1-20 of 51 results  for:

  • Social Work and Philanthropy x
  • Performing Arts x
Clear all

Article

Leonard L. Brown

musician, composer, arranger, teacher, scholar, and humanitarian, was born Thomas Jefferson Anderson in Coatesville, Pennsylvania, the only son and eldest of three children born to Thomas Jefferson Anderson Sr., a college professor and school principal, and Anita Turpeau Anderson, a teacher. Anderson's early years were spent in Washington, D.C., and Cincinnati, Ohio. His mother was a pianist who accompanied singers in church. She was his first musical mentor, providing encouragement from a very early age through music lessons on violin and trumpet.

Anderson attended James Monroe Elementary School in Washington, D.C., where he conducted a rhythm band and impressed Esther Ballou a city supervisor of music who told his mother the musical world will hear from your son He later attended Benjamin Banneker Junior High in Washington D C It was during his time in Washington that he discovered the Howard Theatre and the big bands of ...

Article

Julia A. Clancy-Smith

Tunisian musician, was born in Carthage, a suburb of Tunis, in 1962. North African women have long, rich traditions of vocal and instrumental music. At weddings and other joyous occasions, including religious festivals, female musicians sing, perform, and dance. In addition, the celebrated Tunisian singer and actress Habiba Messika (1893?–1930) composed songs during the period 1920–1930 that are still performed today. One of the most popular singers and composers in contemporary North Africa and Europe is another Tunisian woman, Amina Annabi, whose music—and life—fuses traditional Arab, Middle Eastern, and West African musical genres with Western music, particularly blues, jazz, reggae, rap, and rock and roll. Annabi’s is a complicated story, however, since it is not merely the tale of a talented musician making it in the world music movement from the 1980s on Her life is intertwined with the postcolonial reality of millions of North Africans who reside ...

Article

Antoinette Broussard Farmer

classical pianist, civil rights activist, and social worker, was born Nettie Craig in Leavenworth, Kansas, the daughter of William P. Wallingford, an immigrant farmer from England, and Viola, his former slave. In 1837, prior to Nettie's birth, Wallingford moved his family from Kentucky and settled on the Platte purchase in Missouri. He was married three times and fathered seventeen children including six by Viola. Nettie, the youngest of these, was the only one born free. Information is scarce about Viola. After she was emancipated she rejected Wallingford's name and adopted Craig as her surname, likely because she was born on the Craig plantation in Kentucky. She took her children to Leavenworth, Kansas, where she married Taylor Turner. Her occupation was listed as a domestic. She died in Denver, Colorado, on 29 September 1906 at the age of seventy‐six.

Nettie Craig began studying the piano at eight ...

Article

SaFiya D. Hoskins

musician and actress, was born Erica Abi Wright in Dallas, Texas, the eldest of three children born to Kolleen Maria Gipson and William Wright Jr. Young Erica's mother worked as a theatrical performer while her maternal grandmother helped to raise the Wright children. Eevin, her brother, was the youngest sibling. The Wright daughters, like their mother, embraced the arts: Koryan, her younger sister, was a singer who would later perform background for Erica under the stage name Nayrok Udab.

At the young age of four, Erica was already exhibiting theatrical and artistic tendencies and began singing and dancing with her mother at the Dallas Theater Center. She was in first grade when her appearance in a Christmas play inspired her early desire to perform onstage. Erica was introduced by her mother to a diverse array of artists who influenced her musical palate, such as Ella Fitzgerald Pink Floyd ...

Article

Richard Sobel

track-and-field athlete, motivational speaker, and activist for youth, was born Robert Alfred Beamon in Jamaica, New York, to Naomi Brown Beamon and a father he never met. After his mother died from tuberculosis before Beamon's first birthday, his stepfather, James, assumed parental responsibility for Robert and his older, disabled brother Andrew. Robert's grandmother, Bessie Beamon, ultimately took over their care as a result of James's inadequate parenting skills. Rarely supervised, Beamon ran away from home when he was fourteen and joined a gang. When he struck a teacher who had attempted to break up one of Beamon's fights, he was expelled and charged with assault and battery.

