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Michael J. Bustamante

was born on 27 February 1927 in Havana into a working-class family with twelve children. After completing the eighth grade and working as a bricklayer, Almeida was introduced to political activity in 1952 upon meeting Fidel Castro while employed at the beach club for students of the University of Havana. A veteran of the failed 1953 assault on Santiago de Cuba’s Moncada Barracks, and prisoner of the Fulgencio Batista government until May 1955, Almeida returned to Cuba in late November 1956 from exile in Mexico, along with other insurgents of the 26th of July Movement, aboard the yacht Granma. Together with Fidel Castro and his brother, Raúl, as well as Ché Guevara and Camilo Cienfuegos, Almeida was among the few rebels who survived initial clashes with Batista’s forces and arrived at the Sierra Maestra in eastern Cuba. In early 1958 he was promoted to Comandante Commander the ...

Article

Born Raymond Quevedo, Atilla de Hun recorded with American record companies beginning in 1934, when he and Roaring Lion (Hubert Raphael Charles, later Raphael de Leon were the first Trinidadian calypsonians to record in New York City During his career he also recorded with the ...

Article

Dexnell G.L. Peters

was born Raymond Quevedo on 24 March 1892 in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago. He was born to a Trinidadian mother and Venezuelan father. Quevedo won a government scholarship, receiving his secondary education at St. Mary’s College or the College of Immaculate Conception, a prestigious Port of Spain school. He likely spent the years 1904 to 1908 at the college. It should be noted that secondary education at the time was a privilege only afforded to those of the wealthier classes or those able to attain one of the few available government scholarships. Although this privilege allowed Quevedo the opportunity to pursue various career options, he eventually decided to become a calypsonian and later was popularly known by the sobriquet “Attila the Hun.” In 1911 he sang his first calypso publicly and later began singing in calypso tents venues where calypsonians performed regularly and where he grew tremendously ...

Article

Gordon Root

Ignacio Villa, known by his stage name, Bola de Nieve, was born and grew up in a poor neighborhood in Guanabacoa, Cuba. His parents introduced him to Afro-Cuban music when he was a child, and he was exposed to European classical music in his formal studies. His classical training began when he studied privately with Gerado Guanche. Later Villa enrolled in the Conservatorio de José Mateu, where he studied mandolin and flute as well as piano.

At home Villa absorbed many elements of traditional Afro-Cuban music through his contact with Rumba and other rhythms and dances. It has been suggested that his parents participated in African-based religions and that young Ignacio had been educated in the music and practices of Afro-Cuban religion as well.

As a boy Villa helped support his family by performing in house for neighborhood audiences His professional career began in the 1920s ...

Article

Ana Luiza Libânio

was born Leci Brandão da Silva, on 12 September 1944, in Madureira, suburb of Rio de Janeiro, and was raised in Vila Isabel, a neighborhood known for its contributions to samba. Her father, Antonio Francisco da Silva, a school janitor, and her mother, Lecy de Assumpção Brandão, a housewife and later school janitor, were able to provide her with a rich educational background, teaching her an appreciation for samba and other forms of music, including classical, opera, and jazz. She grew up enjoying Brazilian popular music (Música Popular Brasileira, or MPB), but also became a fan of international singers. Though she had eclectic musical tastes, she regarded samba as her favorite genre, especially the songs through which she could protest against social injustice.

Brandão had to start working at an early age in order to contribute to the household finances Working as operator attendant and factory worker during the ...

Article

Gordon Root

Manno Charlemagne was raised by his aunt in the working-class neighborhoods of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, where he was born. As a boy, he was surrounded by the desperate violence and destitution of these poverty-stricken districts. According to Charlemagne, some of his earliest boyhood memories include images of people fleeing bullets or making homemade bombs. The extreme poverty that he encountered from such an early age helped to cultivate his acute sensitivity to political injustice. Later, as an angaje (politically engaged) musician, this awareness became his trademark and his ticket to success both in music and in politics.

Charlemagne began singing and playing guitar at the age of sixteen. In 1968 he formed his first band, a Mini-Jazz group called Les Remarquables. His second group, Les Trovères, provided the artist with his first involvement in twoubadou music It was in this environment that Charlemagne first began to address the social ...

Article

Aura Posada

known as “Fercho Durango,” was born on 3 August 1953 in Cali, a city in southwestern Colombia. He was a student leader, both at Santa Librada High School in Cali and at the University of Valle, where he studied economics and musical pedagogy.

In 1976 Díaz moved to Bogotá, where he got into the theater community by playing in a salsa orchestra, Son del Pueblo (They’re from the Town), that accompanied the plays put on by the Teatro Libre (Free Theater) in Bogotá. His first jobs in television came in 1984 in the soap opera El Faraón (The Pharoah), on Channel Caracol, where he claims that he learned how to move, act, and manage the cameras. He acted in the Colombian film, Golpe de Estado (Coup d’état, 1999 a comedy about the rampant armed conflict in his country in which he played a helicopter pilot He acted in several ...

