculty of Philander Smith College a Methodist School in Little Rock Arkansas where he taught Hebrew ...


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 ...


Sunny Nash

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 ...


Scott Yanow

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 ...


Kip Lornell

gospel composer and teacher, was born in Duck Hill, Mississippi, the daughter of Burrell Campbell, a railroad worker, and Isabella Wilkerson. Lucy's mother was widowed several months after Lucy's birth, and the family soon moved from Carroll County to Memphis, Tennessee, the nearest major city. Lucie and her many siblings struggled to survive on their mother's meager wages, which she earned by washing and ironing clothing. Given the family's insubstantial income, it could afford a musical education for only one child, Campbell's older sister Lora. Lucie eventually learned to play piano, however, through her own persistence, a gifted ear for music, and a little help from Lora.

Lucie Campbell was a bright student who easily mastered elementary school and middle school, winning awards in both penmanship and Latin. Even before graduating from Kortrecht Senior High School (later Booker T. Washington High School as the class valedictorian she ...


Kip Lornell

Campbell, Lucie E. (1885–03 January 1963), gospel composer and teacher, was born in Duck Hill, Mississippi, the daughter of Burrell Campbell, a railroad worker, and Isabella Wilkerson. Her mother was widowed several months after Lucie’s birth, and the family soon moved from Carroll County to Memphis, the nearest major city. Lucie and her many siblings struggled to survive on their mother’s meager wages, which she earned by washing and ironing clothing. Given the family’s insubstantial income, it could afford a musical education for only one child: Lucie’s older sister Lora. Lucie eventually learned to play piano, however, through her own persistence, a gifted ear for music, and a little help from Lora.

Lucie Campbell was a bright student who easily mastered elementary school and middle school winning awards in both penmanship and Latin Even before graduating from Kortrecht Senior High School later Booker T Washington as the ...


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 ...


Eric Bennett

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 ...


Lorin Nails-Smoote

educator, administrator, and vocalist, was born in Otsego, Michigan, the youngest of six children of Martha Keith, homemaker, of Greenwood, North Carolina, and Edward Lewis Buchanan, paper mill superintendent and inventor, from Edwards, Mississippi. Edward Buchanan, who had a sixth grade education, rose from sweeper to superintendent and then consultant and trouble-shooter for the paper industry in the United States and the Caribbean. (Mr. Buchanan is credited with an invention, Paper Pulp Consistency Regulators, which changed the manufacture of paper.) In the early 1920s, after being hired by the John Strange Paper Company, he moved his family to Menasha, Wisconsin, where they were the sole black family in the predominantly Polish and German city. Indeed, there were few if any African Americans in the state north of Milwaukee.

Evans grew up in a home that was very supportive of education for women as well as men ...


Glenn Allen Knoblock

World War II veteran, Bronze Star recipient, musician, and educator was born in Anderson, South Carolina, the eldest child of Reverend Charles Francis and his wife Hermena. In 1934 the Francis family moved to Keysville, Georgia, where his father accepted an assignment to lead Boggs Academy, a Presbyterian college preparatory school for African Americans founded in 1906. Charles Francis Jr. graduated from Boggs Academy in 1936 and subsequently attended Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte, North Carolina, earning a degree in history in 1941.

Following his graduation, Francis briefly worked as a traveling salesman and also may have worked as a railroad porter, but with America's entry into World War II in 1942, Francis enlisted as a soldier in the US Army. His early military career is unknown, but by early 1943 Francis was assigned to the divisional staff of the all ...


Cynthia Haveson Veloric

artist and educator, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to Ruby Arlene Powell, a homemaker, and Barkley H. Hendricks, a carpenter who worked at the Philadelphia Navy Yard. Barkley L. Hendricks “didn't like school” (unpublished interview, 2005), preferring to sketch and draw in his spare time, but once he entered high school, his teachers encouraged his art studies. Another outlet for his talent was the high school yearbook, for which he was both editor and illustrator. Outside school he created chalk and pastel markings on city walls, which he later called “pre-aerosol graffiti” (unpublished interview, 2005).

After graduating from Simon Gratz High School in 1963, Hendricks enrolled in the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia, the oldest art school in the country. At the time, there were few black students or faculty. He can easily recall fellow students Lou Sloan and Raymond Saunders ...


Rebecca M. Bodenheimer

was born Gregorio Hernández Ríos on 17 November 1936 in the westernmost Cuban province of Pinar del Río. His family moved to Havana when he was a small boy, to a shantytown on the outskirts of the capital called Las Yaguas. Hernández’s father, Isidro, made his living as a bottle collector, buying empty bottles from residents to resell at bottle collection companies. Like many ambulant vendors at the time, Isidro used the folkloric tradition of the pregón, or street vendor’s call, which entailed going door to door using catchy song phrases to hawk one’s wares (one of Cuba’s most famous songs, “El Manicero” (The Peanut Vendor), is based on a pregón). Thus, Hernández was introduced early in his life to a popular sung folkloric tradition, and it was not long before the seven-year-old was creating and singing his own pregones He also began attending rumba parties at ...


Laura Madeline Wiseman

writer, teacher, musician, and performer, was born Consuela Marie Moore in Luling, Louisiana, to Frank P. Moore, a bricklayer, and Augustine Boudreaux Moore, a homemaker and musician. Kein and her six sisters and seven brothers were raised in New Orleans's Seventh Ward. She, like her family, spoke Creole until she started school. She was then required to speak bon français, or good French, which resulted in her losing the ability to speak Creole. Kein's ethnic background was an amalgamation of African American, Spanish, Irish, Native American, French, Jewish, German, and Polish, but Kein identified herself as Creole. She explained, “I like to think of [Creole culture] as epitomizing American culture because we are a mosaic of different cultures” (Flint [Michigan] Journal, 7 Nov. 1996).