Beamon's life might have become a tragedy if it weren't for a judge who was “thoughtful, compassionate, and obviously interested in helping kids” (Second Chances 3 The judge took a chance and allowed Beamon to attend an alternative school in ...

Article

Stephanie Y. Evans

actor. Halle Berry was born in Cleveland, Ohio, to Jerome Berry, an African American hospital attendant, and Judith Hawkins Berry, a white psychiatric nurse. Leaving an abusive relationship, Judith Berry moved Halle and her older sister Heidi to the Cleveland suburb of Bedford where, despite many racist attitudes, Halle flourished in high school.

In 1985 Berry won the Miss Teen All American pageant, in 1986 she was first runner-up in the Miss USA pageant, and also in 1986 she represented the United States in the Miss World competition in London. After her pageants she enrolled in Cleveland's Cuyahoga Community College to study broadcast journalism. She moved to Chicago and then to Manhattan, where she managed to get small roles in several television programs.

Berry first gained widespread recognition as Vivian, a crack addict, in Spike Lee's Jungle Fever (1991), and she won roles in The ...

Article

Jason Philip Miller

activist and performer, was born in Jacksonville, Florida, one of three children born to John and Mary Betsch, both of whom worked for the Afro-American Life Insurance Company. The family was both well off and well known. Indeed, much of the Betsch family history can be traced through the important civil rights developments in the state of Florida. Her family was among the first black millionaires in the state. Of particular significance to MaVynee's life was the influence of her great-grandfather, Abraham Lincoln Lewis, who in the early 1930s founded American Beach, one of the only beach resorts and, eventually for African Americans, among the only available oceanfront properties in the state. It was in service of American Beach and its legacy that Betsch would spend most of her adult life and for which she became famous.

MaVynee s upbringing was steeped in both education and music ...

Article

William S. Walker

tenor, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of John Bowers, a prominent member of Philadelphia's black elite and vestryman at St. Thomas's African Episcopal Church, and Henrietta Bowers (c. 1795–1868). Widowed in October 1844, his mother was a member of St. Thomas's congregation for more than fifty years. The 1860 federal census listed her occupation as cook. Bowers learned to play pianoforte and organ from his elder brother, John C. Bowers, and at the age of eighteen became organist at St. Thomas's. Although his parents encouraged their children's musical abilities at home and in church, they looked unfavorably on public performances of music. As a consequence, Bowers declined an offer to join the popular Philadelphia band led by Francis Johnson.

Despite his parents' objections, however, in 1854 Bowers made his first public performance as a vocalist at Sansom Street Hall in Philadelphia He ...

Article

Mary Anne Boelcskevy

singer and actor, was born Ada Scott in Kansas City, Kansas, the daughter of H. W. and Anna Morris Scott. (Some scholars list her as being born on 1 May 1889 in Junction City, Kansas.) Nothing is known about her education, except that she began piano lessons at an early age. She also started singing in the local church choir, developing the voice that the historian Bruce Kellner calls “full, rich, and mellow” (Kellner, 55). Indeed, musical ability ran in Brown's family: Her cousin was renowned ragtime pianist and composer James Sylvester Scott.

Brown's professional life began in 1910, when she became a performer at Bob Mott's Pekin Theater in Chicago. Barely out of her teens, Brown also performed in clubs in Paris, France, and Berlin, Germany. In the early 1920s Brown joined Bennie Moten s band which was considered the Midwest s preeminent band During ...

Article

Julian C. Madison

athlete, actor, civic activist. Jim Brown is generally recognized as the greatest football player and the greatest lacrosse player of all time. At 6 feet 2 inches tall, weighing 228 pounds, and with a 32-inch waist, Brown combined great speed with a powerful running style and fearsome stiff-arm to terrorize National Football League (NFL) defenders for nine years. The only person in history voted into three halls of fame (college football, college lacrosse, and the NFL), Brown is arguably the greatest athlete of the twentieth century.