Article

Christopher Dunn

Gilberto Gil was born in Salvador, Brazil and grew up in a middle-class family in Ituaçu, a small town in the dusty interior of the state of Bahia. After moving back to Salvador in 1951, Gil studied the accordion but switched to guitar after hearing João Gilberto's version of “Chega de Saudade,” which inaugurated the Bossa Nova movement. In the early 1960s, he studied business administration at the Federal University of Bahia and performed with other local artists, such as Caetano Veloso, Maria Bethânia, Gal Costa, and Tom Zé. In 1965 he moved to São Paulo and began working for a multinational company, while continuing to pursue an artistic career. At that time he was active within the left-wing artistic milieu, which opposed the recently installed military regime.

Gil gained national recognition in 1967 at the Third Festival of Brazilian Popular Music aired ...

Article

Elisabeth Bekers

Kenyan radio and television broadcaster and producer, public relations specialist, educator, farmer, writer, and politician, was born at Kahuhia Mission, in Fort Hall (now Murang’a) District, the daughter of Gikuyu Christian pioneers, Mariuma Wanjiura and Levi Gachanja Mgumba. Likimani’s father was one of the first Kenyan Anglican Church ministers and helped develop St. John Kahuhia Church and Mission (established in 1906). A successful commercial farmer, the Reverend Gachanja was able to provide well for Muthoni and her eight surviving siblings. Likimani was educated at Kahuhia Girls School and at the Government African Girls Teachers College, Lower Kabete.

After her graduation she briefly worked as a tutor at her old school in Kahuhia but moved to Nairobi soon after marrying Dr Jason Clement Likimani d 1989 A Masai and a fellow student of her eldest brother s at Makerere College in Kampala Uganda in the 1930s Dr Likimani was the first ...

Article

Marcus B. Christian

The son of Eulalie de Mandeville and an unknown father, Victor-Eugène Macarty was a member of an extended free mixed-race family of the name Macarty. Many members of the Macarty family were the descendants of a Spanish-Irish family named McCarthy who changed the spelling to Macarty. This family was composed of persons of education, wealth, and refinement. Most of the white men of this prominent Creole family preferred relationships with free women of color. As in the case of Eulalie de Mandeville, the common-law bride of Eugène Macarty, these free black women were frequently the natural daughters of some of the most prominent white Creole families, and these families recognized them with substantial marriage dowries and personal gifts. At the time the extremely wealthy Marigny de Mandeville family placed its daughter Eulalie in the hands of Eugène Macarty she had chosen this white man of wealth and family position ...

Article

Emad Abdul-Latif

Egyptianvernacular poet, songwriter, and political activist, popularly known as el-Fāgūmī, was born in May 1929 in Kafr abu Negm village in Sharqiyya governorate. His father, Mohammed Ezzat Negm, was a police officer and his mother, Hanim Mursi Negm, was a farmer. His father's sudden death was a tragic event in his life. His family abandoned him when he was ten years old and he had to move to an orphans’ shelter where he stayed for seven years. From that moment, Negm lived an unstable, though rich, life. At the age of seventeen, he returned briefly to his village and worked at farming, only to move back to Cairo shortly after. Negm worked many odd jobs but failed to keep any one job for a prolonged period of time until he worked for the Egyptian railways in 1951. In 1959 he was accused of ...

Article

Gregg Cantrell

politician, was born in Raleigh, North Carolina, the son of Kenneth Rayner, a white planter, and Mary Ricks, a slave. His father had a long public career as a Whig congressman, Know Nothing Party leader, and, after the Civil War, a Republican federal officeholder. Kenneth Rayner acknowledged that John was his son and helped him secure a college education at Raleigh Theological Institute (today Shaw University) and Saint Augustine's Normal and Collegiate Institute.

Before he graduated, John Rayner moved in 1872 to Tarboro, North Carolina, where, as a Republican, he held the local offices of constable and magistrate during Radical Reconstruction. He married Susan Staten in 1874; they had two children. In 1880 Rayner became a labor agent for several Texas cotton planters and persuaded a number of black farm workers to move with him to Robertson County Texas He settled in Calvert where he ...

Article

orator, politician, and writer, was born in Greenview, Mississippi, the son of Emory Simmons, a principal of a black school in Hollandale, Mississippi, and Willie Murray. He grew up in Aberdeen, Mississippi, and worked for a time as Ohio senator Mark Hanna's office boy. In 1895 he entered Tuskegee Institute in Alabama, studying under Booker T. Washington, who had married Simmons's aunt, Margaret Murray Washington. After graduating in 1899, he took a job as a reporter for the Pensacola Daily News and a year later moved to the Washington, D.C., Record where he began his political involvement Simmons worked for a time as a teacher in Holly Springs Mississippi and once tried selling cigars but his ambitions lay in journalism and politics When his uncle offered him a teaching position at Tuskegee Institute Simmons declined replying I have been called ...

Article

Rob Garrison

Johnny Ventura, affectionately called El Caballo (The Horse), has been praised as one of the few artists to successfully blend politics and music. His achievements are facilitated by a strong sense of national identity and a connection with the masses. Ventura made merengue the country's main musical form and a symbol of national identity accessible to all social classes. Unlike most other politicians, Ventura expresses pride in his African heritage within a society that emphasizes its Spanish and indigenous ancestry. Ventura has used music not only to provide entertainment but also as a medium through which meaningful issues like Dominican identity and concepts of race can be expressed.

Johnny Ventura began his musical career under his birth name, Juan de Dios Ventura Soriano. After winning a 1956 radio station singing competition that drew attention to his powerful smoky voice the singer changed his name to the stylish Johnny ...