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Article

Anne Elise Thomas

Egyptian composer, musician, and film star, was born in the early 1900s, either in Cairo or in the village of Abu Kibir, Sharqiya Province. There is confusion regarding both the date and the place of his birth. Two official identification cards in his possession listed his birth in 1910 but in the two different locations named above. ʿAbd al-Wahhab’s contemporaries have suggested that he was born sometime between 1896 and 1907 their suggestions are supported by reported incidents of his early musical life and encounters with important historical figures of the 1910s His early years were spent in the Bab al Shaʿrani quarter of Cairo where his father Muhammad Abu ʿIsa ʿAbd al Wahhab was shaykh religious scholar and caretaker of the neighborhood mosque ʿAbd al Wahhab was one of five children born to his father and Fatima Higazi his mother Early on ʿAbd al Wahhab was enrolled by ...

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Mark Clague and John H. Zimmerman

flutist, composer, bandmaster, music educator, journalist, and hotelier, was born in Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, Danish West Indies (later U.S. Virgin Islands) and is remembered as the U.S. Navy's first African American bandmaster. Adams was the son of Jacob Henry Adams, a carpenter, and Petrina Evangeline Dinzey, a tailor; both his parents were members of the black artisan class centered around St. Thomas's port. This culture celebrated music and literature and instilled the young Adams with values of hard work and self-education. Although professional musicians were unknown in the Virgin Islands in his youth, Adams dreamt of a musical career inspired by his deeply held belief that music was not just entertainment, but vital to community health.

Adams attended elementary school and apprenticed as a carpenter and then a shoemaker choosing his trade based on the musical abilities of his master ...

Article

Jeremy Rich

was born in the multiracial District Six neighborhood of Cape Town, South Africa on 21 April 1929. His birth name was James Christian Apolis Adams. Arnie Adams, his father, was a barber, and moved the family to the Salt River section of Cape Town when Adams was a young boy, and he was raised there rather than in District Six. He lost two brothers to illnesses while he was quite young. Adams first became involved in music thanks to his father, who belonged to a dance band. By 1929 Adams had learned to play the banjo and had joined his father’s group.

During his early adolescence, Adams had joined the popular musician Leslie Stiger’s Senators of Swing. Stigers owned a second-hand store just across the road from Adams’ father’s barber shop. Around 1947 Adams met the saxophonist Tim Hawker who introduced Adams to the alto saxophone At a ...

Article

Jeremy Rich

Nigerian pioneer of juju and world music star, was born Sunday Adeniyi Adé in the southwestern Nigerian city of Ondo on 22 September 1946. His father was a Methodist pastor and the organist for his church, while his mother engaged in various trading enterprises. Through his maternal grandfather, who lived in the town of Akoure, near Ondo, Ade was of royal lineage. By the time he reached his adolescent years, Adé had moved with his family to the town of Oshobo. Although he completed primary school, Adé ended up dropping out of secondary school before completing his studies. His lack of financial resources cut short his formal education. He already had developed eclectic tastes in music through his childhood and adolescent experiences. Traditional Yoruba music featuring drums fascinated the young boy, as did the occasional use of drums at church. Adé remembered in a 2005 interview that when ...

Article

Norman Weinstein

Sunday Anthony Ishola Adeniyi Adegeye, known internationally to African music fans as King Sunny Ade, was raised in a home where Christian and Yoruba religious and cultural perspectives were thoroughly intermingled. Ade's father was a church organist. Ade attended missionary schools, then dropped out of college in the 1960s to pursue a career as a drummer in Juju bands. Juju, a form of Nigerian pop music first developed by Yoruba musicians in the 1920s, was just beginning to gain an international audience. Ade's chief musical inspiration was I. K. Dairo, though Ade's later song lyrics drew more inspiration from his Christian education.

The early 1970s marked the birth of Ade s reputation as an African superstar with an international audience Ade deviated from the Dairo legacy through a series of innovations He expanded the juju band lineup from a single electric guitarist to as many as six played with at ...

