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Nate Plageman

Ghanaian musician and pharmacist, also known as the “King of Highlife,” was born Emmanuel Tetteh Mensah in Ussher Town, Accra, Ghana, on 31 May 1919. His father Robert Noi Mensah was a goldsmith and his mother Florence Adukwei Akwei traded cloth. Mensah’s first musical experiences came during his time at the Government Elementary School in James Town, where he played in a drum and fife band formed by one of the school’s teachers, Joe Lamptey. During his time with the Government School Band, Mensah learned how to play the flute, performed marching songs, and became acquainted with “highlife,” an emerging style of dance music that blended orchestral instruments, European chord sequences, and local rhythmic patterns. In 1933 Mensah joined Lamptey s senior band the Accra Orchestra also as a flutist Unlike his prior band the Accra Orchestra was a large dance ensemble comprised of brass string wind and ...

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Sharon Renee McGee

singer and songwriter, was born Minnie Julia Riperton in Chicago, the youngest of eight children of Daniel Riperton, a Pullman porter, and Thelma (maiden name unknown). At a young age, Riperton began taking music, dance, and ballet lessons at the Lincoln Center in Chicago. At the age of nine, she decided to experience a new genre of music and began taking opera lessons, something that contributed to the cultivation of her five-octave vocal range. She sang in the choir at the Sixth Presbyterian Church and at Hyde Park High School.

At the age of fourteen, while in the Hyde Park a capella choir, she was discovered by the pianist and songwriter Raynard Miner who asked her to join the Gems a girl group he frequently played with for Chess Records Over the next few years Riperton cut a series of singles with the group including I Can ...

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Dawne Y. Curry

Minnie Riperton still seduces music aficionados with songs such as “Perfect Angel,” “Loving You,” and “Memory Lane,” some of the treasures she bequeathed as part of her musical legacy. Riperton used her remarkable five-octave vocal range to paint a lyrical tapestry of love, beauty, and unity. This was not the only talent that Riperton possessed, nor the only indelible mark she left behind.

Minnie Riperton, the youngest of the eight children of Daniel and Thelma Riperton, was born in Chicago, Illinois where she underwent extensive preparatory training as a young child She took classes in modern dance and ballet before turning to opera As a teenager she had the opportunity to perform with the Gems an all female singing group that signed a major recording contract with Chess Records She performed as a backup singer on several hits produced by Chess Records including There Is by the Dells ...