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Brenna Sanchez

classical singer, author, gay rights activist, and former literary assistant to writer Langston Hughes, was born in Cleveland, Ohio. Abdul's father, Hamid Abdul, was from Calcutta, India, and his mother, Bernice (Shreve) Abdul, was able to trace her ancestry back to the pre-Revolutionary War era. Abdul got his start in theater at a young age, participating in children's theater by age six. He attended John Hay High School and, after graduation, worked as a journalist for the Cleveland Call and Post. He would later go on to earn a diploma from the Vienna Academy of Music in 1962. He also studied at Harvard University, the New School for Social Research, the Cleveland Institute of Music, New York College of Music, and the Mannes College of Music.

In 1951 at age twenty two Abdul relocated to New York City There he began studying music and was ...

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James M. Salem

musician, songwriter, and rhythm and blues star, was born John Marshall Alexander Jr. in Memphis, Tennessee, the son of John Marshall Alexander and Leslie Newsome. His father earned his living in Memphis as a packer, but his lifework was as a commuting minister to two rural Baptist churches in eastern Arkansas. At LaRose Grammar School in South Memphis, John Jr. as his family called him displayed both musical and artistic talent He mastered the piano at home but was allowed to play only religious music Along with his mother and siblings he sang in the choir at Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church Becoming restless at Booker T Washington High School John Jr dropped out in the eleventh grade to join the navy and see the world His sisters recalled military police coming to the house in search of their brother and thought of his brief period ...

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André Willis

Born Julian Edwin Adderley in Tampa, Florida, Adderley earned the nickname “Cannonball,” a corruption of “cannibal,” for his huge appetite. Adderley was introduced to music by his father, a cornetist, and was performing in bands by the time he was fourteen. He played in local bands as well as in the United States Army (he enlisted in 1950) and taught music before moving to New York to join his brother Nat in 1955. He immediately found success on the New York Jazz scene, joining the bands of bassist Oscar Pettiford.

The recordings Adderley made with Davis, which included John Coltrane on tenor saxophone, Paul Chambers on bass, and Wynton Kelly on piano, are some of the most celebrated of the 1950s. In 1959 Adderley and his brother Nat formed their own quintet and built on the influence of Davis and saxophonist Charlie Parker During ...

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Frank Tirro

jazz saxophonist, was born Julian Edwin Adderley in Tampa, Florida, the son of Julian Carlyle Adderley, a high school guidance counselor and jazz cornet player, and Jessie Johnson, an elementary school teacher. The family moved to Tallahassee, Florida, where Adderley attended Florida Agricultural and Mechanical College High School from 1941 until 1944. He earned his bachelor's degree from Florida A&M in 1948, having studied reed and brass instruments with the band director Leander Kirksey and forming, with Kirksey, a school jazz ensemble. Adderley then worked as band director at Dillard High School in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and jobbed with his own jazz group.

Adderley served in the army from 1950 until 1953, leading the Thirty-sixth Army Dance Band, to which his younger brother, the cornetist Nathaniel “Nat” Adderley, was also assigned. While stationed in Washington, D.C., in 1952 Adderley continued to play ...

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Nathaniel Friedman

soul and rhythm and blues singer and songwriter, was born Arthur Alexander Jr. in Florence, Alabama, to Arthur Alexander, a laborer and musician, and Fannie Scott Spencer. He was exposed to music at an early age by his mother and older sister, who sang in church, and by his father, who played weekend gigs as a bottleneck blues guitarist. After high school Alexander was working as a bellhop at the Sheffield Hotel when he met Tom Stafford, a white R&B enthusiast who introduced him to what would become the nucleus of the Muscle Shoals–area studio scene: Dan Penn, Rick Hall, Spooner Oldham, and Billy Sherrill. The men, all then working for Rick Hall's Fame Music Stafford, found Alexander's songwriting abilities every bit as intriguing as his singing, and soon made sure that Alexander became part of Fame's writing operation. In 1958Alexander and Henry Lee Bennett coauthored ...

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Eddie S. Meadows

trumpeter, was born Henry James Allen Jr. in Algiers, Louisiana, the son of Henry James Allen Sr., a trumpeter and leader of a brass band, and Juretta (maiden name unknown). Red Allen received instruction from his father and his two uncles, who were also trumpeters. Rehearsals were held at home, giving Allen the opportunity to hear New Orleans greats like Louis Armstrong, Buddy Bolden, Oscar Celestin, Bunk Johnson, King Oliver, Sam Morgan, and Kid Rena. Though surrounded by trumpet players, Allen played the violin and the alto horn before he settled on the trumpet. Soon after his tenth birthday he felt secure enough on the trumpet to become a member of his father's brass band. Allen learned to improvise by playing along with recordings. He varied the speed to change the pitch, thereby developing keen pitch perception.

In addition to playing ...

