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Jerry C. Waters

an interdisciplinary artist and musician, was born Terry Roger Adkins in Washington, D.C., the eldest of five children of Robert Hamilton Adkins, a teacher and a musician, and Doris Jackson Adkins, a homemaker and musician. Adkins was raised in Alexandria, Virginia.

The artistic and musical achievements of Terry Adkins are linked to his formative years. Born in the racially segregated South, he attended a predominantly black primary school in Alexandria, Virginia, and graduated in 1971 from Ascension Academy a mostly white Catholic high school Adkins s parents encouraged his artistic talents and academic pursuits because education was valued within the extended Adkins family His father Robert Hamilton Adkins was a chemistry and science teacher at Parker Gray High School a predominantly black school in Alexandria and performed within the community as an organist and vocalist Adkins s grandfather the Reverend Andrew Warren Adkins pastored Alfred Street Baptist ...

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Rebecca M. Bodenheimer

was born on 22 November 1948 in Havana, while his mother, Rosa Zayas, was in the capital for a visit. Of Afro-Cuban descent, he grew up in the central Cuban province of Camagüey. His father, Enrique Fortunato Álvarez, was the arranger and bandleader for a youth band called Avance Juvenil, in which the nine-year-old made his debut performance playing the timbales (a pair of metal drums mounted on a stand). Between 1966 and 1972 he studied solfege, music theory, harmony, and bassoon at the National School of the Arts (Escuela Nacional de Arte, or ENA) in Havana. His first composition, “Con un besito mi amor” (With a Kiss My Love), was popularized in 1971 by one of Cuba s most prominent bands at the time Conjunto Rumbavana After graduating from the ENA Álvarez returned to his home province of Camagüey to carry out his mandatory civil service as a ...

Article

Amy J. Buono

Born around 1780 in Rio de Janeiro, Amaral was best known as an artist employed by the Luso-Brazilian Court in Rio. Details of Amaral’s early life and training are scant, including his parentage, but he lived and worked in Rio, where he studied under the artist José Leandro de Carvalho (c. 1770–1834). Amaral continued his studies at the officially sanctioned course of painting and drawing in Rio created by the Marquis of Aguiar (Fernando José de Portugal e Castro, viceroy between 1801 and 1806 The school was administered by the painter Manuel da Costa de Oliveira with whom Amaral studied stage design He also worked as the assistant of José Leandro at the São João Theater Amaral s talents were quickly recognized and he was summoned to do decorative work for the court leaving the theater behind Amaral s oeuvre is especially noteworthy in that it bridged the ...

Article

Cynthia Hawkins

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 ...

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Caryn E. Neumann

a still photographer and documentary filmmaker, was born in Houston, Texas, the second child and only daughter of the schoolteacher Mollie Carroll Parrott and the dentist Frederick Douglas Parrott Sr. At least one grandparent had been born a slave. Both parents were the first in their respective families to obtain advanced college degrees, but racism kept the family poor. The Parrotts lived in the Third Ward, one of Houston's African American neighborhoods, and Blue attended a segregated grade school. As she wrote in her memoir, The Dawn at My Back, the challenges of growing up poor and black in a racist, classist society put a shadow over her life.

Blue did not intend to pursue a career in the visual arts. She enrolled as an English literature student, specializing in the sixteenth- and seventeenth-century English Renaissance period, at Boston University in 1960 with the goal of becoming ...

Article

Eleanor D. Branch

singer, songwriter, actor, activist, playwright, was born Oscar Cicero Brown Jr., the son of Oscar Brown Sr., a lawyer and real estate broker, and Helen Lawrence, a schoolteacher, in Chicago.

Growing up, Brown demonstrated an early attraction to and flair for language. He won elocution contests in school and was drawn to the poetry of Langston Hughes and Countée Cullen as well as to the music of Cole Porter and Oscar Hammerstein. He wrote songs as a teenager and by age fifteen had made his show business debut in the children's radio drama Secret City A year later having skipped two grades he enrolled at the University of Wisconsin only to find that academia was not for him he was drawn to creative writing but fell short in other subjects and as a consequence drifted from school to school never graduating Throughout this period his ...

Article

Scott Yanow

blues and jazz singer and pianist, was born in New Orleans, Louisiana. Butler, who was born blind due to glaucoma, started playing piano when he was six and sang in the choir of the Louisiana State School for the Blind when he was seven. While at the school, he studied classical piano and, starting in eleventh grade, voice training that included opera. He also studied drums, baritone horn, and valve trombone although he did not pursue a career on those instruments.

