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<Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers>

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Adams, Charles "Cane"
Adams was a musician who invented the 'walking cane flute,' a flute combined with a walking cane. He recorded with the Kentucky Jug Band/Phillip's Louisville Jug Band in Chicago in 1930. Adams' playing may also be heard on the recording Clifford Hayes & the Louisville Jug Bands, Volume 4. For more see Charles 'Cane' Adams in The Unsung Musicians of Early Jazz and Blues [.pdf], by R. Schneider.
Subjects: Inventors, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers
Geographic Region: Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky / Chicago, Illinois

Adams, John Tyler "J.T."
Birth Year : 1911
J. T. Adams was born in Morganfield, KY. His father taught him to play guitar when he was 11 years old. Adams later moved to Indianapolis, Indiana, where he played at parties and local clubs. He recorded with Mr. Shirley Griffith on the Bluesville label in 1951. Some of his songs were "A" Jump, Bright Street Jump, Indiana Avenue Blues, and Naptown Boogie. For more see Blues Who's Who, by S. Harris.
Subjects: Migration North, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers
Geographic Region: Morganfield, Union County, Kentucky / Indianapolis, Indiana

African American Musicians and Singers, Berea College Digital Collection [online]
Start Year : 1939
The Berea College Digital Collection, Sound Archives includes online sound recordings of artists such as the "Six Bits of Rhythm Jug Band," "Barnyard Boys String Band of Jefferson County," "Bluegrass Quartet of Richmond," and others. There is a range of music genres: gospel, hymns, folk, bluegrass, and more. To browse the selections, search using the terms African American and music, or search by name, geographic location, and song title.  Contact the Berea College Library for assistance or additional information.

 

Access Interview Listen to Steam Boat Bill; Railroad Bill by Etta Baker on guitar, recorded at the Berea College Celebration of Traditional Music 10-28-83.
Subjects: Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers
Geographic Region: Berea, Madison County, Kentucky

African American Performer at Louisville (Colored) Sängerfest
Start Year : 1881
Sängerfest (or singer's festival) is a German cultural festival, first held in the United States in Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1849. [Also spelled as Säengerfest.] In 1866 a festival was held in Louisville, KY; the New York Times reported it was to be the largest festival ever in the U.S. In 1881 there was a festival held at the Grand Opera House in Louisville, and included Amelia Tilghman, an African American singer, teacher, journalist, poet, and composer. Tilghman had a leading role, she was the prima donna soprano of the Sängerfest. There was objection from some Colored citizens of Louisville because the German term "Säengerfest" had been used by newspapers to name their 1881 Grand Union musical festival. The committee members of the 1881 Louisville Colored Säengerfest were William H. Gibson, president; H. C. Weeden, secretary, and N. R. Hapen, musical director. Hundreds of singers were expected to perform. For more see The Encyclopedia Britannica: a dictionary of arts, sciences, literature, and general information, volume VI, by H. Chisholm (1910) [available online via Google Book Search]; "The Louisville Sangerfest," New York Times, 07/20/1866, p. 5; Amelia Tilghman in Piano Music by Black women composers, by H. Walker-Hill; The Music of Black Americans: a history, by E. Southern; "Louisville Saengerfest," People's Advocate, 01/29/1881, p.1; and "Louisville item. The Saengerfest," People's Advocate, 05/14/1881, p.2.
Subjects: Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Theater: Companies, Education, Exhibitions, Performers, and Performances in Kentucky
Geographic Region: Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky

Allensworth, Josephine L.
Birth Year : 1855
Death Year : 1939
Josephine Leavell Allensworth was born in Trenton, KY. She was the wife of Allen Allensworth, and, as her husband had done, she taught in the Kentucky common schools. Josephine Allensworth was also an accomplished pianist. She helped develop the Progressive Women's Improvement Association, which provided books and a playground to the town of Allensworth, California. In 1913, Josephine Allensworth donated the land for the Dickinson Memorial Library in Allensworth. For more see African American Women: a biographical dictionary, by D. C. Salem; Friends of Allensworth; and the Allen Allensworth's entry in On the Trail of the Buffalo Soldier by F. N. Schubert.

See photo image and additional information at blackpast.org.
Subjects: Education and Educators, Librarians, Library Collections, Libraries, Migration West, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Women's Groups and Organizations
Geographic Region: Trenton, Todd County, Kentucky / Allensworth, California (no longer exists)

Anderson, Sammy Louis "Shake"
Born and raised in Louisville, KY, Anderson is a bassist, guitarist, singer, and songwriter. He has worked with Donna Summer, Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder, Earth Wind & Fire, The Indigo Girls, Crystal Lewis, New Breed, and many others. As a songwriter, he was signed to Warner Brothers/Chappel for six years. His musical work with movies includes Dr. DooLittle, Boys on the Side, and Austin Powers. He has performed on Good Morning America, The Tonight Show, and Superbowl XXXVII. Anderson thought that his career had come to an end in 2004 when he was told that he was dying; gastroesophageal reflux disease had caused his esophagus to detach from his stomach, and one of his lungs deflated. After more than nine months in the hospital, Anderson overcame the odds and recovered. His album, Stories from Sammy Louis, is his tribute to another chance in life. The album was recorded at the St. Claire Studio in Lexington, KY. This entry was submitted by Michael L. Meeks. For more see the Shake Anderson website; and J. L. Puckett, "Friends of 'Shake' Anderson to unite for benefit," Courier-Journal, 09/03/2004, Weekend Extra section, p. 12W.
Subjects: Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Movies and Films
Geographic Region: Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky

Arnold, Horacee
Birth Year : 1937
Arnold, born in Wayland, KY, is a professional drummer who began playing while enlisted in the U.S. Coast Guard during the 1950s. He added an extra 'e' to his first name when he began performing on stage. Arnold has performed with a number of bands over the years, and many are listed in his biography. His own bands were the Here and Now Company, formed in 1967, and Colloquium III, formed in the 1970s. He was one of the most well-known fusion drummers of his time, and he was involved with electronic programming. Arnold studied composition and guitar composition and taught music at William Paterson College [now William Paterson University] in New Jersey. His recordings include two albums, Tales of the Exonerated Flea, re-released in 2004, and Tribe. He also performed in the educational video, The Drumset. Arnold also performed dance; he toured in Asia with the Alvin Ailey Dance Company [now Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater]. For more see the Horacee Arnold website; and "Horacee Arnold" in the Oxford Music Online Database. On YouTube view photos and listen to Horacee Arnold "Puppett of the Seasons" & "Chinnereth II."

 
Subjects: Artists, Fine Arts, Education and Educators, Military & Veterans, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers
Geographic Region: Wayland, Floyd County, Kentucky

Atkins, Boyd
Birth Year : 1900
Death Year : 1965
Boyd Atkins, born in Paducah, KY, was a saxophonist, violinist, and music composer; Louis Armstrong recorded his most famous song, "Heebie Jeebies." Atkins was reared in St. Louis and played with a number of bands and performers, including Dewey Jackson and Paducah, KY, native Fate Marable. He later moved to Chicago, where he led his own band. Boyd Atkins died March 1, 1965, according to the Cook County, Illinois Death Index. For more see "Boyd Atkins" in the Oxford Music Online Database.
Subjects: Migration West, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers
Geographic Region: Paducah, McCracken County, Kentucky / Saint Louis, Missouri / Chicago, Illinois

Ayres, John H.
Birth Year : 1860
Death Year : 1931
John H. Ayres was born in Paris, KY, and moved to Cincinnati, OH, in 1891. He was the business manager of the National Chronicle newspaper in Winchester, KY, and was recognized for his singing talent at the Wehrman Avenue Christian Church in Cincinnati [source: Cincinnati's Colored Citizens, by W. P. Dabney]. He is most remembered for his work with the United Brothers of Friendship (U. B. F.). Ayres was a National Grand Camp Officer, N. K. C., Cincinnati, OH [source: History of the United Brothers of Friendship and Sisters of the Mysterious Ten, by W. H. Gibson, Sr., p. 131]. In 1896, at the U. B. F. Lodge Meeting, J. H. Ayres was elected State Grand Master and Deputy Grand National Knight Commander with special jurisdiction over Ohio [source: "U. B. F. Lodge Meeting," Freeman, 08/15/1896, p. 6]. Ayres organized the U. B. F. in Cleveland, OH, in 1898, with H. C. Jackson as head of the lodge [source: "News/Opinion," Cleveland Gazette, 02/12/1898, p. 3]. John Ayres was employed as a janitor, and he and his wife, Maggie L. Ayres (b. 1862 in KY), are listed in the 1900 U.S. Federal Census. They were the parents of Jane C. Ayres, born 1896 in Kentucky. In the 1910 Census, the family of three lived on Gilbert Avenue, and J. H. Ayres was a porter at the post office. By 1930, Maggie and John Ayres were living on Kerper Avenue. See also "Phyllis Wheatley Literary," Freeman, 05/02/1896, p. 8.
Subjects: Journalists, Newspapers, Magazines, Book Publishers, Music Publishers, Migration North, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Fraternal Organizations
Geographic Region: Paris, Bourbon County, Kentucky / Cincinnati, Ohio

Bacon, Louis
Birth Year : 1904
Death Year : 1967
Bacon, a trumpeter and singer, was born in Louisville, KY, and reared in Chicago. He left Chicago to play with Zinky Cohn in Michigan and moved on to New York in 1928. He performed and recorded with Benny Carter, Duke Ellington, Chick Webb, and Louis Armstrong. In 1938, he contracted tuberculosis and was forced to take a break from music. He returned in 1939 and toured Europe and recorded with Willis Lewis and Freddy Johnson. He returned to the United States in 1941. His lung problems returned, so he gave up playing the trumpet around 1947, although he played on occasion in the late 1950s. In his final years, he was an ambulance driver. Bacon's trumpet playing can be heard on a number of recordings, including Bessie Smith: the world's greatest blues singer; Cootie Williams and His Orchestra, 1941-1944; and I'm Shooting High. For more see "Louis Bacon" in the Oxford Music Online Database; and Louis Bacon at Answers.com.
Subjects: Migration North, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Tuberculosis: Care and Deaths
Geographic Region: Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky / Chicago, Illinois / New York

Baker, McHouston "Mickey"
Birth Year : 1925
Mickey Baker, born in Louisville, KY, spent his younger years in orphanages and learned to play music in school bands. In 1940, he ran away to New York. Baker is a guitarist who has played on hundreds of recording sessions, including those of Ray Charles and Ivory Joe Hunter. Some of his songs are Animal Farm, Baker's Dozen, Hey Little Girl, and Love is Strange. His album Wildest Guitar was released in 2003. For more see Blues Who's Who, by S. Harris; and Mickey Baker at the allmusic website. View 1962 video of Mickey Baker, "What'd I Say" at Ina.fr.

Subjects: Migration North, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Orphans and Orphanages in Kentucky
Geographic Region: Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky / New York

Barbour, James Bernie
Birth Year : 1881
Death Year : 1936
J. Bernie Barbour was born in Danville, KY, and it was thought that he died in New York. Barbour actually died in Chicago, IL, on April 11, 1936 [his name is misspelled as "Bernie Barfour" on the death certificate ref# rn11543], and his burial is noted with Central Plant Ill. Dem. Assn. Barbour was an 1896 music education graduate of Simmons University (KY), and he graduated from the Schmoll School of Music (Chicago) in 1899. Both he and N. Clark Smith founded a music publishing house in Chicago in 1903; it may have been the first to be owned by African Americans. Barbour also worked with other music publishing companies, including the W. C. Handy Music Company. He was a music director, and he played piano and sang in vaudeville performances and in nightclubs and toured with several groups. He composed operas such as Ethiopia, and spirituals such as Don't Let Satan Git You On De Judgment Day. He assisted in writing music for productions such as I'm Ready To Go and wrote the Broadway production, Arabian Knights Review. Barbour also organized the African American staff of Show Boat. J. Bernie Barbour was the son of Morris and Nicey Snead Barbour. He was the husband of Anna Maria Powers, they married May 29, 1909 in Seattle, WA [source: Washington Marriage Record Return #15629]. According to the marriage record, Anna M. Powers was a white or colored musician from New York. For more see Profiles of African American Stage Performers and Theatre People, 1816-1960, by B. L. Peterson; Who's Who in Colored America, 1928-1929; and "J. Berni Barbour" in Biographical Dictionary of Afro-American and African Musicians, by E. Southern.
Subjects: Businesses, Education and Educators, Journalists, Newspapers, Magazines, Book Publishers, Music Publishers, Migration North, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Minstrel and Vaudeville Performers
Geographic Region: Danville, Boyle County, Kentucky / New York, New York / Chicago, Illinois

Barnett, Peter W.
Birth Year : 1871
Peter W. Barnett was an author, educator, journalist, publisher, veteran, and musician. He was born in Carrsville, Livingston County, KY, the son of Sarah (b. 1840) and Peter Barnett (1830-1898). [Peter Sr. is listed as white in the 1870 U.S. Federal Census.] Peter W. Barnett taught school in Kentucky. He was educated in Kentucky and Indiana, moving in 1891 to Indiana to attend high school. He went on to become a student for two years at Indiana State Normal in Terre Haute [now Indiana State University]. He was employed at Union Publishing Company, the company that published the first labor paper in Indianapolis; the company later moved its headquarters to Chicago. During the winter of 1896, Barnett opened a night school in Indianapolis. Barnett was also a reporter and representative for the African American newspaper, Freeman. Barnett and J. T. V. Hill [James Thomas Vastine Hill] published the Indianapolis Colored Business Chart Directory in 1898, the goal of which was "to promote industry and race patronage and to encourage business enterprise." J. T. V. Hill was an African American lawyer in Indianapolis, opening his office in 1882 [source: Encyclopedia of Black America, by W. A. Low and V. A. Clift]. He was the first African American to be admitted to the Indianapolis Bar. Peter Barnett would become his understudy while in the service. Barnett was 28 years old when he enlisted in the U.S. Army in Indianapolis, IN, on March 13, 1899. He was assigned to the 24th Infantry, Company L. In December of 1899, while stationed at Ft. Wrangle, Alaska, Peter Barnett, who had been studying law under J. T. V. Hill, gave it up because there were no resource facilities available to him in Alaska. He began to study music and organized a group of musicians (soldiers) that he named the Symphony Orchestra of Company L, 24th Infantry. Most of the men could not read music. Barnett was discharged from the Indiana Colored Infantry on March 12, 1900, at Fort Wrangle, Alaska [source: U.S. Army Register of Enlistments]. For more see "Peter Barnett..." in the last paragraph of the article "Camp Capron Notes," Freeman, 10/01/1898, p. 8; "Night School," Freeman, 10/24/1896, p. 8; On the Trail of the Buffalo Soldier, by F. N. Schubert; quotation from "Local Notes," Freeman, 12/11/1897, p. 4-Supplement; and "From Alaska," Freeman, 12/30/1899, p. 9.
Subjects: Authors, Education and Educators, Journalists, Newspapers, Magazines, Book Publishers, Music Publishers, Migration North, Military & Veterans, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers
Geographic Region: Carrsville, Livingston County, Kentucky / Indianapolis, Indiana

Beason, William E. "Bill"
Birth Year : 1908
Death Year : 1988
Bill Beason was born in Louisville, KY, on March 6, 1908 [source: New York Passenger List, No.13, 1937]. Beason was a drummer and played in the Sunday School band that was formed by Bessie Allen. He attended Louisville Central High School along with Helen Humes, Jonah Jones, and Dicky Wells, all of whom had also been members of the Sunday School band. As an adult, Beason played with Teddy Hill, which led to his first European tour. He recorded with Jelly Roll Morton, played for Ella Fitzgerald (replacing Chick Webb), and rejoined Horace Henderson in the 1940s. Bill Beason was a WWII veteran, he enlisted December 14, 1943 at Fort Benjamin Harrison in Indiana [source: U.S. WWII Army Enlistment Record]. In 1945, Beason was living in Orlando, FL [source: Florida State Census]. He died in Bronx, NY, on August 15, 1988 [source: U.S. Social Security Death Index]. For more see The New Grove Dictionary of Jazz, 2nd ed., edited by B. Kernfeld; and The Encyclopedia of Popular Music, 3rd ed., edited by C. Larkin.
Subjects: Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Sunday School
Geographic Region: Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky / Bronx, New York

Berry, Isaac, Sr.
Birth Year : 1831
Death Year : 1914
Isaac Berry, Sr. was a violin player who was born a slave in Garrard County, KY. He was willed to one of his owner's daughters. The daughter married James Pratt, and the family moved to Missouri. With the permission of Mrs. Pratt, Berry ran away and James Pratt posted a $500 reward for Berry, dead or alive. Berry made his way to Ypsilanti, MI, [see George McCoy] by following the railroad tracks, the trip taking him three weeks. Members of the Underground Railroad helped Berry to make his way on to Detroit, then to Canada. Berry's daughter, Katy Pointer, was born in Windsor, Ontario, Canada, in 1864, and the family moved to Mecosta, MI, in 1877. Isaac Berry, Sr. was a blacksmith and a carpenter, he was the husband of Lucy, who was born in New York; both are last listed in the 1900 U.S. Federal Census. The Berry family was among the early settlers of Morton Township in Mecosta, MI, where Isaac Berry built a school for Negro children and other structures. Isaac Berry, Sr. was born March 10, 1831 and died January 11, 1914 [source: Michigan Certificate of Death at Seeking Michigan, online digital archive]. For more see Negro Folktales in Michigan, edited by R. M. Dorson; and A northside view of slavery. The Refugee: or the Narratives of Fugitive Slaves in Canada, by B. Drew (1856).
Subjects: Freedom, Migration North, Migration West, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Blacksmiths, Inheritance, Carpenters, Underground Railroad: Conductors, Escapes, Organizations, Research
Geographic Region: Garrard County, Kentucky / Missouri / Ypsilanti, Detroit, and Mecosta, Michigan / Canada

Bibb, Charles Leon
Birth Year : 1921
Leon Bibb was born in Louisville, KY. A World War II veteran, Bibb became a classically-trained singer who performed folk music in Greenwich Village in the 1950s and 1960s. He relocated to Vancouver, Canada, where he continued to perform. Bibb appeared in three films with Sidney Portier and was an opening act for Bill Cosby in the 1960s. He was blacklisted for playing in Russia. Bibb had a successful Broadway career, including his performance in the production Lost in the Stars. He also toured with Finian's Rainbow. In 2006 he headlined a concert in Port Coquitlam, Canada. Leon Bibb is the father of Eric Bibb, a blues singer and songwriter. He lives in Vancouver, Canada. For more see Directory of Blacks in the Performing Arts, 2nd ed., by E. Mapp; In Black and White. A guide to magazine articles, newspaper articles, and books concerning Black individuals and groups, 3rd ed., edited by M. M. Spradling; and J. Warren, "Bibb performs with Coastal Sound," The Tri-City News (Port Coquitlam, British Columbia, Canada), 11/15/2006, Arts section, p. 31.
Subjects: Actors, Actresses, Fathers, Migration North, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Movies and Films
Geographic Region: Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky / Greenwich Village, New York City, New York / Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Birch, Augustine Edward
Birth Year : 1908
Death Year : 2000
Birch, born in Winchester, KY, was the son of Eva Downey Birch and Edward Eginton Birch. He was a supervisor for the Apprentice Information Center of the Cincinnati Bureau Employment Services, a division of the U.S. Department of Labor. Birch was director of the Cincinnati Apprenticeship Information Center in 1969 when it was one of three centers in Ohio, and one of 35 centers in the United States. Access to the apprentice training programs was suppose to be a step toward getting hired in the trade industries. June 1963, the Cincinnati NAACP had charged that racists practices barred Negroes from journeymen jobs and participation in the union-controlled apprenticeship training programs in the building trades industry. May of 1965, only 100 Negroes had been allowed entrance into the 11 apprenticeship centers in the U.S. The efforts to desegregate the centers had been a long and ongoing fight. Augustine Birch retired in 1977 as an intake supervisor for the Cincinnati Apprentice Information Center. His other employments included supervisor with the Cincinnati Recreation Department and employee counselor at Wright Aeronautical Corp. Birch was a 1931 graduate of Kentucky State University, he was class president, a featured tenor soloist, and had participated in the college choir. He was a member of the Cincinnati Chapter of the Kentucky State University Alumni Association, and served as chair of the scholarship committee beginning in 1975. The Augustine Birch Scholarship is named in his honor. Birch was also a Tuskegee Airman with the U.S. Air Force during WWII, he enlisted in Indiana on October 8, 1943, according to his military enlistment record. For more see "Here are addresses of the U.S.A.'s 35 Apprenticeship Information Centers," The Machinist, 04/17/1969, p.8; and see "Deaths - Augustine Birch, 92, was job counselor," The Cincinnati Post, 08/25/2000, News section, p.19A. For more of the segregated Apprenticeship Information Centers, see H. Hill, "The Negro wage earner and apprenticeship training," Crisis, June-July 1961, vol.68, issue 6, pp.335-341[online at Google Book Search]; H. Hill, "Job crisis in the urban north," Crisis, November 1965, p.565-572 [online at Google Book Search]; R. Marshall and V. M. Briggs, Jr., "Negro participation in Apprenticeship Programs," The Journal of Human Resources, 1967, vol.2, issue 1, pp.51-69.
Subjects: Aviators, Employment Services, Military & Veterans, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Union Organizations
Geographic Region: Winchester, Clark County, Kentucky / Cincinnati, Ohio

Bishop, Daisy H. and Charles Maceo
Daisy Carolyn Hitch Bishop (1897-1990) and Charles Maceo Bishop (1898-1990) resided in Paris, KY, for most of their lives. Daisy was born in Falmouth, KY, the daughter of Carrie B. and Edward J. Hitch. Charles, a musician, was born in Paris, the son of Georgie A. Small Bishop (1874-1953) and Charles W. Bishop (b. 1867). Charles Maceo was a World War I veteran. He and Daisy were married November 30, 1919, and initially lived with Daisy's family in Newtown, an African American community in Paris. Charles Maceo learned to play music while a student at Western School for Colored children in Paris. He played drums, saxophone, and piano. His mother, Georgie A. Small Bishop, encouraged him to play music; her father, George Small (1822-1879?), had also been a musician. He was killed when Georgie was a child and her mother, Martha Wallace Small (b. 1832), raised the family alone. At the age of 15, Charles Maceo began teaching music, saving $1,500 by the time he graduated from high school. His services were in demand throughout Central Kentucky, and he also performed in nearby states. Charles Maceo performed with local orchestras and with night club and gambling house bands in Bourbon County and surrounding counties. He played (volunteered) during services at the Martin and Hurley Funeral Home from the day the business opened up till the death of the owner. He also played for churches, at the insistence of his mother. Charles Maceo Bishop was organist for the St. Paul Methodist Church for more than 50 years, beginning in 1918. 

