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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 ...

Article

Lois Bellamy

gospel singer, songwriter, pianist, actor, and humanitarian, was born in San Antonio, Texas, to a barber and a seamstress. His parents’ names are not recorded. He sang his first song at the age of five and began singing, as a teenager, at the Refugee Church of Our Lord Jesus Christ in San Antonio. He also began studying classical piano at the same age. Dixon attended a local Catholic college on a scholarship but dropped out to pursue a music career. He began touring at seventeen and played black churches in California, Texas, and Louisiana.

Dixon was introduced to gospel music in his youth when his group performed at a theater in south Texas City, where gospel icon James Cleveland was in the audience Cleveland liked Dixon and persuaded him to move to Chicago as a teenager to join his group The Gospel Chimes Around ...

Article

Eric Bennett

George Foreman grew up in Houston, Texas, and had a rough early life, dropping out of high school, drinking heavily, and committing petty larcenies. In 1965 he turned his life around by joining the Job Corps, where he encountered Boxing. Showing exceptional natural skill for the sport, Foreman won his first official amateur fight in 1967 with a first-round knockout. His talent developed quickly, and in 1968 he won a gold medal for the United States at the Summer Olympic Games in Mexico City.

The following year Foreman launched his record-breaking professional career. By 1973 he had knocked out thirty-six consecutive opponents and won the title of heavyweight champion from Joe Frazier. Foreman defended his title until 1974, when underdog Muhammad Ali knocked him out in Kinshasa, Zaire.

After a fight in Puerto Rico in 1977 Foreman experienced a religious awakening that led him to ...

Article

Mary Frances Early

composer, arranger, and choral conductor, was born Francis Hall Johnson in Athens, Georgia, the son of William Decker Johnson, an African Methodist Episcopal (AME) minister, and Alice (maiden name unknown). Music was an important part of Hall Johnson's childhood. He heard his grandmother and other former slaves as they sang the old spirituals in his father's Methodist church. This grounding in the original performance of Negro spirituals was to represent a significant influence on his later life. Johnson, exhibiting an early interest in music, received solfeggio lessons from his father and piano lessons from an older sister. As a teenager he developed an interest in the violin and taught himself to play.

Johnson was educated in the South at the Knox Institute at Atlanta University and at Allen University in Columbia South Carolina where his father was president Frustrated by his inability to find a violin ...

Article

Jeffrey Green

choir leader, was born in Portage County, Ohio, the son of a farmer whose name is now unknown and whose financial contributions to a nearby college neither overcame the local prejudice nor secured a place for his son among the student body. Educated in Ravenna, Ohio, Loudin went on to train as a printer, only to find his opportunities restricted by white printers who refused to work with him. Even his Methodist church rejected his application to join its choir. For all its positive associations for their kinfolk in the slavery states, mid-nineteenth century Ohio was a hard place for the Loudins, as it had been for Frederick Douglass who was mobbed in Columbus, Ohio, when Frederick Loudin was a boy. He was to recall that the “ostracism was even more complete and unchristian in the free than in the slave States” (Marsh, 106).

After the Civil War Loudin ...

Article

Blackness is like a vibrant and luminous combustible which supplies a kind of telluric energy for a humanity more and more in need of it.Gilberto Gil

For many Americans, the phrase “Brazilian Cinema” instantly elicits the memory of what was in fact a French film—Marcel Camus's Black Orpheus. More than any other film, Black Orpheus created in the international consciousness a powerful association among three related concepts: Brazilianness, Blackness, and Carnival. North American critics raved about “intoxicating samba music, frenzied dancing and violent costumes” (Bosley Crowther, New York Times). In his filmic adaptation of the Vinícius de Moraes source play, the French director combined actual Carnival footage from the 1958 Rio Carnival with staged footage in which thousands of Brazilians, generally for no pay, played at Carnival for the cameras. While in many ways offering a French touristic view of Carnival, Black Orpheus ...

Article

Sholomo B. Levy

gospel singer and songwriter, was born Clara Mae Ward in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the last of three children of George Ward, a factory worker, and Gertrude Mae Walla Azalee Murphy Ward, a domestic worker. Her parents were farmers who left Anderson, South Carolina, in 1920 in search of the better job opportunities that were available to black people in the North. All of her family sang in the choir at Ebenezer Baptist Church, although at home on one occasion mischievous relatives reportedly encouraged young Clara to belt out the popular Thomas A. Dorsey tune “Tight Like That,” which was written when the legendary gospel composer was still a bluesman and long before the enthusiastic Clara was capable of understanding its meaning Her musical tastes would later become fixed on old Negro spirituals and she became a pioneer in creating modern gospel but her desire to sing ...

Article

David Michel

gospel singer and group leader, was born Gertrude Willa Azalee Murphy near Anderson, South Carolina, the eleventh of twelve children born to David and Hannah Murphy, both being farmers and Baptists. Gertrude completed eighth grade and, like millions of African Americans, moved north. In 1920 she settled in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and married George Ward, with whom she had two daughters, Willa(rene) and Clara Mae, born in 1922 and 1924 respectively. In Philadelphia, Gertrude did domestic work while her husband joined an iron company, where he remained for forty-two years. The Ward family soon joined Ebenezer Baptist Church at Tenth Street and Girard Avenue and would remain active there for years. Both Ward and her husband joined the senior choir. In 1931 Ward claimed to hear the voice of God telling her, “Go sing my Gospel.”

Ward aggressively pursued a singing ministry She familiarized herself with gospel ...