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Dominique Achille

was born to Marguerite Raymonne Ferdinand and Philéas Gustave Louis Achille on 31 August 1909 in Fort-de-France, Martinique, then a French colony. His father was the first man of color who passed “agrégation” (the highest teaching diploma in France) in the English language in 1905. Achille’s family history can be traced back to slaves who were freed in 1794. He spent his childhood and teenage years in Martinique, in an upper-middle-class family.

In 1926 he began studying English at Louis-le-Grand High School and at the Sorbonne in Paris, where Georges Pompidou and Léopold Sedar Senghor were among his peers. In the 1930s he contributed to La Revue du Monde Noir The Review of the Black World issued in Paris by his cousins Paulette and Jane Nardal This publication addressed cultural links between colored writers poets and thinkers through the world because at that time no specific review ...

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 ...

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Jennifer Carolina Gómez Menjívar

was born on 7 February 1954 in Lima, Peru. She was raised by her maternal grandmother, who taught her to sing when she was 3 and nurtured her dreams of becoming an artist from an early age, encouraging her to perform at school events as well as on children’s programs on radio and television. Born María Angélica Ayllón Urbina, the artist adopted her grandmother’s name as her stage name upon launching her solo career. Cherished by fans on two continents, Ayllón has released over thirty albums and has become a successful artist with a solid foundation in Peruvian “Creole” and Afro-Peruvian musical styles.

Ayllón began performing in the early 1970s in commercial venues in Lima that had a reputation for showcasing Creole music. She began her career alongside notable artists, and in 1973 she became the lead singer of Los Kipus a musical trio They toured Peru performed for ...

Article

Roanne Edwards

As a performer, composer, and scholar of ethnic music, Susana Baca has become a leading expert on Afro-Peruvian musical traditions. Since the 1960s she has explored the distinctive rhythms, tempos, and instruments of the small but influential Afro-Peruvian community that has lived in relative isolation for nearly 500 years along the Pacific Ocean coast of Peru. Her research led to the path-breaking 1995 album The Soul of Black Peru, which presented Afro-Peruvian music to an international audience for the first time.

Baca leads a generation of musicians who interpret the Afro-Peruvian traditions first explored in the 1950s by the renowned ethnomusicologist Nicomedes Santa Cruz. Her performances use Afro-Peruvian rhythms that date back to the seventeenth century, as well as native instruments such as the Andean panpipes and the cajon a wooden box which when rhythmically struck with the hand produces a variety of unusual timbres Baca ...

Article

and founding member of the mizik rasin (roots music) group Boukman Eksperyans (née Mimerose Pierre) was born on 13 November 1956 in Ouanaminthe, Nord-est, Haiti, near the border with the Dominican Republic. Her parents, Emelie Pierre (née Charles-Pierre) and Ovide Pierre, a justice of the peace, encouraged her schooling, but during vacations from school, she learned guitar from her brother and began to sing, with special emphasis on the songs in Spanish that were common in the border region. Although her parents were devout Catholics, Manzè discovered that her grandmother had been a manbo (female Vodou priest).

Manzè is best known for fronting Boukman Eksperyans with her husband Theodore Lòlò Beabrun Jr cowriting and coproducing several of the group s albums Her creative output as a performer and writer reveals the influences of Vodou theology her studies in cultural anthropology and her embrace of social activism all of which resonated ...

Article

Kip Lornell

gospel composer and teacher, was born in Duck Hill, Mississippi, the daughter of Burrell Campbell, a railroad worker, and Isabella Wilkerson. Lucy's mother was widowed several months after Lucy's birth, and the family soon moved from Carroll County to Memphis, Tennessee, the nearest major city. Lucie and her many siblings struggled to survive on their mother's meager wages, which she earned by washing and ironing clothing. Given the family's insubstantial income, it could afford a musical education for only one child, Campbell's older sister Lora. Lucie eventually learned to play piano, however, through her own persistence, a gifted ear for music, and a little help from Lora.

