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(b Waco, tx, Dec 29, 1898; d Hollywood, ca, July 14, 1943). American baritone . He studied at Central Texas College, Bishop and Virginia Union College, and then at Columbia University Medical School, but abandoned the idea of a career in medicine. He made his début at the Aeolian Hall, New York, in April 1924. He appeared in W. Frank Harling’s hybrid opera Deep River and Gruenberg’s The Creation and In Abraham’s Bosom, and then in 1927 created the role of Joe in Kern’s Show Boat, a role he also sang in the first film version in 1929. Later roles in opera included the Voodoo Man in Shirley Graham du Bois’ Tom-Tom and Amonasro in Aida, and the title roles in Boris Godunov and Gruenberg’s The Emperor Jones He was one of the first African American singers to appear in ...


Dominique-René de Lerma

baritone, was born Julius Lorenzo Cobb Bledsoe in Waco, Texas, the son of Henry L. Bledsoe and Jessie Cobb, occupations unknown. Following his parents' separation in 1899, Jules lived with his maternal grandmother, a midwife and nurse, who encouraged him to appreciate music. After graduating magna cum laude in 1918 from Bishop College in Marshall, Texas, Bledsoe began graduate medical studies at Columbia University, withdrawing after the death of his mother in 1920 to dedicate himself to singing. In 1924 he presented his debut recital at Aeolian Hall in New York.

Bledsoe's first major stage role was as Tizan in the racially mixed opera Deep River by Frank Harling and Laurence Stalling in 1926. That same year he performed in the premiere of Louis Gruenberg'sThe Creation (conducted by Serge Koussevitzky in New York and worked as an actor at the Provincetown Playhouse Bledsoe is best ...


Lisa Clayton Robinson

Born in Waco, Texas, Julius C. (Jules) Bledsoe received a B.A. degree in history, composition, and piano in 1918 from Bishop College. He continued his study of voice in the United States and Europe, and he made his professional debut at Aeolian Hall in New York, New York ...


Lois Bellamy

composer, educator, choral conductor, music professor, singer, and author, was born to Dr. Daniel Webster Boatner, former slave, and Sophie Stuart, in New Orleans, Louisiana. Dr. Daniel Webster Boatner was born in South Carolina and was nine years old when Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863 Edward Boatner s grandmother was a slave who was determined that her son Daniel would receive a good education She worked very hard scrubbing floors washing cooking and nursing children of wealthy whites to send him to school Dr Boatner attended Fisk University in Nashville Tennessee and graduated from New Orleans University where he received his bachelor s and master s degrees After earning his doctorate from Gammon Theological Seminary at Atlanta Georgia he served on the faculty of Philander Smith College a Methodist School in Little Rock Arkansas where he taught Hebrew ...


(b Erie, PA, Dec 2, 1866; d Stamford, CT, Sept 12, 1949). American composer and singer. He received his earliest musical instruction from his mother and later had piano lessons. By the age of 16 he was singing in three church choirs near Erie. In 1892 he won a scholarship to the National Conservatory, New York, where he met Victor Herbert and Antonín Dvořák. His performances of African American spirituals strengthened Dvořák’s conviction that America possessed a rich folksong repertory. In 1894 Burleigh became the baritone soloist at St George's Episcopal Church, New York, a position he held for the next 52 years. Six years later, he became a soloist at Temple Emanu-El, where he sang for 25 years. From 1911 he was a music editor at Ricordi.

Burleigh was one of the first important African American composers born after the Civil War His ...


composer and spiritual singer, was born in Erie, Pennsylvania. Little is known about his parentage. When he was a boy, his excellent singing voice made Harry, as he was known, a sought-after performer in churches and synagogues in and around his hometown. In 1892, having decided on a career in music, Burleigh won a scholarship to the National Conservatory of Music in New York City. His matriculation coincided with the arrival of the Czech composer Antonín Dvoǒrák, who taught there for four years. Dvoǒrák, who was intensely interested in indigenous American music, found a valuable resource in the young Burleigh, who sang for him various African American spirituals. From Burleigh, Dvoǒrák first heard “Go Down, Moses,” “Roll, Jordan, Roll,” “Were You There,” “Swing Low,” and “Deep River.” When Dvoǒrák set an arrangement of Stephen Foster's “Old Folks at Home,” he dedicated it to Burleigh.

Buoyed by Dvoǒrák s ...


Born in Erie, Pennsylvania, Harry Burleigh became interested in music from an early age and, although poverty kept him from formal study, he sang at local churches and synagogues. With a scholarship he began studying in 1892 at the National Conservatory of Music in New York, with the conservatory's director Antonín Dvorák. He was selected as the baritone soloist for St. George's Episcopal Church in New York in 1894, a position he held until 1946, and was also the soloist for New York's Temple Emanu-El from 1900 to 1925.

Until Burleigh published his arrangements, Jubilee Songs of the United States of America, in 1916 spirituals had been performed only in choral arrangements By putting the spirituals into the form of art songs they were available to soloists The best known of his arrangements Deep River was said to be the most performed ...


