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Bill Egan

musician. James Reese “Jim” Europe was born in Mobile, Alabama, the fifth of six children. His parents were Henry J. Europe, a former slave and a Baptist pastor employed in various public positions, and Lorraine Saxon Europe, a teacher. Europe learned music from his mother, playing violin and later mandolin.

In 1889 the family moved to Washington, D.C. John Philip Sousa was a close neighbor, and Europe received tuition on piano and violin from Enrico Hurlei, the assistant director of the U.S. Marine Corps Band. Around 1903 Europe moved to New York and studied with the noted African American composer and spirituals expert Harry T. Burleigh. Though aware of his traditional religious heritage, Europe embraced secular black music—ragtime and the show music of entertainers like Bert Williams and George Walker, Ernest Hogan, and Bob Cole and J. Rosamond Johnson He joined Hogan ...

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Jeremy Rich

was born in the town of Bolobo in the Bandundu province of what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo. He lost his father at a very young age, and his mother was illiterate and never obtained a birth certificate. Ngombe’s mother struggled to support her son. In 1934 he persuaded a woman to bring him to the Congolese capital of Leopoldville, where his older sister lived. Ngombe scrambled to make a living in the big city, since his sister barely managed to get by and depended on friends for lodging. After not finding steady work for a year, he enrolled at the Saint Joseph Catholic mission primary school in 1935. Ngombe only completed five years of education there, and then quit to support himself in 1940 Father Raphael de la Kethulle one of the most prominent social activists in the Congo in the 1940s persuaded Ngombe to ...