Article

Philip Herbert

Nigeriancomposer, organist, and ethnomusicologist born in Uyo, Akwa Ibom state, Nigeria, in 1932. In his early education at King's College, Lagos, and as a chorister at Christchurch Cathedral, in that city, he was exposed to European classical music, Mendelssohn being his favourite composer. His musical outlook was eclectic, and he was involved in dance bands such as the Chocolate Dandies and the Akpabot Players (his own band), formed in 1949, as well as being organist at St Saviour's Anglican Church in Lagos.

Akpabot studied the trumpet and organ in London at the Royal College of Music in 1954, with teachers such as John Addison, Osborn Pisgow, and Herbert Howells. Study at the University of Chicago yielded a Master's degree in Musicology, and he also received a Ph.D. from Michigan State University. He was a broadcaster for the Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation (1959 ...

Article

Elizabeth Heath

Mousstapha Alassane, one of Niger's first filmmakers, excels in animation, a genre of film typically ignored in Africa. His work aims to preserve and revalue his African cultural heritage and to provide biting social commentary on Niger's postcolonial bourgeoisie.

Alassane was born in N’Jougou, Benin. He moved with his family to Niger in 1953. While in primary school, he began to develop the film style he would later polish as an adult. Alassane entertained his relatives and friends with shadow shows and makeshift cartoons drawn on translucent wrappings and shown through a projector he built. Throughout his teenage years, he refined his animation technique and at the age of twenty, he produced two short animated films—Le Piroguier (The Canoe-Paddler) and La Pileuse de mil Woman Pounding Millet While working at the Institut Fondamental d Afrique Noire Alassane had the opportunity to show these films to French ...

Article

Sada Niang

Nigerois filmmaker, was born in Ndougou (Niger). A mechanic by trade, he revealed himself to be an inventive young man at an early age. When no film theater existed in his village, indeed at a time when most of his fellow villagers had never seen a film, Alassane drew characters on cardboard, cut them out, and offered his fellow villagers their first cinematic experience by animating a rudimentary set of puppets.

In 1960 Alassane met Jean René Debrix and with his support obtained employment at the Institut d Afrique Noire Ifan in Niamey Later on two major figures exerted profound influence on the art and filmmaking career of Moustapha Alassane Jean Rouch a French engineer turned Africanist and advocate of direct anthropology and Norman McLaren a Scottish Canadian who made his first film at age twenty and later became the animation guru at the studios of National Film Board ...

Article

Christine Matzke

Eritrean comedian, theater artist, musician, and sports teacher, was born on 1 February 1925 during the Italian colonial period in Eritrea in Abba Shawl, the poor segregated Eritrean quarters of the capital Asmara. His father was Kahsay Woldegebr, and his mother, Ghebriela Fitwi.

At the age of ten he attended an Orthodox Church school and then received four years of Italian schooling, the maximum period of formal education for Eritreans under Italian rule. Thereafter Alemayo worked as a messenger for an Italian lawyer and, at the age of seventeen, found employment as a stagehand in Cinema Asmara, then Teatro Asmara, an imposing Italian theater and center for Italian social and cultural life. Here Alemayo was exposed to European variety shows, operas, and cinema that fascinated him greatly, particularly the genre of comedy, such as the works of Charlie Chaplin and the Neapolitan comedian Totò.

Italian colonization was characterized by strict ...

Article

David Dabydeen

Africanjournalist and nationalist born in Egypt of Egyptian and Sudanese parentage. At the age of 9 or 10 Ali was sent to England to be educated. He never returned to Egypt and spent most of his time between 1883 and 1921 living in Britain. During this period, he was poverty‐stricken, attempting to earn a living through his pen and tour acting. Ali published Land of the Pharaohs in 1911, an anti‐imperialist book that became a significant contribution to the decolonization efforts in the United States and West Africa.

