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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

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

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

Rebecca M. Bodenheimer

was born Gregorio Hernández Ríos on 17 November 1936 in the westernmost Cuban province of Pinar del Río. His family moved to Havana when he was a small boy, to a shantytown on the outskirts of the capital called Las Yaguas. Hernández’s father, Isidro, made his living as a bottle collector, buying empty bottles from residents to resell at bottle collection companies. Like many ambulant vendors at the time, Isidro used the folkloric tradition of the pregón, or street vendor’s call, which entailed going door to door using catchy song phrases to hawk one’s wares (one of Cuba’s most famous songs, “El Manicero” (The Peanut Vendor), is based on a pregón). Thus, Hernández was introduced early in his life to a popular sung folkloric tradition, and it was not long before the seven-year-old was creating and singing his own pregones He also began attending rumba parties at ...

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

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

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 ...