Read about the Access InterviewDaisy Carolyn Bishop oral history interview, and the Access Interview Charles Maceo Bishop oral history interview, both available at the University of Kentucky Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, item records in the SPOKE Database.
 
Subjects: Military & Veterans, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Religion & Church Work, Undertakers, Cemeteries, Coroners, & Obituaries, Gambling, Lottery
Geographic Region: Falmouth, Pendleton County, Kentucky / Paris, Bourbon County, Kentucky

Blythe, James Louis "Jimmy"
Birth Year : 1901
Death Year : 1931
James L. "Jimmy" Blythe was born in Lexington, KY, according to his death certificate [source: Illinois, Deaths and Stillbirths Index, FHL Film No. 1893066]. He was the son of Rena Stoodel and Richard Blythe. When he was a teen, Jimmy Blythe moved to Chicago, where he spent the rest of his life. Blythe was an accomplished musician and composer. Considered one of the first Boogie Woogie piano players, he was also well-versed in most other styles. He led studio bands for several companies in Chicago. Blythe made his first recordings in 1924, including Chicago Stomp, and made many piano rolls in the 1920s; he also did a few solos and was recorded accompanying a number of singers. He died of meningitis and is buried in the Lincoln Cemetery in Chicago, IL.  For more see Jimmy Blythe in Grove Music Online; Jimmy Blythe in The Rough Guide to Jazz, by D. Fairweather, B. Priestley, and I. Carr; and James "Jimmy" Blythe at redhotjazz.com.


  Listen to Jimmy Blythe - The Enigma at PRX.
Subjects: Migration North, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers
Geographic Region: Lexington, Fayette County, Kentucky / Chicago, Illinois

Booker, Jim
Birth Year : 1872
Jim Booker was born in Jessamine County, KY. He was a hoedown fiddler with Taylor's Kentucky Boys, an integrated group that recorded Gray Eagle in 1927. Booker also played and recorded with his family band, the Booker Orchestra, which included his brothers Joe and John both of whom played the fiddle and the guitar; the group played rag-time and blues. Booker also recorded Salty Dog and Camp Nelson Blues in 1927. Jim Booker was born in February of 1872, the son of James and Sarah Booker, according to the 1880 and 1900 U.S. Federal Census. For more see Violin, Sing The Blues For Me: African-American Fiddlers 1926-1949 (Old Hat CD-1002) by Old Hat Records; and Kentucky Mountain Music Classic Recordings of the 1920s and 1930s, Old Time Herald, vol. 9, issue 2, Reviews.
Subjects: Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers
Geographic Region: Jessamine County, Kentucky

Bradley, Mollie McFarland [Midway Colored School]
Birth Year : 1933
Mollie M. Bradley is a historian and writer who was born in Jefferson City, TN, the daughter of Leroy and Emma Cunningham McFarland. She is past matron of Cecelia Dunlap Grand Chapter, O.E.S., P.H.A. She is the author of A Bright Star: a biography of Cecelia Dunlap, and she wrote several articles for the Order of Eastern Star publication The Phyllis Magazine. The magazine is the voice of the Phyllis Chapter of the Phylaxis Society, PHA Inc., which was organized in 1983, and Mollie Bradley served as the first executive secretary. The Phyllis Chapter of the Phylaxis Society, PHA Inc. researches and studies the history of the Prince Hall Eastern Stars. Mollie Bradley is also a contributing writer for The Woodford Sun during Black History Month; her husband had been the Black History Month contributing writer, and after he died in 2004, Mollie Bradley took over the writing of the articles. Though born in Tennessee, Mollie Bradley was raised in Bourbon County, KY, by her aunt and uncle, Jennie P. Harris and Reverend James C. Harris, pastor of Zion Baptist Church [previously part of the African Baptist Church] in Paris, KY. Mollie Bradley is a graduate of Western High School in Paris, KY, and Central State University, where she majored in journalism. She was the wife of the late Walter T. Bradley, Jr. from Midway, KY; they owned the first laundrette in that city. Customers could leave laundry to be cleaned and folded, and the laundry would be ready to be picked up later in the day. Customers could also do their own laundry. Three washers and three dryers were available with a cost of 25 cents per wash load and 10 cents per dry cycle. The laundrette was located in the building that the couple owned and lived in, which had been the Midway Colored School, located in Hadensville from 1911-1954. The school had grades 1-8. Prior to being used as a school, the building was home to the Colored Baptist Church [later named Pilgrim Baptist Church], which had 900 members. The church building was constructed in 1872 by the Lehman Brothers, a German Company. The congregation outgrew the building and it was sold to Woodford County in 1911 to be used as the Colored School. In 1936, it was sold to the Midway Board of Education and became the Midway Elementary School for Colored children. In 1954, the school was closed and the children were bused to Simmons School in Versailles, KY. The Bradleys purchased the school building in 1959. They leased space within the building to a number of businesses, including a beauty shop and a shoe shop. There had also been a lodge hall, lodge offices, and apartments. Mollie Bradley also taught piano lessons; her mission was to provide lessons to those who wanted to learn but could not afford piano lessons. Her husband, Walter T. Bradley, Jr., and their sons also played the piano. On June 25, 2011, the Midway Colored School was honored with a Kentucky Historical Society Marker. Mollie M. Bradley is a member of the Midway Women's Club. For more information read the press release, KHS to Dedicate Historical Marker to Honor Midway Colored School, 06/13/ 2011, a Kentucky.gov web page.

Access Interview Read about the Mollie M. Bradley oral history interview available at the University of Kentucky Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, item record in the SPOKE Database.

Subjects: Authors, Businesses, Communities, Cosmetologists, Beauty Shops, Hairdressers, Beauty Supplies, Historians, Journalists, Newspapers, Magazines, Book Publishers, Music Publishers, Kentucky African American Churches, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Women's Groups and Organizations, Grade Schools & High Schools in Kentucky, Shoes: Finishers, Makers, Repairers, Shiners, Stores
Geographic Region: Jefferson City, Tennessee / Paris, Bourbon County, Kentucky / Hadensville in MIdway, Woodford County, Kentucky

Bradley, Walter T., Jr.
Birth Year : 1925
Death Year : 2004
Walter Thomas Bradley, Jr. was born in Midway, KY, to Walter T. Sr. and Sarah J. Craig Bradley. He was an Army veteran and in 1977 became the first African American on the Midway City Council. Bradley served on the council for 24 years. He was a past Grand Secretary of the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge F. & A.M. of Kentucky, and was editor of the lodge's newspaper Masonic Herald. Bradley was employed at Avon Army Depot where he was an electrical engineer inspector. He was the husband of Mollie McFarland Bradley, and the couple owned and lived in the building that had housed the Midway Colored School. Walter Bradley had been a student in the school, and purchased the building in 1959. He and his father did all of the repair work. Bradley and his wife leased space within the building to a number of businesses, including a beauty shop and a shoe shop, and there was a lodge hall, and apartments. The couple were owners of the first laundrette in Midway. The building was also home to the offices of the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge F. & A.M. during Walter Bradley's tenure as grand secretary. Walter T. Bradley, Jr. was also a member of a male singing group from Midway, KY called the "Five Royalties of Song." He was a piano player, as is his wife and their sons. He was a contributor writer for The Woodford Sun newspaper during Black History Month. His wife, Mollie Bradley, continues to write articles each year. In 1989, Walter T. Bradley, Jr. was the first African American deacon at the Immanuel Baptist Church in Lexington, KY. The Walter Bradley Memorial Park in Midway, KY is named in his honor. For more see "Middlesboro city councilwoman top vote-getter," in 1988 Kentucky Directory of Black Elected Officials, Seventh Report, by the Kentucky Commission on Human Rights, p. 28; W. Bradley, "Black Free Masonry's Founder Never a Slave," Lexington Herald-Leader, 02/25/2002, Commentary section, p. A8; and Who's Who Among African Americans, 1988-2004.

Access Interview Read about the Walter T. Bradley oral history interview available at the University of Kentucky Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, item record in the SPOKE Database.
 
Subjects: Businesses, Cosmetologists, Beauty Shops, Hairdressers, Beauty Supplies, Journalists, Newspapers, Magazines, Book Publishers, Music Publishers, Military & Veterans, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Politicians, Politics, Appointments & Elections, Fraternal Organizations, Grade Schools & High Schools in Kentucky, Shoes: Finishers, Makers, Repairers, Shiners, Stores
Geographic Region: Midway, Woodford County, Kentucky

Brim, John
Birth Year : 1922
Death Year : 2003
John Brim was born in Hopkinsville, KY. He taught himself to play the guitar and the harmonica. In 1941 he moved to Indianapolis, then on to Chicago. Brim owned a dry cleaning business and a record store in Chicago. He was also a blues vocalist, song writer, and guitarist. He worked with "Sonny Boy" Williamson, Muddy Waters, and others. Brim had a number of recordings in the 1950s; his songs include Be Careful, Ice Cream Man, and Tough Times. His wife was Grace Brim (1924-1999), blues drummer and vocalist. John Brim played at the 1997 Chicago Bluesfest. In 2000 he performed on the album Jake's Blues. For more see Blues Who's Who, by S. Harris; and R. K. Elder, "Simplicity, eloquence shaped bluesman's style," Chicago Tribune, 10/08/2003, Obituaries section, p. 10. 

See photo image and additional information about John Brim at website by Hiroshi 'Edogawa Slim' Takahashi.
Subjects: Businesses, Migration North, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers
Geographic Region: Hopkinsville, Christian County, Kentucky / Chicago, Illinios

Britt, Allen [Frankie and Johnny]
Birth Year : 1882
Death Year : 1899
Allen Britt was born in Kentucky, according to his death certificate. It is believed that he is the character referred to as Johnny in the popular song Frankie and Johnny. The song, composed by Bill Dooley, was originally titled Frankie and Al (or Albert), until Britt's father became enraged that his son's name was being used in the song, and the name Johnny was used instead. Allen Britt was a piano player, he was shot on October 15, 1899, and died a few days later at the City Hospital in St. Louis, MO. He is buried in an unmarked grave in St. Peter's Cemetery in St. Louis. Britt was shot by his girlfriend, Frankie Baker (1876-1952), after the two got into a fight. Britt's name is also given as Albert in some sources. He was the son and only child of George and Nancy Britt (both from Tennessee), the family had moved to St. Louis in 1891. Frankie Baker, born in St. Louis, was acquitted of shooting Allen Britt and she left St. Louis, eventually settling in Portland, OR, where she shined shoes for a living. She had two unsuccessful law suits, one against Mae West and Paramount Pictures for the use of her name in the film She Done Him Wrong, and in 1938, she sued Republic Pictures for their 1936 film Frankie and Johnny. After Baker lost the suit, Republic Pictures claimed ownership of the story. Frankie Baker became sick later in life and also suffered from mental illness. She was placed in the East Oregon Hospital where she died. Frankie Baker and Allen Britt's family did not benefit from the popularity of the story "Frankie and Johnny." The tale has been song on commercial phonograph recordings and records, presented in plays, minstrels, in literature, newspaper articles, poems, paintings, ballets, movies, and all other mediums. For more see Hoecakes, Hambone, and All that Jazz by R. M. Nolen; Body and Soul by P. Stanfield; and The Devil's Music by G. Oakley.

See photo image of Frankie Baker on p.52 in Jet, 01/24/1952.

Listen to Frankie and Johnnie by Ethel Waters on YouTube.
Subjects: Migration West, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Minstrel and Vaudeville Performers, Shoes: Finishers, Makers, Repairers, Shiners, Stores
Geographic Region: Kentucky / Saint Louis, Missouri

Britt, Hardin B.
Birth Year : 1871
Death Year : 1963
Born in Brownsville, KY, Hardin B. Britt was a trained gospel singer. He was the son of Thomas and Julia Britt. After attending the Negro common school in Edmonson County, Hardin Britt graduated valedictorian from State University [Simmons College, Louisville], and he also graduated from Eckstein Norton University. He was the leading soloist at the Baptist World's Congress held in London England; Hardin's performance was reviewed in the Christian Herald, July 1905, "A Sweet Colored Singer." By 1920, Britt had settled in Louisivlle, Kentucky, according to the U.S. Census, he lived on Finzer Street where he boarded with Lucy Burton, a cook, and her niece, Rosa Stone, a school teacher. Britt was earning a living as a gospel singer. In 1937, he was a music teacher living at 2424 W. Walnut Street, according to Caron's Louisville City Directory, 1937, p.263. Hardin B. Britt died in Louisville in 1963 [source: Kentucky Death Index]. For more see Who's Who Among the Colored Baptists of the United States by S. W. Bacote.

 

  See photo image of Hardin B. Britt, middle of left hand column, on p.100 in Golden jubilee of the General Association of Colored Baptists in Kentucky.
Subjects: Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers
Geographic Region: Bownsville, Edmonson County, Kentucky / Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky

Britton, Arthur Eugene and Lillian Smith
Arthur Britton (b.1875 in Kentucky), was African American, Crow, and Cherokee. He grew up near Maysville and had attended college in Louisville (probably Simmons) before moving to Chicago, where he worked as a clerk in a manufacturing company. He was there during the "Red Summer" of 1919. He and his wife, Lillian Smith (b.1882 in Kentucky), were the parents of four children, the youngest being Irene Britton Smith (1907-1999), a noted composer and school teacher in Chicago. Arthur and Lillian Britton separated in 1917. For more see H. Walker-Hill, "Black women composers in Chicago: then and now," Black Music Research Journal, vol. 12, issue 1, (Spring, 1992), pp. 13-14; Funeral program for Irene Britton Smith, Chicago: Griffin Funeral Home, 02/18/1999, vertical file at the Center for Black Music Research, Columbia College Chicago; Black Women in America, 2nd ed., by D. C. Hine; and From Spirituals to Symphonies: African-American women composers and their music, by H. Walker-Hill.
Subjects: Fathers, Migration North, Mothers, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers
Geographic Region: Maysville, Mason County, Kentucky / Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky / Chicago, Illinois

Brooks, Melody
Birth Year : 1956
Little has been written about African American women ventriloquists, and there has been nothing written about those in or from Kentucky. In minstrel shows, it was not unusual to find a woman playing the role of a puppet for a male ventriloquist. Richard Potter (1783-1835) is often considered the first (or one of the first) African American male ventriloquists, as is John Walcott Cooper (1873-1966), who is also recognized as the first to become famous. Melody Brooks is a modern day ventriloquist. She was born in Berea, KY, the daughter of Audrey and Curtis Brooks. The family moved to Lexington, KY, where Melody graduated from Bryan Station High School. She has been a self-taught ventriloquist since the age of 12 and continues to perform at nursing homes, schools, hospitals, and at showers, parties, and other special events. She performed once on the television show, Good Morning America. Brooks is also an artist (producing drawings, paintings, charcoals, pencils, and mixed medium) and a singer. For more information on Melody Brooks, contact her at (859) 254-2257. For more about African American ventriloquists, see Ethnic Ventriloquism: literary minstrelsy in Nineteenth-Century American literature by M. Banerjee; the John W. Cooper Collection (archival) at the New York Public Library. See also the Vent Haven Museum website, the museum is located in Ft. Mitchell, KY, and is the only one dedicated to ventriloquism.
Subjects: Artists, Fine Arts, Ventriloquist, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers
Geographic Region: Berea, Madison County, Kentucky / Lexington, Fayette County, Kentucky

Brooks Sisters
The Brooks Sisters were a singing group with members Naomi, Ophelia, Carrie, and Susie Brooks, all from Zion Hill, Kentucky. These sisters were the daughters of Hannah Brown of Fermantown in Versailles, Kentucky (also spelled Firmatown) and Minister John Brooks. The Brooks Sisters were a gospel group that was invited to sing at Kentucky churches, and they also made a record. Susie Brooks, the group's piano player, also played for the Zion Hill Church; she taught herself to play the piano. She was the mother of the Raglin Brothers, also a gospel singing group. Information submitted by Ponice Raglin Cruse and her father, the Reverend Floyd B. Raglin. Contact Ms. Cruse for additional information about the Brooks Sisters.
Subjects: Fathers, Kentucky African American Churches, Mothers, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Religion & Church Work, Women's Groups and Organizations
Geographic Region: Zion Hill, Scott County, Kentucky / Firmatown (Fermantown), Woodford County, Kentucky

Brown, Beatrice Sandra
Birth Year : 1950
Death Year : 2013
Dr. Beatrice S. Brown was an educator, mental health director, musician and music director, evangelist and ordained minister, author, and leader. In 1969, she founded the Black Diamond Choir, now a one-hour credit course at the University of Louisville; she was founder and president of the Daughters of Zion International Women of Prayer World Ministries Inc. in Louisville, KY; and she was Mother Evangelist at Tabernacle of Praise Church of God in Christ in Louisville. Much of Dr. Brown's career took place in New York; she left Kentucky in 1978 for the Bronx, where she joined the Holy Temple Church of the Lord Jesus Christ of the Apostolic Faith. Within the church she was a missionary in Home Missions and in the Foreign Mission in Liberia, Ivory Coast, Ghana, and Nigeria, all in Africa [source: obituary program "In Loving Memory of Dr. Beatrice Sandra Brown," September 23, 2013, at Tabernacle of Praise Church of God in Christ in Louisville]. Dr. Brown had an extensive vita; the following comes from Who's Who of American Women, 1987-2000 (subscription database): 1997- Founder, president, and CEO of BSB Wholistic Psychological Wellness Center of New York and Consulting Firm; 1994-1997 Director of the girls unit facility at the Jewish Board Family and Children Services; 1994-1997 Founder and director of the Mt. Vernon African American Music Arts Festival; 1990 Research faculty member at Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia, Africa; 1989- Assistant professor of special education and early childhood development at City University of New York; 1989-1991 Director coordinator of children day treatment program at Upper Manhattan Mental Health Center; 1986- Founder, director Museum Arts Institute Creative Expression for Children, Brown Educational Institute; 1984- Performing arts consultant at New York State Council for Arts; 1983-1988 School teacher at New York Public Schools; 1983-84 Director, music teacher Holmes Elementary School in Mt. Vernon, NY; 1982-84 Music director at AC-BAW Center for Arts; 1978- Music and choral director at Holy Temple Church; 1976-78 Counselor at the Louisville Sheltered Workshop; 1972- Director, music director Museum Arts of Creative Expression; 1969-1975 Choral director, music teacher at the University of Louisville. Dr. Beatrice S. Brown held a BMEd from the University of Louisville (1972); MA, PhD from Columbia Pacific University (1987); Postdoctoral course of instruction certificate from Albert Einstein College of MedicineMontefiore Medical Center (1998); and Post-graduate certificates in psychological-behavioral therapy from the Center of Mental Health, New York City (1995) [source: Who's Who of American Women, 1987-2000 (subscription database)]. She also had a M.Div., and was a professor at the College of New Rochelle and at Concordia University, both in New York [source: p.57 in Case Studies in Evangelism by B. S. Brown]. Dr. Brown had a number of articles and was the author of Images of America: Louisville's Historic Black Neighborhoods (2012); Wisdom Woman Prosperous, Wealthy, Honored (2010); Women's Financial Health: God's provision in financial crisis (2010) with Sandy B. Dulichan; The Seven Law Curriculum for Positive Thinking and Behavior in Children and Adolescents; and Case Studies in Evangelism: effective principles in reaching others (2008). Dr. Beatrice S. Brown was the daughter of Thomas and Irene Brown; and the sister of Dr. Marilyn G. Brown-Anderson. This entry and many of the sources were submitted by Juanita L. White.
Subjects: Authors, Education and Educators, Medical Field, Health Care, Migration North, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Religion & Church Work
Geographic Region: Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky / New York City and Mt. Vernon, New York / Ethiopia, Liberia, Ivory Coast, Ghana, and Nigeria, all in Africa

