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Mark Clague and John H. Zimmerman

flutist, composer, bandmaster, music educator, journalist, and hotelier, was born in Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, Danish West Indies (later U.S. Virgin Islands) and is remembered as the U.S. Navy's first African American bandmaster. Adams was the son of Jacob Henry Adams, a carpenter, and Petrina Evangeline Dinzey, a tailor; both his parents were members of the black artisan class centered around St. Thomas's port. This culture celebrated music and literature and instilled the young Adams with values of hard work and self-education. Although professional musicians were unknown in the Virgin Islands in his youth, Adams dreamt of a musical career inspired by his deeply held belief that music was not just entertainment, but vital to community health.

Adams attended elementary school and apprenticed as a carpenter and then a shoemaker choosing his trade based on the musical abilities of his master ...

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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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Shana L. Redmond

pianist and composer, was born in Jacksonville, Florida, the son of Clark Benjamin Brown, himself the son of a former slave. Little is known of Brown's natural mother, who died when Lawrence was three; from then on, he was raised by his stepmother Cenia Brown.

During his youth Brown took music instruction from the well-respected William Riddick. Exhibiting incredible promise, Brown was sent to Boston to receive further instruction in his primary instrument, piano. In addition to scholarships, Brown financed his education in Boston by working as an elevator operator. In 1916 he made his professional music debut as accompanist for the tenor Sydney Woodward. With this exposure Brown caught the eye of other musicians, including the famed tenor Roland Hayes. Brown and Hayes toured abroad from 1918 to 1923 and received great popular acclaim They had many important engagements including a performance for ...

Article

pianist, singer, and composer, was born Charles Edward Davenport in Anniston, Alabama, one of eight children of Queen Victoria Jacobs, a church organist, and Clement Davenport, a minister. He showed an interest in music early in childhood, teaching himself organ and briefly taking piano lessons at age twelve. At his father's urging he attended Alabama Theological Seminary (1910–1911) to train as a minister, but was later expelled for playing a march in ragtime style at a social event. Moving to Birmingham, he worked as a pianist at various venues including a club on Eighteenth Street. He then toured widely in towns in Alabama and Georgia. In 1917 he was discovered by the pianist Bob Davies and was invited to join his touring company the Barkroot Carnival Working for the carnival gave Davenport a valuable range of musical and theatrical experience including solo singing and playing ...

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Peter Fraser

Pioneering black businesswoman and one of the founders of the Notting Hill Carnival. Born Carmen Maingot in Port of Spain, Trinidad, she came to England in 1931 to attend the Royal Academy of Music, studying piano and violin. Among her friends in England were C. L. R. James and Eric Williams. She stayed in England, pursuing her musical career, until 1938, when she returned to Trinidad, playing the piano in public concerts, teaching music, and starting a hairdressing business. She returned to England in 1946, travelling with one of her pupils, Winifred Atwell.

She met and married the impresario Paul England but unlike Atwell decided not to continue her career in music Instead she continued hairdressing setting up a salon in a Forces club managed by her husband and beginning to produce hair products for her black customers an example imitated by Atwell in ...

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Scott Yanow

jazz drummer and bandleader, was born Foreststorn Hamilton in Los Angeles, California. Hamilton first played clarinet before switching to drums. While in high school, he was in a band that included such future notables as saxophonists Illinois Jacquet, Dexter Gordon, and Buddy Collette; trumpeter Ernie Royal; and bassist Charles Mingus.

A professional musician by the late 1930s, Hamilton picked up important experience playing with the Floyd Ray Big Band, Lionel Hampton, Slim & Slam (the team of Slim Gaillard and Slam Stewart, with whom he made his recording debut in 1941), and T-Bone Walker, and as a substitute with Duke Ellington in 1941. He served in the army during 1942–1946.

After his discharge he returned to Los Angeles, where he immediately became busy again, taking drum lessons from Jo Jones, playing and recording with Lester Young and ...

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Rob Bowman

(b Covington, TN, Aug 20, 1942; d Memphis, Aug 10, 2008). American soul singer, keyboard player, songwriter and producer. He first recorded for the Memphis-based Youngstown label in 1962. In the first half of the 1960s Hayes also wrote songs and played sessions for the Goldwax and Phillips labels in Memphis, backing singers such as Jeb Stuart, Dorothy Williams and Spencer Wiggins. As a member of the saxophonist Floyd Newman's band, he eventually found his way into Stax where he co-wrote one side and played on both sides of Newman's solitary single in 1963. Hayes was then hired for a variety of Stax sessions to replace the keyboard player Booker T. Jones while Jones was at college. Soon thereafter Hayes began helping with arrangements and by 1965 had formed a songwriting partnership with lyricist David Porter Hayes and Porter ...

