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Thomas Aiello

journalist and jazz musician, was born Daniel Gardner Burley in Lexington, Kentucky, the son of James Burley, a former slave and Baptist minister, and Anna Seymour Burley, an educator who served under Booker T. Washington at the Tuskegee Institute. His father died when he was five years old, and in 1917 his mother, then remarried, moved the family to Chicago. Accounts differ as to whether Burley graduated from Wendell Phillips High School, but he attended, and his experience there cultivated a talent for writing, and his extracurricular activity taught him the jazz piano.

Burley began writing for the Chicago Defender between 1925 and 1928, according to some accounts while he was still attending high school. After leaving the weekly newspaper, Burley traveled the country, making his living through odd jobs and piano playing before returning to write for the Chicago Bee in 1932 He acted as ...

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Aida Ahmed Hussen

musician, author, and educator, was born Maud Cuney in Galveston, Texas, to Norris Wright Cuney, a prominent Republican politician and entrepreneur, and Adelina Dowdie Cuney, a public school teacher, soprano vocalist, and community activist. Both of Cuney's parents were born slaves of mixed racial parentage, and both gained freedom, education, social clout, and considerable financial advantage as the acknowledged offspring of their fathers. This, in addition to Norris Wright Cuney's political success with the Texas Republican Party, situated the Cuney family solidly among the Texan black elite. Cuney describes her early home life as one that was comfortable and markedly pleasant, and she praises both of her parents for instilling in her and in her younger brother, Lloyd Garrison Cuney, the values of education, racial pride, and social obligation.

Following her graduation from Central High School in 1890 Cuney moved to Boston Massachusetts where she enrolled ...

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Rayford W. Logan

Maude Cuney was born in Galveston, Texas, the daughter of Norris Wright and Adelina (Dowdy) Cuney. After graduation from the Central High School, Galveston, she received a musical education at the New England Conservatory of Music, Boston, Massachusetts. Later she studied under private instructors such as Emil Ludwig, a pupil of Russian pianist and composer Anton Grigoryevich Rubinstein, and Edwin Klare, a pupil of Hungarian pianist and composer Franz Liszt. She then served for a number of years as director of the Deaf, Dumb and Blind Institute of Texas and at Prairie State College in Prairie View, Texas. In 1906 she returned to Boston and married William P. Hare, who came from an old and well-known Boston family. She died there in 1936 and was buried in Galveston in the grave between her father and mother in Lake View Cemetery (Houston Informer ...

Article

Lynda Koolish

Maud Cuney-Hare is remembered for her literary accomplishments as a gifted playwright, biographer, and music columnist for the Crisis. Born in Galveston, Texas, on 16 February 1874, to teacher and soprano Adelina Dowdie and Norris Wright Cuney, an important Texas political figure who was the (defeated) Republican candidate for the 1875 Galveston mayoral race, Maud Cuney-Hare was educated in Texas and became musical director at the Deaf, Dumb and Blind Institute in Austin, Texas. She held other church and college teaching positions before returning to Boston and devoting her life to performance, scholarship, and literary pursuits. She championed the 24 May 1917 Cambridge, Massachusetts, restaging of Angelina Weld Grimké's Rachel (1916), which, according to critic Robert Fehrenbach was the first time a play written by an Afro American that dealt with the real problems facing American Blacks in contemporary white racist society was ...

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Miranda Kaufmann

Classical musician and war correspondent born in British Guiana (now Guyana). Dunbar began his musical career with the British Guianan militia band. He moved to New York at the age of 20, where he studied music at Columbia University. In 1925 he moved to Paris, where he studied music, journalism, and philosophy. By 1931 he had settled in London and founded the Rudolph Dunbar School of Clarinet Playing. The same year Melody Maker invited him to contribute a series of articles on the clarinet. These were successful enough for him to publish in 1939A Treatise on the Clarinet (Boehm System). Dunbar was a successful conductor, especially in the 1940s, when he became the first black man to conduct an orchestra in many of the prestigious cities of Europe, including, in 1942 the London Philharmonic at the Albert Hall to an audience of 7 000 people the Berlin ...

Article

Joy Elizondo

Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, to an ex-slave, Gabino Ezeiza first picked up a guitar at the age of fifteen. Drawing from a rich oral tradition of earlier payadores, he gradually attracted an impressive following by taking his improvisational virtuosity on the road. The payada, a duel-like exchange in which singer-guitarists spontaneously compose formulaic refrains, is derived from both Spanish versification and African traditions of musical contests. In Argentina, it is considered “popular literature,” inextricably tied to the most symbolic of national figures: the gaucho of the pampas (roughly equivalent to cowboys on the range). While still a teenager, Ezeiza began writing for La Juventud, a Buenos Aires newspaper for and by members of the black community. From 1876 to 1878, while still building a reputation as a payador, publishing poetry, and writing news, he became the editor of La Juventud.

Before the twentieth ...