Brown, Robert L. "Tobe"
Birth Year : 1863
Death Year : 1939
Robert L. Brown, was born in Shelbyville, KY. He was a cornet and piano player as well as a music teacher who specialized in dance music. He directed the Cunningham Band in Louisville, KY. Brown left Kentucky around 1890 and opened the Dance Academy in Kansas City, Missouri. He also provided orchestral music at social events and taught string and brass. His music was thought of as a guarantee for a good time at any event. Brown returned to Louisville in 1899. In 1907, his Louisville orchestra played at the Owensboro Chautauqua, thought to be the first Negro Chautauqua in the United States. For more see Out of Sight: the Rise of African American Popular Music, 1889-1895, by L. Abbott and D. Seroff.
Subjects: Education and Educators, Migration West, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers
Geographic Region: Shelbyville, Shelby County, Kentucky / Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky / Kansas City, Missouri / Owensboro, Daviess County, Kentucky

Brown, Thelma Waide
Birth Year : 1897
Death Year : 1975
Brown was born in Ashland, KY. She toured as a concert and opera singer and was a music and voice instructor for more than 25 years in the Chicago Musical College at Roosevelt College [now Roosevelt University]. She was considered one of the most respected concert singers and teachers in the Chicago area and was sought out for private lessons. For more see African American Concert Singers Before 1950 by D. G. Nettles; and "Obituaries" in The Black Perspective in Music, vol. 4, issue 3 (Autumn, 1976), p. 344.
Subjects: Education and Educators, Migration North, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers
Geographic Region: Ashland, Boyd County, Kentucky

Brown-Anderson, Marilyn G.
Birth Year : 1953
Death Year : 2013
Dr. Marilyn G. Brown-Anderson was one of the few African American female dentists in Kentucky when she passed away in 2013. In her obituary in the Louisville Courier-Journal newspaper, Dr. Brown-Anderson is referred to as a "renowned local dentist," she was also a recognized pianist, a certified aqua fitness instructor and pool side attendant, and a gratis faculty member at the University of Louisville and the University of Kentucky [source: see Marilyn Brown-Anderson in the Louisville Courier-Journal, Obituaries section, 04/07/2013]. Dr. Brown-Anderson opened and maintained her dental business at 1300 West Broadway for 22 years in Louisville, KY. She closed the business in 2005 and became a dentist with the Park DuValle Community Center, and a part-time dentist with the Department of Corrections, both in Louisville, KY [source: Obituary program - "A Celebration of Life for Dr. Marilyn G. Brown-Anderson," service Tuesday, April 9, 2013 at the First Virginia Missionary Baptist Church, Louisville, KY]. In her music career, Dr. Brown-Anderson began piano lessons at the age of four, and ten years later she was hired as the church pianist for Greater Good Hope Baptist Church in Louisville. She was the musician for a number of churches, inculding having served as music director at the Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church for 30 years, and she was the Minister of Music for the First Virginia Missionary Baptist Church for 30 years. Dr. Brown-Anderson had also served as the musician for the Young Adult Choir of the Consolidated Baptist Church in Lexington, KY, while living in Lexington and attending dental school. She also had a singing group, Keepers of the Dream [source: within the Dr. Leon D. French obituary in the Louisville Courier-Journal, 05/05/2013]. Dr. Marilyn G. Brown-Anderson was a graduate of Atherton High School and earned a B.A. in biology at the University of Louisville, and a D.M.D. at the University of Kentucky College of Dentistry. She was the daughter of Thomas and Irene Brown, the wife of Kevin D. Anderson, and the sister of Dr. Beatrice S. Brown. This entry and all sources were submitted by Juanita L. White.
Subjects: Medical Field, Health Care, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Dentists
Geographic Region: Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky

Burdette, John
Birth Year : 1896
At the age of 25, John Burdette left his hometown, Lexington, KY, seeking employment and the opportunity to further his singing career in Chicago. [He was actually born in Garrard County, KY, according to his WWII Draft Registration Card.] Burdette was one of several lodgers living on South Parkway, including Ernest Covington, who was also from Kentucky, according to the 1930 U.S. Federal Census. Burdette sang part-time, and both he and Covington were employed full-time as elevator operators; Covington at an official building and Burdette in a furniture store on Wabash Avenue. Burdette's big break came in 1930 when he won a local contest at the Oriental Theater, singing the song "Old Man River." Burdette was declared the best baritone among the competitors. He would next sing at the Chicagoland Music Festival at Soldiers' Field and was invited back to perform for the next three years. Burdette was also a jubilee singer and in 1934 won the audience over with his rendition of "Old Man River." Burdette was still singing professionally in the 1950s; he was a member of the first integrated chorus in Grant Park Concert's Cole Porter High Program, held in Chicago, August 18-19, 1951. The guest star, Etta Moten, an African American soprano from Weimar, TX, was one of the four featured performers who were accompanied by the chorus that included African American members John Burdette and Albert Yarborough. Burdette's entire singing career took place in Chicago. For more see "Former Lexington Negro wins singing contest at Chicago," Lexington Leader, 08/17/1930, p. 16; J. B. Lieberman, "Mundy-led jubilee singers delight audience," Daily Illini, 01/16/1934, pp. 1 & 5 [online at Illinois Digital Newspaper Collection website]; and "Moten, Etta: soprano" in 1952 Negro Year Book, ed. by J. P. Guzman, p. 56.
Subjects: Migration North, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers
Geographic Region: Garrard County, Kentucky / Lexington, Fayette County, Kentucky / Chicago, Illinois

Burley, Daniel G.
Birth Year : 1908
Death Year : 1962
Daniel Burley was born in Lexington, KY, and later moved to Chicago. He was a musician and journalist who is still remembered for his column "Everybody Goes When the Wagon Comes." Burley was editor of several newspapers, including the South Side Civic Telegram in 1932. For a while he was employed by the Johnson Publishing Company and in 1960 produced the magazine Salaam, which was similar to Jet. Burley was also a boogie woogie and jazz pianist. In 1946 he had a group called Dan Burley and the Skiffle Boys. He also played with other greats such as Brownie McGhee and Lionel Hampton. Burley can be heard playing piano on the album South Side Shake, 1945-1951. In addition to being a musician, Burley was also a disc jockey at stations WWRL and WLIB. He was also a composer and authored Dan Burley's Original Handbook of Harlem Jive (published in 1945). For more see Dictionary of Literary Biography, vol. 241: American Sportswriters and Writers on Sport, ed. by R. Orodenker; and Biography Index. A cumulative index to biographical material in books and magazines. Listen to clips of Dan Burley's performances, MP3 Downloads for sale at Amazon.com.

Access Interview
Subjects: Authors, Journalists, Newspapers, Magazines, Book Publishers, Music Publishers, Migration North, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Radio
Geographic Region: Lexington, Fayette County, Kentucky / Chicago, Illinois

Burton, Evans, Jr. [W. E. "Buddy" Burton]
Birth Year : 1890
Death Year : 1976
Burton was born in Louisville, KY. He was a vocalist who also played a number of music instruments, including the piano and the drums. In the early 1920s, Burton moved to Chicago, where he played and recorded with Jelly Roll Morton. He also made his own recordings as a soloist in 1928, a few recordings as a band member, and duets with Kentucky native Jimmy Blythe and others. Burton disappeared from the music scene in 1936 and returned to Louisville in 1965. For more see Buddy Burton in Classic Jazz, by S. Yanow; and W. E. "Buddy" Burton at redhotjazz.com. View images and listen to W. E. "Buddy" Burton singing "No One But You" on YouTube.

Subjects: Migration North, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers
Geographic Region: Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky / Chicago, Illinois

Burton, Rahn
Birth Year : 1934
Death Year : 2013
Rahn Burton, born in Louisville, KY, was a pianist who learned to play at the age of 13 and began his professional career in Louisville in the early 1950s. Beginning in 1953, he played with Roland Kirk for six years and later toured with George Adams, playing the organ. In 1972, Burton formed a group called African American Connection. Burton's recordings include the 1992 album, The Poem, and "Jack the Ripper," which was released on Roland Kirk's album, Introducing Roland Kirk, in 1960. For more see Rahn Burton in the Oxford Music Online Database.

See J. Tamarkin, "Pianist Rahn (Ron) Burton dies at 78; best know for his work with Rahsaan Kirk," at JazzTimes website.
Subjects: Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers
Geographic Region: Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky

Carpenter, Rose L.
Birth Year : 1893
Death Year : 1980
Rose Lillian Carpenter was born in Bowling Green, KY. She earned an A.B. degree from State University [Simmons University in Louisville], and Bachelor's and Master's of Music Education degrees from Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. She also took music courses from six other universities. Carpenter taught for 15 years as an instructor of music education and served as Director of Choir for ten years at Louisville Municipal College for Negroes. In 1927 she replaced Professor Jay Fay as a teacher of music in the Louisville Negro schools. In 1937 she became the assistant supervisor of vocal music for the Louisville Public School System, holding the post for 36 years. She was the first African American to have an office in the Louisville Board of Education administration building. For more see C. H. Mitchell's Historical Research on Rosa Lillian Carpenter: a study of her life and influence on Music Education in Kentucky.


See photo image of Rose L. Carpenter on p. 11 of the KNEA Journal, vol. 22, no. 3 (April 1951).
Subjects: Education and Educators, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Grade Schools & High Schools in Kentucky, Board of Education
Geographic Region: Bowling Green, Warren County, Kentucky / Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky

Carroll, Robert "Bob"
Birth Year : 1905
Death Year : 1952
Carroll, born in Louisville, KY, was a tenor saxophonist who played with the Kentucky Derbies and Jonah Jones' first band, Tinsley's Royal Aces; both were bands in Louisville, KY. Carroll later joined Benny Carter's band in the 1920s and played at the Arcadia Ballroom in New York. In 1934, he was a soloist with Don Redman's band and was in the film short, Don Redman and his Orchestra. Carroll played on a number of recordings with various bands, including that of Fats Waller. Carroll was an army veteran, having served during World War II. For more see Robert Carroll, an Answers.com website; a picture of Tinsley's Royal Aces on p. 163 in The World of Swing, by S. Dance; and "Bob Carroll" in the Oxford Music Online Database.
Subjects: Migration North, Military & Veterans, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Movies and Films
Geographic Region: Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky / New York

Casey, Albert A., Sr. "Al"
Birth Year : 1915
Death Year : 2005
Albert Aloysius Casey, Sr. was born in Louisville, KY, an orphan who was later adopted. He became a guitarist when a teen, then left Louisville for New York. He played with the bands of Fats Waller, Teddy Wilson, and others. He also played for Billie Holiday. Among his recordings are Jumpin' With Al, Jivin' Around, and Buck Jumpin'; he eventually participated in more than 200 recordings. For more see One Thousand Great Guitarists, by H. Gregory; The New Grove Dictionary of Jazz, 1st ed.; and A. Bernstein, "Al Casey dies at 89; guitarist for Fats Waller," Washington Post, 09/14/2005, p. B06. 
Subjects: Migration North, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Orphans and Orphanages in Kentucky
Geographic Region: Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky / New York

Chenault, John
Birth Year : 1952
John Chenault is an author, freelance writer, poet, playwright, and musician. He is author of Blue Blackness and The Invisible Man Returns. He has been a member of the New Theater/Free Theater of Cincinnati since its inception in 1967. Chenault's work has appeared in a number of publications, and he has a number of playwright credits, including the television drama, Young Men Grow Older. Chenault's musical credits are also quite extensive, including The Fools of Time, a collaboration by Chenault and composer/bassist Frank Proto that premiered in February 2000. John Chenault was born in Cincinnati, OH, the son of Mary L. Stonom Chenault and John Walter Chenault. He is a reference librarian at the University of Louisville Library. For more see John Chenault, at liben.com; a more extensive biography, John Chenault, at Answers.com; the John Chenault entry in Contemporary Black Biography, vol. 40 (2004); and Who's Who Among African Americans, 2003-2009.

See photo image and additional information about John Chenault at "Medical librarian pens opera about boxing legend Joe Louis," by UofL Today, 11/12/2009.
Subjects: Authors, Librarians, Library Collections, Libraries, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Poets, Television, Migration South
Geographic Region: Cincinnati, Ohio / Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky

Chenault, Lawrence E.
Birth Year : 1877
Lawrence E. Chenault was born in Mt. Sterling, KY, and his family later moved to Cincinnati, OH, where he was a soloist at the Allen Temple Church. Chenault joined Al G. Field's Negro Minstrels in 1895 and two years later was a featured tenor and character, "Golden Hair Neil," with A. G. Field's Darkest American Company. He was also in Black Patti's Troubadours and a number of other groups. He performed with Ernest Hogan in the M. B. Curtis Minstrels, touring America, Australia, New Zealand, Tasmania, and Hawaii. On the return to the U.S., Chenault spent time performing in San Francisco before rejoining Hogan on the Smart Set. He would become the first leading man with the Lafayette Players Stock Company. In 1928, Chenault collasped and had to take time away from acting to cope with the death of his friend, ventriloquist Johnnie Woods, who was Chenault's roommate and "constant friend, companion, and co-worker" [source: "Chenault stricken by loss of friend," The Afro-American, 09/08/1928, p.2]. He would return to acting and performed in Black films, appearing in more leading roles than any other actor in silent films: 22 films between 1920 and 1934 [filmography]. For more see "Lawrence E. Chenault" in Blacks in Blackface, by S. T. Sampson.

See stills from movies with Lawrence Chenault, available at the New York Public Library Digital Gallery site.
Subjects: Actors, Actresses, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Minstrel and Vaudeville Performers, Movies and Films
Geographic Region: Mount Sterling, Montgomery County, Kentucky

Childers, Lulu V.
Birth Year : 1870
Death Year : 1946
Lulu Vere Childers was born in Dry Ridge, KY. She studied voice at Oberlin Conservatory of Music, where she earned her B. Mus. degree. Childers was a teacher at Knoxville College in 1896. She continued to perform, singing contralto in a 1908 concert organized by E. Azalia Hackley at the Philadelphia Academy of Music. She went on to become founder and director of the Howard University School of Music [now Department of Music], 1909-1942. She accomplished major successes with the Howard Orchestra, Band, Choral Society, Women's Glee Club and Men's Glee Club. Lulu Vere Childers Hall is located in the Arts Building at Howard University. For more see Dictionary of American Negro Biography, by R. W. Logan & M. R. Winston; Catalogue of Officers and Graduates, by Oberlin College (1905) [full view available via Google Book Search]; and A History of Three African-American Women Who Made Important Contributions to Music Education Between 1903-1960 (thesis) by D. R. Patterson.
Subjects: Education and Educators, Migration North, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Migration South
Geographic Region: Dry Ridge, Grant County, Kentucky / Washington, D.C.

Chittison, Herman
Birth Year : 1908
Death Year : 1967
Herman Chittison was born in Flemingsburg, KY, then left Kentucky to attend school in Tennessee when he was 13 years old. He was the son of Charles and Sarah Chittison. After completing high school, Herman Chittison enrolled at Kentucky State College [now Kentucky State University] in 1925, but he soon left school to pursue his music career. Chittison was a self-taught jazz pianist who had studied chemistry in college. Once his music career took off, he traveled to New York, then played in Europe and Egypt and toured with Louis Armstrong. Chittison returned to the U.S. during World War II. For seven years he played on the weekly CBS radio series, Casey, Crime Photographer. For more see Biographical Dictionary of Jazz, by C. E. Claghorn; Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Musicians, 9th ed., ed. by L. Kuhn; and F. E. Lockwood, "Flemingsburg Jazz pianist lives on in ebony and ivory, musician's artistry reached across racial divide," Lexington Herald Leader, 02/26/2000, Main News section, p. A1.

See photo image of Herman Chittison at the Library of Congress Digital Collections.
Subjects: Migration North, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Radio, Migration South, Migration Outside the U.S. and Canada
Geographic Region: Flemingsburg, Fleming County, Kentucky / New York / Europe / Egypt

Coe, James R. "Jimmy" [Jimmy Cole]
Birth Year : 1921
Death Year : 2004
James R. Coe was born in Tompkinsville, KY, but grew up in Indianapolis, where he spent his entire music career. He could play a number of instruments, but performed most often on the baritone and tenor saxophone. He also studied the clarinet. Coe played and recorded with Jay McShann's band as a replacement for Charlie Parker. He also recorded with other groups, sometimes under the name Jimmy Cole. He used his birth name 'Coe' with his own groups: Jimmy Coe and His Orchestra, and Jimmy Coe and His Gay Cats of Rhythm. He served in the U.S. Army, 1943-1945 and played in the 415th Band. By the mid 1960s, Coe was teaching music in the Indianapolis public schools and also was working for the Marion County juvenile courts and the U.S. Postal Service. For more see The Jimmy Coe Discography, a Clemson University website; and J. Harvey, "Jimmy Coe , well-known jazz musician and band leader, dies," The Indianapolis Star, 02/28/2004, City State section, p. B01. 