James Nathaniel Brown was born on Saint Simons Island, Georgia, to Swinton “Sweet Sue” and Theresa Brown Swinton Brown left his family barely two weeks after his son was born and they rarely heard from him afterward When Jim was two his mother left him in the care of his great grandmother and moved to Great Neck Long Island where ...

Article

Steven J. Niven

rhythm and blues performer and actress, was born Ruth Alston Weston, in Portsmouth, Virginia, the eldest of Leonard and Martha Jane (Alston) Weston's seven children. Her father, a skillful athlete who had hoped to become a professional baseball player, found work as a laborer on the Portsmouth docks and worked odd jobs at nights. His weekly wages rarely exceeded $35 per week and barely covered the needs of his growing family. Ruth's mother worked as a domestic. In 1934, when she was six years old, Ruth entered Portsmouth's George Peabody Elementary School and later attended I. C. Norcom High School. Her early years were decidedly urban. She was a weekend regular at Portsmouth's Capitol movie theater, where she cheered on the black action heroes Herb Jeffries and Ralph Cooper, and idolized the young Lena Horne.

Ruth Weston belonged however to that generation of urban ...

Article

Courtney Q. Shah

singer and actress. Carol Diahann Johnson was born in the Bronx, New York. As a teenager she performed as a nightclub singer and a model while attending the famous New York High School of Music and Art. She made her film debut in 1954 in Carmen Jones, working with Harry Belafonte and Dorothy Dandridge. Paired again with Dandridge, Carroll had a role in Porgy and Bess (1959). Film and television appearances continued, including an Emmy nomination in 1963 for her work in the crime drama Naked City.

In 1968 Carroll made television history by becoming the first black actress to star in her own series. NBC's Julia received both popular praise and critical acclaim, and Carroll received an Emmy nomination in its first year. Generations of African American performers remember Carroll's Julia as a turning point providing inspiration that roles for black actors ...

Article

Donald Roe

comedian, actor, philanthropist. When Bill Cosby, the wealthy, well-educated, mild-mannered comedian, goes on stage and begins a monologue of funny stories relating to his poverty-stricken background, the stories are most likely true. William Henry Cosby Jr. was born in Germantown, Pennsylvania, to William Henry Cosby Sr. and Anna Cosby in 1937. Known by its inhabitants as the “Jungle,” the Richard Allen housing projects, where Cosby grew up, were depressing, stylized, beige-colored, concrete housing, seemingly designed to prevent poor people from “contaminating” the rest of society.

When an IQ test confirmed that Cosby was highly intelligent his mother enrolled him in Central High School a school for gifted children However Cosby found it difficult to adjust there and transferred to Germantown High School There athletics provided a positive outlet for Cosby but his academic performance declined When school officials required him to repeat the tenth grade he ...

Article

Peter Carr Jones

music, fashion, and movie industry entrepreneur. The former co-owner of Roc-A-Fella Records with Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter and Kareem “Biggs” Burke, Damon Dash cross-promoted several products within a single brand, Roc-A-Fella. He ran the corporate side of Roc-A-Fella, especially the fashion and movie production divisions, until being bought out in 2004.

Dash was born in East Harlem, New York, to a lower-middle class, single-parent family. He earned scholarships to several prestigious private schools, though each expelled him. His mother died when Dash was only fifteen, but he continued his education until the twelfth grade, and got his GED in 1988. After this, he ran a small party promotion company, Dash Entertainment.

In 1994 he met Jay-Z and became his manager. When the established record companies passed on Jay-Z's original album, Reasonable Doubt, Dash, Jay-Z, and silent partner Burke formed Roc-A-Fella in 1996 Def Jam Records ...