Article

Elliott S. Hurwitt

pianist, songwriter, playwright, and music publisher, was born in Bowling Green, Kentucky. His father, also named Porter, was a laborer (a “porter,” according to a Bowling Green city directory). The family name was “Granger,” without the “i,” and it is not known when the pianist changed the spelling. He and a younger sister, Ursula, were living with their grandparents, Joseph (a farmer) and Patience Coleman, and with other relatives in Hickory Flat, Kentucky, at the time of the 1900 Census. By the 1930s the Grangers appear to have left the city, although Porter Grainger still had numerous relations there and remained in contact with them.

Grainger was living in Chicago, a leading center of black music and theater, when he registered for the draft during World War I. His name was entered by the clerk as Porter Parrish Granger but he signed ...

Article

Jeffrey Green

African‐American composer born in Charleston, South Carolina, where his father had recently founded an orphanage where vocational training included music. Jenkins abandoned his studies in Atlanta to play the clarinet with a band appearing at the Anglo‐American Exhibition in London in 1914. The band's performance was a success, and Jenkins decided to remain in England after the band's return to the United States. He then enrolled as a student at the Royal Academy of Music. His studies included composition with Frederick Corder, a Wagner enthusiast. He taught the clarinet, and graduated in 1921. With Caribbean students in the Coterie of Friends, Jenkins mounted a concert in 1919 with himself conducting; four instrumentalists were from the Southern Syncopated Orchestra, an American group in Britain until 1921. They played his Charlestonia, an orchestral work with three black melodies, and works by Samuel Coleridge‐Taylor.

John Alcindor ...

Article

Gayle Murchison

clarinetist, composer, and conductor, was born in Charleston, South Carolina, the son of Daniel Jenkins, a former slave, minister, and founder-director of the Jenkins Orphanage Band, and Lena James. Jenkins attended the Avery Institute in Charleston. As a child he learned to play violin, clarinet, and piano. His first music teachers were his father and other instructors at the orphanage, which was founded in December 1891 and formally incorporated as the Orphan Aid Society in July 1892. By the time he was fourteen years old, Jenkins had learned to play all the instruments of his father's brass band. In 1908 he entered Atlanta Baptist College (now Morehouse College), where he studied violin with Kemper Harreld Jenkins participated in the symphony orchestra glee club and other musical activities During vacations he performed directed and toured with the orphanage band Jenkins left college during the ...

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Philip Nanton

Nickname of Ellsworth McGranahan Keane (1927–1997), internationally established jazz flugelhorn player born into a family of musicians in St Vincent. His nickname derived from his great love of Shakespeare and literature in general. He established a reputation locally as a trumpeter but it was after he emigrated to England in 1952 that he began to consider himself as a jazz musician. In the 1960s he became one of a select band of musicians who, because of the clarity and quality of his playing, was rarely out of work. He played with the Joe Harriott Quintet, the Michael Garrick Quintet, and later, in a move to Germany, with bands led by Kurt Edel Hagen, Francy Boland, and Kenny Clarke.

But poetry was equally his passion. L'Oubli, his first collection, was published in 1950 when he was 23 years old, followed by Ixion in 1952 ...

Article

J. Vern Cromartie

visual artist, musician, author, and political activist, was born Joan Angela Lewis in Oakland, California, to John Henry Lewis and Florence (Reid) Lewis. She is also known as J. Tarika Lewis, Tarika Lewis, Joan Lewis, and Matilaba. At the time of her birth, her father was a salesman for G&W Refrigeration. He was the first black man to become the light heavyweight champion of the world, a title he held from 1935 to 1939. After retiring as a prize fighter, John Henry Lewis and his father Edward Lewis operated a boxing gym in Oakland.

While attending Oakland Technical High School Lewis was active in the journalism music and athletic programs She wrote for the school newspaper and played violin in the school orchestra Lewis was also a member of the swim team and a sprinter on the track team From the 10th to ...

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Peggy Lin Duthie

educator and writer, was born in Charlotte, North Carolina, the daughter of John Sinclair Leary and Nannie Latham Leary. The Learys, who were of Irish, French, Scottish, and Native American descent as well as African, were regarded as one of the most prominent African American families in the state, with a collective history of activism stretching back to the American Revolution. Lewis Sheridan Leary, Love's uncle, a colleague of the abolitionist John Brown, fell mortally wounded in the raid on Harpers Ferry; his cousin John Anthony Copeland Jr. was executed for his role in the attack Love s father was the second African American admitted to the North Carolina bar dean of the Shaw University Law School in Raleigh and a Republican state representative he also handled numerous local responsibilities including that of school committeeman and Sunday school superintendent Love s mother raised six children ...

Article

Elias Bongmba

Congolese (Democratic Republic of the Congo [DCR]) composer, guitarist, poet, social critic, satirist, political commentator, and orchestra leader, whose full name was L’Okanga La Ndju Pene Luambo Makiadi alias Franco, reigned for more than thirty years as king of rumba, a wizard of orchestration, and a monument of the Congolese and the African song. He certainly was one of the intellectual giants of Africa in the twentieth century.

Makiadi was born in Sona Bata on 6 July 1938 to Joseph Emongo and his wife Mbonga Makiesse. He left school and focused on music, and made his own guitar at age 7. In 1953 Franco recorded his first song, “Bolingo na ngai na Beatrice” (My Love for Beatrice), beginning a long engagement with themes dealing with love and women.

