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Kate Tuttle

Born in New York City, Diahann Carroll grew up in a comfortable, middle-class home. She began singing in a church choir for children at age six, and won a music scholarship sponsored by the Metropolitan Opera when she was ten. Carroll's mother, who often took her to Broadway musicals and other performances, encouraged her to apply to New York's High School of Music and Art, which accepted her.

Carroll, who had been born Carol Diahann Johnson, took her professional name at sixteen when she appeared on Arthur Godfrey's Talent Search, a television showcase for aspiring performers. Despite her parents' wish that she attend Howard University—she had earned money for college by modeling for Ebony magazine Carroll stayed in New York She left college after one semester at New York University to accept a long term nightclub engagement Soon thereafter Carroll went on the road ...

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Casey McKittrick

singer and actress, was born Carol Diahann Johnson in the Bronx, New York, the elder daughter of John Johnson, a subway conductor, and Mable, a nurse. Carroll, who had a younger sister Lydia, began performing at an early age in school plays and as a “tiny tot” in the Abyssinian Baptist Church Choir of Harlem. At age ten she won a scholarship for voice lessons at the Metropolitan Opera and later attended the High School of Music and Art in Manhattan alongside Billy Dee Williams.

At the age of 15, Carroll began modeling clothes for Ebony magazine. Although she enrolled at New York University to study sociology, her passion for vocal performance won out. In her early college years she won a weekly televised talent competition called Chance of a Lifetime for three consecutive weeks This national recognition spurred her bookings in New York venues beginning in ...

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Hilary Mac Austin

Diahann Carroll was only six when she joined the Tiny Tots choir at Harlem’s Abyssinian Baptist Church. Her life appears to have been a nonstop rollercoaster ride ever since. As she said in Diahann: An Autobiography, “All I ever wanted to do was sing. What happened was more.”

Carroll grew up in Harlem, New York, although she was born in the Bronx as Carol Diann Johnson. Her parents were John and Mabel Faulk Johnson. She has one sister, Lydia, thirteen years younger. Her father was a subway conductor, and her mother, who trained as a nurse, stayed at home to raise her daughters. The household, while not wealthy, was solidly middle class.

At the age of ten, Carroll won a music scholarship through an organization affiliated with the Metropolitan Opera. At fourteen, she got her first modeling job with Ebony magazine and by the age of ...

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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 ...

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Eric Bennett

Nat “King” Cole was born Nathaniel Adams Cole in Montgomery, Alabama. With a father who was a preacher and musical brothers, Cole grew up amid performance and music. As a child he lived in Chicago, Illinois, playing the organ in his father's church and performing in his brother Eddie's ensemble, the Solid Swingers. Cole began his career as a pianist in 1936 when he joined James Herbert (“Eubie”) Blake's traveling revue Shuffle Along.

In 1937 Cole settled in Los Angeles, California, and formed a trio with guitarist Oscar Moore and bassist Wesley Prince. In the early recordings of the combo, Cole displayed harmonic and melodic innovation that only his finest contemporaries—Art Tatum and Edward Kennedy (“Duke”) Ellington could rival Despite the extraordinary talents of both Moore and Cole the combo met with limited success due largely to the era s nearly exclusive ...

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Ronald P. Dufour

Cole, Nat King (17 March 1919–15 February 1965), pianist and singer, was born Nathaniel Adams Coles in Montgomery, Alabama, the son of the Reverend Edward James Coles, Sr., and Perlina Adams, a musician. Cole’s family moved to Chicago when he was four. He first studied piano with his mother, then with bassist Milt Hinton’s mother, and at the age of twelve, classical piano with a Professor Thomas. The family home was located near the Grand Terrace Ballroom, where Cole often heard his first and most important influence, pianist Earl Hines. In high school Cole played a variety of instruments in a band that included future jazz stars Hinton, Lionel Hampton, and Ray Nance His father eventually agreed to allow the teenager to play jazz on weeknights if he continued to play organ for Sunday services At about the age of sixteen Cole organized a ...

