From NKAA, Notable Kentucky African Americans Database (main entry)

Kentucky African American Musicians in Illinois (Chicago)

(start date:  -  end date: ) 

One strand of the African American migration from the south to northern cities involved musicians who were seeking more opportunities and larger venues that would give them greater exposure and recognition. The following is a list of some of the musicians who were born in Kentucky and lived in Illinois. These are individuals who made their living playing musical instruments. Most of the musicians listed below were men who lived in Chicago in the late 1800s up to the end of the 1940s. Some of them became more well known than others. There are a few women in the list. There were few African American women from Kentucky who made their living playing music in a town or city in Illinois, though there were a number of women singers and performers from Kentucky.  Sources: Illinois, Deaths and Stillbirths Index; Cook County, Illinois, Deaths Index; U.S. Census Records; NKAA entries; and U.S. Social Security Death Index. For more about women musicians (who played instruments) see the University of Kentucky research guide African American Women Play Musical Instruments - Kentucky.

  • Withers Abernathy (b. 1906 KY - lived in Peoria, IL) [1940 Census]
  • Adlade Adams (b. 1917 KY - lived in Chicago) [1940 Census]
  • Charles "Cane" Adams (b. KY - lived in Chicago)
  • Boyd Atkins (b. 1900 Paducah, KY - d. 03/01/1965 Chicago)
  • Louis Bacon (b. 11/01/1904 Louisville, KY - d. 12/1967, lived in Chicago, lived & died in New York)
  • Bernie Barbour (b.1881 Danville, KY - d. 04/11/1936 Chicago) - {last name misspelled in the death index as "Barfour"}
  • Jeffrie Bellamy (b. 1888 KY - lived in Chicago) [1940 Census]
  • Robert Berkley (b. 1915 KY - lived in Chicago) [1940 Census] - son of Henry and Louise Berkley
  • James L. Blythe (b. 05/20/1901 Lexington, KY - d. 05/13/1941 Chicago)
  • George Richard Boarman (b. 02/01/1869 Wallingford, Hardin County, KY - d. 03/26/1942 Chicago) - son of Charles Boarman and Anice Neighbors Boarman
  • Thomas Boom (b. 1859 KY - lived in Villa Ridge, IL) [1880 Census] - son of A. and Martha Boom
  • James Bottoms (b. 1909 KY - lived in Chicago) [1940 Census]
  • Caroline Boyd (b.1886 in KY - lived in Chicago) she was a musician in the entertainment industry
  • Charles Noliner Brady (b. 02/09/1878 Frankfort, KY - d. 02/18/1920 Chicago) - son of Horace Brady and Johnsonia Buckner Brady, brother to Bessie May Brady
  • Juanita Brady (b.1892 in Frankfort, KY -  lived in Chicago) she was a musician, daughter to Johnsonia Buckner Brady and musician Horace Brady, sister to Bessie May Brady
  • John Brim (b. 04/10/1922 Hopkinsville - d. 10/01/2003 lived in Chicago, lived & died in Gary, IN)
  • Clarence Brown (b. 1904 KY - lived in Chicago) [1940 Census]
  • Paul Brown (b. 1916 KY - lived in Blairsville, IL) [1940 Census]
  • Woodrow Bruewer (b. 1910 KY - lived in Chicago) [1940 Census]
  • Daniel G. Burley (b. 11/1908 Lexington, KY - d. 10/29/1962 Chicago)
  • Buddie Burton (b. 1890 Louisville, KY - d. 1976 lived in Chicago, lived & died in Louisville) [1940 Census] - {first name also spelled "Buddy"}
  • Sammie Butler (b. 1906 Henderson, KY - d. 05/08/1944 Chicago) - son of Mary Butler
  • Alexander Calmese (b. 1891 KY - lived in Chicago) [1940 Census]
  • Herbert Clerdy (b. 1915 KY - lived in Chicago) [1940 Census]
  • J. Glover Compton (b. 1884 Harrodsburg, KY - d. 06/11/1964 Chicago) - son of Laura L. Bowman Compton and J. Glover Compton, Sr.
  • Charles L. Cooke (b. 09/03/1887 Louisville, KY - d. 12/25/1958 grew up in Detroit, lived in Chicago, lived & died in New York)
  • James Coudelton (b. 1913 KY - lived in Chicago)  [1940 Census]
  • George Crittenden (b. 11/13/1873 KY - d. 07/05/1911 Chicago) - son of A. Crittenden and Anna Cowan Crittenden
  • Douglas Crosberry (b. 1842 KY - d. 03/17/1911 Chicago)
  • Teddy Darby (b. 03/02/1906 Henderson, KY - d. 12/1975 lived in Chicago, died in East St. Louis)
  • Billy Dorsey (b. 10/05/1878 Louisville, KY - d. 02/29/1920 lived in Chicago, lived & died in Arizona, buried in Louisville) - son of Daniel and Celia Smith Dorsey
  • Theory Drye (b. 1902 KY - lived in Chicago)
  • Clarence Duncan (b.1880 Midway, KY - d. 07/17/1930 Chicago) - son of Joseph Duncan and Sallie White Duncan
  • John Dunkins (b. 1889 Bowling Green, KY - d. 12/03/1925 Chicago)
  • George Edwards (b. 08/16/1873 Louisville, KY - d. 09/26/1937 Chicago) - son of Thomas Edwards
  • Herman Edwards (b. 1902 KY - lived in Chicago) [1940 Census]
  • Charles Eidson (b. 1896 KY - lived in Chicago) [1940 Census]