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SaFiya D. Hoskins

blues musician, was born Luther Allison in Widener, Arkansas, the fourteenth of fifteen children born to his parents (names unknown), who were cotton farmers. He grew up with an interest in music; playing the organ in church, singing gospel, and listening to the Grand Ole Opry from Nashville, Tennessee, over the radio. Allison was exposed early to blues; from the music his father played on the family radio to hearing blues musicians like B.B. King, broadcast from Memphis on WDIA.

By the age of ten, Allison had begun to show interest in the guitar. In 1951 at the age of twelve he moved with his family in search of better opportunities to the Westside of Chicago After high school Allison studied the craft of shoemaking Meanwhile several of his siblings were members of a gospel group and one of his older brothers Ollie had become a popular guitarist ...

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Barry Kernfeld

jazz pianist, was born in Chicago. His parents' names are unknown; both were pianists. Albert was a teenage friend of Meade Lux Lewis. The two learned to play by following the key action of player pianos and by imitating more experienced musicians, including Hersal Thomas and Jimmy Yancey. Albert, having access to his parents' instrument, developed his skills faster than Lewis. Both men were particularly influenced by a tune called “The Fives,” a blues tune involving strong, repetitive, percussive patterns in the left hand set against equally strong and percussive but less rigorously repetitive counterrhythmic patterns in the right. This piano blues style came to be known as boogie-woogie.

In 1924 Ammons joined a band in South Bend, Indiana. He married around this time, although details about his wife are unknown. His ultimately more famous and talented son, the tenor saxophonist Gene Ammons was born in ...

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Barry Kernfeld

jazz tenor saxophonist, was born Eugene Ammons in Chicago, Illinois, the son of Albert Ammons, a boogie-woogie pianist; his mother's name is unknown. Like several other prominent jazzmen, Gene studied music at Du Sable High School under Captain Walter Dyett. Initially he idolized Lester Young's improvising and even imitated Young's manner of playing with head and horn at a grotesquely tilted angle. During his third year in high school Gene began playing locally with the trumpeter King Kolax's band. At the semester's end he embarked on a cross-country tour with Kolax that included performances at the Savoy Ballroom in New York.

In 1944 the singer Billy Eckstine formed a big band that included the tenor saxophonist Charlie Rouse and the alto saxophonist Charlie Parker. According to the group's pianist, John Malachi Rouse was so smitten by Parker s playing that he was unable to concentrate ...

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Barry Kernfeld

jazz trumpeter, was born William Alonzo Anderson Jr. in Greenville, South Carolina. Nothing is known of his parents, who died when he was four. Anderson grew up in Jenkins' Orphanage in Charleston, where as a boy he received the nickname “Cat” after scratching and tearing in a fight with a bully. He played in the orphanage's renowned bands, beginning on trombone and playing other brass and percussion instruments before taking up trumpet. From 1929 onward he participated in orphanage band tours, and in Florida in 1933 he formed the cooperative Carolina Cotton Pickers with fellow orphanage musicians. Returning to Charleston in 1934, they continued playing as the Carolina Cotton Pickers and then resumed touring.

Independent of the orphanage, Anderson held his first lasting affiliation with the Sunset Royals (c. 1936–1942). From 1942 to 1944 he worked in the big bands of Lucky Millinder; the trumpeter Erskine ...

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Scott Yanow

jazz singer, was born in Houston, Texas, the daughter of Joseph Anderson, a construction worker, and Erma Anderson. She sang as a young child along to her parents’ Bessie Smith and blues records. Her father sang in a gospel quartet in church and Ernestine became active in the church choir, sometimes taking solos. She taught herself to play the piano by ear and loved to listen to the big bands on the radio, and when she heard Sarah Vaughan, she became determined to become a professional singer. She was so enamored of Vaughan's singing that for a short time she sounded just like her, until she realized that the point of it all was for her to carve out her own musical identity, not copy her idol.

Anderson began singing professionally quite early. She was fifteen years old when she performed with the trumpeter Russell Jacquet ...

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Mary Krane Derr

multi‐instrumental musician, teacher, and orchestra conductor, was born in Lynchburg, Virginia. Some sources give her birth year as 1885; however, according to U.S. census data, it was most likely 1882. Her mother, Betty Anderson, was born March 1849 in Virginia. Little is known about Hallie Anderson's father except that he was also a Virginia native. When Hallie was three, the family migrated to New York City. As a child, Hallie took public school and private music lessons. She received classical training at the New York German Conservatory of Music. Although it did not record her occupation, the 1900 census noted that Hallie's mother was a widow who could neither read nor write, and who had seven living children. Betty Anderson was then living with three of her children, all of whom could read and write: Charles (born Sept. 1872), a waiter; John ...

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Barry Kernfeld

jazz singer, was born in Gilroy, California, the daughter of Jobe Smith. Her mother's name is unknown. Anderson's given name is sometimes spelled “Ivy.” She studied voice at Saint Mary's Convent from age nine to age thirteen, and she sang in the glee club and choral society at Gilroy grammar and high school. While spending two years at the Nunnie H. Burroughs Institution in Washington, D.C., she studied voice under Sara Ritt.