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Ian Brookes

pianist and singer, was born Nathaniel Adams Coles in Montgomery, Alabama, the son of the Reverend Edward James Coles Sr., a Baptist minister, and Perlina Adams Coles, choir leader and organist at her husband's church. The family, which included Nat's brother, Edward Jr. (“Eddie”) and sisters, Eddie Mae and Evelyn, moved to Chicago when Nat was about four years old, where his brothers Isaac (“Ike”) and Lionel (“Freddie”) were born. All the Coles children demonstrated musical talent, each playing piano and organ at their father's services and singing in the church choir. Nat was especially precocious, capable at the age of four of a two-handed rendition of “Yes, We Have No Bananas” on the family piano. From the age of twelve he received formal piano training.

Nat grew up on Chicago s South Side the heartland of Prohibition jazz culture and attended Wendell Phillips High School Grounded ...

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Iain Anderson

singer and pianist. An influential jazz pianist, Nat King Cole transformed himself into a popular balladeer and one of the most successful entertainers of the 1950s and early 1960s. Although he was criticized for his supposed commercialism and accommodation of segregation, Cole's appeal endured until his death from lung cancer in 1965.

Born in Montgomery, Alabama, at age four Nathaniel Adams Coles moved to Chicago with his parents, part of the Great Migration of southern African Americans seeking a better life in northern cities. His father, Edward James Coles, ministered to a Baptist congregation, and his mother, Perlina Coles directed the church choir and encouraged her six children to study and perform music Cole he adopted his stage name in the late 1930s sang and played organ in his father s church from age twelve and played piano for several bands in Chicago during and after ...

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Stephen Bourne

Trinidadianactor and singer who settled in Britain in 1944. Two weeks after his arrival he made his debut on BBC radio in Calling the West Indies. Connor's appealing voice and charming personality endeared him to the British public, and he became a major television and radio personality. Connor saw himself as an ambassador for Trinidad and promoted Caribbean folk music and dance wherever he could. He married Pearl Nunez (also from Trinidad) in London in 1948.

For almost two decades Connor played featured roles in a number of British and American films, including Cry, the Beloved Country (1952) and Moby Dick (1956). In 1958, when Paul Robeson turned down the role of Gower in Shakespeare'sPericles for the Stratford Memorial Theatre he recommended Connor for it Connor thus became the first black actor to appear in a Shakespeare season at ...

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Alexander J. Chenault

television show host and producer, was born the son of a postal worker and a homemaker on the predominantly black South Side of Chicago, Illinois. In 1954, after graduating from DuSable High School, he joined the U.S. Marine Corps. In 1956 he married his childhood sweetheart, Delores Harrison, with whom he had two sons, Anthony and Raymond. After a subsequent divorce, he married Viktoria Chapman in 2001. The couple divorced in 2009.

When he returned to Chicago after eighteen months of service in Korea, Cornelius held several different jobs, first working as car salesman, then selling tires and insurance before a stint with the police department. While issuing a traffic ticket, Cornelius was advised by the motorist he had stopped that with his resonant voice, he should get into broadcasting. The driver, Ed Cobb was a radio personality and he hired Cornelius as an ...

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Terri L. Norris

radio and television broadcasting entrepreneur and entertainment personality, was born Catherine Elizabeth Woods in Omaha, Nebraska, the eldest of four children of William Alfred Woods and Helen Jones Woods. Both of Hughes's parents had notable accomplishments. William Woods was the first African American to receive an accounting degree from Nebraska's Creighton University. Helen Woods was a trombonist with Mississippi's Piney Woods orchestra at Piney Woods Country Life School, an African American boarding school founded by her father, Laurence C. Jones, in 1909. This female orchestra, called the International Sweethearts of Rhythm, famously ran away from Piney Woods in pursuit of musical creative freedom; they sought to play swing music, not gospel. Her mother also earned a master's degree in Social Work.

Hughes spent her childhood in a low income housing project She was the first African American to attend Omaha s Duchesne Academy of the Sacred ...