Subjects: Education and Educators, Migration North, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Postal Service
Geographic Region: Tompkinsville, Monroe County, Kentucky / Indianapolis, Indiana

Cole, James H. and Mary D.
When James Cole died, he was the wealthiest African American in Michigan. He had been a slave born in 1837 in Mississippi. He had escaped and settled in Detroit. On his way to freedom, Cole passed through Kentucky and was aided by a slave family. He had been in Detroit a few years when he met a young girl who was a member of the Kentucky family that had helped him during his escape. Cole and the 13 year old girl, Mary D. (born 1850 in Kentucky), were later married; they would become the parents of several children, one of whom was Thomas A. Cole, the father of Florence Cole Talbert, a noted concert and operatic soprano, who performed in Kentucky in 1922. She was sponsored by the Progressive Choral Society of Bowling Green, KY. The recital took place at State Street Baptist Church. Talbert was assisted by Charles R. Taylor, a Howard University student, and R. Lillian Carpenter was the pianist. The Cole family fortune was earned by James H. Cole who was a carpenter, blacksmith, and real estate investor. James and Mary Cole are listed in the 1880 U.S. Federal Census. For more see P. Turner, "In retrospect: Florence Cole Talbert - Our Divine Florence," The Black Perspective in Music, vol.12, issue 1 (Spring, 1984), pp. 57-79. For more on Florence Cole Talbert, see "The Progressive Choral Society of Bowling Green, Ky...," The Crisis, April 1922, v.23, issue 6, p.274; Lost Sounds: Blacks and the Birth of the Recording Industry, 1890-1919, by T. Brooks; and The Negro Trail Blazers of California, by D. L. Beasley.
Subjects: Freedom, Migration North, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Blacksmiths, Carpenters, Grandparents
Geographic Region: Mississippi / Kentucky / Detroit, Michigan

Coleman, John A., Sr.
Birth Year : 1869
Death Year : 1936
John A. Coleman, a community leader born in Centerville, KY, was the son of George and Ann Sharp Coleman. He was a builder, a school teacher, and a musician. According to author and musician Bill Coleman, his uncle John built his own house and many of the homes in what was then an all African American community known as Centerville. John Coleman was first in the community to have electricity in his home. Though he is listed in the Census as a laborer, John Coleman also served as a teacher in the Centerville Colored School, which was a one room structure that served students in grades 1-8. The school was mentioned in a 50 year survey that was completed and published by Dr. C. H. Parrish in 1926. The Centerville School held classes about five months out of the year, the same as many of the common schools founded after the Civil War in small African American communities in Kentucky. In addition to being a school teacher, John Coleman was a musician; he and two of his brothers were members of a local music group. John Coleman played the cornet, Ernest Coleman played the tuba, and Robert Henry Coleman (Bill Coleman's father) played the snare drum. According to the U.S. Federal Census, the Coleman family had been in Centerville at least since the end of slavery (and probably before that). John Coleman and his wife, Kitty [or Kittie] Bachelor Coleman, were still living in Centerville in 1930; they were the parents of four children: Mattie Coleman Hersey, Ida B. Coleman, John A. Coleman Jr., and Cora M. Coleman. For more see Dr. C. H. Parrish, "A fifty year survey," Proceedings of the Kentucky Negro Educational Association, April 21-24, 1926, pp. 23-24 [available full-text in the Kentucky Digital Library]; and Trumpet Story, by Bill Coleman.
Subjects: Civic Leaders, Construction, Contractors, Builders, Education and Educators, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers
Geographic Region: Centerville, Bourbon County, Kentucky

Coleman, William Johnson "Bill" (musician)
Birth Year : 1904
Death Year : 1981
Bill Coleman, born in Centerville, KY, was the son of Robert H. Coleman and Roberta Johnson Coleman. The family moved to Cincinnati, OH, when William Coleman was a child. He later became a trumpet player, spending most of his adult life in Paris, France. Coleman was a jazz musician who taught himself how to read music. He toured all over Europe and a bit in Asia, returning occasionally to the U.S. to perform. His playing style was compared to Jabbo Smith's. Coleman recorded with some of the greats, including Fats Waller. The album Bill Coleman in Paris, 1936-1938 highlights some of his playing and singing. Bill Coleman later returned to France, where he continued to perform until his death in 1981. His book, Trumpet Story, tells of his music career and his travels, the title was published in French in 1981, and in English in 1989. Bill Coleman was the nephew of John A. Coleman, Sr. For more see Grove Music Online [available on the University of Kentucky campus and off campus via the proxy server]; and The World of Jazz Trumpet: a comprehensive history & practical philosophy, by S. Barnhart.

See photo images of Bill Coleman in the Library of Congress, American Memory, William P. Gottlieb - Photographs from the Golden Age of Jazz.
Subjects: Migration North, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Migration Outside the U.S. and Canada
Geographic Region: Centerville, Bourbon County, Kentucky / Cinicnnati, Ohio / Paris, France, Europe

Compton, J. Glover
Birth Year : 1884
Death Year : 1964
J. Glover Compton, born in Harrodsburg, KY, was a noted ragtime jazz pianist and entertainer. He was the husband and, for a time, musical partner of vocalist Nettie Lewis. Beginning in 1902, Compton performed in the theater in Louisville, KY. He moved on to Chicago in 1910, where he later led the band known as J. Glover Compton and the Syncopaters. Compton had at one time worked with the Whitman Sisters before traveling abroad. In 1928, while in Paris, France, Compton took a bullet in the leg when a disagreement erupted between musicians Sidney Bechet and Mike McKendrick and the two exchanged gunfire. Two pedestrians were also shot, but no one was killed. Compton had been traveling in Europe for a couple of years with the Palm Beach Six when the group settled in Paris, and Compton later worked with Crickett Smith. On the day of the shooting, Compton, said to be the instigator, reported that Bechet had fired the first shot. Compton was McKendrick's friend. Both Bechet and McKendrick were arrested and sentenced to 15 months in jail. They later settled their differences, but Bechet, who lived the last decade of his life in Paris, never forgave Compton. In 1939, Compton returned to the U.S. and performed again in Chicago with Jimmie Noone. In the 1950s, he owned and operated a bar in Chicago. J. Glover Compton was the son of Laura L. Bowman Compton and John Glover Compton, Sr. [source: 1900 U.S. Federal Census and Illinois, Deaths and Stillbirths Index]. For more see "No one in any big time way" in Some Hustling This!, by M. Miller; and the J. Glover Compton Biography, by E. Chadbourne at Answer.com.
Subjects: Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Migration Outside the U.S. and Canada, Theater: Companies, Education, Exhibitions, Performers, and Performances in Kentucky
Geographic Region: Harrodsburg, Mercer County, Kentucky / Chicago, Illinois / Paris, France, Europe

Conley, Nellie [Madam Sul-Te-Wan]
Birth Year : 1873
Death Year : 1959
Nellie Conley, an actress, was born in Louisville, KY, the daughter of Silas Crawford Wan and Cleo de Londa. In 1983, she was posthumously inducted into the Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame. Conley went by the name Madame Sul-Te-Wan, acting in early films such as Birth of a Nation and later films such as Carmen Jones and Tarzan and the Trappers. Prior to moving to California and acting in films, Conley had moved from Louisville to Cincinnati, Ohio. While there, she formed "The Black Four Hundred," an acting company that employed 16 performers and 12 musicians. The company was successful, as was a minstrel company that Conley established. Conley soon married and eventually moved to California. Two years later, she had just given birth to her third son when her husband left her. Her money was gone, so for a period of time Conley had to rely on charity. Times got better when she was hired by Kentucky native D. W. Griffith for the movie The Clansman; her pay was three dollars a day and increased to five dollars a day. She and D. W. Griffith remained friends for the rest of their lives, and she had bit parts in seven of his films. She also continued to perform in vaudeville, silent films, and talkies [films with sound]. In 1949, Conley married Anton Ebenthur, who was French; the couple married five years before interracial marriages were legal in California. According to writer Victor Walsh, Conley and Ebenthur were active members of Club Miscegenation in Los Angeles. [It has also been written that Conley was the mother of Ruby Dandridge (1900-1987) and the grandmother of Dorothy Dandridge (1922-1965).] For more see Biography Index. A cumulative index to biographical material in books and magazines, vol. 18: Sept. 1992-Aug. 1993; Directory of Blacks in the Performing Arts, 1st ed., by E. Mapp; The Negro Trail Blazers of California, by D. Beasley; and V. Walsh, "Women's History Month: Madame Sul-Te-Wan; Hollywood's first African American actress," Oakland Post, 03/19/1997, p. 8.

See photo image and additional information about Nellie Conley at BlackPast.org.
Subjects: Actors, Actresses, Businesses, Migration North, Migration West, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Grandparents, Minstrel and Vaudeville Performers, Interracial Marriage and State Laws, Movies and Films
Geographic Region: Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky / Cincinnati, Ohio / California

Connors, Charles Raymond "Chuck"
Birth Year : 1930
Death Year : 1994
Connors, born in Maysville, KY, was a bass trombonist who studied at the Navy School of Music in Washington, D.C. He earned a MusB degree in 1956 from the Boston Conservatory. Connors played with Dizzy Gillespie and was employed at other non-music related jobs before joining the Duke Ellington Orchestra, 1961-1974. He was recorded on film with the group, including the documentary Mexican Suite in 1972, and The Duke Live in Europe 1963-64. Connors's performances can be heard on the albums Soul Call, Ellington 65, hits of the 60's, and many other Ellington albums. Connors also recorded with Teresa Brewer and with Mercer Ellington, who was Duke Ellington's son. Mercer took over the orchestra after his father's death in 1974. It is believed that Chuck Connors lived in Cincinnati, OH, after he retired from performing. For more see "Chuck Connors" in the Oxford Music Online Database; and he is included in the picture on p. 332 in Music is My Mistress, by D. Ellington.
Subjects: Migration North, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Movies and Films
Geographic Region: Maysville, Mason County, Kentucky / Cincinnati, Ohio

Cook, Isabel and John Hartwell
It has been mistakenly assumed that the Cooks were Kentucky natives. John Cook was born around 1838 in Washington, D.C., his family was free. Isabel Marion Cook was born in 1843 in Tennessee. Both were graduates of Oberlin College. The couple came to Kentucky in 1864 when John was hired as a school teacher in Louisville. In 1867, they moved to Washington, D. C. where John Cook had accepted the position of chief clerk with the Freedmen's Bureau. The family, which included extended family members, lived east of 7th Street, according to the 1870 U.S Federal Census. John Cook worked during the day and attended college at night. He was a member of the first class of ten graduates from Howard University Law School in 1871. He would become a professor and dean of the school for two years prior to his death from tuberculosis in 1878. John and Isabel Cook were the parents of musician Will [William] Marion Cook. For more see A Life in Ragtime by R. Badger; and Swing Along by M. G. Carter. 
Subjects: Education and Educators, Lawyers, Migration North, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Migration South, Tuberculosis: Care and Deaths
Geographic Region: Washington, D.C / Tennessee / Kentucky

Cooke, Charles L. "Doc"
Birth Year : 1887
Death Year : 1958
Born in Louisville, KY, Charles Lee Cooke earned a bachelor's degree and a doctorate in music from the Chicago College of Music in 1926. He was one of the first African Americans to receive a doctorate in music. He began writing music compositions when he was a child in Louisville and had organized an eight piece band by the time he was 15. His family moved to Detroit, MI, when he was 18. Cooke played the piano and was the conductor and director of the Chicago Dreamland Ballroom Orchestra during the 1920s. He was better known as a conductor than for his playing. When his career as a conductor in Chicago ended, Cooke moved to New York, where he was an arranger at R.K.O. and Radio City Music Hall. According to his WWI Draft Registration Card, Charles Lee Cooke was born 09/03/1887. For more see Charles "Doc" Cooke at redhotjazz.com; Charles "Doc" Cooke at Answers.com; and Doc Cook [Cooke, Charles L.] at Grove Music Online. View image and listen to Doc Cook's Dreamland Ballroom Orchestra - Sidewalk Blues (1926) on YouTube.


 
Subjects: Migration North, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers
Geographic Region: Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky / Detroit, Michigan / Chicago, Illinois / New York, New York

Cooper, Opal D.
Birth Year : 1889
Death Year : 1974
Opal Cooper was born in Cromwell, KY, to Louis and Ellen Cooper. The family moved to Chicago, and by his late teens, Opal Cooper was a professional tenor soloist, performing in concerts and recitals. In 1915, he appeared in Darkydom, a musical that opened in Harlem as a part of Flournoy Miller and Aubrey Lyles' vaudeville act. Cooper continued performing until he enlisted in the army, where he served as a drum major during World War I. His unit returned to the U.S. in July 1919. Six months later, Cooper took a job with the Seth Weeks Jazz Band so he could return to Europe. Realizing how much money they could make, Cooper and the other musicians formed their own group, the Red Devils, and their itinerary included various European cities. When the group broke up in 1923, Cooper remained in Europe and continued to perform with other performers. He returned to live in the U.S. at the beginning of World War II. Cooper could play a number of instruments, and he continued to sing and perform into the 1960s, later becoming a cab driver. The Opal D. Cooper Papers are at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in New York. For more see chapter 26 in Lost Sounds: blacks and the birth of the recording industry, 1890-1919, by T. Brooks. See photo images of Opal D. Cooper and The Red Devils at Passport Photos - Jazz Musicians on flickr.

Subjects: Migration North, Military & Veterans, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Migration Outside the U.S. and Canada
Geographic Region: Cromwell, Ohio County, Kentucky / Chicago, Illinois / Europe

Cooper, Priscilla Hancock
Birth Year : 1952
Born in Louisville, KY, Priscilla Cooper became a poet/performer, author, and teacher. As a teenager, she worked for the Louisville Defender newspaper. She is a graduate of Lincoln University of Missouri and American University Washington, D. C. Her first volume of poetry, Call Me Black Woman, was published in 1993. Cooper has numerous publications and productions and has edited three anthologies. She also teaches writing. She and Dhana Bradley-Morton founded the Theater Workshop of Louisville. They have also presented creative collaborations, the first of which was a poetic concert in 1981, I Have Been Hungry All of My Years. This was followed by Four Women and God's Trombones, and they also performed in Amazing Grace in 1993. Both are featured in the KET Production, Words Like Freedom/Sturdy Black Bridges, a poetic concert featuring African-American writing and music. Since 1998, Cooper has been the teacher of the Anti-violence Creative Writing Program, "Writing Our Stories," sponsored by the Alabama Department of Youth Services and the Alabama Writers Forum. In 2005, Cooper was awarded the Individual Artist Fellowship in Literature by the Alabama State Council. In 2006, she received the Coming Up Taller Award by the U.S. President's Committee in the Arts and Humanities. Cooper is the vice president of Institutional Programs at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute. For more see B. Brady, "Architecturally Sound," CityBeat, vol. 6, issue no. 33, 2000; and Meet Priscilla Hancock, a Red Mountain Theatre Company website.

See photo image of Priscilla Hancock Cooper at Red Mountain Theatre Company website.
Subjects: Actors, Actresses, Authors, Education and Educators, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Poets, Migration South, Theater: Companies, Education, Exhibitions, Performers, and Performances in Kentucky
Geographic Region: Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky / Birmingham, Alabama

Cotter, Joseph S., Sr.
Birth Year : 1861
Death Year : 1949
Joseph Seaman Cotter, Sr. was born in Bardstown, KY, the son of Michael Cotter (Scottish Irishman) and Martha Vaughn Cotter. He founded the Paul Laurence Dunbar School in Louisville, KY, and was principal at several Louisville schools. Cotter published five volumes of poetry and a collection of plays, composed music, and was known for his storytelling. He was the father of poet Joseph S. Cotter, Jr. (1895-1919). The Joseph S. Cotter, Sr. Papers are located at Kentucky State University. For more see Southern Black Creative Writers, 1829-1953, by M. B. Foster; Dictionary of American Negro Biography, ed. by R. W. Logan and M. R. Winston; and Early Black American Poets, by W. H. Robinson, Jr.

See photo image and additional information about Joseph S. Cotter, Sr. at the Louisville Free Public Library website.
Subjects: Authors, Education and Educators, Fathers, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Poets, Grade Schools & High Schools in Kentucky
Geographic Region: Bardstown, Nelson County, Kentucky / Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky

Covington, Glen E.
Birth Year : 1927
Death Year : 1988
Glen E. Covington was a singer and pianist. He had also been captain of the basketball team at Central High School in Louisville, KY, and was awarded a basketball scholarship to Tennessee State College [now Tennessee State University]. Covington was born in Irving (probably Irvine), KY, grew up in Louisville, lived in Indianapolis, and died in Cleveland, OH. He was a nightclub pianist and singer who performed throughout the United States. His career as a professional performer began after he graduated from Tennessee State and won first place on an Aurthur Godfrey "Talent Scout Show." For more see "Glen E. Covington," The Black Perspective in Music, vol. 16, issue 2 (Autumn 1988), p. 244; the Glen Covington entry in vol. 3 of the Afro-American Encyclopedia; and "Glen E. Covington, Singer, 61," The New York Times, 09/30/1988, p. B7.
Subjects: Basketball, Migration North, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers
Geographic Region: Irving [probably Irvine], Estill County, Kentucky / Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky / Indianapolis, Indiana

Craine, W. C. [William C.]
Birth Year : 1867
Death Year : 1919
William C. Craine, born in Harrodsburg, KY, is listed in the 1900 U.S. Federal Census as an actor. At the time, Craine was living in Chicago on Evanston Avenue in a boarding house along with other actors and entertainers. Craine, who was also a singer, a tenor, had sung with and managed the Shattuck and Mendelsohn Quartettes [source: "Principal comedians and vocalists engineering fun and song with the Big Minstrel Festival," The Freeman, 12/30/1899, p.9]. Craine was the principal tenor soloist with the Big Minstrel Festival in 1899. The prior year, he was with Harry Martell's Company "South Before the War" [source: "Stage. The Freedman post office," The Freeman, 10/15/1898, p.5, column 3, item 5]. While with the company, Craine was a special representative (writer) with The Freeman newspaper, and one of his articles appeared in the paper on 04/08/1899, p.5, column 3, item 1]. In September of 1899, Craine performed in Rusco and Holland's Big Minstrel Festival that opened in St. Louis, MO [source: "The Stage, edited by J. Harry Jackson. The Freedman post office," The Freeman, 09/16/1899, p.5, column 4, item 3]. Craine was with the Big Minstrel Festival until the winter of 1900 when he stayed in Boston, MA, but did not mention to the media that he was getting married [source: The Freeman, 11/03/1900, p.5]. William C. Craine was the husband of Bertha Simmons, who was an actress, she was born in Virginia; the couple married in Boston, MA on December 26, 1900 [source: Massachusetts, Marriage Register, 1900, p.327]. It was the first marriage for William (33) and the 2nd marriage for Bertha (35). They were married by Henry H. Jones, Minister of the Gospel, 80 Oakland Place, Brockton, MA. In 1901, William C. Craine was performing in Buffalo, NY [source: The Freeman, 07/13/1901, p.5]. He also performed at the Pan American, Toronto Minstrel Exposition and the London Canada Exhibition [source: The Freeman, 09/21/1901, p.5]. In 1904, Craine was director of the show titled "A Trip to Africa," starring John Larkin as the king and Dora Patterson as the queen [source: "The State by Woodbine," The Freeman, 10/29/1904, p.5]. The show did not receive a favorable review in The Freeman. [John Larkin would become the producer of the musical "A Trip to Africa" and in 1910, he and Sissieretta Jones were the stars of this successful show billed under the heading of "Black Patti Musical Comedy Company." John Larkin played the role of King Rastus and Raz Jinkins, and Sissieretta Jones (aka Black Patti) played the role of Princess Lulu. -- source: Blacks in Blackface by H. T. Sampson] And though the show was a success, by 1910, William Craine was no longer singing or performing professionally; he was a waiter and his wife Bertha was the housekeeper at a lodging home they managed on Acton Street in Boston [source: 1910 U.S. Federal Census]. William C. Craine is listed as a waiter in the Boston Directory, 1909, p.469, up to the 1920 directory, p.462; living first on Acton Street, then at 28 Holyoke. William C. Craine died in Winthrop, MA, March 11, 1919 [sources: Massachusetts, Death Index and "Gave home for aged people," Savannah Tribune, 10/30/1920, p.1]. He left the home at 90 West Cottage Street in Boston, MA, for the aged, to be run by the board of William C. Craine, Inc.: Rev. H. Jones, President; Mr. O'Bryant, Vice President; Mrs. Bertha Craine, Treasurer; Mr. A. H. Scales, Superintendent; and Rev. Mrs. S. E. Deveaux, Matron and Secretary. William C. Craine was the son of Phillip (born around 1827) and Susanna Jones Craine (c.1830-1879), according to information William C. Craine provided prior to his marriage. Looking at the 1870 U.S. Census, Susan Craine is listed without a husband, but with the children. At this time, no record has been found in the census of Phillip Craine who was a Civil War veteran and had been the slave of John Bush in Mercer County, KY, when Phillip enlisted in the U.S. Army on August 29, 1864, at Camp Nelson, KY [source: "Records of Musters made by Capt. U. C. Kenney,"  p.371, no. 1751, No. on roll - 18, in the U.S. Descriptive Lists of Colored Volunteer Army Soldiers, 1864]. Phillip Craine served with the 5th U.S. Colored Cavalry; he stood 5 feet 9 inches tall, was 37 years old, and was born on a farm in Mercer County, KY. He is listed on various records as the father of William Craine; Belle Craine (1855-1916), a grocer in Louisville, KY [source: Kentucky Certificate of Death Registered #1054]; Joseph Craine (1867-1925), a grocer and later a janitor in Louisville [sources: 1910 U.S. Federal Census and Kentucky Certificate of Death Registered #4634]; and George E. Craine (1858-1929), a musician and a storekeeper in Louisville, KY [source: Kentucky Certificate of Death Registered #4489]. The two other children, Pilandrer Craine and Anna Craine are included in the household in the 1870 U.S. Federal Census [last name spelled Crane]. After the death of their mother Susanna Craine in 1879 [source: Kentucky Death Records], William C. Craine and his brother Joseph were raised by their sister, Belle Craine [source: 1880 U.S. Federal Census - last name spelled Crane]. Both Belle and her mother Susan were laundry women; the family had moved to 4 Green Street in Louisville, KY by 1878 [source: Caron's Directory of the City of Louisville for 1878, pp.176 & 177 - their last name is spelled Crane]. In 1891, Belle Craine served as secretary of Zion Temple No.1 [source: "Society Directory" on p.4, column 4, in the Ohio Falls Express newspaper, 07/11/1891]. Both Joseph and William were grown and on their own. William C. Craine had started working as early as 1882, he was a laborer according to Caron's Directory of the City of Louisville for 1882, p.207. By 1884 he was a waiter at the Sandiford Hotel, then was a waiter at the St. Cloud Hotel, before leaving Louisville around 1889 [sources: Caron's Dirctory of the City of Louisville, 1884, p.209 through 1889, p.260 - the last name is many times spelled Crane or Crain]. 
Subjects: Actors, Actresses, Migration North, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Minstrel and Vaudeville Performers, Care of the Elderly
Geographic Region: Harrodsburg, Mercer County, Kentucky / Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky / Boston, Massachusetts

Crowders, Reuben [Ernest Hogan]
Birth Year : 1860
Death Year : 1909
Born in Bowling Green, KY, in the Shake Rag District, Crowders became known as Ernest Hogan, comedian, actor, dancer, songwriter,and playwright. Crowders composed many songs, including the controversial song All Coons Look Alike to Me. He introduced the pasmala dance in the 1890s and was regarded as an exceptional dancer and the best dancing comedian. He produced Rufus Rastus in 1905, and The Oyster Man in 1907. Crowders was an actor in both productions; he was a leading actor of his time. He became ill during the run of The Oyster Man and later died of tuberculosis; he is buried in Bowling Green, KY. His last name is also spelled Crowder or Crowdus in various sources. A documented chronology of Crowders' career is included in The Ghost Walks, by H. T. Sampson. For more see African Americans in California Sheet Music; The First Rock and Roll Record; Biographical Dictionary of Afro-American and African Musicians, by E. Southern; and Dictionary of American Negro Biography, by R. W. Logan & M. R. Winston. View Ernest Hogan - The Father of Ragtime hosted by Andy Stahl, a Kentucky Blues History Corner video by the Kentucky Blues Society on YouTube.


