1-20 of 242 results  for:

  • Performing Arts x
  • 1877–1928: The Age of Segregation and the Progressive Era x
  • Blues Musician/Singer x
Clear all


SaFiya D. Hoskins

blues musician, was born Luther Allison in Widener, Arkansas, the fourteenth of fifteen children born to his parents (names unknown), who were cotton farmers. He grew up with an interest in music; playing the organ in church, singing gospel, and listening to the Grand Ole Opry from Nashville, Tennessee, over the radio. Allison was exposed early to blues; from the music his father played on the family radio to hearing blues musicians like B.B. King, broadcast from Memphis on WDIA.

By the age of ten, Allison had begun to show interest in the guitar. In 1951 at the age of twelve he moved with his family in search of better opportunities to the Westside of Chicago After high school Allison studied the craft of shoemaking Meanwhile several of his siblings were members of a gospel group and one of his older brothers Ollie had become a popular guitarist ...


Jason Philip Miller

was born Pinkney Anderson in the small town of Laurens in southwestern South Carolina. Little is known about his early years or upbringing. He apparently learned to play guitar at a very early age and by the time he was ten years old could play the open tuned guitar, common in blues music. He was something of a natural showman, earning small change by dancing for passersby on the streets of Greenville and Spartanburg, to which his family relocated during his childhood. Sometime probably around 1914 or 1915 he fell in with Frank Smiley Kerr his first name is variously recorded though whether this is due to error or because Kerr went by different names is unclear purportedly a doctor whose Indian Remedy Company peddled various potions and nostrums of a more or less fanciful nature As part of the show Anderson played his guitar between pitches Remarkably he ...


Mark Steven Maulucci

singer and guitarist known as “Kokomo,” was born in Lovejoy Station, Georgia, a small railroad town in Clayton County, approximately twenty‐five miles south of Atlanta. He was raised on a farm and learned some guitar from a relative named John Wigges, who was an accomplished knife‐style guitarist. In 1919 Arnold moved to Buffalo, New York, where he worked in a steel mill. After stops and similar jobs in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Gary, Indiana, Arnold moved to the Mississippi Delta in the late 1920s. He reportedly made a living as a bootlegger and throughout his life regarded his music as a sideline. He lived for a while in Glen Allan, Mississippi, and played with a partner named Willie Morris.

In 1930 Arnold made his recording debut as Gitfiddle Jim in a Memphis recording session for Victor The two songs Rainy Night Blues and Paddlin Madeline Blues displayed the ...


William E. Lightfoot

Piedmont-style guitarist, was born near Collettsville in the African American community of Franklin, an Appalachian hollow not far from the John's River in upper Caldwell County, North Carolina. Her grandfather Alexander Reid and father Boone Reid, both born in Franklin, played the banjo in the old-time clawhammer manner, with Boone going on to become an accomplished musician who also played fiddle, harmonica, and guitar, on which he used a two-finger-style approach. Boone Reid had absorbed many kinds of music of the mid-to-late nineteenth century, including Anglo-American dance tunes, lyric folksongs, ballads, rags, religious music, and published pieces that had drifted into folk tradition—popular Tin Pan Alley songs old minstrel tunes and Victorian parlor music Boone and his wife Sallie who sang instilled their love of music in their eight children a process that led eventually to the formation of a Reid family string band that played after ...


Anne K. Driscoll

blues singer and pianist, was born Gladys Alberta Bentley in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the eldest of four children of George L. Bentley and Mary C. Mote, a native of Trinidad. The Bentley family was very poor. Later a lesbian, Bentley acknowledged that even as a child she felt more comfortable in boys' clothing than in girls' clothing; however, it was when Bentley developed a long-term crush on one of her female schoolteachers that her classmates began to ridicule her and her parents began to take Bentley from doctor to doctor in an effort to “fix” her. Finally at age sixteen Bentley left Philadelphia and traveled to Harlem, New York, where she quickly became immersed in the Harlem Renaissance and its “don't ask, don't tell” attitude about sexuality. Bentley became just one of many homosexual or bisexual celebrities, joining the likes of Langston Hughes, Ethel Waters, Bessie Smith ...