Article

Scott Yanow

jazz bandleader and tenor saxophonist, was born in Birmingham, Alabama. His parents’ names and occupations are not recorded. As a youth, Hill played drums in his school band and had a brief period as a trumpeter before switching permanently to tenor sax and clarinet.

He went on the road as a 16-year-old, touring with the Whitman Sisters show from 1926 to 1927 and working with drummer George Howe's group. Hill had his highest profile as a saxophonist from 1928 to 1929 when he was a member of the Luis Russell Orchestra In addition to serving as assistant manager Hill was part of an all star band that also included trumpeter Henry Red Allen trombonist J C Higginbotham clarinetist Albert Nicholas and altoist Charlie Holmes Due to the many major soloists in the group Hill had only occasional solos on Russell s recordings although he fared well He also ...

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Paul Devlin

songwriter, pianist, producer, and record company executive, was born in Camden, New Jersey. His father was a barber and a blues guitarist, and his mother played gospel piano. Along with his songwriting and business partner Kenny Gamble, Huff was largely responsible for creating a popular musical style, known as Philadelphia soul, that was for a time nearly ubiquitous in American popular culture. Although Huff grew up playing drums at Camden High School and regularly made the Camden All-City Orchestra until his graduation in 1960, it was his piano playing that gained him entrance into the music business.

In the early 1960s Huff traveled to New York City and began playing piano on some of the legendary producer Phil Spector's recording sessions including the session for the Ronettes Baby I Love You He had the unique opportunity to observe the development of Spector s ...

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Devra Hall Levy

bassist, personal manager, record and concert producer, was born in New Orleans, the only child of Laura Hagen, a midwife, and John Levy, a railroad stoker in New Orleans, who later worked as a stockyard laborer in Chicago. Part of the great northern migration during and after World War I, the Levy family moved to Chicago in 1919.

A well intentioned teacher told Levy to get a job at the post office so that he d have a secure future but he had bigger ideas he imagined himself sitting behind a big desk He didn t know what he d be doing at that desk but he knew that he would be in business Levy was an entrepreneur before the word became popular Without completing high school he did work for brief time at the post office throwing mail and as a special delivery messenger but ...

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Clifford Edward Watkins

circus minstrel, vaudeville bandleader, soloist, and entrepreneur, was born Perry George Lowery in Topeka, Kansas, the youngest of eight children of Rachel (Tucker) and Andrew Lowery. “P. G.,” as he was known, was so proficient on the cornet that he was called the “World's Greatest Colored Cornet Soloist” by his teacher, Boston Conservatory Professor H. C. Brown (Indianapolis Freeman, 22 Feb. 1896).

During Reconstruction land promoters led wagon trains of newly emancipated black citizens to settle the recently opened former Indian Territory The Lowery family was among these and settled in Reece near Eureka Kansas on a 180 acre plot on Spring Creek in Greenwood County Soon after their arrival the Lowery family who were singers and instrumentalists organized the Star of the West Brass Band which became popular in the area How P G learned to play the cornet so well ...

Article

Sam Burckhardt

musician, singer, pianist, songwriter, and recording label owner, was born Albert Welton Luandrew in Vance, Mississippi, the son of Thomas Welton Luandrew, a preacher, and Martha Lewis. Best known as Sunnyland Slim, he became one of the creators of and a driving force in post-war Chicago Blues, and towards the end of his life its elder statesman. Albert Luandrew was born into a family of farmers and preachers in the Mississippi Delta. His great-grandfather, a white slave owner, whom Sunnyland would call, “the ol' monster,” had a son, Albert Luandrew, with a slave woman in the years before the Civil War. The elder Albert Luandrew was able to purchase land near Vance, Mississippi, from which he cleared the timber and made crossties he then sold to the up and coming railroads. His father was born in 1887 for his mother precise ...

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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 ...

Article

Kevin Brook

rhythm and blues singer, songwriter, guitarist, bass guitarist, and producer, was born in Cleveland, Ohio, the youngest of the five sons of Friendly Womack Sr., a steelworker and former coalminer, and Naomi Reed Womack, a church organist, both of whom were originally from West Virginia. His father and uncles performed gospel music together in the original West Virginia incarnation of the family's band, The Womack Brothers. His parents nurtured their sons’ interest in music from an early age and joined them to establish the second incarnation of The Womack Brothers in 1955. Cecil Womack was eight at the time of its founding and performed as one of its singers, together with his brother Bobby Womack. Sam Cooke, owner of SAR Records, signed the brothers to a record contract, and in 1961 Cooke produced their gospel tune Couldn t Hear Nobody Pray ...