 
Subjects: Actors, Actresses, Artists, Fine Arts, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Tuberculosis: Care and Deaths, Minstrel and Vaudeville Performers
Geographic Region: Bowling Green, Warren County, Kentucky

Cunningham, James C.
Birth Year : 1787
Death Year : 1877
James C. Cunningham was a free-born Caribbean violinist, band leader and dance teacher. He came to Louisville, KY, in 1835 and formed a band that played at various events, including a ball for President-elect Zachary Taylor. Cunningham also played a role in the underground railroad. He was born in the West Indies and served in the British Navy. He was the father of James R. Cunningham. For more see The Encyclopedia of Louisville, ed. by J. E. Kleber: and History of the United Brothers of Friendship and Sisters of the Mysterious Ten, by W. H. Gibson, Sr.
Subjects: Freedom, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Appointments by U.S. Presidents/Services for U.S. Presidents, Underground Railroad: Conductors, Escapes, Organizations, Research
Geographic Region: Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky / West Indies

Cunningham, James R.
Birth Year : 1853
Death Year : 1943
James R. Cunningham was a cornetist and band leader. He toured England in the 1890s and performed for Queen Victoria. He had one of the first African American brass bands. He was the son of James C. Cunningham. For more see The Encyclopedia of Louisville, ed. by J. E. Kleber.
Subjects: Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers
Geographic Region: Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky

Darby, (Blind) Teddy
Birth Year : 1906
Death Year : 1975
Born Theodore Roosevelt Darby in Henderson, KY, he was a blues singer and guitarist who performed in Chicago in the 1930s but was most known for performing in St. Louis. His music was recorded between 1929-1937. As a younger man he did time in a reform school and workhouse for bootlegging. He was a long time associate of Peetie Wheatstraw. He eventually lost his sight to glaucoma. For more see The Encyclopedia of Popular Music, 3rd ed., edited by C. Larkin; and St. Louis Blues Musicians. View the image and listen to Blind Teddy Darby - Lawdy Lawdy Worried Blues 1929 on YouTube.


Subjects: Migration North, Migration West, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Blind, Visually Impaired
Geographic Region: Henderson, Henderson County, Kentucky / Chicago, Illinois / St. Louis, Missouri

Darling Nellie Gray (song)
Start Year : 1856
The song Darling Nellie Gray has been credited to several authors, most often to Benjamin Russell Hanby (1833-1867). The song was written around 1856. Some sources say that the song came to Hanby after he read an article in a newspaper about a Kentucky slave named Nellie Gray, who was sold away from her husband to a Georgia slave owner. Another version of the story is that Hanby wrote the song after hearing of the misfortune of escaped slave Joe Selby, who died not too long after crossing the Ohio River, having left his sweetheart Nellie Gray still enslaved in Kentucky. The story goes on to say that Hanby sent the song to a publisher and received six free copies of the song while the publisher received thousands of dollars from the sale of the famous song. The title and spelling of the song has varied over time. For more see "Darling Nellie Gray" in The New Century Perfect Speaker: a complete encyclopedia of elocution, oratory, and etiquette, edited by J. Coulter; Rushville in The Ohio Guide, by Federal Writers' Project; and "House restored to honor writer of song, Nellie Gray," The Portsmouth Times, 01/20/1937, p. 3. View album cover and listen to The Mills Brothers & Louis Armstrong perform "My Darling Nelly Gray" on YouTube.


Subjects: Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers
Geographic Region: Ohio / Kentucky / Georgia

Dawson, Osceola A.
Birth Year : 1906
Death Year : 1963
Osceola Aleese Dawson was a woman of many talents. She was born in Roaring Springs, KY, and after her father died, she and her mother moved in with her grandfather, Peter Dawson, who lived in Christian County, KY. Osceola Dawson started school in the third grade at Little Lafayette in Christian County; she graduated valedictorian of her grade school. After passing the county examination that allowed her to enter high school in Pembroke, KY, Dawson graduated valedictorian of her high school at the age of 16 and became a teacher at the age of 17. In 1929, she was a student and an employee at West Kentucky Vocational School [now West Kentucky Community and Technical College] in Paducah. After graduating from college, Dawson remained employed at the school for more than 20 years. She had also completed work at the School of Brief English in New York and studied music to become a noted lyric soprano. Dawson was also the author of Of Human Miseries, a collection of short stories published in 1941, and a number of other works, including the 1959 documentary about Clarence Timberlake, The Timberlake Story. Dawson was also a long-standing, active member of the NAACP, serving as the secretary of both the Kentucky NAACP Conference and the Paducah NAACP Branch. Dawson was recognized for her outstanding service, including her speaking tours in northern states. She was a sister of former Illinois Assistant Attorney General James Cotter. For more see The Fascinating Story of Black Kentuckians, by A. A. Dunnigan; Papers of the NAACP, Part 21, roll 20, frame 234; and Bill Powell's Notebook, "Osceola Dawson's title has not changed but her role has," Paducah Sun-Democrat, 02/08/1958, p. 6.

Access InterviewListen online to the tribute feature, Osceola Dawson, Renaissance Woman by Jacque E. Day at WKMS-FM, Murray State University.

Access InterviewListen online to the Osceola Dawson interview by Edward R. Murrow on the program This I believe, at thisibelieve.org.
Subjects: Activists, Civil Rights, Authors, Education and Educators, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People)
Geographic Region: Roaring Springs, Trigg County, Kentucky / Hopkinsville and Pembroke, Christian County, Kentucky / Paducah, McCracken County, Kentucky

Deppe, Louis B.
Birth Year : 1897
Death Year : 1976
Louis B. Deppe, born in Horse Cave, KY, was a baritone concert and solo singer who was mentored by Madame C. J. Walker. Deppe grew up in Springfield, OH, and at the age of 16 was taken to New York by Madame Walker for voice training. He served in the U.S. Army and afterward toured with Anita Patti Brown. He was close friends and a performance partner with Earl Hines, and he directed his own groups, including Lo[u]is B. Deppe and His Plantation Orchestra. Deppe also performed in Broadway musicals. His first name has been spelled "Lois" in some sources. For more see "Louis Deppe" in Biographical Dictionary of Afro-American and African Musicians, by E. Southern; and a photo of Deppe's Seranaders at redhotjazz.com.


Subjects: Migration North, Military & Veterans, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers
Geographic Region: Horse Cave, Hart County, Kentucky / Springfield, Ohio

Dickerson, Roger Quincey "R. Q."
Birth Year : 1898
Death Year : 1951
Dickerson was born in Paducah, KY, and grew up in St. Louis. He played trumpet with several groups at the Cotton Club in New York, beginning with Robinson's Bostonians in the early 1920s and ending with Cab Calloway's Orchestra in 1931. Dickerson remained in New York as a cab driver. He can be heard playing on the recordings Early Black Swing, Prohibition Blues, and Riverboat Shuffle. For more see "R. Q. Dickerson" in Classic Jazz: the musicians and recordings that shaped jazz, 1895-1933, by S. Yanow; and in the Oxford Music Online Database.
Subjects: Migration North, Migration West, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers
Geographic Region: Paducah, McCracken County, Kentucky / New York

Dixville and Other Communities in North Middletown, KY
One of the earliest mentions of the African American community of Dixville is a 1901 newspaper article in The Bourbon News. The community is also mentioned in Jacqueline Sue's book, Black Seeds in the Blue Grass. Dixville is located in North Middletown, KY, on the main road that heads toward Mt. Sterling. Albert B. Wess, Sr. was reared in Dixville: he was born on Deweese Street in Lexington and the family moved to Dixville when he was a small child. His father was a prominent member of the Dixville community, owning several homes and the Tom Wess Grocery Store. The store was in operation long before Albert Wess and his twin sister, Alberta, were born in 1923, and the store closed a year before Tom Wess died in 1936. The 2nd Christian Church was across the street from the store and nearby was a UBF&SMT [United Brothers of Friendship and Sisters of the Mysterious Ten] Lodge Hall. Tom Wess belonged to the lodge. The present day church in Dixville is Wiley Methodist Church. In 2007, the first Annual Dixville Picnic was held. Three other African American communities were located in North Middletown. One was Kerrville (1), on Highway 460 about one mile outside North Middletown. The Francis M. Wood High School, grades 1-8, was located in Kerrville (1), and Florence H. Wess (d.1932), mother to Albert Wess, was one of the schoolteachers and the music teacher; she also played piano at the church. Kerrville (2) was next to the other Kerrville; and Smoketown was one mile on the other side of North Middletown, heading toward Little Rock. A few of the families that lived in these communities had the last names of Carter, Cason, Mack, Kenney, Green, McClure, Butler, Fields, Dorsey, and Gibbs. This information comes from Albert B. Wess, Sr. See the article in The Bourbon News, 11/19/1901, p. 5. If you have more information about Dixville or the other communities, please contact Michell Butler.
Subjects: Businesses, Communities, Kentucky African American Churches, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Religion & Church Work, Fraternal Organizations, Women's Groups and Organizations, Grade Schools & High Schools in Kentucky
Geographic Region: Dixville, Kerrville, Smoketown, North Middletown, Bourbon County, Kentucky

Dorsey, William Henry "Billy"
Birth Year : 1878
Death Year : 1920
William Henry "Billy" Dorsey was born October 5, 1878 in Louisville, KY, where he received his musical training. He was a bandleader and music arranger in vaudeville performances and was most noted in Chicago. In 1915, Dorsey traveled to England with a troupe that included his wife, Lizzie; they remained there for four years. He returned to the U.S. due to health problems and settled in Arizona. William Henry Dorsey died February 29, 1920 from tuberculosis. He was the son of Daniel and Celia Dorsey [source: 1880 U.S. Federal Census]. For more see William "Billy" Dorsey in Biographical Dictionary of Afro-American and African Musicians, by E. Southern.
Subjects: Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Minstrel and Vaudeville Performers
Geographic Region: Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky / Arizona

Drury, Theodore
Birth Year : 1867
Death Year : 1943
Born in Kentucky, Drury was a singer and music promoter. A teacher of voice and piano, elocution, and French conversation, he co-produced, with the African American company, Bizet's Most Famous Grand Opera, Carmen, in 1900. He was a singer in and the director of the Theodore Drury Opera Company, which performed regularly from 1900-1910 for Black and White audiences. The company had been formed in New York in 1889. Drury also organized an all African American orchestra. For more see Who's Who of the Colored Race, 1915; and Dictionary of American Negro Biography, by R. W. Logan & M. R. Winston.
Subjects: Migration North, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers
Geographic Region: Kentucky / New York

Duncan, George
Duncan's birth place has been given as Lynchburg, VA, and Louisville, KY. He was an entertainer who partnered with Billy Brooks from Washington, D.C. Known as Brooks & Duncan, they spent much of their careers abroad. Writer Rainer Lotz refers to them as "an African American team of eccentric knockouts." Brooks and Duncan left the United States in 1878 with a minstrel company, and living and performing in various countries for almost 50 years. In 1922, they were in Egypt leading the Devil's Jazz Band with four Greek musicians. For more see R. E. Lotz, "A Musical Clown in Europe," The Black Perspective in Music, vol. 18, issue 1/2 (1990), pp. 116-126 [quotation from p. 116]; and "Lord have a duck" in Some Hustling This!: taking jazz to the world, 1914-1929, by M. Miller.
Subjects: Actors, Actresses, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Migration Outside the U.S. and Canada, Minstrel and Vaudeville Performers
Geographic Region: Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky / Europe / Egypt, Africa

Duncan, Henry J. "Hank"
Birth Year : 1894
Death Year : 1968
Duncan, born in Bowling Green, KY, was a pianist. It was said he could hold his own going head to head with Fats Waller. Duncan led the Kentucky Jazz Band, based in Louisville; he moved the band to Detroit, Michigan, in 1919. He also played with Fess Williams, King Oliver, and recorded with Sidney Bechet. For more see The New Grove Dictionary of Jazz; and The Encyclopedia of Jazz in the Seventies, by L. Feather & I. Gitler.
Subjects: Migration North, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers
Geographic Region: Bowling Green, Warren County, Kentucky / Detroit, Michigan

Duncan, R. Todd
Birth Year : 1903
Death Year : 1998
Born in Danville, KY, Robert Todd Duncan was the son of John Duncan and Lettie Cooper Duncan, who was a music teacher. The family moved to Indianapolis when Todd was a boy. After graduating from high school, Duncan earned his B.A. from Butler University and an M.A. in teaching from Columbia University Teaching College. He taught at the Louisville Municipal College for Negroes from 1925-1930 and at Howard University from 1931-1945. He played Porgy in Gershwin's Porgy and Bess, breaking the color barrier in American opera. Duncan also appeared in the films Syncopation and Unchained. For more see Blacks in Opera, by E. L. Smith; Who is Who in Music, 1941; and Current Biography, 1942. View images and listen to Todd Duncan, Ann Brown "Bess, You Is My Woman" Original Porgy and Bess (1940) on YouTube.

Subjects: Actors, Actresses, Education and Educators, Migration North, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Movies and Films
Geographic Region: Danville, Boyle County, Kentucky / Indianapolis, Indiana

Early African American Theaters in Lexington, KY
The Frolic Theater, operated by an African American, opened in 1907 and closed in 1910. In 1910, the Gem Theater opened, closing by 1916; the Gem had films and live entertainment and was part of the vaudeville circuit. The Pekin Theatre at 415 West Main Street, owned by Gray Combs, was also in operation in 1910. Of the six movie theaters in downtown Lexington, four allowed African Americans to sit in the segregated balcony seats. In 1947, the American Theater Corporation in Indianapolis opened the Lyric Theatre at the corner of Third Street and Elm Tree Lane in Lexington. When the theater opened, it was billed as "the nation's finest colored theater." There were movies and live entertainment from greats such as Big Maybelle, the Oreos, Dizzy Gillespie, Cab Calloway, and many others. The Lyric Theater closed in 1963, but the building is still standing, though in disrepair. For more see C. T. Dunn's Gaines Fellowship Senior Thesis, Finding Voice for the Lyric Theater: an Oral History; Brazley and Brazley, Inc., the unpublished Research for the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government, Survey and History of the Lyric Theatre; G. A. Waller, Main Street Amusements: movies and commercial entertainment in a Southern city, 1896-1930; articles in the Lexington newspapers: the Herald, the Leader, and the Lexington Herald-Leader; and H. T. Sampson, The Ghost Walks; a chronological history of blacks in show business, 1865-1910.

See photo image of the Lyric Theatre and additional information at the Lyric website.
Subjects: Actors, Actresses, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Minstrel and Vaudeville Performers, Theater: Companies, Education, Exhibitions, Performers, and Performances in Kentucky, Movies and Films
Geographic Region: Lexington, Fayette County, Kentucky

Early African American Theaters in Louisville, KY
The first African American moving picture theater in Louisville was opened by Edward Lee in 1908, located at 13th and Walnut Streets. Lee also owned the Taft Theatre at 1314 Cedar Street and The New Odd Fellows Theatre that opened in 1908. The New Tick Houston Theatre on Walnut Street between Ninth and Tenth Streets was opened to African Americans in 1910. This information comes from The Ghost Walks; a chronological history of blacks in show business, 1865-1910, by H. T. Sampson.
Subjects: Actors, Actresses, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Minstrel and Vaudeville Performers, Theater: Companies, Education, Exhibitions, Performers, and Performances in Kentucky
Geographic Region: Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky

Eckstein-Norton Institute Musical Company
The company was comprised of the school's director of the conservatory, Hattie Gibbs, and Lulu Childers, A. L. Smith, and W. B. Hayson. The group gave concerts to secure funds for the replacement of the main building, which had burned in 1892. The school also had the Eckstein-Norton University Singers, a student singing company that performed for public relations and student recruitment events. Eckstein-Norton Institute was located in Cane Springs, KY. The school opened in 1890 and was merged with Lincoln Institute in 1912. For more about the musical company see Out of Sight: the Rise of African American Popular Music, 1889-1895, by L. Abbott and D. Seroff. For more about Eckstein-Norton see the school's Letter Copy Books,1891-1911 by C. H. Parrish.
Subjects: Education and Educators, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Higher Education Before Desegregation, Kentucky
Geographic Region: Cane Springs, Bullitt County, Kentucky

Ector, Patricia E.
Birth Year : 1948
Death Year : 2008
Ector had been the Alameda County Deputy District Attorney since 1996. She was born in Hardin County, KY, and grew up in Germany and Seaside, CA; her father was in the Army. Ector spent much of her career specializing in prosecuting sexual assault cases in the juvenile division. She was the assistant district attorney in San Francisco from 1982-1996. She was a founding member of the National Black Prosecutors Association. In 1992 she received the Hon. Justice Clinton W. White Advocacy Award from the Charles Houston Bar Association. Ector was a graduate of San Jose State University and earned her law degree from Boalt Hall School of Law at UC Berkley. Prior to her law career, she was a singer who performed in the U.S. and abroad with the group Up With People; she also performed with the group Sing Out. Her performances are included on the album Up With People! III. For more see H. Harris, "Respected Alameda County prosecutor Patricia Ector dies," in Contra Costa Times, 06/21/2008, My Town section.
Subjects: Civic Leaders, Lawyers, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers
Geographic Region: Hardin County, Kentucky / Germany / California

Edison, Harry "Sweets"
Birth Year : 1915
Death Year : 1999
According to the 1920 U.S. Federal Census, Harry Edison was born in Beaver Dam, KY, and Edison confirms this in his 1993 interview for the Smithsonian Jazz Oral History Program NEA Jazz Master [transcript available online at smithsonianyazz.org]. Harry was the son of Wayne Edison and Katherine Meryl Borah Edison. Wayne Edison left his family when Harry was a small child, and Harry and his mother moved to Columbus, Ohio, where Harry learned to play the trumpet. He played with a number of bands and joined the original Count Basie Band in 1938, the night that the regular trumpeter, Bobby Moore, became ill, so Harry took his place. He remained with the band for 12 years. It was Lester Young who nicknamed him "Sweetie Pie" in appreciation of the way he played music; Count Basie shortened the nickname to "Sweets." Edison left the Basie band in 1950 and went on to play with other bands, including those of Coleman Hawkins and Buddy Rich. He was later signed by Capitol Records and recorded with Frank Sinatra on songs such as "In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning" and "Songs for Swingin' Lovers." He played in sessions with Sinatra for 14 years, including with the Warner Brothers Studio Orchestra. Edison later recorded with European groups as well as on the Granz's Verve label. Edison received a number of awards: in 1983, he was the first to receive tribute from the Los Angeles Jazz Society, and he received a second tribute in 1992. Edison also received a Duke Ellington fellowship to Yale University. For more see the Edison, Harry "Sweets" entry in the American National Biography Online (subscription database).

