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Susan Richardson-Sanabria

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 ...

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Suzanne Cloud

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 ...

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Charles Johnson

Born in Baltimore, Maryland, on July 21, 1840, Christian Fleetwood was the son of Charles and Anna Maria Fleetwood, who were both free blacks. Fleetwood received his early education in the home of wealthy sugar merchant John C. Brunes and his wife, the latter treating him like her son. He continued his education in the office of the secretary of the Maryland Colonization Society, went briefly to Liberia and Sierra Leone, and graduated in 1860 from Ashmun Institute (later Lincoln University) in Pennsylvania. He and others briefly published, in Baltimore, the Lyceum Observer, which was said to be the first black newspaper in the upper South. After the Civil War (1861–1865) disrupted trade with Liberia, he enlisted in the Union Army.

Fleetwood enlisted as a sergeant in Company G, Fourth Regiment, United States Colored Volunteer Infantry, on August 11, 1863 He ...

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Michael Frank Knight

, clerk, editor, Civil War veteran, and recipient of the Medal of Honor, was born to Charles and Anna Marie Fleetwood, free people in Baltimore, Maryland. In 1863 Christian left a lucrative position as a clerk in the Brune shipping and trading empire and joined the Fourth United States Colored Troops as a private. Just over a year later Fleetwood received the Medal of Honor for bravery and coolness under fire at the Battle of New Market Heights (Chaffin's Farm), 29 and 30 September 1864. He was one of only sixteen African American soldiers to receive the Medal of Honor during the Civil War.

Christian Fleetwood's remarkable story begins in the home of the prominent Baltimore businessman John C. Brune Fleetwood s father served for a long time as the majordomo in the Brune household and it was there that Christian received his early education in reading ...

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Suzanne Cloud

pianist, arranger, and composer, was born Clifton Edward Green Jr. in Abington, Pennsylvania, the son of Clifton Edward Green Sr., a paper hanger and carpenter, and Carrie Townes, who worked as a domestic. Self taught, Eddie Green began playing piano at five years of age and became active in music in public school. His formal secondary education ended at Abington High School when he was in the tenth grade. At age sixteen he came under the tutelage of the hard bop pianist Richie Powell and his brother, the bebop legend Bud Powell. During this time, Green learned the essentials of jazz by listening to and absorbing the lessons of his mentors. Green also formed a band and regularly played a local African American venue in Willow Grove called the Three C s Like many African American communities that supported young musicians and vocalists the ...

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David Borsvold

composer and university professor, was born Adolphus Cunningham Hailstork III in Rochester, New York, the only child of Phyllis Hailstork, a civil servant in the State of New York Estate Tax Department, and Adolphus Hailstork II, whose occupation is unknown. He grew up primarily in Albany, New York, his musical education beginning with childhood piano lessons. Hailstork also studied the organ, the violin, and voice. As a student at Albany High School, he conducted a boys' choir and began to compose music. He received his high school diploma in the spring of 1959.

Hailstork continued his musical education at Howard University. Entering in the fall of 1959, he studied composition under Mark Fax and graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Music degree in 1963. In the summer of that year he received a Lucy Moten Travel Fellowship and went to France ...

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John Harris-Behling

jazz saxophonist, pianist, and composer, was born in Chicago, Illinois, to Walter Harris and Alice Harris. When his parents moved to the city in 1913, his father, originally from Cuba, worked in the stockyards, while his mother, a native of New Orleans, worked as a laundress. Harris lost his father when he was young and was raised by his mother. He began singing with South Side church choirs when he was five and also began taking piano lessons from his cousin, Bernice Benson.

Like many African American musicians in Chicago, Harris attended DuSable High School. He studied with the band director Walter Dyette, whose students included jazz musicians like Johnny Griffin and Gene Ammons as well as Harris's classmates the bassist Richard Davis and the saxophonist John Gilmore Dyette first taught Harris the marimba and the vibraphone and later the clarinet But ...

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Kofi Natambu

pianist and composer, was born Hampton B. Hawes Jr. in Los Angeles, California, the son of Hampton B. Hawes Sr., a Presbyterian minister. The name of his mother, who played piano in her husband's church, is unknown. When Hampton was eight, he learned how to play piano by watching his sister, who was training to become a concert pianist, and by listening to records by his favorite jazz musicians. His intense study of such prominent jazz pianists as Fats Waller and Earl “Fatha” Hines during the 1930s and early 1940s had a profound influence on him during his youth. He began playing regularly while attending Polytechnic High School. He later recalled going straight from his high school graduation ceremony to a jazz gig with the Cecil James McNeely Big Jay McNeely band Throughout the 1940s Hawes played at a wide range of clubs on black Los Angeles ...

