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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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Mary Krane Derr

multi‐instrumental musician, teacher, and orchestra conductor, was born in Lynchburg, Virginia. Some sources give her birth year as 1885; however, according to U.S. census data, it was most likely 1882. Her mother, Betty Anderson, was born March 1849 in Virginia. Little is known about Hallie Anderson's father except that he was also a Virginia native. When Hallie was three, the family migrated to New York City. As a child, Hallie took public school and private music lessons. She received classical training at the New York German Conservatory of Music. Although it did not record her occupation, the 1900 census noted that Hallie's mother was a widow who could neither read nor write, and who had seven living children. Betty Anderson was then living with three of her children, all of whom could read and write: Charles (born Sept. 1872), a waiter; John ...

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Michael Mizell-Nelson

jazz guitarist and banjoist, vocalist, and author, was born Daniel Moses Barker in New Orleans, Louisiana, to Moses Barker, a drayman, and Rose Barbarin Barker. Barker grew up in New Orleans with a largely absent Baptist father of rural origins and a mother whose familial connections to the Barbarin family, famed in New Orleans music, rooted him in the city's Creole of Color musical community. His childhood experiences immersed him in the cultures of both sides of his family: rural Protestant and urban Roman Catholic.

Barker's uncle, the drummer Paul Barbarin composer of the jazz standard Bourbon Street Parade started Danny on drums after trying the clarinet Danny decided to play multiple string instruments guitar banjo and ukulele A teenaged Barker played in spasm bands children s bands that featured rudimentary instruments often created from discarded objects Playing ukulele Barker led a spasm band named ...

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Teresa L. Reed

singer, was born in Washington, D.C. Though her father's name is unknown, evidence suggests that he was a Union soldier. After her father died from injuries sustained during the Civil War, Batson moved with her mother, Mary Batson, to Providence, Rhode Island. She attended school and studied music in Providence; by the age of nine she was a featured soloist at Bethel Church as well as at other local churches in the Rhode Island and Boston, Massachusetts, region.

Batson's professional career began to blossom at a time when several black women were achieving renown as classically trained singers. Nellie Brown Mitchell, Sissieretta Jones, Marie Selika all classical singers and contemporaries of Batson stood in stark contrast to the Jim Crow stereotypes that prevailed in a nation only recently rid of institutionalized slavery In the early 1880s Batson was the featured soloist at People s Church ...

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Philip Herbert

Alias of Thomas Wiggins (1849–1908), famous slave pianist, described by Mark Twain as a musical prodigy. He was born in May 1849 in Columbus, Georgia, being blind, and in today's terms an ‘autistic savant’. The renowned lawyer James N. Bethune bought Wiggins's parents as slaves. Recognizing that Wiggins was a musical genius capable of imitating noises, improvising, and composing at 6, Bethune's daughter Mary taught him to play the piano.

In 1857 Bethune paraded Wiggins's talent across Georgia, meeting rapturous responses. Consequently, Bethune had tours organized by Perry Oliver (concert promoter) earning them $100,000 a year. Wiggins would play European classical music, improvisations, popular ballads, and his own compositions, examples of the last being ‘The Rainstorm’ (1865) and ‘Cyclone Gallop’ (1887).

The Bethune family forced him to tour the South performing to raise funds during the Civil War for the confederacy and its army ...

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Josef Sorett

During the period commonly referred to as the post–civil rights era—starting from the late 1960s and proceeding into the early twenty-first century—two significant cultural developments (among others) emerged simultaneously. With newfound access to the social, cultural, and economic institutions central to American life, black cultural artists achieved a level of (hyper) visibility unimaginable during the previous historical period, when segregation was the law of the land. As part of this shift, hip-hop music and culture emerged and evolved into one of the (if not the most prominent forms of popular culture Similarly paralleling the mainstream political gains achieved by evangelicals a Christian culture industry grew exponentially largely by capitalizing upon the resources attached to media innovations such as cable television and the Internet and reconfigurations of market forces in the era of consumer capitalism The latter advances have enabled the emergence of a new crop of televangelists a number ...

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William Lichtenwanger

minstrel performer and composer, was born in Flushing, Long Island, New York, the son of Allen M. Bland, an incipient lawyer, and Lidia Ann Cromwell of Brandywine, Delaware, of an emancipated family. Bland's father, whose family had been free for several generations, attended law school at Howard University in Washington, D.C., and in 1867 became the first black to be appointed an examiner in the U.S. Patent Office.

James Bland entered Howard University as a prelaw student in 1870 at the urging of his father but the subject and the life associated with it did not appeal to him Instead he was attracted to the minstrel show that was approaching its peak during the 1870s He played the guitar danced the steps sang the minstrel songs and most important composed songs for the shows A free black man who attended college for two years Bland had to learn ...

