ceramist, sculptor, filmmaker, and cofounder (with her husband, James Hatch) of the Hatch‐Billops Collection, an archive of African American cultural history, was born in Los Angeles, California, to Lucius Billops, a cook and merchant seaman, and Alma Gilmore, a dressmaker, maid, and aircraft assembly worker. Billops graduated from Catholic Girls High School in 1952, and in 1954 she began her studies at the University of Southern California. She majored in occupational therapy, which included drawing, sculpture, and ceramics. She transferred to Los Angeles State College in 1956 after she became pregnant, and then she changed her major to special education. Billops worked during the day as a bank bookkeeper and maintained a full academic workload in the evening. At the end of 1956 her daughter, Christa, was born, and Billops put her up for adoption. This was an experience she would explore in her 1992 ...
an early New Orleans radio show host, who made his name in rhythm and blues, but devoted most of his life to gospel, was born Vernon Winslow in Dayton, Ohio, the son of Harry and Lenora Winslow; his father was the foreman at a sign company, while his mother stayed home raising seven children. Four brothers and two sisters were all born in Ohio; their father was born in Indiana around 1886, and their mother in Kentucky around 1888.
By 1930, his father was gone, probably deceased, and Lenora Winslow was raising her family in Chicago Illinois The oldest sons Wendell and Vernon were the primary breadwinners working as a porter for a retail store and a messenger at the office of an oil company respectively Somehow carrying this responsibility at the age of nineteen Winslow was able to attend Morehouse College in Atlanta then ...
jazz bassist, was born in Vicksburg, Mississippi. His mother played piano and organ and directed the church choir. Hinton moved with his family to Chicago when he was eleven years old. Two years later he began studying violin, sticking with it for four years. While attending Chicago's Wendell Phillips High Schools, he learned to play bass horn, cello, tuba, and string bass. He went to Crane Junior College (now Malcolm X College) from 1929 to 1930.
By then Hinton was already working in Chicago-area clubs, doubling on bass and tuba; he would give up the latter within a couple of years. He gained important early experience working with Freddie Keppard, Jabbo Smith, Art Tatum, Fate Marable, Erskine Tate's orchestra, and the pianist Tiny Parham, making his recording debut with Parham in 1930. His main job between 1931 and 1936 was with the ...
Pamela Lee Gray
dancer, painter, choreographer, actor, author, photographer, director, musician, and costume and set designer, was born in Port of Spain, Trinidad. He was one of four children of middle-class parents of Irish, French, and African descent.
Holder was educated at Queen's Royal College in Port of Spain. His grandfather, Louis Ephraim, was a French painter whose influence led both Holder and his older brother Boscoe to begin experimenting with oils Geoffrey began teaching himself to paint at age fifteen when he was forced to stay home from school due to a prolonged illness He also learned much from Boscoe who was a pianist painter and dancer When Boscoe moved to England Geoffrey took over as director of his brother s dance company while continuing to create new paintings and display work at gallery exhibitions Holder s work was displayed at ...
visual artist and educator, was born in Los Angeles, California, the son of Alyce and Edward Love, about whom little is known. After attending Manual Arts High School, Love, a baseball standout, was slated to be recruited by the San Francisco Giants. The U.S. Air Force proved more attractive to Love than baseball. While serving a five-year stint in the military that ultimately took him to Japan, Love became deeply influenced by Japanese culture. He also developed an affinity for the music of Charlie Parker and Miles Davis and the discourse of the Black Arts Movement, as well as a fascination with architectural design.
After an honorable discharge, Love earned a BFA in Sculpture in 1966 and an MFA in Design in 1967 from California State University Los Angeles A postgraduate fellowship to study humanities and fine arts at Uppsala University in Sweden soon followed While there ...
jazz and soul pianist and singer, was born in Lexington, Kentucky. He was self-taught on the piano other than four piano lessons. McCann sang and played piano from an early age. In the early 1950s he left the South to join the U.S. Navy. McCann was stationed near San Francisco, where he had an opportunity to see major jazz artists in local clubs, including Miles Davis and the pianist whom he considered his earliest influence, Erroll Garner. In 1956 he won a talent contest sponsored by the navy that led to him appearing on television as a singer on The Ed Sullivan Show.
After his discharge later that year McCann settled in Los Angeles. He attended music school and worked toward forming his own trio. Miles Davis recommended him to Cannonball Adderley leading to Adderley offering McCann a chance to join his quintet However McCann turned ...
Jennifer Lynn Headley
cultural critic, historian, performance and installation artist, photographer, writer, and activist, was born in Boston, Massachusetts. Her mother, Lena, emigrated from Jamaica to Boston in the 1920s. She earned a BA from Wellesley College in Spanish and Economics and an MFA in Fiction Writing from the University of Iowa, studying-in its renowned Writers' Workshop. From Iowa, she moved to New York City and began writing for the Village Voice and Rolling Stone as a rock critic. She changed her career course with her first performance pieces in the 1980s and her critical writings about art and its effect on students and peers.
