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Donna Waller Harper

dancer, choreographer and actress, was born Deborrah Kaye Allen in Houston, Texas, to Andrew Allen, a dentist, and Vivian Ayers-Allen, a poet and librarian; her parents had two other children, the actress Phylicia Rashad, and Hugh Allen, better known as Tex. Although she exhibited an early interest in dance and desired to join the Houston Foundation for Ballet, she was denied admission when she applied in the 1950s in what her mother saw as a clear example of discrimination. Her parents were able to pay for private ballet lessons with the Ballet Russes. She later traveled and trained in Mexico City with the Ballet Nacional de Mexico. In 1964 she returned to Houston where she once again auditioned for the Houston Foundation for Ballet This time she was not only accepted to the prestigious organization but was awarded a scholarship Her talent won her ...

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Wendi Berman

playwright, actor, director, singer, and dancer, was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, the third child of Gloria Diaz Bagneris and Lawrence Bagneris Sr. Bagneris's mother was a housewife and deeply religious woman who “quietly outclassed most people,” and his father was a playful, creative man, a World War II veteran, and lifelong postal clerk. Bagneris grew up in the tightly knit, predominantly Creole Seventh Ward to a family of free people of color that had been in New Orleans since 1750 From the age of six he had a knack for winning popular dance contests and during christenings and jazz funerals he learned more traditional music and dance By the mid 1960s the once beautiful tree lined neighborhood in which he was raised fell victim to the U S government s program of urban renewal known colloquially as Negro removal A freeway overpass was ...

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Robyn McGee

His father, the late Trevor George Smith, was a businessman and his mother, Geraldine Green, a homemaker. Both were immigrants from Jamaica. Smith has one brother, Paul, and four children.

Around 1989 Smith was given the moniker “Busta Rhymes” by fellow rapper Chuck D of the seminal hip-hop group Public Enemy. The original George “Buster” Rhymes was an NFL running back known for his charismatic, freewheeling style.

Busta Rhymes attended George Westinghouse Career and Technical School in Brooklyn with other iconic rappers, Sean Carter, aka Jay Z; Christopher Wallace, aka Biggie Smalls, the Notorious B.I.G; Earl Simmons, aka D.M.X.; and Sean Combs later known as Puff Daddy and P Diddy As teenagers Rhymes and Jay Z famously held a speed rapping battle in the high school cafeteria which was won by Jay Z After living in Liverpool England for a short time Rhymes returned to New York ...

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Peter Carr Jones

music, fashion, and movie industry entrepreneur. The former co-owner of Roc-A-Fella Records with Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter and Kareem “Biggs” Burke, Damon Dash cross-promoted several products within a single brand, Roc-A-Fella. He ran the corporate side of Roc-A-Fella, especially the fashion and movie production divisions, until being bought out in 2004.

Dash was born in East Harlem, New York, to a lower-middle class, single-parent family. He earned scholarships to several prestigious private schools, though each expelled him. His mother died when Dash was only fifteen, but he continued his education until the twelfth grade, and got his GED in 1988. After this, he ran a small party promotion company, Dash Entertainment.

In 1994 he met Jay-Z and became his manager. When the established record companies passed on Jay-Z's original album, Reasonable Doubt, Dash, Jay-Z, and silent partner Burke formed Roc-A-Fella in 1996 Def Jam Records ...

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Hilary Mac Austin

Suzanne de Passe learned from her mentor, Berry Gordy, that “a business based on principles is more important than a business based on revenue.” She has held true to that motto. Amazingly, in the cutthroat, white-male-dominated world of Hollywood, she has not only survived but succeeded magnificently.

One of the first and still one of the only African American women powerbrokers in the television and film businesses, Suzanne Celeste de Passe grew up middle-class in Harlem. Her parents, both West Indian, were divorced when she was three. Her mother was a schoolteacher and her father worked for Seagrams. He remarried six years after the divorce and is credited with providing de Passe with a strong role model. De Passe attended an elite, integrated private school in Manhattan, the New Lincoln School. While still young, she began modeling clothes designed by DeVera Edwards.

De Passe entered Syracuse University as ...

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Claranne Perkins

music executive, television and film producer, and screenwriter, was born in New York, New York. Her father worked for Seagram's and her mother was a schoolteacher. Her paternal grandfather was a physician in Harlem.

Her parents divorced when she was three but managed to maintain a supportive environment for their daughter. She spent the week with her mother and the weekend with her father. He remarried when de Passe was nine, and the three adults formed a supportive alliance that continued to nurture de Passe.

She lived the elite life of prominent black families in New York. She summered on Martha's Vineyard; attended the private, progressive, and integrated New Lincoln School; graduated from Manhattan High School; and entered Syracuse University in 1964 She found the university and its extremely small African American student body not to her liking so transferred to Manhattan Community College to major ...