Butler began playing piano professionally when he was fourteen in Baton Rouge area clubs. While attending the Southern University in Baton Rouge in the late 1960s, he studied with Alvin Batiste, who guided him toward the recordings of Charlie Parker and John Coltrane along with Brazilian, Afro-Cuban, and Caribbean music. He also had private lessons with Professor Longhair Harold Mabern and Roland Hanna and received a grant ...

Article

Devora Fogelman

was born Alverta Elise La Pallo in New York City to Bernando La Pallo, a chef and later an author, and Ida Roberta (Small) La Pallo, who worked at Saks Fifth Avenue as a marker of prices, as well as at a small company that made diaper bags. Lee had one younger sister, Nandra.

Chamberlin attended Our Lady of Lourdes elementary school in Harlem and Cathedral High School in midtown Manhattan The year of her graduation is unknown At the age of seventeen she won a play writing contest through the New York Chapter of the American Cancer Society The year is unknown when she began her studies at Washington Square College of New York University where she was a member of the Sigma Gamma Rho sorority and participated in an exchange program at the Sorbonne in Paris France The year of her graduation is unknown After completing college with ...

Article

Rickey Vincent

was born William Earl Collins in Cincinnati, Ohio, the son of Nettie Collins (24 Feb. 1916–24 Nov. 1997). His older brother was musician Phelps “Catfish” Collins, Jr. Raised by a single mother, the Collins brothers learned to play music as children on their own, and in the public schools. As a teenager Bootsy Collins sought to emulate his brother, who played rhythm guitar in local clubs. So Bootsy turned to the bass guitar, fashioning bass strings onto his first guitar, purchased by his mother. The two Collins brothers frequented King Records, in Cincinnati, the headquarters of soul star James Brown’s record company.

Their presence at King Records afforded Bootsy Collins opportunities to record on singles produced at the company and become known to James Brown. In March 1970 after a dispute of over wages and work hours most of James Brown s band was dismissed and ...

Article

María Auxiliadora González Malabet

was born on 30 August 1926 in Quibdó in the department of Chocó Colombia Nicknamed the black DaVinci and El Brujo an alias roughly translated as a man who knows a lot Mosquera was one of the most well rounded artists of Quibdó and Colombia He was the son of Solomon Córdoba Valencia and Clara Mosquera Clara was a housewife who sold fruit and fish and also performed as a street singer Alfonso s interest in music and sculpture however came from his father who was a domestic carpenter who also transported passengers across the river and entertained them by singings to them or telling them jokes Alfonso inherited not only an interest in singing and composing but also in the art form of carving wood and clay As a child he was first inspired to carve statues out of clay after he saw images of saints at the ...

Article

Charles Rosenberg

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 ...

Article

Emilio Jorge Rodríguez

was born Venancio Benjamin Domacassé in Rincon, Bonaire, on 1 April 1941, the son of Juan Gualberto Domacassé, a sailor, and Julieta Isabela Beaumont, a housewife. He spent his childhood in Kralendijk, the capital of Bonaire, and attended elementary school on his natal island. When he was 12 years old, he went to Curaçao to continue high school, entering the Pedagogical Academy, where he graduated in 1961. It was there that he founded the pop music trio the Troubadours and the group the Teenage Shadows, in both of which he was director, guitarist, and vocalist. In 1967 he married Diana Lebacs (later an acknowledged fiction writer, actress, and playwright), who was also a vocalist in the Teenage Shadows. The couple have two children.

With musical activity as a starting point, Domacassé became interested in the theater. He made his acting debut in April 1966 in a performance ...

Article

Wendy A. Grossman and Sala E. Patterson

was born Casimir Joseph Adrienne Fidelin on 4 March 1915 in Pointe-à-Pitre, Guadeloupe’s largest city and economic capital. Fidelin posed for several photographers in Paris in the 1930s, including Roger Parry, Wols (Alfred Otto Wolfgang Schulze), and Man Ray. Although there is remarkably little written documentation about her, Fidelin is widely recognized as the model featured in an extensive assembly of images by Man Ray and acclaimed as the first black model to appear in a major American fashion magazine.

Fidelin emigrated with her family to France following the catastrophic September 1928 hurricane that swept the Caribbean archipelago and the South Florida peninsula killing twelve hundred people on her native island She came of age in Paris in an era in which the influx of émigrés from the French colonies in the Caribbean fueled the creation of a vibrant diasporic Antillean music and dance community that coincided with and ...

