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Caryn E. Neumann

surgeon and Tennessee legislator, was born to a single mother, Edna Brown, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. When she was five months old, her mother placed her in the Troy Orphanage. In 1932Brown's mother reclaimed her daughter, but the two clashed and Brown ran away from home. She was subsequently taken in by Samuel Wesley and Lola Redmon. Brown obtained a job as a mother's helper in the W. F. Jarrett home and graduated from high school, possibly Troy High School, about 1937.

Several factors inspired Brown to become a surgeon. As a child, she entered the hospital for the removal of her tonsils and adenoids. She loved the special attention that she received and wanted to duplicate that experience for other patients. Later, in her teens, she attended a performance by the African American opera star Marian Anderson. Impressed by Anderson's greatness and graciousness, Brown ...

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Geraldine Rhoades Beckford

physician and educator, was born in Mebanesville, North Carolina, one of eight children. Her parents' names are not known. There are no records of Brown's earlier education, but in 1881 she enrolled at Scotia Seminary in Concord, North Carolina, and graduated in 1885. Four years later she married David Brown, a minister, and the following year entered Woman's Medical College of Pennsylvania, founded in 1850 and the first medical school for women in America. When Brown matriculated at the school in 1891, it was one of the best medical colleges in the country.

After graduating from Woman's Medical College of Pennsylvania in 1894 Brown returned to North Carolina and practiced medicine in her home state for two years before going to Charleston South Carolina where she became the first female physician of African ancestry in South Carolina A year later a fellow alumna from Woman s ...

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Scott Yanow

jazz bassist, was born in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. His parents’ names and occupations are not recorded. An only child, Davis began studying the piano when he was five but soon dropped it because his family did not own a piano. When he was in sixth grade, he wanted to play trumpet or trombone but began on the tuba since it was the only instrument available.

In 1951, when he decided to seriously start his music career, Davis switched to string bass. Very technically skilled from the start, Davis was one of the first musicians who had no difficulty switching between jazz and classical music. He studied with the principal bassist of the Philadelphia Orchestra (Anselme Fortier) and attended Juilliard and the Manhattan School of Music from 1953 to 1956. In addition, he led his own quartet and played on radio, on television, at clubs, and at colleges.

After ...

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Pamela Foster

the only son and eldest of six children of Cleveland Francis, a janitor, and Mary Francis, a maid. While growing up Francis was inspired by the banjo, fiddle, harmonica, guitar, and other musical sounds he heard both in his neighborhood and on radio. He also was self-inspired to escape the poverty of his hometown any way he could.

Education would be his ticket out. After he built a guitar from an old King Edward cigar box and in 1953 asked for a twenty-five-dollar Sears Silvertone guitar, his mother knew that requiring Francis to keep up his grades in exchange for the guitar would ensure that he developed both his intellectual and musical skills. After high school in 1963 Francis enrolled at Southern University in Baton Rouge Louisiana as a pre med student where Dr Huel Perkins head of Southern s music department took an interest in his music This ...

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Charles Rosenberg

a singer who lived for over thirty years in Russia, both under Tsar Nicholas and during the first decades of the Soviet Union, was born in Augusta, Georgia, according to her 1901 passport application. Some accounts give her year of birth as 1870. Multiple passport applications give 1875. Census records suggest she may have been the daughter of John and Ann Harris, who in 1880 were illiterate tenant farmers in Carnesville, Franklin County, northwest of Augusta. The subsequent history of her older brothers, Andrew J. and Henry Harris, and younger sister Lulu, are unknown.

In 1892Harris married Joseph B. Harris (no relation), moving with him to Brooklyn, where she worked as a domestic and directed a Baptist church choir. She went to Europe in May 1901 as a member of the “Louisiana Amazon Guards,” a singing group assembled by the German promoter Paule ...

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Scott Yanow

jazz trumpeter, figure skater, and psychiatrist, was born in New York City. His father, Billy Williams, was the lead singer in Billy Williams and the Charioteers, while his mother was a dancer who was one of the Brown Twins at the Cotton Club. She danced with Bill “Bojangles” Robinson and the Nicholas Brothers and can be seen in the Fats Waller short film of “Ain’t Misbehavin’,” sitting on the piano while he sang to her. After Billy Williams's death, Henderson's mother married a doctor in San Francisco. His stepfather had many musician patients, including Miles Davis, John Coltrane, and Duke Ellington.