Lucie Campbell was a bright student who easily mastered elementary school and middle school, winning awards in both penmanship and Latin. Even before graduating from Kortrecht Senior High School (later Booker T. Washington High School as the class valedictorian she ...

Article

Kip Lornell

Campbell, Lucie E. (1885–03 January 1963), gospel composer and teacher, was born in Duck Hill, Mississippi, the daughter of Burrell Campbell, a railroad worker, and Isabella Wilkerson. Her mother was widowed several months after Lucie’s birth, and the family soon moved from Carroll County to Memphis, the nearest major city. Lucie and her many siblings struggled to survive on their mother’s meager wages, which she earned by washing and ironing clothing. Given the family’s insubstantial income, it could afford a musical education for only one child: Lucie’s older sister Lora. Lucie eventually learned to play piano, however, through her own persistence, a gifted ear for music, and a little help from Lora.

Lucie Campbell was a bright student who easily mastered elementary school and middle school winning awards in both penmanship and Latin Even before graduating from Kortrecht Senior High School later Booker T Washington as the ...

Article

Jeremy Rich

located just outside the large city of Manchester in Great Britain. His mother, Muriel (née Braudo), belonged to a prosperous Jewish family from Gwelo, Zimbabwe, and worked as a cabaret singer. His father, Denis, was from England originally, but the couple wed in Johannesburg, South Africa. Six months after Clegg’s birth, his parents divorced. Muriel took Clegg briefly to Israel before returning to her parents’ family farm in Zimbabwe.

Though his mother showed relatively little interest in African culture, Clegg as a boy became friendly with the Ndebele son of a chauffeur who worked for the Braudo farm. While his mother toured clubs with bands, Clegg was left in a strict boarding school. In 1960, Clegg moved to South Africa with his mother and his stepfather, reporter Dan Pienaar. The family moved to Zambia in 1965 after Pienaar obtained a position as a journalist for a newspaper there ...

Article

Jeremy Rich

An English doctor recommended to Dutiro’s parents the name Chartwell, which came from Winston Churchill’s summer home. Chartwell attended primary school in Glendale, but eventually quit his formal education in the seventh grade. As a boy he was very interested in music. The Salvation Army had a band in Glendale, and Dutiro played a coronet in the group. However, he became a passionate player of the mbira thumb piano as well. His two brothers, Charles and Chikomborero played the mbira at bira religious ceremonies and Dutiro often missed Sunday school because he was too tired from playing the mbira on Saturday nights His cousin Davies Masango played in a police band and managed to recruit Dutiro to join a music group put together by the white settler government of Rhodesia to try to placate Africans during the long guerilla war for independence in the 1970s The band toured villages ...

Article

Andrew M. Fearnley

musicologist, opera singer, and diplomat, was born Zelma Watson in Hearne, Texas, the daughter of Samuel Watson, a Baptist minister, and Lena Thomas, a domestic worker. Zelma's parents attached a great deal of importance to education. As the former principal of a boarding school, Samuel Watson instilled into each of his six children an understanding of the value of education; until sixth grade their mother taught all the Watson children at home. The Watsons were also keen musicians, and family music-making sessions were a staple of Zelma's early life. As the eldest of the children, Zelma clearly took note of both of her parents' pet projects and made scholarship and song central to her own life.

Due to her father s job as a preacher Zelma s early life was rather peripatetic At age five she moved to Palestine Texas and then to Dallas Texas at ...

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

Emmanuel Asiedu-Acquah

folk musician and ethnomusicologist, was born on 3 October 1934 in the Asante village of Foase in colonial era Ghana He was named Daniel Amponsah at birth His musically inclined parents were an early influence on him His father Kwame Amponsah played the trumpet and guitar while his mother sang in the choir at the local Methodist church Through his sister s marriage to a member of the Ashanti royal family the preteen Koo Nimo moved to Kumasi the capital of the Asante kingdom His stay in Kumasi and his proximity to Asante royalty immersed him in the cultural lore and traditions of the Asante and by extension the Akan This cultural immersion was to become an important influence in his music He had his secondary school education at the prestigious Adisadel College in Cape Coast His postsecondary education was in the sciences and he always maintained a professional ...