Article

LeGrace Benson

was born on 9 December 1935 in Port au Prince Haiti to Antonine Garoute Reared by his mother he became close to his mother s twin brother Colonel Hamilton Garoute a poet and army officer From about his tenth year Garoute accompanied his uncle on trips to oversee many different locales in Haiti during which he came in contact with a wide range of the population beyond the cities and had his first encounter with clays and the potting process He came early to understand clay as an inspirited substance from the earth capable of full artistic spiritual expression His uncle s poetic vision the opportunity to be in close touch with the diversity of people and experience with clay and potters would strongly shape Garoute s future He attended schools in Port au Prince and at age 12 enrolled in a class led by Luce Turnier at the ...

Article

Catherine M. Grant and Margaret Rose Vendryes

American printmaker, film maker, installation and conceptual artist and writer.

Green, of African descent, has worked primarily with film-based media, and has published criticism and designed installations that reveal her commitment to ongoing feminist and black empowerment movements. She earned her BA from Wesleyan University in 1981 and also spent some time at the School of Visual Arts in New York in 1980, returning in the late 1980s to study in the Whitney Independent Study Program, graduating in 1990. At the age of 24 she began exhibiting her comparative compositions containing found objects, images, and texts that question recorded history.

Green’s work deals with issues of anthropology and travel. By undertaking projects via the methodology of the 19th-century explorer, she exposed the arbitrary and prejudiced nature of classification, as in Bequest (1991; see 1993 exh cat an installation she made at the ...

Article

Dylon L. Robbins

frequently referred to as Nicolasito, was born in Camagüey, Cuba, into a family of intellectuals, artists, and prominent community members. His father was an attorney and his mother a homemaker and interior designer. His uncle was the prolific and renowned poet Nicolás Guillén. Together with Sara Gómez and Sergio Giral, Guillén Landrián was one of the few Afro-Cuban filmmakers during the early years of the Revolution.

Guillén Landrián s interest in visual art began very early through the encouragement of his mother He also exhibited an early interest in documentary filmmaking attempting a short film as a teenager In Havana in his twenties Guillén Landrián initially studied to be a diplomat before starting to work as a production assistant at the Cuban Institute of Cinematographic Art and Industry ICAIC There he would study with the filmmakers Joris Ivens and Theodor Christensen who were working and teaching in Cuba along with ...

Article

Pamela Lee Gray

musician, activist, author, painter, and sculptor, was born Richard Pierce Havens in Brooklyn, New York, the oldest of nine children. He grew up in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood. His father, Richard Havens, worked as a metal plater and dreamed of becoming a professional pianist, eventually learning to play a number of instruments. Richie's mother Mildred a bookbinder and casual singer at home encouraged her young son when he started singing background vocals at the age of twelve for local groups All kinds of music were played in the Havens home Richie s grandmother listened to Yiddish gospel and big band music his mother enjoyed country music and his father loved jazz He joined the doo wop singing group the Five Chances at age fifteen and performed the next year with the Brooklyn McCrea Gospel Singers a group that sang hymns for neighborhood churches Havens ...

Article

Cynthia Haveson Veloric

artist and educator, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to Ruby Arlene Powell, a homemaker, and Barkley H. Hendricks, a carpenter who worked at the Philadelphia Navy Yard. Barkley L. Hendricks “didn't like school” (unpublished interview, 2005), preferring to sketch and draw in his spare time, but once he entered high school, his teachers encouraged his art studies. Another outlet for his talent was the high school yearbook, for which he was both editor and illustrator. Outside school he created chalk and pastel markings on city walls, which he later called “pre-aerosol graffiti” (unpublished interview, 2005).

After graduating from Simon Gratz High School in 1963, Hendricks enrolled in the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia, the oldest art school in the country. At the time, there were few black students or faculty. He can easily recall fellow students Lou Sloan and Raymond Saunders ...

Article

Scott Yanow

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 ...

Article

Kathy-ann Daniel-Gittens

was born Arthur Aldwyn Holder, on 16 July 1921 in Port of Spain, Trinidad, the eldest of Arthur and Louise de Frense Holder’s five children. His father, originally from Barbados, worked in sales, while his mother, originally from Martinique, ran her own dressmaking business. Baptized Arthur, like all first sons in his family, he was called “Boscoe” after a character in his mother’s favorite Mary Pickford movie.

The Holders were part of the cultured and urbane black upper middle class who lived in the capital of the island Boscoe and his younger brother Geoffrey both became involved in art and dance at an early age They were supported in their efforts by their parents who were ballroom dancing champions with several prizes to their name According to his biographer Boscoe Holder began painting at the age of 5 and he started playing the piano soon after By 9 years of ...