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Wallace McClain Cheatham

opera singer, college and music conservatory professor, composer, activist, and genealogist, the youngest of seven children, was born in Columbia, Tennessee, and reared in Louisville, Kentucky, where his family moved in search of suitable employment and better schools. Andrew's mother, Lue Vergia Esters Frierson, was a homemaker. His father, Robert Clinton Frierson, was a laborer.

At age three Frierson first dramatically showcased his musical talent. One afternoon he accompanied his mother to the home of an old family friend where there was a piano. Frierson saw the instrument, went to it, and instinctively began to play recognizable songs. Frierson's mother and her friends were astounded because he had never even seen a piano. By the age of five Frierson was playing all over the town.

After four years of piano study with William King and graduation from high school Frierson went to ...


David Borsvold

composer and university professor, was born Adolphus Cunningham Hailstork III in Rochester, New York, the only child of Phyllis Hailstork, a civil servant in the State of New York Estate Tax Department, and Adolphus Hailstork II, whose occupation is unknown. He grew up primarily in Albany, New York, his musical education beginning with childhood piano lessons. Hailstork also studied the organ, the violin, and voice. As a student at Albany High School, he conducted a boys' choir and began to compose music. He received his high school diploma in the spring of 1959.

Hailstork continued his musical education at Howard University. Entering in the fall of 1959, he studied composition under Mark Fax and graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Music degree in 1963. In the summer of that year he received a Lucy Moten Travel Fellowship and went to France ...


Eileen Southern

Little is known of John Layton's early life, except that he was born in New Jersey. He studied music around New England, at the Cardiff and Collins Institute, Round Lake Conservatory, Martha's Vineyard, the New England Conservatory, and privately in Washington, D.C. During the Civil War (1861–1865), Layton served in the armed services. After the war he went to Washington, D.C., where he was a policeman for a few years before he began teaching music in the public schools in 1883. Later he was appointed the first male director of music for the black schools in Washington. In 1873 Layton became the choir director at the Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME), a post he retained for forty-three years. In 1902 he helped to organize the Coleridge-Taylor Choral Society and served as its director until his death.

One of Layton s significant accomplishments was his contribution ...


Charles Rosenberg

music teacher and conductor, bass singer, Civil War veteran, and active member of the Grand Army of the Republic, author of the first African Methodist Episcopal Church hymnal (working with Bishop James C. Embry), was born in Eulesstown, New Jersey. The 1860 census lists several free families of African descent named Layton, but none have been definitively identified as his. Charles and Harriet Layton, of Warrenville, may have been his parents, but the ages of their children (often the subject of error by census takers) are not a definitive match.

Layton enlisted in the U.S. Navy on 25 August 1864 at Jersey City, giving his occupation as laborer/farmer. Assigned the rating of Landsman, he served on the vessels Larkspur and O.M. Pettit Both were tugboats assigned to the South Atlantic Blocking Squadron towing and repairing ships of the squadron while gathering intelligence on shore and ...


Jeffrey Green

Jamaicanmusician and prison worker. Born in Kingston, he attended Alpha Cottage School, where his interest in music was encouraged by West India Regiment bandsmen. He joined that regiment in 1917, and went to Kneller Hall, Twickenham, in 1919–20, where he was awarded a silver medal.

Thompson and the band worked at exhibitions in Toronto (1922) and Wembley (1924). He developed music for Kingston's cinemas, and expanded this, and hotel and theatre work, after the regiment disbanded. He played the cello in the pianist Vera Manley's quartet. In 1929 he migrated to England. Jazz was in vogue at the time, and Britons assumed he had a natural skill at it. His abilities on trumpet, trombone, bass, and with orchestrations led to work and recordings with Spike Hughes and, on stage, in Noel Coward'sCavalcade. He toured with Louis Armstrong then developed ...


Donald James

trumpeter, bandleader, arranger, composer, and educator, was born in Shelby, Mississippi, to Shelby J. Wilson, a blacksmith, and Lillian (Nelson) Wilson, a schoolteacher who also taught music. The second of four children, Wilson began taking piano lessons from his mother, an accomplished pianist, at the age of five. His love of music expanded through the spiritual songs heard in church, and by the music he listened to on the radio. Wilson began playing the trumpet while attending Manassa High School in Memphis, Tennessee, where his parents had sent him to live with friends of the family. In 1934 he moved to Detroit, Michigan, where he once again lived with friends of the family. He attended Cass Technical High School, a school that has produced a remarkable number of performing artists, where he played trumpet in the band and studied composition and orchestration.

Between 1934 ...