In 1912Ali and John Eldred Taylor, a journalist from Sierra Leone, inaugurated the African Times and Orient Review (1912–20), a magazine that sought to deal with anti‐colonial issues that not merely embraced Pan‐African matters, but incorporated Pan‐Oriental topics as well. The journal was inspired by the Universal Races Congress in London in 1911 which advocated ...

Article

Jeremy Rich

was born in the Lafiaji neighborhood in Lagos, Nigeria, on 20 July 1940 His father James Alabi Allen derived his surname from an ancestor who had been rescued from a slave ship and brought to Sierra Leone in the early nineteenth century James Alabi Allen worked as a mechanic and came from a fairly successful family He enjoyed playing guitar and mandolin and so his son Tony was exposed to indigenous Yoruba and Western music as a child While Allen s father did not belong to a church his mother Prudentia Anna Mettle was a devout Catholic She was of Ghanaian descent and Allen always thought of himself as both Ghanaian and Nigerian as a result Allen had five brothers and sisters and they all went on to have successful careers either in business or in the professions Tony Allen took a different path Uninterested in a formal education ...

Article

Michael J. Bustamante

was born on 27 February 1927 in Havana into a working-class family with twelve children. After completing the eighth grade and working as a bricklayer, Almeida was introduced to political activity in 1952 upon meeting Fidel Castro while employed at the beach club for students of the University of Havana. A veteran of the failed 1953 assault on Santiago de Cuba’s Moncada Barracks, and prisoner of the Fulgencio Batista government until May 1955, Almeida returned to Cuba in late November 1956 from exile in Mexico, along with other insurgents of the 26th of July Movement, aboard the yacht Granma. Together with Fidel Castro and his brother, Raúl, as well as Ché Guevara and Camilo Cienfuegos, Almeida was among the few rebels who survived initial clashes with Batista’s forces and arrived at the Sierra Maestra in eastern Cuba. In early 1958 he was promoted to Comandante Commander the ...

Article

Leonard L. Brown

musician, composer, arranger, teacher, scholar, and humanitarian, was born Thomas Jefferson Anderson in Coatesville, Pennsylvania, the only son and eldest of three children born to Thomas Jefferson Anderson Sr., a college professor and school principal, and Anita Turpeau Anderson, a teacher. Anderson's early years were spent in Washington, D.C., and Cincinnati, Ohio. His mother was a pianist who accompanied singers in church. She was his first musical mentor, providing encouragement from a very early age through music lessons on violin and trumpet.

Anderson attended James Monroe Elementary School in Washington, D.C., where he conducted a rhythm band and impressed Esther Ballou a city supervisor of music who told his mother the musical world will hear from your son He later attended Benjamin Banneker Junior High in Washington D C It was during his time in Washington that he discovered the Howard Theatre and the big bands of ...

Article

Maxwell Akansina Aziabah

Ghanaian filmmaker, writer, producer, and director, was born in Agona Swedru in the Central Region of Ghana. His father, J. R. Ansah, was a professional photographer, a painter, dramatist, and musician, and his mother was a trader. Kwaw Ansah, after his Anglican elementary education in Agona Swedru, moved to Accra, where he completed his ordinary-level certificate examinations. While studying for his ordinary-level certificate, he worked as a fashion designer for the United Africa Company. He later entered London Polytechnic (now the University of Westminster) in 1963 to study theater design. Having decided to pursue a career in film production, he then enrolled in the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York and graduated two years later, in 1965 with a diploma in dramatic arts That same year he was admitted to the American Musical and Dramatic Academy It was while there that he understudied film production in R ...

Article

Born in the Las Villas province of Cuba, Alfredo “Chocolate” Armenteros became a master of the island's distinctive, horn-led musical musical styles. As a horn-player, composer, and arranger, he contributed to the development of modern Afro-Latin popular music.