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Azeddine Chergui and Hassan Bourara

Moroccan comedian, singer-composer, and film director, was born David Bensoussan on 17 April 1971 in Casablanca. His father, a mime artist, instilled in him the love of the stage at a very young age. At the age of seventeen, he moved to Quebec in Canada, a way for him to achieve the American dream without the linguistic requirement. In Canada he was initiated into the theater, had a few experiences with radio, and sporadically performed in cabarets. Intent on becoming a professional, he left for Paris and enrolled in the Cours Florent drama school, from which he graduated two years later.

His first stand-up comedy show, the autobiographical Décalages ensued immediately with a first tour to Quebec Morocco and Paris This show embodies the quintessential Gad Elmaleh a Moroccan Jew proud of his origins confronting new cultures where he must constantly negotiate his own space and define his identity ...

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Diane Todd Bucci

journalist, music critic, author, filmmaker, and television producer, was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. He attended St. John's University, and while there began his writing career at the black newspaper the Amsterdam News, where he was a college intern. During this time he also contributed to the music trade journal Billboard. After graduating from St. John's in 1979, George worked as a freelance writer and lived with his mother and sister in a poverty-stricken neighborhood in Brooklyn. It did not take him long, though, to begin what would prove to be a flourishing career. George found employment as a black music editor, first for Real World magazine from 1981 to 1982, and then at Billboard from 1982 to 1989. He moved on to write a successful column entitled “Native Son” for the Village Voice, from 1989 to ...

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Rob Bowman

(b Detroit, Nov 28, 1929). American songwriter and founder of Motown Records. Born into a middle-class family, he initially wanted to be a boxer and later opened a record shop specializing in jazz. When both these career options failed, he began to write songs, quickly achieving success between 1957 and 1959 by co-writing such hits as Reete Petite, To be Loved and I'll be satisfied for Jackie Wilson, You've got what it takes for Marv Johnson and Money for Barrett Strong.

At Smokey Robinson's suggestion, Gordy ventured into the record business with Tamla Records in 1959. He began Motown in 1961, followed by Gordy in 1962, Soul and VIP in 1964 and several lesser labels over the ensuing ten years Collectively these labels are commonly referred to as Motown Gordy promoted the label as the Sound of Young America since from the ...

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Sholomo B. Levy

songwriter, entrepreneur, and filmmaker, was born in Detroit, Michigan, the seventh of eight children of Berry Gordy Sr. and Bertha Fuller. After Reconstruction, Gordy's paternal grandfather, who was born a slave, managed to acquire 168 acres of land where he and his wife, Lucy Hellum, raised nine children, one of them being Gordy's father. Gordy's mother was of direct African descent on her father's side and of African and American Indian heritage on her mother's side. She was a schoolteacher in Sandersville, Georgia, and married Berry Gordy Sr. in 1918, when he returned from service in World War I.

In 1922 Gordy's parents left Milledgeville, Georgia, and settled in Detroit with their three oldest children. Unlike the majority of black migrants to the North, the Gordys owned their own home. Seven years and five children later, Berry Jr. was born on Thanksgiving Day ...

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Timothy J. O'Brien

founder of Motown. Berry Gordy Jr. was born in Detroit, Michigan. His father, Berry Sr., and his mother, Bertha Ida Fuller, a schoolteacher, were from Georgia and had migrated to Detroit in 1922. Like many Americans his father had to hustle at different jobs during the Depression to support his family. After the Depression the elder Gordy ran a grocery store. The seventh of eight children, Berry Gordy Jr. was raised in a religious household. His family also enjoyed music and kept an upright piano in their house. Gordy wanted to grow up to be like his father, who made him believe that a hard, honest day's labor was the only way to live.

In his teens Gordy trained as a boxer under Eddie Futch He quit school to box professionally and then left boxing to get into the movie business Gordy started his show business career ...

Article

Isabel Morais

Mozambican film director, actor, screenwriter, writer, and lyricist, was born on 22 August 1931 and grew up in Lourenço Marques (present-day Maputo) in the former Portuguese-speaking colony of Mozambique in eastern Africa. Rui (also spelled Ruy) Guerra’s parents were Portuguese immigrants. As a teenager he wrote film reviews, shot films, and became involved in anticolonial and proindependent circles.

At the age of nineteen Guerra left Mozambique for further education in France, where from 1952 to 1954 he studied cinematography at the Institute of High Cinematographic Studies in Paris. Between 1956 and 1957 he became assistant cameraman and director on various French films. In 1958 he emigrated to Brazil, where he directed his first feature film, Os Cafajestes (The Hustlers, 1962), which was selected for the twelfth Berlin International Film Festival. The high point of Guerra’s career came when he directed the political and antimilitarist film Os Fuzis ...

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Daniel Donaghy

film directors, producers and writers. Fraternal twins, Albert and Allen Hughes were born in Detroit Michigan to an African American father and an Armenian mother Aida who was born in Iran Albert is older than Albert by nine minutes Their parents divorced when they were two years old and at age nine the Hughes Brothers moved with their mother to Pomona California an hour from Hollywood where they first became interested in filmmaking Their mother ran her own business a vocational center and let her sons use the family s video camera to make films in part to let them pursue their passion and in part to keep them away from gangs and drugs While media outlets and the brothers own public relation representatives would later emphasize the pair s rough urban childhood experiences the two in fact were never in gangs and had stable childhoods complete ...