SaFiya D. Hoskins

rhythm and blues vocalist, was born Robert Calvin Brooks in Rosemark, Tennessee, son of May Lee and I. J. Brooks. He grew up in the rural town listening to white country singers and gospel music. At age six his mother married Leroy Bridgeworth, also known as Leroy Bland; Bland adopted his stepfather's surname in his teens. At age seventeen, Bland moved with his mother and stepfather to Memphis, Tennessee. He worked in a garage but his love for music continued to flourish. He sang gospel in church and with secular street groups, joining the Miniatures in 1949. By 1950 Bland was working as a chauffeur for blues singer and musician B. B. King and occasional valet to the singer Roscoe Gordon in order to be near blues music It was his affinity for blues that earned him his nickname Bland s persistence paid off ...


Joseph McEwen

(b McComb, MS, Dec 30, 1928; d Archer, FL, June 2, 2008). American rock and roll singer. He was taken to Chicago at the age of five, and soon after began violin lessons, which he continued for 12 years. He grew up with black gospel music and the delta blues players of Chicago’s southside, but he was most strongly influenced by Nat ‘King’ Cole, Louis Jordan and John Lee Hooker, whose Boogie Chillen inspired him to play guitar. He formed a street-corner band, which attracted enough attention to be granted an audition with Chess Records in 1954. In early 1955Bo Diddley Checker was released as a single and reached number 2 in the rhythm and blues chart It had bragging nonsense lyrics like many of his later songs but its chief appeal lay in its shimmering rumba rhythm and violent primitive ...


Frank E. Dobson

blues guitarist, singer, and songwriter. The blues performer known as Bo Diddley was born Ellas Otha Bates in McComb, Mississippi, to Eugene Bates, a father whom he never knew, and Ethel Wilson, a teenage mother. He was raised by his mother's first cousin Gussie McDaniel, and when his adoptive father, Robert McDaniel, died in 1934, Gussie moved the family to Chicago.

Diddley first studied music as a child under Professor O. W. Fredrick while attending Ebenezer Missionary Baptist Church in Chicago While attending Foster Vocational High School in Chicago he studied various instruments including the guitar harmonica and trombone His sister bought his first guitar for him when he was twelve During his high school years he also formed a band the Hipsters later called the Langley Avenue Jive Cats In the late 1940s Diddley tried his hand at a number ...


Monica Hairston

blues singer, was born Lucille Anderson in Amory, Mississippi. Although little is known of her early life, she was raised in Birmingham, Alabama, where her family moved early on in search of work in the numerous steel and coal mills. She was married to Nazareth Lee Bogan Sr., a locomotive fireman, in about 1914 and had a son, Nazareth Lee Bogan Jr., in 1916 and a stepdaughter, Ira Betty Bogan, in 1911. In addition, she was the aunt of trumpeter and pianist Thomas “Big Music” Anderson.

Bogan began her recording career in 1923 with a session for Okeh Records in New York City. Pianist Henry Callens accompanied her. The tracks she recorded were more vaudeville oriented than they were blues, and they reflect the major influence of Bessie Smith, Ida Cox and other vaudeville artists Bogan s style is distinct however Like the other ...


Michael J. Budds

singer, drummer, and bandleader, was born Myron Carlton Bradshaw in Youngstown, Ohio. His parents' names are unknown. He played the drums from the age of ten and soon after was performing professionally as a drummer and vocalist. Early in his career he served as the drummer of the Jump Johnson Band in Buffalo, New York. He attended Wilberforce University in Wilberforce, Ohio, and majored in psychology. Before forming his own big band in 1934, he sang with Horace Henderson's Collegians, and in New York he either drummed or sang with Marion Hardy's Alabamians, the Savoy Bearcats, Mills Blue Rhythm Band (1932–1933), and Luis Russell (1933–1934).