Paul Dewayon served as a mentor to the young Franco During his long career Makiadi and his exemplary musicians recorded over 150 ...

Article

Shane Graham

South African jazz pianist, composer, journalist, writer, and broadcaster, was born 7 March 1921 in Queenstown, South Africa, to a family of musicians, the youngest of seven children born to Samuel Bokwe and Grace Matshikiza. Todd attended Adams College in Natal, and trained as a teacher at Lovedale College in Alice. He then taught English and mathematics at Lovedale High School beginning in 1940. He composed for the college choir during this time.

In 1947 Matshikiza moved to Johannesburg and met Esme Sheila Mpama, whom he married in 1950 and with whom he had one daughter, Marian, and one son, John. He taught high school, and then began teaching piano at his own private school. He played jazz piano with several groups throughout the 1950s, including the Manhattan Brothers, the Harlem Swingsters, and Nancy Jacobs and Her Sisters. In 1951 he began working for the newly founded Drum ...

Article

Barry Kernfeld

bandleader, pianist, and columnist, was born in Louisiana. Details of his birth and family life are unknown. Peyton was a member of the clarinetist Wilbur Sweatman's trio in Chicago from about 1908 to 1912, when he became the music director at the Grand Theater. In 1914 he founded his own symphony orchestra of about fifty instrumentalists; they gave monthly concerts. On 29 October 1924 he opened the Plantation Cafe as the leader of the Symphonic Syncopators. They played for dancing and for musical revues, the latter including the show Plantation Follie. Peyton wrote the music for some of these shows. The reed player Darnell Howard played with Peyton's fifteen-piece Symphonic Syncopators, and in November the cornetist King Oliver joined Oliver s purpose may have been to ingratiate himself with the management and take over Peyton s job If so he succeeded this episode might ...

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Dominique-René de Lerma

(b New York, Aug 2, 1931; d Da Nang, Vietnam, May 9, 1967). American pianist, composer, and writer . She made her first major New York appearance in 1946, playing Saint-Saëns’s Concerto in G minor with the New York PO, and her Town Hall recital début in 1953. Her later life was spent in concert tours of Europe, South America, East Asia, and Africa. Among her teachers were Josef Hoffman, Dean Dixon and Paul Wittgenstein. Her best-known works are the orchestral Manhattan Nocturne (1943), Sleepy Hollow Sketches (1945–6), Rhapsody of Youth (1948) and Nile Fantasy (1965); her later works show the influence of Bartók and of African music. Five books related to her travels were published between 1960 and 1962 She died in a helicopter accident while helping in the evacuation of ...

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Debbie Clare Olson

pianist, composer, writer, and journalist, was born to Josephine Codgell, a blue-eyed blonde beauty from a wealthy white Texas family, and George Schuyler, a prominent black journalist. In 1927, while in New York, Codgell went to meet George Schuyler, the black editor of a modest left-wing publication, Messenger, which had published her poetry and prose since 1923. They were immediately smitten with each other, and despite the social taboo of their union they quietly married on 6 January 1928. Codgell believed that the way to solve America's racial intolerance was through interracial marriages and biracial offspring.Schuyler proved herself a child prodigy She began to crawl at one month sat up at four months spoke at one year and could read and write by the age of three She began playing the piano when she was four years old ...

Article

Born in New York City, Philippa Schuyler was the only child of the most celebrated interracial marriage of the Harlem Renaissance—between African American author and journalist George Schuyler and white artist and journalist Josephine Cogdell, from Texas. As a consequence of Cogdell's family farming background, she and Schuyler applied to their daughter the agricultural theory that crossing different genetic strains produced superior offspring possessing “hybrid vigor.” The Schuylers were firmly convinced that racial disharmony in the United States could be rectified through creating interracial children, investing all of their hopes for this in their daughter.

As if to materialize her parents unusual expectations Philippa Schuyler was in fact a child prodigy whose extraordinary talents were developed by tutors in isolation from her peers With an IQ of 185 she could read and write at the age of two and a half and began playing the piano at the ...

Article

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 ...

Article

Joy Elizondo

Casildo Thompson grew up in a family that was active in the vibrant and creative Afro-Argentine community of nineteenth-century Buenos Aires. His father, Capitãn Casildo Thompson, a veteran of the Paraguayan war (among others), founded the most successful and the longest lasting Afro-Argentine mutual aid society of his time, La Sociedad Fraternal (The Fraternal Society). According to historian George Reid Andrews, Capitãn Thompson was also a respected vocalist and composer who enjoyed a large following and wrote some of the most popular songs of his era. These included “La Locomotiva” (The Locomotive) and “Recuerdo del Campamento” (Memory of the Encampment), commemorating the anniversary of Argentina's first railroads and memorializing the Paraguayan campaign, respectively.

Thus Casildo Thompson had a powerful family legacy to live up to Andrews highlights the tendency of some Afro Argentine families to produce two or more generations of musicians Thompson was no exception Following his ...