Anderson performed in Los Angeles, California, around 1921, and in 1922 or 1923 she joined a touring version of the pioneering African American musical revue Shuffle Along, which brought her to New York City. She performed in Cuba in 1924, at the Cotton Club in New York City in 1925, and then in Los Angeles, where she was accompanied by the bands of Paul Howard, Curtis Mosby, and Sonny Clay ...

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Robert Fay

Anderson was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She was the first of three daughters of John Berkeley Anderson, an ice and coal peddler, and Anna D. Anderson, who, although trained as a teacher, took in laundry. Throughout her childhood, Anderson's family was poor. Their financial situation worsened when she was twelve. Her father died because of injuries he received at work. Anderson had an urge to make music from an early age, and she was clearly talented. When she was six years old, she joined the junior choir at the church to which her father belonged, Union Baptist, and became known as the “Baby Contralto.” In addition, she taught herself to play the piano, eventually playing well enough to accompany herself during her singing concerts.

Anderson joined the church s senior choir at age thirteen She began singing professionally and touring during high school to earn money for ...

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Antoinette Handy

contralto, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the daughter of John Berkeley Anderson, a refrigerator room employee at the Reading Terminal Market, an ice and coal dealer, and a barber, and Anne (also seen as “Annie” and “Anna,” maiden name unknown), a former schoolteacher. John Anderson's various jobs provided only a meager income and after his death before Marian was a teenager her mother s income as a laundress and laborer at Wanamaker s Department Store was even less Still as Anderson later recalled neither she nor her two younger sisters thought of themselves as poor When Marian was about eight her father purchased a piano from his brother she proceeded to teach herself how to play it and became good enough to accompany herself Also as a youngster having seen a violin in a pawnshop window she became determined to purchase it and earned the requisite four dollars by ...

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Scott A. Sandage

Marian Anderson's 1939 concert at the Lincoln Memorial, in Washington, D.C., marked the symbolic beginning of the civil rights movement. Born to a poor family in Philadelphia, Anderson came to public attention in 1924 as the winner of a New York Philharmonic voice competition. Because the color line impeded American bookings, the contralto studied and performed in Europe for several years. In 1935, the impresario Sol Hurok brought Anderson back for a successful New York concert. Thereafter, she toured the United States as an acclaimed soloist and sang at the White House in 1936. In 1939, the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) refused to allow the singer to perform at Constitution Hall, stating explicitly that their auditorium was available to “white artists only.” First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt publicly resigned from the DAR in protest African American leaders from Howard University and from the NAACP arranged ...

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Mildred Denby Green

When Marian Anderson was just eight years old, her aunt presented her at a fund-raising church program as the “Baby Contralto.” Two years earlier, Anderson had joined the junior choir at the Union Baptist Church in Philadelphia. More than anything else, she loved to sing. Music and musical instruments fascinated her at home and in school.

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Susan Edwards

opera singer. Marian Anderson was born on 27 February 1897 in South Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the first of three daughters born to Anna and John Anderson. Nicknamed the “baby contralto” for her lush, deep voice when she sang in local churches as a child, Anderson fought hard to foster her career in Europe and the United States, and in the process she became an advocate for civil rights in the United States.

When Anderson was twelve years old her father died from a head injury sustained while working at Philadelphia's Reading Terminal Market. He was thirty-four years old, and his death left his widow, Anna with three young daughters to raise They moved in with Marian s paternal grandparents Anna had been a teacher before she married Marian s father but she was not credentialed in Pennsylvania To keep her family together Anna took in laundry and worked ...

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Jason Philip Miller

was born Pinkney Anderson in the small town of Laurens in southwestern South Carolina. Little is known about his early years or upbringing. He apparently learned to play guitar at a very early age and by the time he was ten years old could play the open tuned guitar, common in blues music. He was something of a natural showman, earning small change by dancing for passersby on the streets of Greenville and Spartanburg, to which his family relocated during his childhood. Sometime probably around 1914 or 1915 he fell in with Frank Smiley Kerr his first name is variously recorded though whether this is due to error or because Kerr went by different names is unclear purportedly a doctor whose Indian Remedy Company peddled various potions and nostrums of a more or less fanciful nature As part of the show Anderson played his guitar between pitches Remarkably he ...

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Scott Yanow

jazz singer, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Both of his parents and his aunts and uncles sang at church. Ernie had his first vocal training by singing regularly as a child in his mother's choir at the local Baptist church. As a youngster he had opportunities to see such swing bands as those of Jimmie Lunceford, Earl Hines, and Chick Webb (with Ella Fitzgerald) in stage productions and he also saw vaudeville shows. Ernie moved to Jeanerette, Louisiana, when he was thirteen years old, living with his grandmother and mother from 1940 to 1944. The trumpeter Bunk Johnson taught music at his school and encouraged Ernie to play drums. In 1944 he moved with his mother to Los Angeles, attending Jefferson High School where his classmates included such future jazz greats as Dexter Gordon, Teddy Edwards, Eric Dolphy and Art Farmer Ernie soon ...