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John Davis

pianist and composer, was born John William Boone in a Union army camp in Miami, Missouri, to Rachel Boone, an army cook and former slave to descendants of Daniel Boone, and to a white bugler for the Seventh Missouri State Militia, Company I, suggested by the historian Mike Shaw to have been Private William S. Belcher (Shaw, 2005). Although Boone's early biographer, Melissa Fuell, referred to Boone as having had five brothers—Ricely, Edward, Sam, Tom, and Harry (Fuell, 137)—according to Shaw it is likely that, except for a half brother, Edward (alternately referred to in census records as both Wyatt and Edward), all were step siblings via Rachel Boone's 17 May 1871 marriage to James Harrison Hendrick (a.k.a. Harrison Hendrix).

Little Willie as the newborn John William was called and his mother soon moved to Warrensburg Missouri where at the ...

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Blackviolinist who performed extensively in Britain. Bridgetower was born in Biała, Poland, the son of John Frederick Bridgetower, who might have come from the Caribbean, and his wife, Marie Ann, a Polish woman who died when their son was young. Bridgetower was said to have been a child prodigy, having made his debut as a soloist in April 1789 in Paris. The environment in which he was brought up was a significant factor in the development of his talent. His father was employed by Prince Nicholas Esterhazy, and John and his son lived at the back of the opera house with the court's musicians. Haydn was also an employee of the Prince, and it is possible that the young Bridgetower studied under him. A few years later, in England, Bridgetower would play the violin in Haydn's symphonies at concerts commissioned by Johann Peter Solomon where ...

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Called the Abyssinian Prince by an admiring public, George Frederick Polgreen Bridgetower gained renown throughout nineteenth-century Europe as a violinist of exceptional talent. As a youth, he became the prized violinist of the Prince of Wales, and he is said to have studied with Joseph Haydn. In 1803 he gave the first performance of Beethoven's Kreutzer Sonata for violin—written expressly for him—with the great German composer accompanying him at the piano.

Bridgetower grew up in London, England, the son of an African father and a European mother. At the age of ten, he debuted publicly as a violinist in Paris and soon after gave his first London performance, at the Drury Lane Theatre. His violin playing so impressed the Prince of Wales (later King George IV) that he was taken into the royal retinue. He also received extensive musical instruction from such noted violinists as Giovanni Mane ...

Article

Tony Thomas

was a black banjoist of the early 1800s who played for coins (picayunes) in the streets of New Orleans. Butler was celebrated as far away as Louisville and Cincinnati. Possibly from the French-speaking Caribbean or Louisiana, Butler may not have been his real name. Already described as “old” by 1830, there are no reports of Butler from after 1830. The popular minstrel song “Picayune Butler's Coming to Town” created an international legend about him.

The closest thing to what may be a contemporary New Orleans account of Picayune Butler is music historian Henry Kmen's conjecture that the words “old Butler's banjow [sic]” in the 24 December 1830Louisiana Advertiser refer to Picayune Butler.

In 1860 T. Allison Brown wrote in the New York “sporting” newspaper The Clipper that in 1834 George Nichols a white Cincinnati circus clown learned the song Jim Crow from a French darkie a ...

Article

Joy Elizondo

Domingos Caldas Barbosa was born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, to a white father, Antonio de Caldas Barbosa, and a black mother, whose identity remains unknown. From an early age Caldas received a Jesuit education. He showed a predilection for poetry and musical composition.

While still a young man Caldas was drafted into the military and sent to serve in the Portuguese colony of Sacramento on the Rio de la Plata. Subsequently, Caldas obtained his discharge, returned home to Brazil, and then boarded a ship bound for Portugal. He arrived in Lisbon in 1763 and shortly thereafter enrolled at the University of Coimbra. It is unclear at what point Caldas's university studies were discontinued, but author Jane M. Malinoff asserts that the young poet took leave shortly after learning of his father s death Unable to independently support the cost of his education Caldas recalled ...

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Eric Gardner

musician, educator, and activist, was born to free parents in Drummondtown, Accomack County, Virginia. His father died when Carter was about eight, and his mother, whose maiden name was probably Drummond, cared for Dennis. When one of his cousins, Henry Drummond, was bound out to an area slaveholder named Thomas R. Joynes because of his status as an orphan, Carter's mother began to fear that her son would also be enslaved should something happen to her. Determined that her son stay free, she moved with him to Philadelphia in about 1825. There Carter's musical talents flowered, in part under the tutelage of the famous black Philadelphia bandleader Francis Johnson.

Carter toured with Johnson's band sporadically during the 1830s, 1840s, and early 1850s, reportedly joining Johnson's 1837 trip to Great Britain and an 1851 trip to Sulphur Springs Virginia In addition to working as a musician Carter ...

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Camille A. Collins

blues musician, was born in Louisiana, and raised in McComb, Mississippi, fifteen miles north of the Louisiana border. While familial and personal details of Collins's life remain sparse, he has achieved an affirmed place in the cannon of American blues singers.

Collins's hometown lies beyond the Mississippi Delta, the region famed for giving rise to legendary blues artists such as Robert Johnson. Yet, the notion that the Delta was the only area rich in blues talent is a mythological one. In reality, much of Mississippi proved fertile ground for gifted blues performers.