O'Grady's first performed as Mlle. Bourgeoise Noire, loosely translated into Ms. Black Middle Class; her alter ego was a rowdy uninvited guest to numerous high-profile art exhibitions. Mlle. Bourgeoise Noire Goes to JAM (1980), Mlle Bourgeoise Noire Goes to ...
filmmaker, was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, the eldest son of Sally Alvis and Gordon Parks Sr., the latter an award-winning photojournalist, author, composer, and filmmaker. Born less than a year into his parents' marriage, Gordon Jr. was nicknamed Butch as a newborn by his maternal grandfather, Joe Alvis. “There was not too much I could give my first three children being a waiter on a railway,” recalled Gordon Parks Sr. in the 2001 film documentary Half Past Autumn. In 1940 the Parks family moved to Chicago. There Gordon Jr. spent much of his childhood while his father forged his career. Parks developed a passion for riding horses, which became a lifelong interest.
When he was sixteen Parks moved to Paris, where his father had been assigned for two years by Life magazine In Europe he developed a keen interest in the fine arts also cultivating ...
Lisa E. Rivo
photographer, filmmaker, author, and composer, was born Gordon Roger Alexander Buchanan Parks in the small prairie town of Fort Scott, Kansas, to Andrew Jackson Parks, a dirt farmer, and Sarah Ross, a maid. Gordon was the youngest of fifteen children, the first five of which, he later discovered, were really half siblings, born to his father and a woman other than his mother. Parks's poor Kansas childhood, and his memories of its unbridled racism, feature prominently in his later work, especially his books “thick with those memories.” The first phase of Parks's life ended with the death of his mother in 1928. “Before the flowers on my mother s grave had wilted Parks remembered my father had me on a train to my sister in Minnesota I ran into some hell there Russell 145 Within a month of his arrival in Minneapolis ...
tenor saxophonist, composer, arranger, and painter, was born Farrell Sanders in Little Rock, Arkansas. The names of his parents, who were both music teachers, are unknown. “[I was] the only child in a musical family,” Sanders recalled in a 1994 interview, “my whole family could sing.” He loved music, but he also thought that he would like to become an abstract painter. Because his family had no money to give him art lessons, he made the practical decision to stay with music. For one thing he was surrounded by teachers. His family, church, and neighborhood were brimming over with musicians.
For $17 50 Sanders bought a metal clarinet from a member of his family s Baptist church and every Sunday he paid twenty cents until the debt was paid off playing in rhythm and blues gigs to earn the money Since music continued to be ...
Angela R. Sidman
painter, dancer, playwright, and set designer, was born in White City, Kentucky, to parents whose names and occupations are unknown. John Robinson, a coal miner uncle with an interest in drawing and painting, encouraged young Sebree's artistic talents. “Robinson tutored Charles in drawing by having him sketch pictures with a stick in the soil and taught him how to make little figures of men out of mud and twigs” (Marshall, 3). In 1924, when Sebree was ten years old, he and his mother joined the flood of African Americans moving north in the Great Migration. They settled in Chicago, where the preadolescent Sebree soon launched himself into the city's thriving cultural scene.
An elementary school teacher jumpstarted Sebree s career when she showed his artwork to members of the University of Chicago s Renaissance Society The group was impressed enough with the fourteen year ...
painter, printmaker, and jazz musician, was born in New York City, the only child of immigrants from Bermuda Albert Renforth Smith, lifelong chauffeur to newspaper publisher Ralph Pulitzer, and Elizabeth A. Smith, a homemaker. After graduating from Public School No. 70 in 1911, Smith attended the DeWitt Clinton High School for two years. He began studying art under Irene Weir in 1913 and was the first African American to receive a Wolfe scholarship at the Ethical Culture Art High School. In 1915 Smith became the first African American student at the National Academy of Design, where he studied painting under Douglas Volk, etching with William Auerbach-Levy, and mural painting with Kenyon Cox. There he won honorable mention and the Suydam Bronze Medal in his first- and second-year classes (1915, 1916 two prizes from the academy poster competition and ...
Jane Brodsky Fitzpatrick
abstract expressionist artist, dancer, and educator, was born in Yakima, Washington, the second of five children of Gertrude Beatrice Carson and James A. Johnson, an interior decorator and inventor.
The family moved from Yakima to Boise, Idaho, and Pendleton, Oregon, finally settling in Portland, Oregon. They were often the only black family where they lived, and were subjected to racist taunts. Streat attended Boise High then graduated from Washington High School in Portland in 1932. She attended the [Portland] Museum Art School (now Pacific Northwest College of Art or PNCA) in 1934, and the University of Oregon from 1933 to 1936, but did not get a degree. Having started painting at the age of nine, Streat won honorable mention from the Harmon Foundation (set up by the white philanthropist William E. Harmon to support black artists for a juried exhibit in New ...
Amalia K. Amaki
photographer and film producer, was born in Chicago, Illinois, to William Howard Wallace, a chef and musician, and Margaret Shannon Wallace, a real estate broker. William was the younger of the couple's two children; his older sister, Jacquelyn, was born 9 August 1936. William attended Chicago's public schools, graduating from Betsy Ross Elementary in 1951 and Central YMCA High in 1955.
Wallace's uncle gave him a camera on his tenth birthday, triggering his fascination with photographic images. With money he earned from his paper route, Wallace bought his first developing kit the following year. Three years later his family moved to a new apartment, and their landlord, Anthony Haywood was an accomplished freelance photographer with his own darkroom Noticing Wallace s interest in the medium Haywood took him under his tutelage Guided by Haywood Wallace developed the fundamental technical skills that prepared him for ...