Article

Brittney L. Yancy

actress, writer, philanthropist, activist. Ruby Dee was born Ruby Ann Wallace in Cleveland, Ohio. Her parents, Marshall and Emma Wallace, worked as a Pullman porter and a schoolteacher, respectively. As a baby, Ruby along with her family moved to Harlem at the height of the Harlem Renaissance. Ruby's parents supplemented her education with exposure to the arts. Ruby married Frankie Dee Brown, a promoter for Schenley Distiller's Corporation. Frankie dropped his surname because Ruby preferred the name Dee. They divorced in 1945. Ruby began acting in the 1940s through an apprenticeship with the American Negro Theatre—which included Hilda Simms, Harry Belafonte, Sidney Poitier, and her future husband, Ossie Davis. Dee's first stage performance was in On Strivers Row in 1940 Dee acted in a series of plays and made her Broadway debut at the Cort Theater in a ...

Article

Leyla Keough

Katherine Dunham helped shape modern dance as both a dancer and a choreographer, a designer of dance pieces. Trained in anthropology, the study of cultures, she researched the African roots of Afro-Caribbean dances and incorporated African-based dance moves, traditions, and meanings into modern American dance.

Dunham was born in Chicago, Illinois, to Fanny June Taylor, who was French Canadian and Native American, and Albert Dunham. She attended school in Chicago and began to dance at a young age. After a short time at Joliet Junior College, she attended the University of Chicago, where she received her Ph.D. degree in cultural anthropology. To help finance her education, she worked as a librarian and taught dance. Dunham eventually opened a dance school and established a black dance troupe later called the Chicago Negro School of Ballet.

Dunham obtained a Guggenheim Award from the Julius Rosenwald Foundation for travel to ...

Article

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 ...

Article

Matthew A. Hafar

opera singer, teacher, and philanthropist, was born in Centerville, Iowa, to Simon Estes, a coal miner and hotel porter, and Ruth Naomi Jeter Estes. The grandson of slaves and one of four children, the younger Estes attended the public schools of Centerville and sang at the local Second Baptist Church. He was a boy soprano in the church's choir and at age 13 won Bill Riley's “Talent Search,” a program that had been an Iowa institution for several decades.

From 1957 to 1963 Estes attended the University of Iowa, where one of his music professors, Charles Kellis, “discovered” him. He had entered Iowa as a pre-med student, then studied theology and psychology, before settling on music. Kellis encouraged his young, gifted student, reclassified him as a bass-baritone, and prepared him for further study at the Juilliard School of Music, New York City.

Following one year at ...

Article

David Koenigstein

actor, activist, producer, and director, was born in San Francisco, California, the eldest of five children born to James and Carrie Glover, lifelong postal workers and political activists in the NAACP and Postal Workers Union. As a child, Glover spent the school year with his parents, living in a government housing project in the Haight-Ashbury district. During summer vacations, however, he stayed with his grandparents on their farm in rural Louisville, Georgia, in the mid-1950s. The Glovers' ride from California across the South was always fearful, as the country was still in the grip of Jim Crow laws Upon their arrival in Georgia they would have to use the back door for restroom use and sit at separate lunch counters apart from whites These experiences stayed with Glover throughout his life and fueled his commitment to civil and human rights causes in the United ...

Article

Debbie Clare Olson

actor, director, and producer, was born Louis Cameron Gossett Jr. in Brooklyn, New York, to Louis Gossett, a porter, and Hellen Rebecca Wray, a maid. His parents had emigrated north from Georgia before Gossett was born. Gossett attended Abraham Lincoln High School, where he was an athlete and class president. Gossett's first acting performance was in a high school production of You Can't Take It With You. His performance elicited much praise, and Gossett next tried out for, and won, a role in the 1953 Broadway production of Take a Giant Step. He was seventeen years old.

After high school, Gossett enrolled at New York University on a basketball scholarship and became a star player. In 1958 he was drafted by the New York Knicks but after college instead of pursuing a career in pro basketball Gossett decided to study acting under John Sticks ...