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singer, composer, and actor, was born in Cleveland, Ohio. One of seven children, Hawkins was placed in an orphanage by his mother while still an infant, and information about his parents is scant, though Hawkins believed his father to be of Middle Eastern descent. Accounts vary as to how he spent his childhood. By some accounts he was adopted by a member of the Blackfoot tribe at eighteen months, by others that he spent his childhood in the foster care system. Hawkins was a musical prodigy, playing the piano by age three, reading music by age six, and playing the saxophone by age fourteen. He did not graduate from high school; however, he did attend the Ohio Conservatory of Music for one year in 1943 where he studied opera His goal of becoming an opera singer endured his entire life He was also a boxer winning ...

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Lois Bellamy

baritone, choral conductor, and Tuskegee Airman, was born in New York City, the eighth of eleven children of Samuel Alexander Henderson of St. Kitts in the Caribbean and Ruth Rebecca Waites of Florence, South Carolina. Both of Ruth Henderson's grandmothers were slaves. Samuel Henderson worked for the New York City subway system, and Ruth was a piano teacher and a seamstress. Henderson said that his mother insisted that the children learn to play the piano or find somewhere else to live. His early education was in the New York City public schools.

In 1940 Henderson graduated from Stuyvesant High School in New York City Afterward he went to school at night to learn typing and stenography For one semester he attended Alabama State Teachers College in Montgomery Alabama against his mother s wishes The discrimination in Alabama was so intense that Henderson could not withstand it ...

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Barry Kernfeld

jazz singer, lyricist, and tap dancer, was born Edgar Jefferson in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Information about his parents is unknown. It is known that he started dancing around age eight. He also played tuba in a school band and taught himself guitar and drums, experience that later gave his singing a firm musical foundation. In Pittsburgh he was accompanied by the pianist Art Blakey, before Blakey took up drums, and he danced and sang with the Zephyrs at the Chicago World's Fair in 1933. In 1937 Jefferson danced in the Knockouts, a trio that included Dave Tate and Irv Taylor (Little Irv), and he worked in a dance team called Billy and Eddie in 1939. Around 1940 he performed with Coleman Hawkins's big band at Dave's in Chicago. While in the army, around 1942 he was in charge of a drum and bugle ...

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Mark Steven Maulucci

singer, guitarist, and songwriter, was born in Greenwood, Mississippi. His mother died when he was five years old, and he moved to the L. C. Haves plantation in Hollindale, in southern Mississippi, to be reared by his grandmother. He never knew his father. Jones was interested in music and sang in the church choir. He made his living working in the cotton fields and visited the local juke joints to sing and dance with the bands passing through. His accomplished dancing skills would serve him well as he developed his stage act. Jones began working with fellow Greenwood native Willie Warren's band and started playing guitar at Warren's encouragement. He was deeply moved by the slide guitar playing of Robert Nighthawk. Jones met his first wife, Virginia Dumas when he was eighteen years old but the marriage was short lived as he spent time in ...

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Eileen Southern

Little is known of John Layton's early life, except that he was born in New Jersey. He studied music around New England, at the Cardiff and Collins Institute, Round Lake Conservatory, Martha's Vineyard, the New England Conservatory, and privately in Washington, D.C. During the Civil War (1861–1865), Layton served in the armed services. After the war he went to Washington, D.C., where he was a policeman for a few years before he began teaching music in the public schools in 1883. Later he was appointed the first male director of music for the black schools in Washington. In 1873 Layton became the choir director at the Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME), a post he retained for forty-three years. In 1902 he helped to organize the Coleridge-Taylor Choral Society and served as its director until his death.

One of Layton s significant accomplishments was his contribution ...

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Charles Rosenberg

music teacher and conductor, bass singer, Civil War veteran, and active member of the Grand Army of the Republic, author of the first African Methodist Episcopal Church hymnal (working with Bishop James C. Embry), was born in Eulesstown, New Jersey. The 1860 census lists several free families of African descent named Layton, but none have been definitively identified as his. Charles and Harriet Layton, of Warrenville, may have been his parents, but the ages of their children (often the subject of error by census takers) are not a definitive match.

Layton enlisted in the U.S. Navy on 25 August 1864 at Jersey City, giving his occupation as laborer/farmer. Assigned the rating of Landsman, he served on the vessels Larkspur and O.M. Pettit Both were tugboats assigned to the South Atlantic Blocking Squadron towing and repairing ships of the squadron while gathering intelligence on shore and ...

