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Barry Kernfeld

jazz violinist, singer, and comedian, was born Leroy Gordon Smith in Portsmouth, Ohio, the son of Cornelius T. Smith, a barber and musician, and Anna Lee Redman, a schoolteacher. Smith's birth certificate gives 13 August, but he celebrated his birthday on 14 August, for reasons unknown (though perhaps superstition); he also was known to many as Hezekiah (or by the nickname Hez), but this name is not on the certificate.

Smith was raised in Massilon, Ohio, from age nine, at which point he was playing in his father's band. His father wanted him to follow his sister Helen, who studied classical violin at Oberlin Conservatory, but Smith heard Joe Venuti and Eddie Lang perform locally and was smitten by jazz. Around 1925 he won a musical scholarship to Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte North Carolina but he never graduated ...