  • Logan Eubanks (b. 1898 KY - lived in Chicago) [1940 Census]
  • Luther Gafford (b. 1912 KY - lived in Chicago) [1940 Census]
  • M. C. Gambles (b. 1908 KY - lived in Chicago) [1940 Census]
  • Harlan Graham, Sr. (b. 1910 KY - lived in Chicago) [1940 Census]
  • William H. Griffin (b. 10/14/1878 Louisville, KY - d. 11/22/1932 Chicago) - son of Harry Griffin and Belindia Duncan Griffin
  • Lionel Hampton (b. 04/20/1908 Louisville, KY - d. 08/01/2002 lived in Chicago, lived & died in New York) - son of Gladys M. Morgan Hampton and Charles E. Hampton
  • Roger Haycraft (b. 1860 Louisville, KY - d. 10/13/1888 Chicago)
  • Wilbur Highbough (b. 1876 KY - d. 12/20/1892 Chicago)
  • James Howell (b. 1880 KY - d. 11/19/1913 Chicago) - son of William Howell
  • Zella M. Hunter (b.1890 in Newport, KY - lived in Chicago) - noted piantist in Chicago, she was the daughter of Eula Gray Hunter and John Hunter, both from Missouri
  • Charles Jackson (b. 1881 KY - d. 10/30/1928 Chicago) - son of Al and Louise Jackson
  • Willie M. Jefferson (b. 1910 KY - lived in Blairsville, IL) [1940 Census]
  • Harry Johnson (b. 1894 KY - lived in Chicago) [1940 Census]
  • Florence W. Lair ( b.1890 in KY - lived in Chicago) she was a musician in an orchestra
  • Meade Lux Lewis (b. 09/04/1904 Louisville - 06/1964 grew up in Chicago, died in Minnesota) - son of Hattie and George Lewis
  • George Lipscomb (b. 1879 KY - d. 05/05/1901 Chicago)
  • William Logan (b. 1896 KY - lived in Chicago) [1940 Census]
  • Ida Mae Baker Maple (b.1896 in Paducah, KY - lived in Chicago) piano player and bandleader, she was the daughter of Ida W. and William S. Baker
  • Sarah McLawler (b. 1926 Louisville, KY - lived in Chicago, lives in New York)
  • George Mitchell (b. 03/08/1899 Louisville, KY - d. 05/1972 Chicago)
  • Susie Mitchell (b.1885 in KY - lived in Chicago) she was a musician in a restaurant
  • Robert Montgomery (b. 1903 KY - lived in Chicago) [1940 Census]
  • Ailene Moore (b.1904 in KY - lived in Chicago) she was a piano player in a theater and in an orchestra
  • George Henry Moseley (b. 03/1897 Louisville, KY - d. 03/25/1922 Chicago) - son of Thornton Moseley and Lavinia German Moseley
  • James Olher Harrison Norris (b. 12/02/1894 KY - d. 06/13/1918 Springfield) - son of John Norris and Mollie Trailor Norris
  • Joseph Osbone [Osborne] (b. 1895 KY - lived in Chicago) [1940 Census] - son of Anna Osbone [Osborne]
  • French Owen, Jr. (b. 1881 KY - d. 09/06/1912 Chicago) - son of French Owen, Sr. and Emma Burnell Owen
  • Jerome Don Pasquall (b. b. 1902 Fulton County, KY - d. 10/1971 grew up in St. Louis, lived in Chicago, lived & died in New York)
  • Herman Patterson (b. 1897 KY - lived in Chicago) [1940 Census]
  • John Pollard (b. 1870 KY - d. 12/24/1914 Chicago) - son of Bryant Pollard
  • Eugene Powers (b. 1854 KY - d. 01/28/1897 Chicago)
  • Greenville Raby (b. 1916 KY - lived in Chicago) [1940 Census]
  • Junes Rancy (b. 1870 KY - d. 03/07/1899 Chicago)
  • William Reeves (b. 1894 Winchester, KY - d. 03/26/1936 Chicago) - son of Samuel Reeves and Mary Haggard Reeves
  • Claude Rhodes (b. 1900 KY - lived in Chicago) [1940 Census] - son of Hellen Rhodes Harding
  • Claude Rhodes (b. 1902 KY - lived in Chicago) [1940 Census]
  • William K. Riley (b. 1874 KY - d. 01/03/1917 Chicago) - son of John R. Riley
  • Mary Scott (b.1860 in KY - lived in Chicago) she and her husband George W. Scott were musicians in a theatre
  • Henderson Smith (b. 1858 Frankfort, KY - d. 09/21/1923 Chicago) - son of William and Maria Smith
  • Leola Smith (b.1897 in KY - lived in Chicago) she was a musician in a music store
  • Ray Skivers (b. 1906 KY - lived in Joliet, IL) [1940 Census]
  • James Strange (b. 1905 KY - lived in Chicago) [1940 Census]
  • Ethel M. Swayne (b. 1898 KY - lived in Chicago) [1940 Census]
  • Harry Swift (b. 1884 KY - lived in Chicago) [1940 Census]
  • John L. Thomas (b. 09/18/1902 Louisville, KY - d. 11/07/1971 Chicago) [1940 Census]
  • John Thompkins (b. 1894 New Castle, KY - d. 01/06/1942 Chicago) - son of Elijah Thompkins
  • Johnny Wells (b. 1905 KY - d. 11/25/1965 lived in Chicago, lived & died in New York)
  • Robert Williams (b. 06/10/1894 KY - d. 02/03/1923 Chicago) - son of Calvin Williams and Lizzie Herley Williams
  • Stanley R. Williams (b. 04/10/1894 Danville, KY - d. 12/17/1975 lived in Chicago, lived & died in New York) - son of Maria Jane Durham
  • James H. Wilson, Sr. (b. 12/19/1880 Nicholasville, KY - d. 10/02/1961 lived in Chicago, lived & died in Alabama) - son of Jacob and Hester Wilson
  • Preston Winston (b. 1903 KY - lived in Chicago) [1940 Census]
  • Britt Woodson (b. 1915 KY - lived in Chicago) [1940 Census]

