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(b Philadelphia, PA, Feb 14, 1760; d Philadelphia, March 26, 1831). American tunebook compiler. A former slave, he founded the African Methodist Episcopal Church in Philadelphia in 1794 and was elected its first bishop on the incorporation of the church in 1816. He compiled a hymnbook of 54 hymns, A Collection of Spiritual Songs and Hymns, for use by his congregation, the Bethel AME Church, in 1801. Later that year an enlarged version was published as A Collection of Hymns and Spiritual Songs. It was the first hymnbook published by an African American for use by African Americans, and many of the hymns later became sources for black spirituals. With Daniel Coker and James Champion, Allen also compiled the first official hymnbook of the AME Church in 1818.

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James V. Hatch

playwright and minister, was born in Wichita, Kansas. Little is known about his parents, although his mother is said to have been an active reformer and a poet. Anderson completed four years of school (the only formal education that he ever received) before his father moved the family to California to take a job as a janitor in the post office. The following year Anderson's mother died, and at age twelve he left home to become a newsboy, selling the Telegraph Press on the corner of Third and Market streets in San Francisco.

After working as a porter on the railroad, Anderson worked for the next fifteen years as a bellhop in various San Francisco hotels. During this period he also became a temporary convert to Christian Science. One afternoon in 1924 he saw a performance of Channing Pollack's moralistic drama The Fool and knew immediately that he ...

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Mary Krane Derr

Roman Catholic religious leader, sacred music performer, and social justice activist, was born Bertha J. Bowman in Yazoo City, Mississippi, the granddaughter of slaves and only child of physician Theon Edward Bowman and high school music teacher Mary Esther Coleman. Baptized an Episcopalian, Bertha attended Methodist services. Growing up in segregated, impoverished Canton, Mississippi, she absorbed the spirituality and music of black community elders and her parents' own deep commitments to lives of service. At age ten, she chose to be baptized as a Roman Catholic because she admired the work of the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration (FSPA) in Canton. In the face of public uproar, white nuns from this order taught black students at Holy Child Jesus Catholic School. Unable to read after five years of poor quality education in segregated public schools, Bertha finally became literate after transferring to this school in 1949 ...

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Melvin L. Butler

gospel composer and pastor, was born into a family of sharecroppers in Somerville, Tennessee. Although Brewster stemmed from a humble background, he managed to study a wide variety of subjects, including theology, law, and Hebrew. After graduating from Roger Williams College in 1922 he moved to Memphis, Tennessee. By 1930 Brewster had begun a lifelong tenure as pastor of the East Trigg Baptist Church. A major aspect of Brewster's early ministry centered on the founding of theology schools, and these centers of learning helped to establish his voice as one of moral authority and spiritual guidance in religious circles.

By the time Brewster began seriously publishing his songs in the 1940s he had gained over a decade of experience in his pastoral role This experience provided a wellspring of material for songs that often relayed Old Testament stories and were enjoyed by African American congregations across the United States ...

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Christopher Paul Moore

writer, was born in La Grange, Texas, the son of James Browne, a farmer and carpenter, and Mary Elizabeth Dowell Browne. He attended public schools and entered the first class at Samuel Huston College in Austin, Texas, in 1900. Established by the Freedmen's Aid Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church, this all-black college was where Browne developed an early interest in teaching, civil and human rights, and religion.

As a student leader, Browne served as Texas representative to the Young People's Religious and Educational Congress in Atlanta in 1902 and campaigned to repeal the poll tax amendment to the Texas state constitution in 1903. After graduation he was elected vice president of the Texas State Teachers Association and taught at schools in Austin and Fort Worth over the next decade.

In 1904 Browne married Mylie De Pre Adams of Corsicana Texas with whom he had ...

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Edward J. Robinson

evangelist, farmer, educator, postmaster, justice of the peace, and “race man,” was born Samuel in Prince William County, Virginia. Even though an oral tradition among Cassius's descendants insists that Robert E. Lee was his biological father, circumstantial evidence suggests that James W. F. Macrae, a white physician and politician and relative of Robert E. Lee, was probably his father and Jane, an enslaved African, was his mother (Robinson). After emancipation Cassius probably added the names “Robert” to commemorate Robert E. Lee's kindness of purchasing him and his mother to prevent them from being sold to the Deep South and he may have attached Cassius to honor the ancient Roman general as many slaves adopted names of famous people from classical antiquity Robinson Little is known about Samuel s mother a slave who served in the Macrae household While working for the Macrae family as a house servant ...

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Donald Yacovone

civil rights advocate, musician, and minister, was one of six children born to Earsey Bryant Current and John T. Current, a bank employee, in Indianapolis, Indiana. He grew up in Chicago and Detroit and credited the “outspokenness” of his parents and his grandfather the Reverend Gloster Bryant for his long career in the struggle for black rights (New York Times, 9 July 1997). Current's mother was an officer in the Women's Society of Christian Service, a black women's Methodist organization, and both parents played active roles in their local church. Gloster attended the Detroit Institute of Musical Art and in 1941 received an AB degree from West Virginia State College, near Charleston. In 1951, he earned a master's degree in Public Administration from Wayne State College in Detroit.

