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Rebecca Dirksen

also commonly remembered as Lina Mathon-Fussman or, equally, as Lina Fussman-Mathon, was born in Port-au-Prince on 3 January 1903, one of five children of Charles Mathon, a medical doctor, and Cléante N. Marie Anne Carré Mathon. By all accounts captivated by the piano as a toddler, she was formally introduced to the instrument at the age of 4 by Haitian composer Justin Elie. She subsequently studied the classical music repertoire with the best teachers of the era, including completing advanced studies at the Ecole Notre-Dame de Sion in Paris between 1917 and 1921. Blanchet would eventually cofound the Lycée Musical de Port-au-Prince (a music school) and was later named the first director of the Conservatoire National by Haitian president Paul Eugène Magloire.

A tireless promoter of Haitian folkloric music throughout her life, Blanchet is cited as the first artist to mount stylized Vodou-influenced spektak performances on a ...

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Jane Poyner

Orphan from Dahomey (now Benin) reputed to be of royal lineage, who was brought as a slave to England, where she became Queen Victoria's protégée. Sarah was named, ignominiously, after the ship Bonetta on which she was transported to England. Ironically, she was given to Captain Frederick Forbes by King Gezo of Dahomey in a conciliatory gesture following Forbes's unsuccessful attempt to persuade the King to give up trading in slaves. Forbes, in his account of his travels Dahomey and the Dahomens (1851), used Sarah as an example of the potential for progress in the intellect of the African at a time when pseudo‐scientific enlightenment theories of race were rampant: as Forbes noted, ‘it being generally and erroneously supposed that after a certain age the intellect [of the African] becomes impaired and the pursuit of knowledge impossible’.

Sarah was presented to Queen Victoria and thereafter raised under her ...

Article

Jeremy Rich

Atlantic slave-trade survivor presented as a gift to Britain's Queen Victoria, was born in the early 1840s in or near the southern Beninese town of Okeadon. Her birth name is not known, but her marriage certificate would list her name as Ina Sarah Forbes Bonetta, perhaps indicating that her original name was Ina. Southern Beninese states had fought for years against the inland kingdom of Dahomey for autonomy, as the slave-trading empire sought to force its southern neighbors to pay tribute and accept Dahomean control over the slaves that were often sold to European and South American merchants. In 1846 Dahomean soldiers seized her and killed her parents during the Okeadon War between Dahomey and its enemies in the Yoruba city of Abeokuta after a traitor had allowed Dahomean troops entry to the town Bonetta was fortunate she did not join the 600 or so town residents ...

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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 ...

Article

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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Wallace McClain Cheatham

college professor, musicologist, pianist, and writer, was born Doris Valean Evans in Washington, D.C., the second daughter of Vallean Richardson Evans and Charlie Evans. Her mother worked for the federal government, and her father was a tailor. McGinty, encouraged by her pianist mother to pursue music, began the study of piano at age seven. At age twelve she gave her first public recital. She continued the study of piano with Andres Wheatley in the Junior Preparatory Department at Howard University and played for Sunday school at the District's Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church. Among her treasured mementoes were the dress and shoes she wore to the historic 1939Marian Anderson command performance at Washington's Lincoln Memorial.

Two baccalaureate degrees, in music education and German, were completed at Howard University in 1945 and 1946 respectively McGinty then went to Radcliffe College in Cambridge Massachusetts ...

Article

Cleve McD. Scott

popularly known as “Frankie,” soca and calypso music arranger, Caribbean-jazz pianist, and musicologist, was born in Kingstown, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, in August 1946 to a middle-class family. His father was Arthur McIntosh, son of the politician George Augustus McIntosh (1886–1963). His mother, Belle (née Cordice), was of East Indian ancestry.

After primary school, Frankie attended grammar school, also in Kingstown, from 1956 to 1962. His introduction to music came when he was about 3 years old, with his father teaching him to play the flute. Sent to a private music tutor to study piano, by the age of 9 he was playing for his father’s dance band, the Melotones. In 1960 he formed the Frankie McIntosh Orchestra. In 1966 McIntosh moved to Antigua to work as a schoolteacher; there, he played piano for the Laviscount Orchestra. In 1968 he relocated to the United States ...

Article

Kimberly L. Malinowski

musicologist and professor, was born in Guthrie, Oklahoma, to William (Bud) Reese and Lenora Smallwood. Reece later changed the spelling of his last name for unknown reasons. During the winter months, while his mother was teaching and completing medical school, Reece lived with his grandparents. His mother later became a practicing physician. His grandfather was a Baptist minister, and Reece described his home as “very correct but not depressingly so.” He credited Guthrie as having an “excellent school system, an equally excellent public library, and a good cultural environment” and these resources helped prepare him for his studies (Bluefieldian, Nov. 1973, 7). In 1921 Reece was baptized and joined a local Baptist church, and in 1925 he graduated from high school.

Reece credited his decision to attend Fisk University to the inspirational Jubilee Singers and to his mother who attended both Fisk University and Meharry ...

Article

David H. Anthony

percussionist, pianist, and composer, was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, and nurtured in the care of foster parents. He first became interested in jazz on hearing Fate Marable on a riverboat. He was also impressed by Jimmy Mundy, an arranger for the Benny Goodman Orchestra. At age fifteen Russell was earning a living playing drums. By seventeen he was a member of the Wilberforce University band, where he shared the stage with Ernie Wilkins, the saxophonist who was later Count Basie's arranger.

Three years later, after recovering from tuberculosis, Russell took a step toward maturity as a musician when he became part of Benny Carter's orchestra, where he contributed “Big World,” his first composition. After serving a period of apprenticeship in Chicago in the employ of the pianist Earl “Fatha” Hines along with some cabarets Russell decided he needed to be in New ...

Article

Rainer E. Lotz

singer, instrumentalist, diplomat, was born in Springfield, Ohio. The exact circumstances of his birth and upbringing are uncertain. Spyglass himself once gave his year of birth as 1878; but on another occasion, he mentioned it as being 1877. Elmer was not the natural child of his mother, Elizabeth Spyglass (born Elizabeth Johnson in Kentucky in 1843); he was probably adopted by Elizabeth and her husband, the blacksmith Augustus Spyglass (born in Jefferson County in 1846).

At age five, Augustus taught his son to play organ at the local church, and Elmer later joined the choir. At age ten, he spent the money he earned as a rose-picker on sheet music and music lessons. In 1897 he graduated from Springfield High School and sang at the graduation ceremony That same year he became cofounder of St John s Baptist Missionary Church and directed the ...