Kentucky County & Region

Read about Jefferson County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about McCracken County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Boyle County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Fayette County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Franklin County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Christian County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Henderson County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Mercer County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Woodford County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Warren County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Campbell County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Fulton County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Clark County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Henry County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Jessamine County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Kentucky Place (Town or City)

Read about Louisville, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Paducah, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Danville, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Lexington, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Water Valley, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Frankfort, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Hopkinsville, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Henderson, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Harrodsburg, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Midway, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Bowling Green, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Newport, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Winchester, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about New Castle, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Nicholasville, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

References

Cited in this Entry

NKAA Entry: Adams, Charles "Cane"
NKAA Entry: Atkins, Boyd
NKAA Entry: Bacon, Louis
NKAA Entry: Barbour, James Bernie
NKAA Entry: Blythe, James Louis "Jimmy"
NKAA Entry: Brady, Bessie May
NKAA Entry: Brim, John
NKAA Entry: Burley, Daniel Gardner
NKAA Entry: Burton, Evans, Jr. [W. E. "Buddy" Burton]
NKAA Entry: Compton, J. Glover
NKAA Entry: Cooke, Charles L. "Doc"
NKAA Entry: Darby, (Blind) Teddy
NKAA Entry: Dorsey, William Henry "Billy"
NKAA Entry: Hampton, Lionel L.
NKAA Entry: Hunter, Zella M.
NKAA Entry: Lewis, Meade Lux
NKAA Entry: Baker, Ida Mae (aka Ida Mae Maple)
NKAA Entry: McLawler, Sarah
NKAA Entry: Mitchell, George
NKAA Entry: Pasquall, Jerome Don
NKAA Entry: Smith, Henderson
NKAA Entry: Thomas, John L.
NKAA Entry: Wells, Johnny
NKAA Entry: Williams, Stanley Rudolph "Fess"
NKAA Entry: Wilson, James Hembray, Sr. (musician/band director)

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Cite This NKAA Entry:

“Kentucky African American Musiciansin Illinois (Chicago),” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed November 17, 2017, http://nkaa.uky.edu/nkaa/items/show/3039.

Last modified: 2017-09-08 22:23:13