Kein auditioned for the New Orleans Symphony Orchestra in 1958 as a violist but the ...


Cheryl Black

singer, actress, and teacher, was born in New York City to an African American mother and German Jewish father. Her mother died during childbirth, and Mitchell moved to Baltimore, Maryland, with her maternal aunts, Alice and Josephine, and maternal grandmother. She attended St. Elizabeth's Convent, moving back to New York with her aunt Josephine when she was twelve to study music, a musical education that continued throughout her young adulthood. Her coaches included Harry Burleigh, Emilia Serrano, and Jean de Retzke.

Mitchell began her fifty-year career in the theater in 1898, singing in Clorindy, or the Origin of the Cakewalk, composed by Will Marion Cook and with lyrics by Paul Laurence Dunbar. This production marked the beginning of Mitchell's lifelong professional and personal relationship with Cook, whom she married in 1900 (Carter, 55). The couple had two children, Marion Abigail ...


Nancy T. Robinson

actor, musician, singer, educator and philanthropist, was born Melba Hill in Harlem, New York City, the only child to a single mother, the successful big band singer Bonnie Davis (née Melba Gertrude Smith). Moore's biological father, Teddy Hill, was a saxophonist who managed the Harlem jazz club, Minton's Playhouse. They separated before Moore was born.

Davis performed with bands associated with Count Basie, Dizzy Gillespie, and Duke Ellington. On the road constantly, she left her daughter to the care of a grandmother and then hired a fulltime nanny named Lulubelle Hattie Mae Stetley Hawkins (“Mama Lu”). Moore endured a physically abusive childhood under Hawkins, a violent upbringing that she claimed helped her to develop a strong sense of self that would assist her in dealing with future hardships.

When Moore was nine, her mother married the keyboardist Clement Moorman ...


Joan F. McCarty

musician, social activist, songtalker, and scholar, was born Bernice Johnson in Albany, Georgia, the daughter of a Baptist minister, the Reverend Jessie Johnson, and a homemaker, Beatrice Johnson. Johnson was steeped in the traditions and culture of the southwestern Georgia community surrounding Mt. Early Baptist Church. Her home church did not have a piano for many years, so she honed her a cappella vocal skills in the school and church choir.

After graduating from high school, she auditioned for the music program at Albany State College and was accepted, enrolling in 1959 as music major. While in college, she served as the secretary of the youth division of the NAACP and became more deeply drawn into the civil rights struggle. Reagon began to attend meetings of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) in the city and eventually formed a bond with Cordell Reagon ...


Sowande' Mustakeem

Undoubtedly one of the few professors of history to have a second career as a singer-songwriter, Bernice Johnson Reagon continues to focus her work on sharing the historical legacy of the African American experience amid the relentless quest for freedom and justice within America.

Reagon was born in Albany, Georgia, one of eight children of Jessie Johnson, a carpenter, and Beatrice Johnson, a housekeeper. On days off from her housekeeping job, Beatrice Johnson picked cotton. Jessie Johnson served onSundays as minister at four different rural Baptist churches. Reagon’s musical foundation was largely shaped by the influence of the southwestern Georgia choral tradition in her father’s church, which was part of a tradition dating back to the nineteenth century. Reagon entered Albany State College in 1959 where she studied Italian arias and German lieder as a contralto soloist During this time she became active in the civil ...


María Auxiliadora González Malabet

was born on 24 September 1927 in Noanamá, on the San Juan River, in the department of Chocó, Colombia, and died on 1 May 2008. In 1930, when Ninfa Aurora was 3 years old, her family moved to the seaport city of Buenaventura in the Valle del Cauca department. She lived in this Pacific coastal region for the next seventy-seven years of her life.

Many authors define her as self taught because when she was a child she learned to read and write using charcoal on cardboard to copy the names of shops and barns At the same time she helped her family by selling arepas a Colombian staple food in the village of Pueblo Nuevo In her academic life Ninfa Aurora studied education and culture and she later graduated with the title Teacher of Culture from the Universidad Campesina locally known as the University of Resistance in ...


Gladys Zubiría Fuentes

was born in Tadó, Chocó, Colombia, around 1945. She is the founder of Fundación Raíces Negras (the Black Roots Foundation), a nonprofit organization created in response to the social problems facing the Pacific region of Colombia—fighting the loss of its Afro-American identity and preserving its values—while working toward the peaceful coexistence of all Colombian cultures.

Her passion for education and music derived from her father, Baltazar Rosero. She earned a bachelor’s degree in social and economic sciences from the University of Colombia Libre University, with a specialization in artistic education and cultural management. Afterward, she became a teacher at the Normal School, a primary school in Quibdó.

Throughout her extensive career as an educator she has primarily worked with Afro Colombian youth Promoting their Afro identity as a minority group and instilling pride in that identity as an integral part of the nation have been the central goals of ...


Ronald P. Dufour

saxophonist, playwright, and educator, was born in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and grew up in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He studied clarinet in his youth but switched to alto saxophone at about the age of fifteen; as a teenager he played in local rhythm-and-blues bands and also apprenticed with Cal Massey, who had earlier influenced John Coltrane. Shepp graduated from Goddard College with a BA in Dramatic Literature in 1959 and moved to New York City in search of theater work, playing alto saxophone in dance bands to earn money.

Influenced by Coltrane, Shepp switched to tenor sax and immediately began to make a name for himself. Coltrane's emphasis on the African American spiritual values of jazz certainly shaped his approach to the music, but by Shepp's own account it was his playing with Cecil Taylor, from 1960 to 1962 that truly transformed him musically ...