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SaFiya D. Hoskins

music pioneer, musician, and singer, was born Charles L. Brown in Charlotte, North Carolina; his parents were migrant farmers about whom little information is available. In 1942Chuck moved with his parents to Fairmont Heights in Prince George's County, Maryland, a small suburban neighborhood just outside of Northeast Washington, D.C. As a boy Chuck worked odd jobs to assist his parents financially. He sold newspapers, cut logs, shined shoes, laid bricks, and could be heard singing “watermelon, watermelon” for the horse-drawn watermelon cart. Chuck's love for music began as a boy in North Carolina, replaying the piano and rhythms he heard in church of the bass drum, cymbals, and the snare over and again in his head. In Fairmont Heights at Mount Zion Holiness Church he played piano while his mother accompanied him on harmonica. Chuck studied piano with Sister Louise Murray who exposed him to ...


Rob Bowman

(b Kannapolis, NC, July 22, 1941). American funk singer, songwriter and producer. He was leader of Funkadelic, Parliament and the P-Funk All-Stars. By the age of 11 his family had moved to Newark, New Jersey. When he was 14 he formed a doo wop group which he named the Parliaments after a popular American cigarette brand. The Parliaments recorded singles in the 1950s for the New York-based Hull and Flipp labels. During the 1960s they recorded in the vocal group mode of the Temptations: for Detroit's Golden World and Revilot labels. They had a hit in the summer of 1967, with (I Wanna) Testify (Revilot).

In 1969 Clinton lost the rights to the name ‘The Parliaments’ and consequently signed their backing instrumentalists to Westbound records, as Funkadelic. When he regained the rights in 1971 he signed the vocal group to Invictus records ...


George Clinton was born in Kannapolis, North Carolina. He grew up in Plainfield, New Jersey, where he worked in a barbershop straightening hair and formed a musical group, the Parliaments. After moving to Detroit, Michigan, Clinton and the Parliaments had a minor hit, “(I Just Wanna) Testify,” in 1967.

Following a lawsuit over the band's name, Clinton formed not one but two new groups—the legendary Parliament and Funkadelic (known collectively as P-Funk)—with many overlapping players. Parliament was more commercial; Funkadelic was outlandish, with musicians wearing diapers, Clinton emerging from a coffin, and plenty of references to sex and drugs. The bands merged in the 1970s, and their concerts, featuring spectacles such as giant spaceships landing onstage, became a major attraction.

For all his eccentricity, Clinton was an influential spokesman for African Americans; his song “Chocolate City” (1975 expresses in terms both witty and poignant the ...


Charles L. Hughes

singer, songwriter, producer, and leader of Parliament-Funkadelic, was born in Kannapolis, North Carolina, the eldest of Julia Keaton's nine children. His father's name is unknown, but Clinton had moved to Plainfield, New Jersey, by the time he was a teenager. While straightening hair at a local barbershop, Clinton began singing doo-wop in the back room with a group called the Parliaments. Formed in 1955, they modeled themselves after the hit makers Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers, and they spent the next decade on the competitive R&B circuit. Although they recorded sparingly during this period, the group's repeated trips to Detroit helped Clinton establish himself as a producer and songwriter with the Motown Records subsidiary Jobete. In 1964 the Parliaments themselves signed with Motown, but it was for Revilot Records that the group scored an R&B hit in 1967 with the gospel-drenched “(I Wanna) Testify,” sung by Clinton.In the ...


Jason Philip Miller

singer and performer, was born James Ambrose Johnson Jr. in Buffalo, New York, the third of eight children born to James and Mabel Johnson. His youth was tumultuous, foreshadowing what would be a turbulent life and career. James's father was an autoworker, an abusive man who abandoned the family when James was eight years old. His mother had been a nightclub dancer who'd studied under Katherine Dunham, but soon she found herself running a numbers racket for the local organized crime syndicate. James was musically inclined (an uncle was a member of the Temptations), but he was also frequently in trouble with the law and began to use drugs. He attended local schools, including Buffalo's Bennett High, but dropped out and in 1963 enlisted in the Naval Reserve, apparently in a bid to avoid the draft.

Music became more and more his passion however one that soon ...


Robert Mirandon

jazz pianist and composer, was born Don Gabriel Pullen in Roanoke, Virginia. His parents' names are unknown, but his father worked professionally as a singer, guitarist, and dancer. He attended public schools in Roanoke and as a youngster took up the piano. One likely guide in his studies was a cousin, Clyde “Fats” Wright, later cited by Pullen as a core influence. In addition to piano, Pullen became adept on the organ accompanying gospel singers at local church services. He soon was working with groups in-area nightclubs, mainly backing rhythm and blues vocalists.

While Pullen attended Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte, North Carolina, he first became interested in jazz through listening to recordings of the pianist Art Tatum During that period dramatic changes were occurring in jazz the music moving well beyond the overriding bebop postbop and soul styles of the postwar years Pullen immersed himself ...


Jack Simpson

pop musician, singer, and songwriter, was born Lionel Brockman Richie Jr. in Tuskegee, Alabama, to Alberta Riche (née Foster), a school teacher, and Lionel Brockman Richie, a career military officer. Richie's grandmother taught him piano at a young age. As a child, he also played the clarinet and he learned to play the saxophone as a teenager. He later recalled hearing a variety of music as a child: his grandmother played classical music, his parents enjoyed big-band, blues, and country music.

In 1965 Richie's father took a civilian job in Joliet, Illinois, and the family relocated. After attending high school in Joliet, Richie returned to Tuskegee to-attend college at the Tuskegee Institute. At Tuskegee, he helped form a student dance band, the Commodores. The original line-up included the guitarist Thomas McClary, the trumpeter William King, the keyboardist Milan Williams and Richie on saxophone ...


David Brackett

(b Tuskegee, AL, June 20, 1949). American soul singer and songwriter. He achieved success as the lead singer of the funk sextet the Commodores before becoming the most popular African American balladeer of the late 1970s and 80s. While the Commodores had a few minor hits with songs in their heavy funk style (e.g. Slippery When Wet, 1975), the band's popularity soared with Richie's ballads, Easy (1977), Three Times a Lady (1978), Sail On and Still (both 1979). These fused aspects of country music instrumentation and melody with rhythm and blues phrasing and grooves. Richie's collaborations with Kenny Rogers (Lady, 1980) and Diana Ross (Endless Love, 1981) signalled the end of his association with the Commodores. His solo career continued with unabated success; the albums Lionel Richie (1982) and Can t ...