See photo image of Harry "Sweets" Edison and additional information at the PBS website.
Subjects: Migration North, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers
Geographic Region: Beaver Dam, Ohio County, Kentucky / Columbus, Ohio / Los Angeles, California

Edmonds, John Buell
Birth Year : 1945
John Buell Edmonds is a recognized gospel singer from Bowling Green, KY, the son of Addie and Jewel Edmonds. The following information comes from the John Edmonds' website. In 1964, Edmonds' group was named "John Edmonds and the Angelic Specials." Six years later the group relocated to Los Angeles, CA, and their name was changed to "John Edmonds' Gospel Truth." They performed for U.S. soldiers in Vietnam and other overseas locations as affiliates with the Hollywood Overseas Committee and the USO. In 1974, the group signed with Opryland, in Nashville, TN, and was the first African American gospel group to have regular shows in Opryland. They recorded three albums while in Nashville. Edmonds returned to California in 1979, before coming home to Bowling Green, KY, where he is the music director at the Mt. Zion Baptist Church.  In 2010, Edmonds celebrated 50 years as a singer and performer.  He started performing when he was 15 years old, singing and playing piano with the teen group "Gospel Ambassadors," in Bowling Green, KY. Today, John Buell Edmonds has 14 albums. He has received a number of awards, including the American Institute for Public Service Jefferson Award, and the Kentucky Governor’s Award for the Arts. In 2013, John Edmonds was a speaker on the six week, documentary program series, "America's Music: A Filmed History of Our Popular Music from Blues to Bluegrass to Broadway," sponsored by Western Kentucky University Libraries.  For more see N. Jordan, "A Golden gospel - Bowling Green's Edmonds is celebrating 50 years as a singer and performer, The Daily News, 05/21/2010; Interview with John Buell Edmonds (FA 198) by Michelle Ross, Gospel Musicians (FA 191) by Dale W. Johnson, and the Interview with John Edmonds by LuAnne Beth Cervelli (FA 376), all available at Western Kentucky University, Manuscripts and Folklife Archives; and John Edmonds, Singer/Musician, program #117, a KET Mixed Media program.

 

  See John Edmonds, Performing Artists, a Ky.gov webpage.

 

  See John Edmonds' website.
Subjects: Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers
Geographic Region: Bowling Green, Warren County, Kentucky

Edson, Edward Frank and Mary M.
According to Northwest Black Pioneers: a centennial tribute, Edward (b.1863 in Kentucky) and Mary Duvall Edson (b.1866 in Tennessee) were two of the early African American pioneers in urban Tacoma, Washington. The Edsons had been living in Kentucky and resettled in California before moving to Washington in 1889. Mr. Edson owned a barber shop and Mrs. Edson was a music teacher. The couple, who lived at 1422 K Street, helped establish the Allen A.M.E. Church. For more see "Tacoma" on page 38 of Northwest Black Pioneers: a centennial tribute, by R. Hayes.
Subjects: Barbers, Migration West, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, 1st African American Families in Town
Geographic Region: Kentucky / California / Tacoma, Washington

Eilers v Eilers [Anna F. Anderson]
Start Year : 1964
In September 1964, eight months after Anna F. Eilers married Marshall C. Anderson, the courts took her five children away. Anna, who was white, was from New Haven, KY. She had divorced her previous husband and father of the children, George Eilers, in 1963. Jefferson County Circuit Court Judge Lyndon R. Schmid awarded custody of the children to Anna. In January 1964, Anna and Marshall C. Anderson, an African American musician and restaurant employee, were married in Chicago, IL. [Marriage between the races was still illegal in Kentucky and 17 other states.] When they returned to Louisville, KY, the couple lost their jobs in retaliation for their marriage. George Eilers sued to have the children taken away from Anna, and Judge Schmid had the children placed in a children's institutional home. Anna and Marshall moved to Indianapolis, IN, in 1964, by which time the two oldest children had been placed in foster homes. Prior to their move, the Andersons had retained Attorney James Crumlin of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. to help regain custody of the children. The custody case took place during the same time period that the Virginia Supreme Court had upheld the state's anti-miscegenation law in the Richard and Mildred Loving case [NY Times article]. The Andersons' custody case went to the Kentucky Court of Appeals in 1966, where the Appellate Court upheld the ruling of the Jefferson County Circuit Court. The case was next taken to the federal court where it became national news; it was the first appeal to the federal courts on constitutional grounds for child custody. The Andersons' case was temporarily linked to the Lovings' case, which was pending in the federal courts, and the results were expected to be landmark decisions. The link was broken when District Judge Henry L. Brooks declined to take jurisdiction over the Andersons' case because it was determined that the mother had not exhausted her appeals in the Kentucky courts, and the indirectness of the attack on the Kentucky miscegenation laws was a weakness of the case; therefore, there was no federal question. For a third time, the Anderson case was brought before the Kentucky Court of Appeals. The court reversed the judgment for proceedings consistent with the opinion. "No reason appears which would warrant interference with the custody order from which this appeal was taken. That order shall remain in effect until further order of the trial court or any court of competent jurisdiction." For more see F. Ward, "Mixed couple suffers ordeal," Jet, 04/07/1966, pp. 46-49, and "Mixed couple losses custody bid," Jet, 10/27/1966, p. 15 [both articles available full-text at Google Book Search]; B. A. Franklin's articles in the New York Times: "Kentucky facing race custody suit," 03/25/1966, p. 29, and "Judge bars case of miscegenation," 06/26/1966, p. 30; "N.A.A.C.P. to fight ruling on custody," New York Times, 07/08/1966, p. 12; and Anna Frances Eilers (now Anna Anderson), Appellant, v. George F. Eilers, Appellee, Court of Appeals of Kentucky, 412 S.W.2d 871: 1967 Ky, March 17, 1967.
Subjects: Mothers, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People), Court Cases, Interracial Marriage and State Laws
Geographic Region: New Haven, Nelson County, Kentucky / Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky / Chicago, Illinois

Embry, Jordan A.
Birth Year : 1896
Death Year : 1972
Jordan Embry was a jazz musician and the leader of the Jordan Embry Band. He was born in Richmond, KY, and for a while lived in Richmond, IN, where he owned a shoe shining parlor at 911 Main Street [source: World War I Draft Registration Card]. Jordan Embry was the son of July Embry, and in 1900, the family of three was listed in the U.S. Federal Census as living on B Street in Richmond, KY. His sister, Cordelia Embry, was a teacher at the Rosenwald School in Richmond, KY [source: 1920 U.S. Federal Census]. Jordan Embry returned to Kentucky after World War I, and in the 1940s Clarence "Duke" Madison joined his band. The band, referred to as an orchestra, had been named Jordan Embry and His Big Blue Entertainers in 1930 when they played at the Rose Garden on Russell Cave Pike in Lexington, KY [source: "Colored Notes," Lexington Leader, 07/09/1930, p. 11]. The following year, the Lexington city authorities gave permission for a 'Battle of Music' dance from 9p.m.-2a.m. or later at Purcell's Garage on West Main Street [source: "Colored Notes," Lexington Leader, 01/23/1931, p. 22]; the battling bands were the Masked Marvels Band and Jordan Embry's Band. Jordan Embry's Blue Bird Entertainers are listed in Jazz and Ragtime Records (1897-1942): A-K, by B. A. L. Rust and M. Shaw, p. 554. The band recorded the song "Wotta Life" in Richmond, IN, on March 20, 1929, a Gannett record that was not issued. Jordan Embry was the husband of Ruby Embry (b. 1898 in KY).
Subjects: Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Shoes: Finishers, Makers, Repairers, Shiners, Stores
Geographic Region: Richmond, Madison County, Kentucky / Richmond, Indiana / Lexington, Fayette County, Kentucky

Ferguson, Denver and Sea (brothers)
Denver Darious Ferguson (1895-1957) and Sea Ferguson (1899-1974) were born in Brownsville, KY, the sons of Samuel H. and Mattie Whitney Ferguson. Denver was a journalist and established The Edmonson Star News. He was also a WWI veteran then moved to Indianapolis in 1919 and owned a printing company. Sea, a college graduate, followed his brother to Indianapolis and worked in his printing company. The brothers would leave the printing business, and around 1931 they began establishing entertainment businesses on Indiana Avenue: Trianon Ballroom, Royal Palm Gardens, the Cotton Club, and Sunset Terrace Ballroom. They also established Ferguson Brothers' Booking Agency and brought many big name African American entertainers to Indianapolis, and some lesser known names including Kentucky natives Jimmy Coe and Gene Pope. The Ferguson brothers also owned Ferguson Hotel. They are recognized for making Indianapolis a major stop on the African American entertainment circuit. Denver Ferguson was said to be quite a wealthy man up to WWII [source: "Denver Ferguson, pioneer businessman dies," Indianapolis Record, 05/18/1957, pp.1&7]. Sea Ferguson is said to have become a millionaire as a result of his real estate business. He was also an officer with the The National Negro Bowling Association (TNBA). Sea Ferguson is said to be the 3rd African American to build a bowling center; Ferguson's Fun Bowl opened in March 1941 at 750 N. West Street in Indianapolis, IN. For more see "Sea Ferguson's Fun Bowl," The African Diaspora Archaeology Network, March 2008 Newsletter, p.9 [online .pdf].
Subjects: Bowlers and Bowling, Businesses, Journalists, Newspapers, Magazines, Book Publishers, Music Publishers, Migration North, Military & Veterans, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Realtors, Real Estate Brokers, Real Estate Investments
Geographic Region: Brownsville, Edmonson County, Kentucky / Indianapolis, Indiana

Fisher, Mary Ann
Birth Year : 1923
Death Year : 2004
Born in Henderson, KY, Fisher was a rhythm and blues singer whose career began in Louisville, KY. She toured with Ray Charles, with whom she had a relationship, and also toured with others before becoming a solo act and later returning to Louisville. Her first album Song Bird of the South was released in 2004. She can also be heard on the albums Early Girls, v.4, What'd I Say, and Talk'n 'Bout You. She can also be seen performing on the KET Mixed Media Programs 523, 541, and 813 [available online]. During her childhood, Fisher and some of her eight siblings were placed in the Kentucky Home Society for Colored Children in Louisville. Fisher was adopted after her first year at the orphanage. The orphanage was also home to Jonah Jones, Dicky Wells, and Helen Humes. For more see "Fisher, Louisville's 'queen of blues,' dies," Courier-Journal (Louisville), 03/13/04, News section, p.01B. View image and listen to Mary Ann Fisher - Put On My Shoes on YouTube.

Subjects: Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Orphans and Orphanages in Kentucky
Geographic Region: Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky

French, John B.
Birth Year : 1857
Death Year : 1931
John B. French was a politician, activist, singer, and business owner. He was the first African American to be appointed to the Industrial Commission of Illinois. The appointment came from Governor Len Small in 1922. The Industrial Commission acted on cases received from employees who had been injured on the job and were seeking compensation, and cases presented by persons seeking compensation for family members who had been killed on the job. French was a member of the commission branch that made the final decision on the cases. During World War I, he had also served on the Chicago Housing Committee and the Committee on the high cost of food. In 1920 he was a member of the Chicago Board of Examiners, and he was an unsuccessful Republican candidate for County Commissioner. French was the husband of Carrie Dennie; the couple had married in 1886 in West Bend, Kansas, while John was performing as an elocutionist with the Wilberforce Concert Company. Carrie French, educated at Oberlin College, was a soprano soloist. John French had also been a Jubilee singer, a bell boy, a shipping clerk, a caterer, the manager of Buildings and Grounds at Tuskegee Institute [now Tuskegee University], and steward at a country club. When he was named to the Industrial Commission in 1922, he was owner of a restaurant on Broadway named French's Pastry. In 1930, John French was among the group of Colored leaders in Chicago who were asked to meet with the Woolworth Company attorney, E. H. Williams. There was a problem; three of the Woolworth stores in the south side Colored district of Chicago were being picketed and boycotted. The Chicago Whip had organized the demonstration to force the Woolworth Company to hire Negro employees in the stores that were primarily supported by Negro patrons. John and Carrie French did not live on the south side--they lived at 4650 Winthrop Avenue, on the north end of Chicago. John had moved beyond Hubbard Street, where he had once lived with his family when they moved to Chicago from Kentucky just after the Civil War. John B. French, his mother, and all of his siblings were born in Kentucky. The family is listed as mulattoes in the census records beginning in 1870. John's wife, Carrie Dennie French, was born in 1862. Her mother was a Kentucky native who had migrated to Illinois, where Carrie was born. For more see "Hon. J. B. French makes record in state position," Chicago World, 10/29/1925, p. 3; "John B. French" on page 6 in Chicago Negro Almanac and Reference Book, edited by E. R. Rather; "The Mr. John B. French...," Cleveland Gazette, 01/09/1886, p. 1; and "Leaders hold conference with Woolworth attorney," Plaindealer, 08/29/1930, p. 1.

See photo image of John B. French at the New York Public Library Digital Gallery.

See photo image of Carrie Dennie French at the flickr website by puzzlemaster.
Subjects: Activists, Civil Rights, Businesses, Bakers, Cooks and Chefs, Migration North, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Housing, Fair Housing, Open Housing, Housing Agencies
Geographic Region: Falmouth, Pendleton County, Kentucky / Chicago, Illinois

Fuqua, Harvey
Birth Year : 1929
Harvey Fuqua was born in Louisville, KY, the son of Lillian Fuqua. [Chicago has also been given as his birth location.] He was married to Gwen Gordy, a sister of Berry Gordy. Fuqua, who is still recording today, has had an extensive career as a singer, songwriter, record producer, talent scout, developer, and manager. He was owner of Tri-Phi Records and Harvey Records and helped develop Motown Records in Detroit, MI. He founded the Moonglows, a doo-wop group, with Bobby Lester (who was from Louisville, KY), Alexander Graves, and Prentiss Barnes; he sometimes shared the lead vocals with Lester. Fuqua and Lester had sung together in high school, and Fuqua had sung with Barnes in Cleveland when they were members of the group, Crazy Sounds, the group who would become the Moonglows. In Detroit, the Moonglows gave Marvin Gaye his start, and Fuqua helped produce the song "Sexual Healing" plus a number of other songs by other artists [Gaye's father was from KY]. The Moonglows were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2000. He served as the road manager for Smokey Robinson and is credited with discovering Sylvester, for whom he produced the single "You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)." Fuqua left Motown for RCA Records in the early 1970s. This entry was suggested by Tiffany Bowman, a family member of Harvey Fuqua's who lives in Louisville, KY. For more see Harvey Fuqua, a Wikipedia entry; Fuqua performing "Don't Be Afraid of Love" on YouTube; the Harvey Fuqua entry in The Encyclopedia of Popular Music, 3rd. ed., edited by C. Larkin; Notable Black American Men, Book II, by J. C. Smith; and Encyclopedia of Rock, by P. Hardy, et al.

Subjects: Migration North, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers
Geographic Region: Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky / Cleveland, Ohio / Detroit, Michigan

Furman, James B.
Birth Year : 1937
Death Year : 1989
Born in Louisville, KY, Furman was a composer, teacher, choral director and church musician. Best known as a choral composer, he composed more than 50 works. Furman attended public schools in Louisville and received his B.A. (1958) and M. Mus. Ed. (1965) from the University of Louisville, completing his Ph. D. coursework at Brandeis University. For more see International Dictionary of Black Composers, ed. by S. A. Floyd, Jr.; Who's Who Among African Americans, 1975-2004; and James Furman Papers at Columbia College Chicago, Center for Black Music Research; and James Furman Papers at West Connecticut State University.

See photo image of James B. Furman at the West Connecticut State University website.
Subjects: Education and Educators, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers
Geographic Region: Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky

Gaines, Emma
Birth Year : 1857
Death Year : 1949
Emma Gaines was an African American leader who was a native of Kentucky and lived and died in Kansas. She led educational and social efforts as an officer of a number of organizations. For 30 years she was president of the Baptist Women's Convention of Kansas and was among the first members of the Kansas Federation of Colored Women's Clubs when it was formed in June of 1931. She was president of the General Missionary Society, president of the Mothers Conference, and held several other positions at Shiloh Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas. She was also a delegate for 30 years to the National Baptist Women's Convention, founded by Nannie Burroughs in 1900. Emma Gaines was a member of the Woman's Home and Foreign Mission Board of the National Baptist Convention and was elected vice president in 1897. She was director of the Negro Festival Choir in Topeka and led the group through numerous performances in Topeka and surrounding cities. She was one of the first officers of the National Training School for Women founded in Washington, D. C. in 1909; the school was directed by Nannie Burroughs. Gaines was a Grand Chief Preceptress of the Pearly Rose Tabernacle No. 77, Daughters of the Tabernacle, and served as president of the Daughters of Liberty. In 1899, she was elected Queen Mother of the International Order of Twelve. Emma Gaines was the wife of Thomas Gaines; both were born in Kentucky and had been slaves. Their son, Benjamin P. Gaines, was also born in Kentucky. The family left Kentucky around 1887 and settled in Topeka, Kansas. Beginning in 1927, they were the owners of Gaines and Son Funeral Home, and in 1937, the family lived above the business at 1182 Buchanan Street. The business was initially located at 305 Kansas Street when the Gaines purchased it from the Topeka Undertaking Company, which was owned by the Goodwin family from Tulsa, Oklahoma. Emma Gaines died in 1949. In 1954, the cornerstone of the Gaines Memorial Chapel was put into place, marking the beginning of construction of the church that was named in honor of Emma Gaines. The church was located on Baptist Hill across the street from Kansas Technical Institute [which later merged with Kansas State University]. For more see "The Story of Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Gaines," Capital Plaindealer, 01/10/1937, p. 1; "The Baptist State Convention," Parsons Weekly Blade, 09/04/1897, p. 4; "Mrs. Emma Gaines...," Plaindealer, 09/29/1899, p. 3; "New organized undertaking firm has purchased former Topeka Undertaking Company," Plaindealer, 01/07/1927, p. 1; and "Lays cornerstone of Gaines Memorial Chapel," Plaindealer, 07/23/1954, p. 4.
Subjects: Businesses, Migration West, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Religion & Church Work, Undertakers, Cemeteries, Coroners, & Obituaries, Women's Groups and Organizations, Association of Colored Women's Clubs
Geographic Region: Kentucky / Topeka, Kansas

Gaither, William Arthur "Bill"
Birth Year : 1910
Death Year : 1970
Bill Gaither was born in Belmont, KY. Popular during the 1930s as a guitarist and blues singer, he recorded under the name Little Bill Gaither and also Leroy's Buddy after the death of his friend and performance partner, Leroy Carr. For more see The Encyclopedia of Louisville ed., by J. E. Kleber; and The Blues. From Robert Johnson to Robert Cray, by T. Russell.