Article

Daniel Nuñez

was born on 10 October 1955 in the town of Cata, on the coast of the state of Aragua, in Venezuela. Born José Francisco Pacheco Croquer, he was one of nine siblings in the home of his father, Pastor Pacheco, a farmer, and his mother, Paula Elvira Croquer, a folklorist and community leader. Early in his childhood, Pacheco learned many of the local Afro-Venezuelan musical and religious traditions from his mother and other cultural leaders in Cata. Growing up, Pacheco participated in the Diablos de Corpus Christi ceremonies, and attended other local religious celebrations, such as the Fiestas de San Juan, the multiple days of celebration in honor of Saint John, the patron saint of Afro-Venezuelans in the Central Coast region. It was during festivals like the Fiestas de San Juan and the Christmas parrandas that Pacheco learned the broad repertoire of local traditional Afro Venezuelan songs and percussion ...

Article

Jonathan Ritter

was born on 4 March 1927 in Carondelet, a small village in northwestern Ecuador near the Colombia border. She has spent the majority of her life in the city of Esmeraldas, where she established a reputation in the mid-twentieth century as one of the leading performers, teachers, and choreographers of traditional Afro-Ecuadorian music and dance.

Raised in a musical home emblematic of the musical and cultural mixtures typical of Esmeraldas Province, Palma learned the songs, melodies, and dance steps of the traditional marimba ensemble from her father, a musician and instrument maker who himself had absorbed the repertoires of his Afro-Colombian father and indigenous Cayapa mother. In addition to these indigenous and black traditions, Palma’s musical influences as a child included the popular string band music associated with highland mestizo culture, as performed by her mother’s family.

Palma came to the city of Esmeraldas from Carondelet while still in her ...

Article

Joan F. McCarty

musician, social activist, songtalker, and scholar, was born Bernice Johnson in Albany, Georgia, the daughter of a Baptist minister, the Reverend Jessie Johnson, and a homemaker, Beatrice Johnson. Johnson was steeped in the traditions and culture of the southwestern Georgia community surrounding Mt. Early Baptist Church. Her home church did not have a piano for many years, so she honed her a cappella vocal skills in the school and church choir.

After graduating from high school, she auditioned for the music program at Albany State College and was accepted, enrolling in 1959 as music major. While in college, she served as the secretary of the youth division of the NAACP and became more deeply drawn into the civil rights struggle. Reagon began to attend meetings of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) in the city and eventually formed a bond with Cordell Reagon ...

Article

Sowande' Mustakeem

Undoubtedly one of the few professors of history to have a second career as a singer-songwriter, Bernice Johnson Reagon continues to focus her work on sharing the historical legacy of the African American experience amid the relentless quest for freedom and justice within America.

Reagon was born in Albany, Georgia, one of eight children of Jessie Johnson, a carpenter, and Beatrice Johnson, a housekeeper. On days off from her housekeeping job, Beatrice Johnson picked cotton. Jessie Johnson served onSundays as minister at four different rural Baptist churches. Reagon’s musical foundation was largely shaped by the influence of the southwestern Georgia choral tradition in her father’s church, which was part of a tradition dating back to the nineteenth century. Reagon entered Albany State College in 1959 where she studied Italian arias and German lieder as a contralto soloist During this time she became active in the civil ...

Article

María Auxiliadora González Malabet

was born on 24 September 1927 in Noanamá, on the San Juan River, in the department of Chocó, Colombia, and died on 1 May 2008. In 1930, when Ninfa Aurora was 3 years old, her family moved to the seaport city of Buenaventura in the Valle del Cauca department. She lived in this Pacific coastal region for the next seventy-seven years of her life.

Many authors define her as self taught because when she was a child she learned to read and write using charcoal on cardboard to copy the names of shops and barns At the same time she helped her family by selling arepas a Colombian staple food in the village of Pueblo Nuevo In her academic life Ninfa Aurora studied education and culture and she later graduated with the title Teacher of Culture from the Universidad Campesina locally known as the University of Resistance in ...

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 ...

Article

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 ...