On 6 September 1941 he married Leontine Teenie Turpeau of Cincinnati whom Current had met at ...

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Roxanne Y. Schwab

dancer and actress, was born Loletha Elaine Falana in Camden, New Jersey, to Bennet and Cleo Falana. Her Cuban father had immigrated to the United States a few years before and was working as a welder, housing the family at the Clement T. Branch Village public housing project in the Centerville section of Camden. A dancer at age three and a singer with the church choir at age five, Falana disregarded her parents' concerns about her future and opted to leave Germantown High School months before graduation to embark on a show business career in New York.

Sleeping in a subway car because she could not afford an apartment, Falana soon landed dancing gigs at Small's Paradise in Harlem and in the singer Dinah Washington's nightclub act. The performer Sammy Davis Jr. recognized Falana's potential and cast her in a feature role in his Broadway musical Golden Boy ...

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Werner Graebner

taarab singer, drummer, and healer, was born in urban Zanzibar. Her parents had migrated to the islands from the Kilwa area of Tanzania on the East African mainland. She is better known as Bi Kidude. Some controversy surrounds Kidude’s birthdate; considering all evidence, the latest she could have been born is around 1920. Growing up in suburban Zanzibar’s Ng’ambo area, she showed interest from a young age in taarab song, a genre of poetry sung to musical accompaniment developed in nineteeth- century Zanzibar. One of her uncles, Buda Suwedi, was a member of Siti Bint Saadi’s group, then the most popular singer in Zanzibar. Kidude attended night rehearsals at Saadi’s place, pretending to sleep in a corner or on the outside baraza bench, soaking up the songs, which still form her main repertoire today.

When Kidude was in her teens, dhows traditional Arab sailboats from all over the ...

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Patrick Stearns

professional boxer, actor, product spokesperson, and minister. George Edward Foreman was born in Marshall, Texas, to J. D. Foreman and Nancy Foreman. By the seventh grade he had dropped out of school, engaging in petty crimes, such as muggings. At age sixteen he enrolled in a Job Corps training program in Oregon. While working at a conservation camp affiliated with the program, Foreman found that he had a talent for boxing, and he won the Corps Diamond Belt Boxing Tournament.

In 1968 Foreman made the U.S. Olympic boxing team and won the gold medal in the Olympic Games in Mexico City. Vietnam War protests, the rise of black nationalism, and episodes of civil unrest in U.S. cities after Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s assassination earlier in the year were a sign of the times. The 1968 Olympics in Mexico City were also the scene ...

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Roanne Edwards

Known as “the father of Brazilian music,” José Maurício Nunes Garcia gained recognition in the early nineteenth century as a composer of church music. He wrote hymns, masses, chants, antiphones, and Te Deums, and his Requiem Mass (1816) is considered by music scholars to be one of the most significant masses ever written in Latin America. Although he wrote mostly sacred music, he was influenced by secular styles, most notably by Italian opera and by the Viennese masters, Haydn and Mozart. One of Haydn's former students, the Austrian musician Sigismund Ritter von Neukomm, considered Garcia “the greatest improviser in the world on the clavichord.”

Born in Rio de Jainero, Garcia was the son of a Portuguese lieutenant, Apolinário Nunes Garcia, and a black woman, Vitória Maria da Cruz He studied harpsichord viola and solfège at the academy of Salvador José de Almeida e ...

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Elizabeth D. Schafer

radio broadcaster, was born in Talladega County, Alabama, the son of Roy and Edna Garrett, tenant farmers. Although Garrett's father was illiterate, his mother could read and write and was concerned that her children be educated. By age five Garrett was literate and attended school with his siblings. He also helped his brothers and father farm the land they rented.

Not much is known about Garrett's childhood. By the 1940s he was living in Birmingham, Alabama, where he owned a dry cleaning business. Garrett also worked as a disc jockey at “soul” station WVOK and used his personal records and turntables. In 1957, motivated by the opportunity to secure a broadcast frequency and determined to establish a radio station, Garrett moved to Huntsville, Alabama. He was denied a building permit by the city government, however, and was arrested when he began construction without one.

Garrett protested the ...

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was born in St. Kitts on 17 September 1925. Griffith learned to play the organ at the Methodist Church in St. Kitts before migrating to Trinidad in November 1943. She began missionary work in Trinidad by visiting hospitals and praying with the sick. Following a vision, she was baptized as a Shouter Baptist in 1951 by Pastor Lacaille, one of the leaders of the faith during the years of prohibition engendered by enactment and enforcement of the 1917 Shouters Prohibition Ordinance, which was repealed on 30 March 1951. Several years later she another vision: that of a short, dark man, clad in a black suit, felt hat, and tie. A few days later a man with a remarkable likeness to the man in her vision walked into the yard of her church. He was Elton George Griffith the leader of the public campaign to repeal the ...