See photo image and additional information about William Arthur "Bill" Gaither at the Find a Grave website.
Subjects: Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers
Geographic Region: Belmont, Bullitt or Harrison County, Kentucky

Gibbs, Clinton
Birth Year : 1891
Death Year : 1970
Clinton Gibbs was one of the musical leaders in Cincinnati, OH, who prepared the chorus each year for the June Festival for Negro Music [The Enquirer, 02/20/2005, p. D1, by J. Gelfand]. The event was an outdoor choral festival that was held in Cincinnati for almost two decades, starting in 1938. Clinton Gibbs was born in Petersburg, KY, the son of Frances Christopher Gibbs and James Gibbs. The family moved to Cincinnati and lived on Wayne Street, according to the 1900 U.S. Federal Census. Francis was a widow who did laundry to help support the family of five. Clinton Gibbs studied piano at Holderoach College, and he studied organ under Prower Symon. Clinton Gibbs also gave private piano lessons at his home and taught piano classes at Douglass School. He was on the faculty of the Lillian Aldrich Thayer Settlement School of Music. He was the organist choirmaster at St. Andrew's Episcopal Church and director of the Queen City Glee Club. Gibbs was secretary of the True American Lodge No. 2 F. & A. M. and belonged to the King Solomon Consistory No. 20 Scottish Rite. He directed the Cincinnati Masonic Chorus at the 100th Annual Communication of the Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Ohio [source: The History of Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of the State of Ohio, 1849-1960, by C. H. Wesley, chapter 14]. He was vice president of the Cincinnati division of the National Association of Negro Musicians. Clinton Gibb's birth year in the census records ranges from 1891-1893. According to his World War I draft registration card, he was born August 7, 1893, and he had had a hip disease that left one of his legs shorter than the other. His World War II draft registration card gives his birthday as August 7, 1892. For more see Cincinnati's Colored Citizens, by W. P. Dabney; and p. 24 in the Encyclopedia of Northern Kentucky, by P. A. Tenkotte and J. C. Claypool.
Subjects: Education and Educators, Migration North, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers
Geographic Region: Petersburg, Boone County, Kentucky / Cincinnati, Ohio

Gibson, Clifford
Birth Year : 1901
Death Year : 1963
Gibson was probably born in Louisville or Henderson, KY; however, his birthplace is also given as Alabama or Mississippi. A blues guitarist, most of his first 20 recordings were made in 1929; overall, he made about 40 recordings. He recorded under the name "Grandpappy Gibson." He spent a good deal of his career in St. Louis. For more see All Music Guide to the Blues. The experts' guide to the best blues recordings, 2nd ed., edited by M. Erlewine, et al; and The Encyclopedia of Popular Music, 3rd ed., edited by C. Larkin.
Subjects: Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers
Geographic Region: Louisville, Jefferson County or Henderson, Henderson County, Kentucky / St. Louis, Missouri / Alabama / Mississippi

Givens, Mrs. Fanny Rosalind Hicks and James Edward Givens
Mrs. Fanny R. Hicks Givens was an artist, songwriter, educator, and police matron. She was born in 1872 in Chicago, IL; her parents were Kentucky natives who had migrated North. In the early 1890s, Givens was living in Louisville, KY, she was head of the art department at State University [later known as Simmons University, KY]. The art department had 23 students and their works were exhibited at the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago. She painted a portrait of John R. Walter, Minister of Madagascar and presented it to President Harrison. The portrait was hung in the White House. In 1895, Fanny R. Hicks married James Edward Givens. James Givens was born in 1861 in Greenwood, VA, the son of Jefferson and Mary Ann Dickerson Givens. James Givens was a graduate of Harvard College. He arrived in Louisville in 1892 to become a Latin and Greek instructor at State University. He was later a Latin and English professor at Louisville Colored High School [later known as Louisville Central High School]. He was founder of New South, a weekly newspaper published in Louisville beginning in 1894. From 1898-1900, James E. Givens was the second president of the State Normal School for Colored Persons (later known as Kentucky State University) [see the Office of the President Records, a Kentucky Digital Library webpage]. He was a storekeeper when he died of typhoid fever in 1910 at his home, 507 Jacob Street, in Louisville, KY, according to the Kentucky Death Records. James Givens was buried in the Eastern Cemetery in Louisville. Prior to his death, he was attended by Dr. Ellis D. Whedbee, husband to Bertha Whedbee, the first African American woman to be employed by the Louisville Police Department. In 1920, the Givens family was living on Finzer Street in Louisville, KY: Mrs. Givens, her daughter Fanny, niece Evaline Williams, and nephew James E. Givens. Mrs. Fanny R. Givens was a portrait artist, and in 1915 she attempted to raise $100,000 to build an Art Institute for the development of Negro artists. She was also a songwriter, on March 23, 1908, she had received a copyright for the words and the song titled "Hallelujah! Christ is Risen," [C 177237]. She was also chair of the Ways and Means Committee in Louisville. She sailed to Liberia, Africa, leaving from the Baltimore port aboard the ship Byron, December 10, 1921, according to her passport application. In 1923, Mrs. Givens and her daughter Fanny were missionaries for the National Baptist Convention, and were to sail to Sweden, the British Isles, France, Holland, Belgium, Denmark, and Germany, according to their U.S. Passport. They were to leave the Port of New York on June 30, 1923, sail to their destinations aboard the Olympic, and return to the U.S. within one year. In 1930, Mrs. Givens would become one of the first African American women to be hired by the Louisville Police Department. Fanny R. Hicks Givens died of breast cancer in Louisville in 1947, according to her death certificate, she was buried in Eastern Cemetery. For more see Mrs. Fanny R. Givens on p.202 in The Crisis, v.18, no.4, August 1919, [available at Google Book Search]; p.366 in Catalog of Copyright Entries, new series volume 3, nos 1-5, January 1908, by Library of Congress Copyright Office [available at Google Book Search]; Black Higher Education in Kentucky, 1879-1930 by L. H. Williams; "Mrs. Fannie R. Givens" on pp.252-253 of the Golden Jubilee of the General Association of Colored Baptists in Kentucky; and the Louisville Division of Police by M. O. Childress, Sr. See the James Edward Givens entry in Harvard College, Class of 1892-1896, Secretary's Report, No.11 by Harvard College [available at Google Book Search]; see "James Edward Givens" entry in Harvard College Class of 1892, Twenty-fifth Anniversary Report, 1892-1917 by Harvard College; and "Prominent Colored Educator" in The Mt. Sterling Advocate, 03/23/1910, p.1.

 


   See photo image of Fanny R. Givens at Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. Great Lakes Region website.
Subjects: Artists, Fine Arts, Education and Educators, Journalists, Newspapers, Magazines, Book Publishers, Music Publishers, Migration North, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Corrections and Police, Religion & Church Work, Migration South
Geographic Region: Chicago, Illinois / Greenwood, Virginia / Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky / Frankfort, Franklin County, Kentucky

Gloucester, John
Birth Year : 1776
Death Year : 1822
John Gloucester was born a slave in Kentucky. He was a gifted singer and the first African American minister of the first African American Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia. Before his church was built, Gloucester would sing outside, and when a crowd had gathered, he would begin preaching. In Kentucky, Gloucester had been owned by Reverend Gideon Blackburn, a leader in the Kentucky Presbyterian denomination. When Gloucester was ordained a minister, he was given his freedom. He preached throughout the United States and abroad, raising enough money to buy the freedom of his wife and children. The family settled in Philadelphia around 1807. For more see The Negro Church. Report of a Social Study..., edited by W. E. B. DuBois [full text at UNC Library, Documenting the American South]; and A Popular History of the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America, by J. H. Patton.

See image of John Gloucester at the NYPL Digital Gallery.
Subjects: Freedom, Migration North, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Religion & Church Work
Geographic Region: Kentucky / Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Gordon, Mary Ann Goodlow
Birth Year : 1853
Death Year : 1924
Gordon was born on the Poindexter Plantation in Bourbon County, KY, during slavery. As a free person, Mary Ann Goodlow Gordon and her husband, John Francis Gordon, eventually settled in White Sulphur Springs, Montana. They were the only African American family in the town. John Gordon died in a train wreck around 1895 while on his way to work in the gold fields in Alaska. He died shortly before their sixth and last child was born. The child, [Emmanuel] Taylor Gordon (1893-1971), would become a well-known Negro spiritual singer. Taylor Gordon began his career in vaudeville and later performed with J. Rosamond Johnson in the 1920s and 1930s. For more information see Born to Be, by T. Gordon; and the Emmanuel Taylor Gordon Papers at the Montana Historical Society Research Center.
Subjects: Fathers, Migration West, Mothers, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, 1st African American Families in Town, Minstrel and Vaudeville Performers
Geographic Region: Bourbon County, Kentucky / White Sulphur Springs, Montana

Gospel Troupers (Lexington, KY)
Start Year : 1952
The group, referred to as the Gospel Troupers or Troopers, was organized in 1952 with four women and three men. It was thought to be the first all-blind gospel chorus (Mrs. Jane Scott, the pianist-director, was sighted). The group members, who belonged to various churches, performed at festivals, schools, and church events to raise money for various charities in Lexington, KY. Members included Mrs. Jean Searcy Carter, who organized the group; her husband, Garfield Carter; and Hester and George Hanley. For more see "Blind Ky. Choristers Sing Gospel for Charity," in December 18, 1952 issue of Jet, p. 30 [available online with picture of group]; J. Hewlett, "George Hanley, blind musician, singer, dies at 85," Lexington Herald-Leader, 03/30/1988, Obituaries section, p. B4; and "Garfield Carter, Fayette vendor, singer dies at 87," Lexington Herald-Leader, 03/13/1997, Obituaries section, p. C2. Additional information provided by Margaret Miller of Lexington, KY, daughter of Mrs. Jane Scott.


Subjects: Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Religion & Church Work, Blind, Visually Impaired
Geographic Region: Lexington, Fayette County, Kentucky

Grainger, Porter Parrish
Birth Year : 1891
Porter P. Grainger was a prolific songwriter, a pianist and arranger, and on occasion a singer. He can be heard playing piano on records of noted musicians and singers during the 1920s and 1930s. Porter Grainger was born in Bowling Green, KY, on October 22, 1891; he and his sister Ursula were raised by their grandparents, Patience and Joseph Coleman, in Hickory Flat, Kentucky [sources: 1900 U.S. Federal Census, where the last name is spelled "Granger"; and World War II Draft Registration Card #2841, 1942]. Much has been written about Porter Grainger's musical career, but not much is known about his life prior to 1916. In 1908, Porter and his sister Ursula were living in Bowling Green on State Street; they were among the seven persons with the last name Granger listed on p. 122 of the Bowling Green, Ky. City Directory, 1908, vol. 1. At the time, Porter was a porter at Farnsworth & Stout. By 1912, Porter Grainger was living in Louisville, KY, working as a waiter, and in 1913, his name again spelled as "Granger," he was working as a laborer [sources: p. 518 in Caron's Directory of the City of Louisville, 1912; and p. 537 in Caron's Directory of the City of Louisville, 1913]. On November 7, 1914, Grainger, living in Chicago, married Alies Kieth [source: Cook County, Illinois, Marriage Indexes]. According to All Music Guide to the Blues, edited by V. Bogdanov, et. al., p. 206, Grainger's professional music career started as early as 1916. On his World War I Draft Registration Card #89, dated June 5, 1917, Porter Granger (he spelled his name without an "i") listed his occupation as a composer of songs in Chicago, IL. He was still living in Chicago in 1920, according to the U.S. Federal Census. By 1924, he was living in New York where he and Robert Ricketts were partners in Grainger & Ricketts, located at 1547 Broadway [source: p. 1010, Polk's Trow's New York, 1924-25: Boroughs of Manhattan and Bronxs, vol. 134]. Grainger & Ricketts is listed under the heading of "Music Publishers and Dealers" on p. 2727 of R. L. Polk & Co.'s 1925 Trow's New York City Classified Business Directory: Boroughs of Manhattan and Bronx. Grainger also worked for Bessie Smith: in 1928 he was the musical director, composer, and arranger of her musical show, Mississippi Days. He was also the writer of her first released recording, Tain't Nobody's Biz-ness If I Do and Alberta Hunter's Downhearted Blues [source: I Went Down to St. James Infirmary, by R. W. Harwood, pp. 13-20]. Grainger published a number of musical scores and performance scripts. He worked with a number of performers, appearing on recordings such as Fats Waller and His Rhythm, 1926; Ethel Waters, 1938-1939; Edna Hicks,1923; Duke Ellington: the Beginning, 1926-1928; The Duke in Harlem, 1926; and many, many more. In 1929, he was the piano accompanist for singer Mamie Smith in the movie, Jailhouse Blues. In 1940, Porter Grainger was a boarder at the home of Viola Albury on 7th Avenue in New York City [source: U.S. Federal Census]. It is not known when Porter Grainger died; one of his last documents was his 1942 World War II Draft Registration Card. For more listen to the recording of Porter Grainger: in chronological order, 1923-1929, published by RST Records in Vienna, Austria (which has hundreds of other recordings); see the musical score 'Tain't Nobody's Bus'ness If I Do: blues, by Porter Grainger and Everett Robbins, and the many other scores; De Board Meetin: the script and music, by Porter Grainger and Leigh R Whipper; and the Leigh Rollin Whipper Papers at the New York Public Library. Porter Grainger and B. Ricketts were the authors of the musical score How to Sing and Play the Blues Like the Phonograph and Stage Artists, written in 1926.

 

 
See "Mamie Smith - Jail House Blues (1929) .MPG" on YouTube.

 

 

 
Listen to radio broadcast of Billie Holiday singing "T'ain't nobody's business if I do" written by Porter Grainger & Everett Robbins.  

 

 
See photo image of Porter P. Grainger in "I Went Down to the St. James Infirmary" blog dated Monday, March 29, 2010. (see notes below)

*NOTE: Porter Parrish Grainger (also spelled as Granger) should not be confused with Percy Grainger.

*NOTE: Robert Ricketts, partner in Grainger & Ricketts, was born c. 1885 in Ohio and his parents were born in Kentucky [source: 1930 U.S. Federal Census]. Robert Ricketts was African American and is listed as 40 years old in the 1925 New York State Census. Robert Ricketts died November 26, 1936 in Manhattan, NY [source: New York Death Certificate #25601].
Subjects: Migration North, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers
Geographic Region: Bowling Green and Hickory Flat, Warren County, Kentucky / Chicago, Illinois / New York, New York

Hall, Leula Wallace
Birth Year : 1939
Leula Wallace Hall is an educator, administrator, minister, former high school basketball coach, and former jazz singer. She was born in the coal camp town of Valles Creek [now Hartwell] in McDowell County, WV. She is the oldest child of the late Bonnie Goddard Wallace and Theodore Wallace Sr. The family moved from West Virginia to Cincinnati, OH, then on to Lexington, KY, where Leula Hall attended old Dunbar High School. She learned to sing in church, and was a professional jazz singer. Her stage name was Toni Wallace. She sang with the local group known as The House Rockers. She also sang with the Eugene Barr Trio, and she was an Ikette, singing with Ike and Tina Turner. She was one of the backup singers on the 1963 single release of Tina's Dilemma. Leula Hall came back to Lexington, KY, when her singing career ended. She went back to Dunbar High School and graduated in 1965, nine years after her classmates. She enrolled at Transylvania University and graduated with a B.A. in Sociology in 1973, and began teaching social studies at Lafayette High School. She was also the basketball coach for the girls' team. She coached the team a year before Title IX of the Education Amendment Act of 1972 went into effect in Lexington schools. Leula Hall had also coached a girls' community basketball team, the team members were her daughter and her daughter's friends. The team did not have a name. Opponents were teams such as the Transylvania women's team, the Sayre School team, and a girls team from Ashland, KY. Leula Hall had played basketball in Alabama when she stayed with her grandmother. In Lexington, she was a player/coach once; she dressed out with her community team during a game against Sayre School when foul trouble left her with only four players on the floor. In addition to coaching and teaching at Lafayette High School, Leula Hall continued her education and earned her master's degree from Eastern Kentucky University. In 1975, she moved with her husband to Detroit, MI, and earned her Ph.D. in educational sociology at Wayne State University. She earned a second doctorate in pastoral counseling. While in Detroit, Leula Hall was director of an after school leadership program for high school students in the Region One Student Resource Center, it was a federally funded program. All of her students graduated from high school. Hall was next a school community agent with the city school system, she was a liaison between the school and the community, and would become an assistant director, then a director of Area E (formerly Region 6) in 1984. The area included 42 schools with students from a wide range of cultural backgrounds. Hall's duties included fund raising and helping to convince the community to pass property taxes (millage elections) to pay for the schools. In 1991, Leula Hall became director of Adult Education in the Detroit City School System. She was the lead researcher, and later director, of the African Heritage Cultural Center's exhibit and display. The event drew up to 80,000 visitors. Leula Hall also established the Christ Church Christian Disciples Ministry at 18336 Woodward Avenue in Detroit, MI. In 2001, she retired, closed her church, and returned to Lexington. She has taught part-time at Kentucky State University. Leula Hall is the mother of three children, Ronald, Daryl, and Candyce. Her daughter Candyce Edwards was also a professional singer with the group "Al Hudson and One Way." The group had five top ten hits, and the biggest hit was the song Cutie Pie, which reached #4 on the R&B Charts in 1982. Information for this entry comes from the Leula Wallace interviews that are housed in the Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History at the University of Kentucky Libraries. The interviews are restricted. Leula Wallace Hall is the sister of Theodore C. Wallace, Jr. and Thomas C. Wallace. See also An analysis of the local school principals and local school-community relations committee members' perceptions of the influence of community-relations members in decision-making policies at the local school level in Region Five, Detroit Public Schools by Leula Wallace Clark; and "Praise revival for women starts tonight," Lexington Herald-Leader, 08/07/1997, p.15.

 

Access InterviewRead about the Leula Wallace Hall oral history interviews at the University of Kentucky Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, item records in the SPOKE Database.

See image and listen to recording of Tina's Dilemma.

See image and listen to recording of Cutie Pie.
Subjects: Education and Educators, Migration North, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Religion & Church Work, Migration South
Geographic Region: [Valles Creek] Hartwell, McDowell County, West Virginia / Cincinnati, Ohio / Lexington, Fayette County, Kentucky / Detroit, Michigan

Hampton, Lionel L.
Birth Year : 1908
Death Year : 2002
Lionel Leo Hampton was born in Louisville, KY, to Gertrude Morgan and Charles Edward Hampton. The family moved to Alabama when Charles Hampton was killed fighting in World War I, and from Alabama they moved to Chicago. Lionel Hampton became a jazz musician, composer, and arranger; his big band was formed in 1940. By 1945, Lionel Hampton was the highest paid band leader, performing that same year at Carnegie Hall. Lionel Hampton provided music for five presidential inaugurations. He also founded two record labels and was the only jazz musician with a music school named after him - The Lionel Hampton School of Music at the University of Idaho. Lionel Hampton was married to Gladys Riddle. Lionel L. Hampton was the son of Gladys M. Morgan Hampton and Charles E. Hampton [source: 1910 U.S. Federal Census and Hamp: an autobiography by L. Hampton]. For more see "Lionel Hampton in the Dictionary of Twentieth Century Culture, vol. 5: African American Culture, ed. by S. Adell; Hamp: an autobiography, by L. Hampton and J. Haskins; and "Lionel Hampton: Music was his fountain of youth," at Big Band Library.com.
Subjects: Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Appointments by U.S. Presidents/Services for U.S. Presidents
Geographic Region: Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky

Hampton, Pete George
Birth Year : 1871
Death Year : 1916
Born in Bowling Green, KY, Pete G. Hampton was the first African American to be recorded playing a harmonica. According to his 1905 passport application, Hampton was also a variety actor, and he had an artificial right eye. He recorded as a banjo soloist and singer, the recordings were made in Britain and Germany between 1903-1911. He recorded, toured and lived in Europe with his wife, Laura Bradford Bowman. It is said that he recorded more than any other contemporary African American. In 1913 Hampton, his wife, and her father returned to the United States, where Hampton died three years later. For more see Who was the first blues harp player to record? by Pat Missin; the Laura Bowman entry in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography; and a more detailed biography and photo image see K. Mason, "Pete G. Hampton," The Amplifier Online, 04/02/2010. Listen to Pete Hampton performing "Dat Mouth Organ Coon", link from Vintage Harmonica 78s website.
Access Interview
Subjects: Actors, Actresses, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Migration Outside the U.S. and Canada, Minstrel and Vaudeville Performers
Geographic Region: Bowling Green, Warren County, Kentucky / Europe

Harris, Kevin L.
Birth Year : 1975
Kevin Harris was born in Lexington, KY, the son of Margaret Jones and the late John L. Harris, both from Paris, KY. Kevin Harris is a jazz pianist who plays contemporary and traditional music. He has been featured on National Public Radio's Jazz with Eric in the Evening [WGBH Jazz and Blues streams] and was invited by the mayor of New Orleans to perform for the Alpha Phi Alpha Forum at the Mahalia Jackson Theater. Each year, the Kevin Harris Project trio performs throughout the United States. The trio includes Harris, Steve Langone, and Keala Kaumeheiwa. The ensemble has performed educational programs designed for grades K-12 to introduce various styles of improvised music and cultural awareness. Harris is also a music teacher, giving instruction in trumpet, piano, and jazz band at the Cambridge Friends School in Boston, Massachusetts; he also provides private music instruction. He has started five separate band programs throughout the Greater Boston area. Kevin Harris is a graduate of Bryan Station High School in Lexington, Morehead State University, and the New England Conservatory of Music. His first album, Patient Harvest, was released in 2002, his second, The Butterfly Chronicles, in 2007. For more information see The Kevin Harris Project, and J. Perry, "For jazz trio, a conversation in musical notes [online article version]," The Boston Globe, 04/17/2009, Scene & Heard section. View photographs and videos of performances at the Kevin Harris Project website. 