David B. Coplan

South African musician, was born in the small Zulu Christian settlement of Siyamu, near Edendale, Natal, in 1895, the only child of Mordecai and Mejile Caluza. Caluza was the great-grandson of one of the original converts who arrived at Edendale with the Reverend Mr. Allison in the late 1840s. Multi-part vocal music had strong roots in Zulu indigenous culture and for the Christians of Edenvale served as an important expression and symbol of progress, self-improvement, and “civilization.” Caluza came from a family that was notably musical even by Edendale’s high standards, and his grandfather, John, was renowned for his ability to read staff notation and conduct a choir.

Reuben s family and in laws also included teachers preachers landowners writers and other members of the Zulu westernized elite of the period Between the time of Reuben s birth and the Great Depression this class of self employed Christian ...


Azeddine Chergui and Hassan Bourara

Moroccan singer, composer, and musician, was born Ahmed Chahboun in Casablanca in 1918 to a modest father from Agadir in the Souss region of Morocco. El Bidaoui grew up in an old medina neighborhood well known for its many stores that sold and rented musical instruments. At an early age, he developed a taste for classical Arabic music and traditional religious songs (such as “Nashid” and “Madih”). According to his son, musical instruments were so expensive that his family had to rent him one. He debuted at a very young age with the first Moroccan “Takht,” a traditional Arab musical ensemble he set up with Moroccan Jewish musicians. The first songs he composed in the 1940s drew the attention of King Mohammed V who, in 1946 asked him to set up a Moroccan music orchestra This he did along with Abbas Al Khiyati Al Ghali Al Khiyati and ...


Kate Tuttle

Cesaria Evora was one of seven children in a musical family in Mindelo, a town in the island nation of Cape Verde off the West African coast. Musicians in the family included her violinist father, who died when she was a child, and her uncle Francisco Xavier da Cruz, a songwriter whose songs Evora has recorded. Evora was singing in bars in Mindelo by the age of sixteen.

Evora sings in Criuolo, a Creole derived from Portuguese and African languages. She is most famous for singing morna which roughly translates to songs of mourning As with many other kinds of folk music morna songs are handed down from generation to generation tracing dominant themes in a people s history Many morna songs for example lament Cape Verdean losses to the Transatlantic Slave Trade and to and emigration Often accompanied by acoustic guitars violins accordions and cavaquinho a four string ...


Lisa E. Rivo

singer, musician, educator, and advocate for African American music and musicians, was born Emma Azalia Smith in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, to Henry Smith, a blacksmith and native of Murfreesboro, and Corilla Beard, the daughter of Wilson Beard, an escaped slave who began a profitable laundry business after fleeing to Detroit. Following the birth of Azalia, as she was called, Corilla Smith opened a school in Murfreesboro for newly freed slave children. In 1870, just after the birth of Azalia's sister Marietta increasing hostility from local whites forced Corilla Smith to close the school The family moved to Detroit Michigan where Henry Smith opened a curio shop and Corilla Smith taught school In the early 1880s the couple separated and Corilla raised her daughters on wages earned by private tutoring In Detroit the Smiths were the first black family in their neighborhood and ...


Emma Azalia Smith Hackley, the daughter of Corilla Beard and Henry Smith, was born in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. She was raised in Detroit, Michigan, where the family moved after her mother's school was closed due to opposition from the white community. She started taking piano lessons at age three, later studying violin and voice, and played professionally after school.

In 1883 Hackley became the first African American to attend Washington Normal School, taking education classes and supporting herself by teaching music lessons. After her graduation, she taught second grade until 1894 when she eloped with journalist Edwin Henry. They moved to Denver, where Hackley organized a branch of the Colored Women's League and earned a music degree from the University of Denver (1900). In 1901 she separated from her husband and left Denver.

Hackley settled in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and served as a church musical ...


Gayle Murchison

musician, singer, and educator, was born Ravella Eudosia Hughes in Huntington, West Virginia, the daughter of George W. Hughes, a postman, and Annie B. (maiden name unknown), a piano teacher and seamstress. At age five Hughes began studying piano with her mother and, at eight or nine, violin with a musician friend of her father's. She attended Huntington's segregated public schools. Disturbed when she was racially harassed, her parents sent her to Hartshorn Memorial College (later part of Virginia Union University) in Richmond, which she attended from 1909 to 1911, graduating with a degree in music and elementary studies. She attended Oberlin High and Conservatory, graduating in 1915. In 1917 she earned a bachelor of music in Piano from Howard's Conservatory of Music, where she studied piano with LeRoy Tibbs and voice with the conservatory director Lulu Vere Childers Hughes then taught violin ...


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 ...


Rainer E. Lotz

singer, instrumentalist, diplomat, was born in Springfield, Ohio. The exact circumstances of his birth and upbringing are uncertain. Spyglass himself once gave his year of birth as 1878; but on another occasion, he mentioned it as being 1877. Elmer was not the natural child of his mother, Elizabeth Spyglass (born Elizabeth Johnson in Kentucky in 1843); he was probably adopted by Elizabeth and her husband, the blacksmith Augustus Spyglass (born in Jefferson County in 1846).

At age five, Augustus taught his son to play organ at the local church, and Elmer later joined the choir. At age ten, he spent the money he earned as a rose-picker on sheet music and music lessons. In 1897 he graduated from Springfield High School and sang at the graduation ceremony That same year he became cofounder of St John s Baptist Missionary Church and directed the ...