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Andrew Du Bois

Born Stanley Kirk Burrell in Oakland, California, MC Hammer made his album debut in 1988 with the self-produced Let's Get It Started. His style—frenetic beats and chanted lyrics—did not impress the Hip-Hop cognoscenti, but the album sold over one million copies and set the stage for one of hip-hop's biggest surprises. Buoyed by the genial dance floor anthem “U Can't Touch This,” Hammer's second album, Please Hammer Don't Hurt ‘Em (1990) held the top spot on the charts for 21 weeks, becoming the biggest-selling Rap album in history.

Hammer was a better entertainer than a rapper his live shows were energetic spectacles intricately choreographed events that highlighted the hugely popular dance routines of Hammer and his massive entourage The artist s videos distilled the live experience into simple but effective blasts that found heavy rotation on MTV Hammer won three Grammy awards two for U Can ...

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Judith Weisenfeld

actor, singer, and minister, was born in Atlanta, Georgia, the son of Charles Haynes, a bricklayer, and Mary (“Mollie”) Leech, an office cleaner. Haynes was educated in the Atlanta public schools and graduated from the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church–affiliated Morris Brown College.

Haynes worked as a porter in Atlanta and as an itinerant preacher before securing a job in the records division at the Standard Life Insurance Company in Atlanta around 1915. Founded by Heman Edward Perry in 1913, Standard was one of the nation's few black life insurance companies, and Haynes gained valuable business experience working with one of the most active black entrepreneurs in America. While at Standard, he also met Harry Herbert Pace, the company's secretary-treasurer, with whom he would later work in New York. Haynes registered for the draft in 1917 and according to one source ...

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Born to slave parents, Rosa Horn began preaching in Evanston, Illinois, and moved to New York City in 1926 in order to expand her ministry. In 1929 she founded the Pentecostal Faith Church for All Nations, which was also known as the Mount Calvary Pentecostal Faith Church.

Horn began radio broadcasting from her Harlem congregation in 1934 and her program, You, Pray For Me Church of the Air, attracted listeners from as far as the South and the Caribbean. James Baldwin attended her church as a child, and she inspired him to become a preacher. During the Great Depression Horn opened the Gleaners' Aid Home, which provided food for the poor. From the 1940s through the 1970s, Horn focused her charitable works primarily on providing vocational and religious training to poor youth.

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Bill McCulloch and Barry Lee Pearson

blues artist, was born Nehemiah James in Yazoo County, outside Bentonia, Mississippi, the son of Eddie James and Phyllis Jones. His father, reputed to be a musician and a bootlegger, moved north to Sidon, near Greenwood, to evade the law, leaving Skip with his mother on the Woodbine plantation, where she worked as a cook. After an attempt to reunite the family in Sidon failed, Skip and his mother returned to Bentonia, where he attended St. Paul School and Yazoo High School. At the age of eight or nine, inspired by local musicians—particularly the guitarist Henry Stuckey—Skip persuaded his mother to buy him a guitar. At the age of twelve he took one piano lesson from a cousin. Unable to pay for more lessons, he continued learning on an organ owned by an aunt.

After dropping out of high school at about age fifteen James went to ...

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David Michel

pastor, holiness preacher, composer, and denominational leader, was born in Texas Valley, Georgia. He was born the son of Clifford Milner and a Baptist mother, Mary Jones Milner. The Milners gave birth to three children. Jones's father died and his mother remarried Berry Latimer with whom she had a daughter, Lucy. After his mother died in 1882, Jones moved to Cat Island, Arkansas, where he was saved in 1884. In May 1885 he was baptized and joined Locust Grove Baptist Church and that same year started preaching. He was licensed in 1887 by George W. Dickey, then pastor of Locust Grove. Three years later Jones left Cat Island, going to Helena, Arkansas, where he joined Centennial Baptist Church, pastored by Elias Camp Morris then president of the Arkansas Baptist Convention Jones later moved to Little Rock in order to enroll ...

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Kevin Sliman

blues musician and preacher, was born in Pelahatchie, Mississippi. His father, a fireman in Jackson, Mississippi, died in 1911 and Lacy was raised by his grandfather, an African Methodist preacher. He attended school for five years and quickly turned his attention to music. Coming from a musically skilled family, Lacy organized his siblings into gospel quartets while his mother or other siblings played harmonica. He learned to play guitar and mandolin in his early teens from a man named George “Crow Jane” Hendrix, a professional musician. His uncle, Herbert Meiels a German who was highly educated and spoke five languages taught Lacy German history and politics At age twenty Lacy moved to Jackson Mississippi to pursue music but stayed only a short time before he began doing railroad work that took him all over Mississippi and then to Iowa Lacy moved to Chicago and lived with Meiels ...

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Jason Philip Miller

professional basketball player, member of the Harlem Globetrotters, and minister, was born George Meadow Lemon III in Wilmington, North Carolina. Neither his parents' names nor their occupations are known. When he was eleven years old, Lemon went to the local movie house and saw a short reel about Abe Saperstein's famous Harlem Globetrotters basketball team and decided that one day he would be a member. Lemon attended public school in Wilmington, where he excelled at basketball and football. In 1952, while still a high school student, he wrote the Globetrotters to request a tryout and was given one, but he failed to make the team.

That same year Lemon matriculated at Florida A M University but he spent only a few weeks there before he was drafted into the U S Army He spent two years in the service and as luck would have it was stationed ...