Bradshaw s own band enjoyed long engagements in the ballrooms and nightclubs of Harlem notably the Savoy and the Apollo Philadelphia and Chicago and toured throughout the United States and Europe making its reputation with powerful blues based jazz His ...


Paul Oliver

(b Scott, MS, June 26, 1893; d Chicago, Aug 14, 1958). American blues singer and guitarist. He grew up in Arkansas, where he lived on a farm until he was in his late 20s. After working as a fiddle player in the rural South, he settled in Chicago in 1920. There he learnt to play the guitar, on which he was already an outstanding performer when he began to record ten years later. In the late 1930s and the 1940s he was sympathetically supported by Joshua Altheimer or Black Bob Hudson on the piano in a manner reminiscent of Leroy Carr and Scrapper Blackwell.

One of the most prolifically recorded of black American blues singers Broonzy formed a link between the country and urban blues traditions playing with a light lilting style Some of his recorded blues are poetic statements complemented by moaning ...


Bill McCulloch and Barry Lee Pearson

blues singer and guitarist, was born William Lee Conley Broonzy in Scott, Bolivar County, Mississippi, the son of Frank Broonzy and Nettie (or Mittie) Belcher, former slaves who became sharecroppers. One of at least sixteen children, including a twin sister, he lived in Mississippi until age eight, when his family moved to Arkansas, near Pine Bluff, to try sharecropping there. As a youngster he made violins out of cornstalks, learning music from an uncle, Jerry Belcher and a local musician known as See See Rider He and a friend began playing homemade instruments to entertain local children though always out of sight of his parents stern Baptists who frowned on secular music The parental disapproval eased however when he graduated to a real instrument supposedly bought for him by a white patron and began earning money as a musician When he was twelve the family moved to Scotts ...


William Lee Conley Broonzy was born to sharecropper parents in Scott, Mississippi; during his childhood he moved with his family between Mississippi and Arkansas, farming in both states. Broonzy first played music on homemade fiddles and guitars, and was performing at special occasions by the age of fifteen. Between the ages of fifteen and twenty he developed his dexterous hollering vocal style, as well as his characteristically facile guitar technique. Music, however, remained but an avocation for Broonzy until he resettled in Chicago after serving in the army during World War I.

In the 1920s Broonzy embarked on a struggle to subsist as a professional musician a struggle that continued until the last few years of his life Throughout the decade he made numerous live appearances in Chicago nightclubs yet he failed to garner much interest from record companies In the 1930s however his luck changed with the explosion ...


Michael Adams

blues songwriter, singer, and pianist, was born in Texas City on the Gulf Coast of Texas. His mother, Mattie, died when he was six months old, and his father, Mose, a cotton picker, ignored the boy. Brown was raised by his maternal grandparents, Swanee and Conquest Simpson. Mose Brown, planning to reclaim his son, was struck and killed by a train in 1928.

Brown's grandmother arranged for him to begin piano lessons when he was six so that he could play for the Barbous Chapel Baptist Church. He began singing in the church choir, and an uncle taught him to play the guitar and sing the blues. Knowing his grandmother would disapprove, he practiced singing and playing the blues when she was out of the house.

When he was around thirteen Brown created the style of blues he called Walkin and Driftin to express the ...


Charles D. Grear

musician, performer, songwriter, and southern musical legend. Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown—“Gatemouth” because of his deep voice—emerged as a musical legend in the South for more than fifty years. Brown was heavily influenced by the music of Texas and Louisiana, and his range of styles included the blues, rhythm and blues (R&B), country, swing, jazz, and Cajun. A virtuoso on guitar, violin, mandolin, viola, harmonica, and drums, Brown influenced and was influenced by performers as diverse as Albert Collins, Eric Clapton, Frank Zappa, Lonnie Brooks, Guitar Slim, and Joe Louis Walker. Throughout his career he recorded more than thirty albums. Those who have been featured on his albums include Eric Clapton, Ry Cooder, Amos Garrett, Jim Keltner, Maria Muldaur, and Leon Russell.

