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David B. McCarthy

musician, educator, and prominent Presbyterian, was born Melva Ruby Wilson in Due West, South Carolina, one of five children of Azzie Lee Ellis Wilson and John Theodore Wilson Sr., both of whom were college graduates and teachers. Because the local black public schools were unaccredited, her parents sent her to a black boarding school, Harbison Junior College in Irmo, South Carolina, at the age of fourteen. Two years later, at the age of sixteen, she entered Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte, North Carolina. There she met fellow student James Hutten Costen. She graduated with a BA in Education in 1952 and married Jim Costen the day before he graduated in 1953. They eventually had two sons and one daughter, James Jr., Craig, and Cheryl.

Costen taught elementary school in the Mecklenburg County school system from 1952 to 1955 the year her husband ...

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John Wriggle

composer, trombonist, writer, and educator, was born in Chicago, Illinois, the son of George Thomas Lewis, originally from North Carolina, and Cornelia Griffith of Georgia. George attended public elementary school before enrolling at the University of Chicago Laboratory School at age nine, at which time his parents bought him a trombone to assist with what he called “social development.” By age twelve George was listening to the music of Charlie Parker, Thelonious Monk, and John Coltrane, learning solos from jazz recordings such as Lester Young with the Oscar Peterson Trio, and studying improvisation with the trombonist Dean Hey.

At Yale University, from which he earned a BA in Philosophy in 1974, Lewis found company in the sextet of the pianist and fellow student Anthony Davis After becoming dissatisfied with the artistic boundaries imposed by the music department at ...

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Gayle Murchison

composer, conductor, singer, scholar, and folk song collector, was born in Nashville, Tennessee, the son of John Wesley Work Sr., a Nashville church choir director, and Samuella Boyd. The senior Work composed and arranged music for his choirs, which included members of the original Fisk Jubilee Singers, and that work instilled in the younger Work a love of African American folk music, especially spirituals. Work attended public schools in Nashville and graduated from Meigs High School in about 1891. After studying music, Latin, and history at Fisk University, he studied classics at Harvard for two years, beginning in 1896. He sang in the Mozart Society, which awakened further interest in spirituals. He returned to Fisk, where he spent a year as a library assistant while completing a master's degree before assuming teaching duties in 1898 He taught Latin and history at ...