Armenteros is a virtuoso player of the trumpet and the flügelhorn. He is also the last surviving master of Cuban septeto music, which is performed by a small ensemble featuring a trumpet backed by stringed instruments and percussion. He has played in many Latin American musical genres, including Afro-Latin Jazz big bands, small-group Cuban Descargas (jam sessions), and Salsa Music. On the 1979 album Knockdown Calypsoes. Armenteros convincingly re-created the sound of the Calypso bands of Trinidad in the 1930s and 1940s. Armenteros's trumpet-playing is instantly recognizable. Rather than seeking harmonic complexity or intricate rapid-fire melodies, typical of jazz trumpet playing since the Bebop era he projects a ...

Article

Cynthia Tse Kimberlin

Ethiopian ethnomusicologist, composer, scholar, and teacher, was born in Addis Ababa. His paternal grandfather was Liqe Mekuwas Adinew Goshu, a renowned hero of the Battle of Adwa and a close confidant of Empress Taitu. His great grandfather, Dejazmach Goshu, served as a mentor and teacher to Emperor Tewodros. The most creative and artistic individual in his family was his mother, Fantaye Nekere, who composed verse and poetry. She taught Ashenafi about Ethiopian artistic forms, which he later drew upon for his work.

Ashenafi first showed an interest in music while attending Haile Selassie I Elementary School. After attending the Harar Teachers’ Training School, he taught music at Haile Sellassie I University and the Addis Ababa YMCA before obtaining his BA in Music (1962 from the University of Rochester s Eastman School of Music in the United States He returned to Addis Ababa to serve as the first official ...

Article

Born Raymond Quevedo, Atilla de Hun recorded with American record companies beginning in 1934, when he and Roaring Lion (Hubert Raphael Charles, later Raphael de Leon were the first Trinidadian calypsonians to record in New York City During his career he also recorded with the ...

Article

Joel Gordon

leading male vocalist of his generation in Egypt, composer and box- office sensation with a career spanning five decades, was born in Suwayda, a village in the Druze stronghold of Southern Syria. He was the eldest child of Fahd al-Atrash, an Ottoman official related to the leading Druze princely clan and Alia al-Mundhir, a Druze from Beirut. At the end of World War I, Fahd al-Atrash was posted in the Turkish district of Demirci. Fearing arrest, he fled with his family to Beirut; on the sea passage from Izmir, Alia gave birth to a daughter, Amal, whose fame as the musical artist Asmahan would equal, if not surpass, her older brother’s.

In 1923 against her husband s will Alia took her children to Damascus and then to Cairo She fled the violence that had followed the bombardment of the Druze stronghold in response to an attack on French forces ...

Article

Debra L. Klein

master bata drummer and broker of Yoruba culture, was born on 6 August 1949 in the town of Erin-Osun in present-day Osun State, Nigeria. Ayankunle was born into a large extended family of traditional bata (double-headed, conically shaped drum ensemble) and dundun (double-headed, hourglass-shaped drum ensemble with tension straps) drummers. His father was Ige Ayansina and his mother was Awero Ayansina. Yoruba drumming lineages train their children in the art and profession of bata and dundun drumming. These families celebrate and worship orisa Ayanagalu (the spirit of the drum). Children born into an Ayan (drum family) lineage are given names beginning with the Ayan prefix, such as Ayankunle.

Passed down from generation to generation bata is a five hundred year old drumming singing and masquerade tradition from southwestern Nigeria The fifteenth century reign of Sango marks the earliest documented use of bata drum ensembles in royal contexts One of the ...

Article

B.Léza  

Juliana Braz Dias

Cape Verdean musician and composer, was born on São Vicente Island (Cape Verde) on 3 December 1905 He was the son of João Vicente da Cruz and Rosa Antónia Lopes da Cruz a domestic servant Born on Saint Francis Xavier s day he was named Francisco Xavier da Cruz after the saint and many of his works as a composer are registered under this name However B Léza is the name he used throughout his life and the name that keeps him alive in the collective memory of the Cape Verdean nation B Léza grew up on the streets of Lombo a poor district whose population was largely composed of sailors fishermen domestic servants and workers of the coal companies established by the British in the City of Mindelo São Vicente Island during the times of steam navigation B Léza was the product of a port city an environment ...