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Mark D. Cunningham

filmmakers and film producers, were born in Detroit, Michigan, the twin sons of an African American father and a white Armenian mother, Aida Hughes. Though information about their father is limited, the Hughes Brothers, as they are most well known commercially, have suggested in interviews that he was or tried to be a pimp. Their parents divorced when the brothers were two years old. In 1981 Aida moved her young sons to Pomona, California, a suburb near Hollywood. With little more than a fast food restaurant worker's income, Aida supported her family while simultaneously putting herself through college. She eventually established her own business to rehabilitate injured workers and satisfied her activist spirit by becoming president of the Pomona chapter of the National Organization for Women.

To keep her boys out of trouble Aida lent her company s video camera to her sons to occupy their time creating ...

Article

Anthony Brown

(b Chicago, March 14, 1933). American producer, arranger, composer and entertainment entrepreneur. He was raised by his father and stepmother in Seattle from the age of ten, and learned various brass instruments before settling on the trumpet. He performed in dance bands with early musical associates including Charlie Taylor, Bumps Blackwell and Ernestine Anderson, and at 14 met the 16-year-old Ray Charles, with whom he formed a lifelong friendship and from whom he first received instruction in jazz harmony and arranging. While in high school, Jones performed with Billie Holiday and Billy Eckstine, and studied the trumpet with Clark Terry. He studied briefly at Seattle University and at the Berklee School of Music, Boston, but left to tour. He first toured Europe and made his first recordings while with Lionel Hampton, playing a solo on the 1951 recording of his own composition, Kingfish ...

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James Gavin

jazz musician, composer, and record, television, and film producer, was born Quincy Delight Jones Jr. on the South Side of Chicago, Illinois, the son of Sarah (maiden name unknown) and Quincy Jones Sr., a carpenter who worked for a black gangster ring that ran the Chicago ghetto. When Quincy Sr.'s mentally ill wife was institutionalized, he sent their sons, Quincy Jr. and Lloyd, to live in the South with their grandmother. In his autobiography Jones writes of growing up so poor that his grandmother served them fried rats to eat. By the age of ten he was living with Lloyd and their father in Seattle, Washington. “My stepbrother, my brother, and myself, and my cousin … we burned down stores, we stole, whatever you had to do,” Jones said (CNN Online, “Q and A: A Talk with Quincy Jones,” 11 Dec ...

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Donald Roe

jazz trumpeter, composer, arranger, music impresario, and music, film, and television producer. Quincy Delight Jones Jr., or Q, as Frank Sinatra dubbed him, is an international icon in the music industry. From producing Leslie Gore's multimillion-selling soft-rock hit single “It's My Party” (1963) and Michael Jackson's all-time best-selling record album Thriller (1982) to working with rappers like Melle Mel, Kool Moe Dee, and others, Q has had a pervasive impact on contemporary music. Astoundingly, many African Americans born during the 1970s know little of his prowess as a jazz trumpeter, composer, and arranger or that he jammed with many of the greatest jazz musicians of all time.

Jones was born in 1933 on the South Side of Chicago to Quincy Delight Jones Sr and Sarah Jones Jones spent his early years learning about life on the mean streets of Chicago ...

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James Sellman

Quincy Delight Jones, Jr., has had several careers in popular entertainment, including roles as a big-band musician, composer-arranger, record company executive, producer of films and music videos, magazine publisher, and partner in a television production company. He has emerged as one of the most influential figures in Hollywood. He commenced his music career in Seattle, Washington, where his family moved during the mid-1940s from Chicago, Illinois, where he was born. He sang in a vocal harmony group directed by Joseph Powe, who had once been with Wings over Jordan. After trying various instruments in high school band, Jones settled on the trumpet.

As a teenager, Jones played in local Jazz and Rhythm and Blues groups. He became acquainted with Ray Charles, an early musical influence, who moved to the Seattle area in 1950 Besides leading his own trio Charles wrote and arranged for the five ...

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Jason King

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 ...

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Ann Wilde

photographer, poet, writer, composer, and filmmaker. Born the fifteenth and final child of a farming family in Fort Scott, Kansas, Gordon Roger Alexander Buchanan Parks was born on 30 November 1912 Parks attended a segregated school where he was often stoned beaten and called derogatory names Three of his close friends had been killed because of racial violence and he was distinctly aware of the constant threat that faced him simply because he was African American and lived in the United States Parks s mother died when he was sixteen after which complying with his mother s wishes Parks moved to Minneapolis to live with his sister and brother in law Unwelcome in his brother in law s home Parks spent the winter homeless but managed to finish high school by working odd jobs He believed above all that the difficulty of his experiences ...