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Donna L. Halper

radio and video disc jockey, was born John Julian Jackson III (although some sources give his birth name as “John Jay Jackson”) in New York City, the son of John J. and Elma V. Jackson. Little is known of his family, but they apparently moved to Boston early in his life, as J.J. was raised in the Roxbury section of that city, and attended Boston public schools. He briefly joined the military, and then returned to Boston, and worked for a time in the fledgling computer industry. But he already knew that he really wanted to work in radio.

Jackson learned that Tufts University, where he was not a student, operated a radio station that permitted community volunteers to broadcast. His first on-air radio job, therefore, was at Tufts station WTUR, in nearby Medford in the late 1960s. While working there, he met Joe Rogers ...

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Lois Bellamy

pianist, impresario, opera director, producer, television host, and educator, was born in Harlem, New York, to Walter Jones, born 1910, and Lucille Fairs, born 1908, a housewife from Wilmington, North Carolina. His father worked at the Capitol Theatre, which premiered the film version of Gone with the Wind.R. Wellington Jones had a sister, Jean Jones, now deceased. His maternal grandmother, Sukie Fairs, was a slave as a child and lived 106 years. His paternal grandfather was killed by the Ku Klux Klan in Scotland Neck, North Carolina, in the early 1920s. His great grandparents were slaves and part of the Cherokee Nation.

Wellington Jones graduated from New York's famed High School of Music and Art in 1958, and earned both his bachelor's degree (1962) and master of arts degree (1964 in Music ...

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David De Clue

entertainer, pianist, organist, lecturer, television and radio personality, was born John Roland Redd in St. Louis, Missouri, to Doshia O'Nina Johnson and Ernest Samuel Redd, a minister. His ancestry is both black and white, the white lineage through his maternal grandmother, Frances Maria Lankford-Johnson, stemming from Langfords who first came to Virginia from England in 1645.

Pandit's family is unusually rich in musical and creative talent. Pandit's great-uncle Philip Benjamin “PB” Lankford taught jazz to numerous musicians who went on to careers in orchestras led by Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Singleton Palmer, Fate Marable, Charles Creath, Dewey Jackson, and Cab Calloway. Another great-uncle, John Anderson Lankford, was known as “the Dean of African American Architects,” and others in the family—Arthur Edward Lankford, Robert Bumbary Sr., and Robert Bumbary Jr. also ...

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Regina N. Barnett

was born Joseph Lloyd Simmons in Jamaica, Queens, New York, the youngest of three sons of Daniel Simmons, a teacher and public school administrator, and Evelyn Simmons, an artist. Simmons would become famous as Run of the legendary hip-hop group Run-D.M.C. Joseph Simmons grew up in the Hollis section of Queens, New York. He enjoyed listening to music on the radio at an early age, and his father supplied him with a drum set to support his interest. As a teenager, Simmons learned to be a DJ from his childhood friend Darryl “D.M.C.” McDaniels. When his older brother, Russell, became the promoter and manager of Curtis Walker (also known as Kurtis Blow), Simmons began to experiment with rhymes using Walker's lyrical style as an example; he eventually had the opportunity to DJ for Kurtis Blow in 1978. Russell's friends named Joe “DJ Run” ...

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was born Martha Jean Jones in Memphis, Tennessee, one of five children of Virgil and Florence (Mabley) Jones. Martha Jean’s first career was nursing, but she also modeled and produced fashion shows. She married jazz trumpeter Luther Steinberg circa 1949 and they had three daughters, Diane, Sandra, and Trienere, but the marriage did not work out and the two eventually separated.

Around 1954 Martha Jean Steinberg entered a contest to be an announcer on the Memphis radio station WDIA Although owned by whites the station s format was aimed at the black community She didn t win the contest but the program director liked her voice and offered her a part time shift There are several versions of how she acquired her nickname The Queen Reporter Susan Whitall says it was t hanks to her 6 foot stature and regal demeanor p 39 But Louis Cantor a former WDIA ...