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Caryn E. Neumann

jazz drummer and bandleader, was born in Cynthia, Kentucky. As a teenager, he began playing drums. McKinney later served in the U.S. Army during World War I and picked up the drumsticks again after being demobilized in 1919. He toured with the Sells-Floto Circus Band, but then settled in Springfield, Ohio, where he found work with O'Neill's Orchestra led by the saxophonist Don O'Neill.

Springfield in the 1920s was a thriving city of fifty thousand people and only a few bands. Sensing a good opportunity, McKinney joined the pianist Todd Rhodes and the saxophonist/clarinetist Milton Senior in forming the Synco Trio in about 1921. Senior served as the musical director, responsible for rehearsals. When another musician joined, it became the Synco Quartet, then the Synco Quintet, and, eventually, the Synco Jazz Band. By 1924 the band was known as both McKinney s Synco and the ...

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David E. Spies

composer and musician, was born Herbert Horatio Nichols in New York City, the son of Joel Nichols, a building supervisor, and Ida (maiden name unknown). His parents, originally from Trinidad and St. Kitts, had moved to New York in 1910. Nichols first lived at Sixty-first Street and Eleventh Avenue, in the area known at the time as San Juan Hill. The family moved to Harlem when Nichols was seven. When he was not practicing or winning at chess, checkers, or marbles, the young Nichols spent much time in the public library. From age seven to age fourteen he took lessons in classical piano and general music instruction with Charles L. Beck. An intelligent and motivated youngster, Nichols attended DeWitt Clinton High School and began study at City College of New York at age fifteen.

While still in high school Nichols who was introduced to jazz piano ...

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Mark Steven Maulucci

singer, musician, and songwriter, was born Mathis James Reed in Dunleith, Mississippi, the son of Joseph Reed and Virginia Ross Reed in Dunleith, Mississippi. The Reeds were sharecroppers, moving from plantation to plantation, and Jimmy was the youngest of their ten children. Virginia sang in church, and Joseph played harmonica and encouraged his youngest son in music. Jimmy was a childhood friend of Eddie Taylor, who was two and a half years older and tutored Jimmy on guitar after they worked all day in the fields. Taylor was a more advanced player and already steeped in the Delta blues, having followed master bluesmen like Charlie Patton, Son House, Robert Johnson, and Howlin' Wolf around the area. He also knew the young Muddy Waters.

Jimmy Reed worked at sharecropping until he was sixteen years old then he relocated to Chicago to live with ...

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Assumed name of Joseph de Bologne (or Boulogne) (c.1740–1799), international composer and violinist and one of the best fencers in Europe. He was born in Guadeloupe as Joseph, the son of George de Bologne, a wealthy plantation owner. His mother, Nanon, was an African slave. He and his mother were taken to France in 1753. He received a gentleman's education at the fencing school La Boëssière's Royal Academy of Arms. Its focus was on academic study, music, dance, and languages. His fame at fencing was such that he was called le Chevalier de Saint‐Georges.

François‐Joseph Gossec (1734–1829) invited him to be leader of the Concerts des Amateurs orchestra in 1769, and later, its musical director. Between 1772 and 1777 he composed premiered and published violin concertos some of the earliest string quartets in France violin sonatas and symphonies concertantes ...

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Jeffrey Green

Jamaicanmusician and prison worker. Born in Kingston, he attended Alpha Cottage School, where his interest in music was encouraged by West India Regiment bandsmen. He joined that regiment in 1917, and went to Kneller Hall, Twickenham, in 1919–20, where he was awarded a silver medal.

Thompson and the band worked at exhibitions in Toronto (1922) and Wembley (1924). He developed music for Kingston's cinemas, and expanded this, and hotel and theatre work, after the regiment disbanded. He played the cello in the pianist Vera Manley's quartet. In 1929 he migrated to England. Jazz was in vogue at the time, and Britons assumed he had a natural skill at it. His abilities on trumpet, trombone, bass, and with orchestrations led to work and recordings with Spike Hughes and, on stage, in Noel Coward'sCavalcade. He toured with Louis Armstrong then developed ...

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Sean Elias

pianist, singer, songwriter, arranger, producer, community activist, and philanthropist, was born in “Gert Town” (also referenced as “Gehrke” and “Goit” Town), a small African American neighborhood enclave on the west side of New Orleans, Louisiana, to Naomi Neville. By age seven, Toussaint began to play the piano—an instrument perfectly suited for his future career as a composer and songwriter of different musical genres. His grandmother had purchased the piano for his sister, Joyce, so she could learn classical music. While his older brother Vincent played guitar Toussaint took piano lessons from his sister He also entered Xavier University s Junior School of Music for a short while He combined his formal musical training with the ability to learn songs by ear a skill acquired through listening to and learning songs on the radio During his preteen years Toussaint was exposed to ...