Born on 18 April 1924 in Vinton Louisiana Brown was raised in Orange Texas ...


blues singer, songwriter, guitarist, and fiddle player, was born in Vinton, Louisiana, and moved across the Sabine River with his family to Orange, Texas, when he was a few weeks old. He began playing the fiddle when he was five, learning the instrument from his father, Clarence Brown Sr.—a railroad worker who played and sang everything from traditional French songs to German polkas—and taught himself to play the guitar when he was ten. Brown's mother, Jenny, played the piano.

As a boy Brown would hang outside the local jazz clubs, and once when he was listening to Duke Ellington practice the musician invited him to sit with him on the piano bench Brown claimed he acquired his nickname when a high school teacher said he had a voice like a gate though he long promised to reveal the true account of how he became ...


Paul A. Frisch

blues singer, songwriter, and pianist, was born Roy James Brown in New Orleans, Louisiana, the only child of Yancy Brown, a brick mason and plasterer, and Tru‐Love Warren, a hospital cook and school teacher. Raised by his mother in Eunice, Louisiana, Brown had an early introduction to music through singing in the church choir and learning the piano from his mother by age five. He formed the Rookie Gospel quartet in 1938 and performed at area churches. In 1940 Brown married Gertrude (maiden name unknown). He remained with Gertrude the remainder of his life, and their marriage produced a daughter, Constance.

After his mother died, Brown moved to Los Angeles in 1942 to pursue a career in boxing. In 1944 he returned to music determined to be a pop singer, studying the recordings and films of Bing Crosby. In 1945 he won first place in an ...


Shennette Garrett-Scott

carnival performer, snake handler, and blues musician was born in Augusta Georgia Her parents names and occupations are not recorded Her mother passed away when she was eleven years old By age fourteen she had run away from home and was performing in the chorus lines of traveling minstrel shows and carnivals She changed her last name to Brown to escape notice by her family and went on to do other types of entertainment in carnivals from lying on beds of nails to swallowing swords At age twenty one she learned to play the piano she took up the guitar in her mid thirties After singing and playing the piano in a band at carnivals she sometimes performed striptease dances in after hours racially segregated shows on Fridays and Saturdays known as the Midnight Ramble because they took place after midnight in the show tent long after ...


Andrew W. Kahrl

blues musician, was born Robert Lee Burnside in Harmontown, Lafayette County, Mississippi, and lived most of his life near Holly Springs, Mississippi. As a teenager, he worked as a sharecropper on several Mississippi Delta cotton plantations. During those years he learned to play the guitar from his neighbor, the legendary blues performer Mississippi Fred McDowell, having been inspired to play after hearing the song “Boogie Chillen” by his fellow Mississippian John Lee Hooker. Burnside later played with McDowell on Saturday nights at juke joints and house parties in the area.

In the late 1940s Burnside moved to Chicago joining a wave of Mississippi migrants who had been displaced by the mechanization of cotton picking and moved in search of wartime manufacturing jobs There he worked in a foundry and lived with family members who had also made the journey north Burnside s time in the northern metropolis was ...


Scott Yanow

blues and jazz singer and pianist, was born in New Orleans, Louisiana. Butler, who was born blind due to glaucoma, started playing piano when he was six and sang in the choir of the Louisiana State School for the Blind when he was seven. While at the school, he studied classical piano and, starting in eleventh grade, voice training that included opera. He also studied drums, baritone horn, and valve trombone although he did not pursue a career on those instruments.

Butler began playing piano professionally when he was fourteen in Baton Rouge area clubs. While attending the Southern University in Baton Rouge in the late 1960s, he studied with Alvin Batiste, who guided him toward the recordings of Charlie Parker and John Coltrane along with Brazilian, Afro-Cuban, and Caribbean music. He also had private lessons with Professor Longhair Harold Mabern and Roland Hanna and received a grant ...