Henderson began on the trumpet when he was nine. His first teacher was Louis Armstrong who gave him a few informal lessons Henderson moved to San Francisco with his family when he was 14 He studied at the San Francisco Conservatory of ...

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Miles M. Jackson

physician and musician, was born in Seierville, Tennessee, the son of Edward Maples and Martha Jane Runions. William had one brother, Samuel. Showing a talent for science, oratory, and music, he graduated in the first class of the segregated high school in Knoxville in 1888. He received recognition at graduation for his outstanding oratorical skills and received the Dodson medal for his talent. Upon graduating from high school he taught high school for a year in Austin, Tennessee. He entered medical school at Howard University in Washington, D.C., in 1889 and received his MD in 1893. While he was a medical student he supported himself by a job as a clerk in the federal pension office in Washington, D.C.

In 1893 Maples returned to Knoxville and established a medical practice. During the Spanish-American War, in 1898 he interrupted his practice to serve in the ...

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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 ...

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Jeremy Rich

musician, medical doctor, New Testament scholar, and philosopher, was born in Kaysersberg, Alsace, Germany, to Louis and Adèle Schweitzer on 14 January 1875. In his youth, he combined a lifelong love of music and philosophy with a critical view toward orthodox understandings of Christianity. He was a famed scholar by 1900, but his religious views ruled out becoming a minister like his father. However, at that time French Protestant missionaries in Gabon were desperate for recruits. Illnesses had decimated their personnel in Gabon. When Schweitzer sent in an application in 1905 to work as a doctor alongside the missionaries after reading a plea for other Europeans to join the Gabon mission, the Société des Mission Evangelique (SME) eventually agreed to send him after several years of discussion.

When Schweitzer arrived in the Ogooué River town of Lambaréné in 1913 this settlement had been an important colonial trade ...

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Diana Kristine Durham

organist, stenographer, college professor, physician, and hospital founder, was born in St. John, Antigua, British West Indies, the son of John Sebastian and Sara Elizabeth Roberts. He studied at Antigua's Mico College, a normal school established for blacks by Lady Mico Trust, where he studied a rigorous curriculum that included English, Latin, Greek, mathematics, science, astronomy, history, and geography. Sebastian, like many of the students at Mico College, viewed his normal training as preparation for a career other than teaching.

In 1901 Sebastian immigrated to the United States After arriving in Philadelphia he obtained employment as a stenographer and an organist A year later he moved to Greensboro North Carolina to work at the Agricultural and Mechanical College later North Carolina A T State University Sebastian who was broadly educated in the Caribbean taught English geography foreign languages and mathematics and was also ...

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Mary Krane Derr

physician, pianist, and baseball-team owner, was born Hilda Mae (or May) Bolden in the Philadelphia suburb of Darby, Pennsylvania. She was the only child of Nellie Bolden, a homemaker and civic volunteer, and Edward Bolden, a postal clerk, owner of the all-black Philadelphia Stars baseball team, and founder of the Eastern Colored League. Taught by her mother, Hilda Bolden demonstrated early talent as a pianist. At age three, she gave her first public performance. Her parents encouraged her to excel also at school. The first African American valedictorian at Darby High School, she had some white students walk on her when she gave her speech, but she continued nonetheless.

Hilda Bolden earned her undergraduate degree at the University of Pennsylvania and then attended Meharry Medical College On a Rosenwald Fellowship she studied pediatrics at the University of Chicago She completed her pediatrics residency at Provident Hospital There as reported ...

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Joann Buckley and W. Douglas Fisher

physician, soldier, athlete, medical association leader, and choirmaster, born in Indianapolis, Indiana to Charles Henry and Mary E. (Moore) Wilson, and educated in Franklin, Indiana. He graduated from Franklin High School in 1896. He then entered Franklin College. Wilson divided his interests between educational pursuits and athletics. He was a star football player (left halfback on the 1898 team) and a member of Franklin's baseball team. He was also a member of the debating and glee clubs. While still in college, he married Mary Hugel on 12 February 1900. Their daughter Martha was born on 12 May 1901. In 1902 he became Franklin s first African American graduate earning a bachelor s degree in philosophy As the Franklin College program was modeled after Oxford University s B Phil after graduating he became known as Prof Arthur Wilson He was then ...