Collins is best known for his unique vocalization, characterized by a rich, emotive, somewhat feminine timbre, often described as “falsetto.” In songs like the mournful “Jailhouse Blues,” he calls to mind female singers of the era such as Bessie Smith. Clearly, Collins's keening, plaintive style is attributable to the appellation “Crying Sam.”

Compositional innovation was ...

Article

Décima  

Jean Mutaba Rahier

In its Afro-Esmeraldian variant, décimas are oral poems generally composed and recited by older black men, decimeros, of the northwestern Ecuadorian province of Esmeraldas—one of the two traditional black regions of the country. In contrast to the traditional ten-verse décima, Afro-Esmeraldian décima is composed of forty-four verses divided into five stanzas: one of four verses followed by four of ten. These oral poems have as their origin a written poetry that was quite popular during the Renaissance in Spain and in Europe called “the gloss” (la glosa The link between the two poetic genres is obvious when their formal structures are compared In both the Spanish gloss and the Afro Esmeraldian décima the first verse of the quatrain ends the first ten line stanza the second verse of the quatrain ends the second ten line stanza and so on until the fourth verse of the quatrain ...

Article

Pamela Lee Gray

composer, violinist, and conductor, was born in New Orleans to parents who were free Creoles of color. His father and mother were originally from the French West Indies but immigrated to the United States in approximately 1809 as part of the mass political exile during that period His father was a professional musician who worked as a bandmaster for a local military unit As a child Dédé studied the clarinet and then began playing the violin His teachers were Ludovico Gabici and Constantin Debergue Debergue was director of the Philharmonic Society established by the free Creoles of color in the area he was also a violinist which may account for Dédé s particular affection for that instrument Gabici an Italian was one of the earliest music publishers in New Orleans and the director of the Saint Charles Theater orchestra Dédé was schooled in music by many ...

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Kevin Byrne

vaudeville entertainer and theatrical entrepreneur, was born in Dallas, Texas. The names of his parents are unknown. Though in later interviews Dudley frequently changed the story of how he broke into show business, his earliest stage work was most likely in Texas and Louisiana as part of a medicine show. This job, in which he played music and told jokes to draw a crowd to the pitchman and his wares, was an appropriate beginning for a man who always sought to be the center of attention. Dudley eventually became an artist and businessman who, as demonstrated by both his actions and writings, was passionately concerned with cultivating the rights and strengthening the dignity of African American performers during an era when what it meant to be a black entertainer was greatly in flux.

Dudley s apprenticeship in the professional theatrical world took place during the last decade of the ...

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John Garst

bootblack, barber, porter, actor, singer, and politician, was born William Henry Harrison Duncan in Columbia, Missouri, to former slaves. A close friend, Henry Massey, persuaded him to come to St. Louis, where he was a “sport, a jolly fellow, a swell dresser, a ladies' favorite, but, above all, he was a magnificent singer.” As a member of Massey's Climax Quartet Duncan gained fame for his low, smooth, rich, sure, bass voice. He was also an actor and performed regularly at the London Theatre in St. Louis.

In Clayton, Missouri, west of St. Louis, Duncan was hanged for the murder of an Irish American policeman named James Brady in Charles Starkes's saloon at 715 N. 11th Street. A popular ballad complex (“Duncan and Brady,” “Brady and Duncan,” “Brady,” “King Brady”) arose after the murder.

At about 8:30 p.m. on 6 October 1890 ...

Article

Philip Herbert

Violinist and composer, celebrated and admired as a remarkable musician in Cornish society after his humble beginnings as a slave. Emidy, was born in Guinea, West Africa, sold into slavery in 1787 by Portuguese traders, and then taken to Brazil. He came to Lisbon with his new owner, who recognized his interest in music and provided him with a violin and a tutor. He progressed musically, and by 1795 was a second violinist in the orchestra of the Opera House in Lisbon.

However, in 1795, when Sir Edward Pellow brought his ship the Indefatigable into the river Tagus in Lisbon for repairs, he and other officers attended the Lisbon opera. After seeing Emidy perform in the orchestra, they kidnapped him, forcing him to come aboard their ship as their fiddler to perform dances (which he loathed) to entertain the sailors and raise their morale as they sailed.

After ...

Article

France  

Dwain C. Pruitt

Since the eighteenth century, France has occupied a special place in the African American imagination. Presumed French racial liberalism attracted the African American intelligentsia, several of whom, in turn, found France to be far more welcoming than their native land had been.

African Americans continued to arrive in France throughout the nineteenth century, but they did not arrive in significant enough numbers to constitute an expatriate community until World War I, when some two hundred thousand African Americans served in France. The American forces generally used African Americans as stevedores, which the trained soldiers deeply resented. The units that saw action fought alongside the hard-pressed French army in French uniforms at several key battles, including the Battle of Verdun. The French welcomed them as liberators and challenged the American military's efforts to enforce Jim Crow segregation on French soil.

The French were also struck by something else that black soldiers ...