Subjects: Education and Educators, Migration North, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers
Geographic Region: Paris, Bourbon County, Kentucky / Lexington, Fayette County, Kentucky / Boston, Massachusetts

Harris, Larnelle
Birth Year : 1950
Born in Danville, KY, Harris attended Western Kentucky University, where he studied classical music and theory. He has performed for a number of years and received many awards; in 1984, he and Sandi Patti won a Grammy Award for Best Gospel Performance by a duo or group for the song More Than Wonderful. He has had more than 12 number one hits and appeared in the special, More Than the Music... Live (2002), a tribute to Southern gospel music. For more see World Musicians, by C. Thompson. View image and listen to Larnell Harris - Desert of My Days on YouTube.

Subjects: Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers
Geographic Region: Danville, Boyle County, Kentucky

Harrison, James Henry "Jimmy"
Birth Year : 1900
Death Year : 1931
Harrison was born in Louisville, KY. He left Kentucky when a teen and later played semi-pro baseball before becoming a musician and a singer. A trombonist, he had his own trio in 1919 and played with a number of other bands: Charlie Johnson, Sam Wooding, the Kentucky Jazz Band (Detroit), and Billy Fowler, to name a few. Harrison died of stomach cancer at the age of 30. For more see Who's Who of Jazz: Storyville to Swing Street, by J. Chilton; and The Penguin Encyclopedia of Popular Music, ed. by D. Clarke.
Subjects: Baseball, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers
Geographic Region: Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky

Hart, Henry
Birth Year : 1840
Death Year : 1915
Henry Hart was born in Frankfort, KY, the son of Frederick Hart, from Boone County, and Judith Brown, from Frankfort. Henry Hart moved to Cleveland, OH, when he was 14 years old and there learned to play the violin. He later lived in New Orleans, where he was employed as a violin player and where he met his wife, Sarah, a pianist. The couple moved to Evansville, IN, in 1867, where Henry Hart was employed as a barber and also performed as a musician. Hart formed the Alabama Minstrels in 1872; the group included Kentucky native Tom McIntosh. Hart's minstrels performed in blackface by using burnt cork. By 1885, the Hart Family was living in Indianapolis, performing as a family string orchestra. The Harts had five daughters: Estelle, Lillian [who died as an infant], Myrtle, Hazel, and Willie. Myrtle became a concert harpist and toured the United States, billed as the only colored harpist in the world. Hazel, also a musician, was a school principal in Indianapolis. She died in a bus accident in 1935; the Hazel Hart Hendricks School is named in her honor. For more see Henry Hart, a Wikipedia website; and "Henry Hart" in Biographical Dictionary of Afro-American and African Musicians, by E. Southern.

See photo image of Henry Hart from the Indianapolis News, 04/06/1901
Subjects: Barbers, Migration North, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Minstrel and Vaudeville Performers
Geographic Region: Frankfort, Franklin County, Kentucky / Indianapolis, Indiana

Hatchett, Hilary R., Jr.
Birth Year : 1918
Death Year : 1985
Hilary Rice Hatchett was born in Lexington, KY. His mother had died by 1930, and his father, Hilary Sr., was raising his three sons and worked as a porter at a transfer station in Lexington. Hilary Jr., the oldest of the three boys, would go on to study at the Julliard School of Music [now The Julliard School], then was the director of the Negro soldier chorus, a concert band, and an opera theater during World War II in Sicily (1943). Hatchett earned his master's degree, for which he wrote his thesis, A Study of Current Attitudes Toward the Negro Spiritual with a Classification of 500 Spirituals Based on Their Religious Content, in 1946 at Ohio State University. Hatchett was next the superintendent of music for the Colored schools in Greenville, SC, 1946-1948, and acting chair of the Department of Fine Arts at Savannah State College [now Savannah State University] beginning in 1948. He co-authored the Savannah State College Hymn. Hilary R. Hatchett died July 5, 1985, and is buried in Long Island National Cemetery in New York, according to the U.S. Veterans Gravesites listing. For more see Who's Who in Colored America, 1950; and Savannah State College Hymn.
Subjects: Education and Educators, Military & Veterans, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Migration South
Geographic Region: Lexington, Fayette County, Kentucky / Greenville, South Carolina / Savannah, Georgia / Long Island, New York

Hayes, Clifford
Birth Year : 1895
Death Year : 1957
Born in Glasgow, KY, Clifford Hayes was one of four sons. Hayes, who played the fiddle, joined the Earl McDonald Jug Band in Louisville, the city where jug bands originated. After a disagreement in 1919, Hayes formed his own band and played in a few sessions with Sarah Martin. Some of his recordings can still be found listed under Clifford Hayes and the Louisville Jug Bands. For more see The Encyclopedia of Louisville, ed. by J. E. Kleber, and That Crazy Jug Band Sound. View image and listen to Clifford Hayes' Louisville Stompers - Frog Hop (1929) on YouTube.

Subjects: Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers
Geographic Region: Glasgow, Barren County, Kentucky

Hayes, Edgar J.
Birth Year : 1904
Death Year : 1979
Edgar J. Hayes was born in Lexington, KY. A pianist who worked with many bands, he was known for his tinkling interpretations of the songs Star Dust and In the Mood. Hayes was a graduate of Wilberforce University. For more see Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Musicians, 9th ed., edited by L. Kuhn; and The New Grove Dictionary of Jazz, 2nd ed., edited by B. Kernfeld.


View Edgar J. Hayes photo image and notice "Alhambra Theatre's Orchestra Leader" in New York Public Library Digital Gallery.
View image and listen to In the Mood by Edgar Hayes 1938 - Hoppin'! on YouTube.
Subjects: Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers
Geographic Region: Lexington, Fayette County, Kentucky

Hemphill, Beatrice
Birth Year : 1898
Hemphill, whose father was from Owen County and whose mother was from Louisville, came to Hodgenville, KY, to direct and play the organ at the Baptist and Methodist churches. She composed a number of songs, anthems and solos, including He Never Will Leave Me Alone. For more see Who's Who in Colored America (1950).
Subjects: Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers
Geographic Region: Owen County, Kentucky / Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky / Hodgenville, Larue County, Kentucky

Henderson, Edmonia
Birth Year : 1900
Death Year : 1947
Born Jennie Katherine Edmonia Henderson, she became a blues singer and later an evangelist. She sang with Jelly Roll Morton, Tommy Ladnier, and Johnny Dobbs. By 1928 she was teaching and giving gospel concerts at the Griffith Conservatory of Music in Louisville. By 1932 she had married and become Reverend Edmonia Buckner. For more see Katherine B. Johnson at the University of Louisville University Archives and Records Center; and A Guide to the Blues. History, who's who, research sources, by A. Sonnier, Jr. 

See images and listen to Edmonia Henderson Jelly Roll Blues (1924) on YouTube.
Subjects: Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers
Geographic Region: Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky

Henderson, Rosa "Rose"
Birth Year : 1896
Death Year : 1968
Born Rosa Deschamps in Henderson, KY, she left home to work in her uncle's carnival show and later joined Douglas "Slim" Henderson on the vaudeville circuit; they married in 1918. Rosa Henderson appeared in musical comedies in New York and England in the 1920s. A vaudeville blues singer, she made recordings from 1923 to 1932 under many different names. For more see Blues Who's Who, by S. Harris. View image and listen to He May Be Your Dog But He's Wearing My Collar by Rosa Henderson on YouTube.

Subjects: Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Minstrel and Vaudeville Performers
Geographic Region: Henderson, Henderson County, Kentucky / New York / England, Europe

Higgins, Norman
Birth Year : 1941
Death Year : 2007
Norman Higgins, born in Lexington, KY, was a graduate of old Dunbar High School. He was employed at Southland Printing and Publishing, where he ran the printing press. Though he received many awards for his car racing, Higgins was also well-known as an exceptional drummer. He played all over Kentucky and the U.S. with greats such as Roland Kirk, Billy Preston, Sonny Stitt, and Kentucky native, Les McCann. Higgins was also part of the Lexington Jazz Project's original lineup. For more see J. Hewlett, "Norman Higgins jazz drummer dies," Lexington Herald-Leader, 01/05/2007, City/Region section, p. B4.


Subjects: Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Automobile Races, Race-car Drivers
Geographic Region: Lexington, Fayette County, Kentucky

Hooks, Julia Britton
Birth Year : 1852
Death Year : 1942
Julia B. Hooks was born in Frankfort, KY. A musician, social worker, educator, and juvenile court officer, she and her husband managed a juvenile detention home that was opened next to their house in Memphis. One of the wards killed her husband. Hooks went on to help found the Old Folks and Orphans Home. Julia Hooks was the daughter of Henry and Laura Marshall Britton. She was mother of photographers Henry and Robert Hooks, grandmother to Benjamin Hooks, and sister to Dr. Mary E. Britton. For more see Notable Black American Women, ed. by J. C. Smith; Julia Hooks entry in the Afro-American Encyclopaedia: Or, the Thoughts, Doings..., by James T. Haley, pp. 563-565 [from the UNC Library's Documenting the American South website]; and the Julia Britton Hooks entry by S. Lewis in The Tennessee Encyclopedia of History and Culture [online version].

See photo image and additional information on Julia Hooks at the African American Registry website.
Subjects: Education and Educators, Mothers, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Corrections and Police, Social Workers, Migration South, Grandparents, Care of the Elderly
Geographic Region: Frankfort, Franklin County, Kentucky / Memphis, Tennessee

Hopkins, Telma
Birth Year : 1948
Telma Hopkins was born in Louisville, KY. She was a session singer in Detroit, mostly with the Motown label, before she became a member of the group Tony Orlando and Dawn (Michael Anthony Orlando Cassivitis, Joyce Vincent and Telma Hopkins). Their 1970 single "Knock Three Times" sold a million copies the first month after it was released, but their biggest hit was "Tie a Yellow Ribbon," in 1973. The group had a television program from 1974-1976 before their break-up in 1977. Telma Hopkins went on to have a successful career as a sitcom actress in television shows such as "Gimme a Break" and "Family Matters" plus guest appearances on other shows. She was the character Daisy in the television mini-series "Roots: the Next Generation." For more see Biography Index. A cumulative index to biographical material in books and magazines, vol. 25, Sept. 1999 - Aug. 2000; TV Guide, vol. 51, issue 46 (November 15-21, 2003), p. 15; and Who's Who Among African Americans, 1989-2006. View Telma Hopkins in Half & Half - No More Tears.wmv on YouTube.


Subjects: Actors, Actresses, Migration North, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Television
Geographic Region: Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky

Humes, Helen
Birth Year : 1913
Death Year : 1981
Born in Louisville, KY, Humes made her first recording in 1927 in St. Louis. She then moved to New York and worked with the Vernon Andrades Orchestra. She replaced Billie Holiday in the Count Basie Band, recorded tunes for film and television, and appeared in the film Simply Heaven [Langston Hughes]. Humes moved to California in the 1940s and when her career slowed in the 1960s, returned to Kentucky. Humes' career picked up in the 1970s. For more see Kentucky Women, by E. K. Potter; and Contemporary Musicians, vol. 19, by S. A. McConnel.

Access InterviewListen to the Helen Humes Oral History (includes transcript) at the University of Louisville Libraries.


View Helen Humes with Dizzy Gillespie c.1947 on YouTube.
Subjects: Actors, Actresses, Migration North, Migration West, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Television, Movies and Films
Geographic Region: Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky / St. Louis, Missouri / New York / California

Hunter, Bush A. [Hunter Foundation (Lexington, KY)]
Start Year : 1894
End Year : 1983
Dr. Bush Hunter was born in Lexington, KY, the son of Mary B. and Dr. John E. Hunter, Sr. Bush Hunter was a graduate of Hampton Institute [now Hampton University], Oberlin College, and Howard Medical School [now Howard University College of Medicine], where he specialized in internal medicine. He started his medical practice in Lexington in 1926, sharing an office with his father on Upper Street. He later practiced at the Public Health Clinic on Upper and Mechanic Streets in Lexington. Bush Hunter retired from medicine in 1976. He was the first African American member of the Fayette County Medical Society [now the Lexington Medical Society], founded in 1799. He was named Kentucky's Outstanding General Practitioner of the Year and also named Kentucky's Selective Service Father of the Year in 1965, after serving as a medical adviser for the Selective Service System. In addition to his medical practice, Bush Hunter was a tenor singer and piano player. He was a World War I veteran of the U.S. Army. The Hunter Foundation for Health Care was a non-profit organization named to honor the 113 years of medical service in Lexington provided by Drs. John and Bush Hunter. The organization, founded in the early 1970s, was later renamed Healthcare of the Bluegrass. For more information see J. Hewlett, "Physician Bush Hunter dies at 89," Lexington Herald-Leader, 12/02/1983, p. B1. See also the Hunter Foundation for Health Care records, accession number 1997MS244, in Special Collections, University of Kentucky Libraries.

 

Access Interview Read about the Bush Hunter oral history interviews available at the University of Kentucky Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, item records in the SPOKE Database.
Subjects: Medical Field, Health Care, Military & Veterans, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers
Geographic Region: Lexington, Fayette County, Kentucky

In Old Kentucky
This Litt and Dingwall dramatic production, from the early 1890s, included an almost entirely white cast; it told a story that revolved around Kentucky hillbillies. The African Americans of the cast were the children who played in the Pickaninny Band; their acting, playing, dancing, and comic antics were meant to exemplify the fun life of African Americans in Kentucky. Initially, there was to be a colored band of men in the production who were to go by the name of Woodlawn Whangdoodles. Instead, a street band of boys from Indianapolis, IN, made up the African American members of the production. When the boys got to be too old or too tall, younger and smaller boys from Indianapolis replaced them. The show became a hit; the band and pickaninny brass bands in general were in demand throughout the United States. For more see Out of Sight: the Rise of African American Popular Music, 1889-1895, by L. Abbott and D. Seroff. See photos of scenes from In Old Kentucky at the University of Washington Libraries' Digital Collection.
Subjects: Actors, Actresses, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Minstrel and Vaudeville Performers
Geographic Region: Kentucky

The James Harvey Family (Woodford County, KY)
The family of James Harvey was regarded as skilled, artistic, musical, and mechanical. Harvey, considered a naturally gifted mechanic, was an engineer in a distillery near Frankfort, KY. He was the father of Lewis, Will, and two other boys; his wife was described as Mexican. The March 1902 issue of the Woodford Sun newspaper contained a story relating how 18 year old Lewis built a functioning miniature stationary steam engine; Lewis had not been trained as an engineer and was thought to be uneducated. He was also a wood carver and had made a walking stick designed with people and animals in bold relief. Will, who was 15 years old, sketched portraits and landscapes in pencil and crayon. The two other brothers were gifted musicians and played a number of instruments. For more see "IV. Inventive Genius, Mechanical Skill, etc." on pp. 470-471 in The Story of a Rising Race, by Rev. J. J. Pipkin [available full-text at Google Book Search]; and "Untutored Negro boy is a genius," Woodford Sun, 03/06/1902, p. 1.
Subjects: Artists, Fine Arts, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Mechanics and Mechanical Engineering
Geographic Region: Woodford County, Kentucky

Jett, Alta M. and Richard E. Jett
Alta Margaret Boatright Jett (1920-2004) was born in Lancaster, KY; her family later moved to Indiana. She held a number of jobs, including domestic servant, credit officer at Montgomery Wards, and janitor. She was also president of the Mary B. Talbert Club and Vice Precinct Committee person for the Democratic Party, as well as a worker with the Girl Scouts, YMCA, and a mother's study group. Jett wrote obituaries and spoke on African American history. She was the daughter of Charles and Annie Farley Boatright, and the wife of Richard Ezekiel Jett (1917-2006), a carpenter and musician from Booneville, KY. Richard was the son of James and Mattie Jett. The Alta M. Jett Collection is housed at the Indiana Historical Society. For more see "Alta M. Jett in Guide to African-American History Materials in the Manuscript Collections at the Indiana Historical Society; "Obituaries," Palladium-Item, 05/23/2004, p. 3B; and Richard E. Jett in the Obituary section of the Palladium-Item, 07/23/2006, p. 3C.
Subjects: Civic Leaders, Historians, Migration North, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Carpenters, YMCA (Young Men's Christian Association)
Geographic Region: Lancaster, Garrard County, Kentucky / Booneville, Owsley County, Kentucky / Richmond, Indiana

Johnson, Arthur L., Jr.
Birth Year : 1914
Death Year : 2005
Arthur Lloyd Johnson, Jr. was the second African American Democrat elected to the Kentucky General Assembly, serving from 1964-1965. He was also first violinist with the Louisville Civic Orchestra and a former vice president of the Mid-Western Tennis Association. He was a high school teacher in Louisville. Johnson is a graduate of the University of Kansas and Hampton Institute [now Hampton University], where he played basketball and football. He was born in Lawrence, KS. For more contact the Kentucky Legislative Research Commission; J. Packett, "Losing in tennis surely spotlights winning attitude, Johnson, nearing 80, gets respect," Richmond Times-Dispatch, 08/10/1994, Sports section, p. E7; and Arthur Lloyd Johnson, Jr. in the obituaries section of the Louisville Courier-Journal, 12/29/2005.
Subjects: Athletes, Athletics, Basketball, Football, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Politicians, Politics, Appointments & Elections, Tennis, Legislators, Kentucky
Geographic Region: Lawrence, Kansas / Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky / Frankfort, Franklin County, Kentucky / Hampton, Virginia

Johnson, Christine Claybourne
Birth Year : 1909
Death Year : 1999
Johnson was born and raised in Versailles, KY, the daughter of Mattie A. Williams Claybourne and Braxton D. Claybourne. She graduated from the Versailles Colored high school in 1927. She won a gold medal for her poetry. She lived in Detroit in the 1940s, where she worked with the National Youth Administration and established day care centers in churches. Johnson attended nursing school and studied music before earning her undergraduate degree in biology from Loyola University in 1948. She earned a master's degree in education from DePaul University in 1950. Johnson was a member of the Nation of Islam and was principal and director of the University of Islam Primary School in Chicago. She traveled to Africa, Asia, and Europe. Johnson also published plays and poems; her poem, "Cadence," was published in Outlook Magazine. She was the author of Poems of Blackness and three children's textbooks: Muhammad's Children, ABC's of African History and Masks. For more see "Christine C. Johnson" in For Malcolm, by D. Randall and M. G. Burroughs; and A. Beeler, "Longtime teacher Christine Johnson," Chicago Tribune, 03/22/1999, Metro Chicago section, p. 7.
Subjects: Authors, Education and Educators, Migration North, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Poets, Children's Books and Music, Nurses, National Youth Administration (NYA)
Geographic Region: Versailles, Woodford County, Kentucky / Detroit, Michigan / Chicago, Illinois

Jones, Robert E. "Jonah"
Birth Year : 1908
Death Year : 2000
Robert Elliot Jones was born in Louisville, KY, and raised in an orphanage. A jazz trumpeter, he played with the Cab Calloway Orchestra for 11 years, then went on to appear on television, make several albums, and win a Grammy Award in 1959 for Best Jazz Performance by a group. He was one of the all-time best trumpeters. Jones is also remembered for the spit ball incident that got Dizzy Gillespie fired. One day during practice, Jones threw a spit ball. Cab Calloway accused Dizzy Gillespie of the deed and slapped Gillespie. A scuffle ensued. When the two were pried apart, Calloway's pants were cut up and he had razor cuts on his hip and thigh. Gillespie was fired. Jonah Jones and the other orchestra members kept quiet. For more on Jonah Jones see Who's Who of Jazz, by J. Chilton; and Talking Jazz, by M. Jones. For more on the spit ball incident see Dizzy Gillespie, by T. Gentry, pp. 69-71. View image and listen to Jonah Jones Quartet: Night Train on YouTube.

Subjects: Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Television, Orphans and Orphanages in Kentucky
Geographic Region: Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky

Joplin, Florence G.
Birth Year : 1841
Death Year : 1881
Florence Givens Joplin was born free in Kentucky around 1841; her family moved to Texas when she was a child or teen. It is believed that she was the daughter of Milton and Susie Givens (or Givins). Florence was the wife of Giles (or Jiles) Joplin, and the mother of composer Scott Joplin, the second of her six children. Florence Joplin was a banjo player and singer. For more see In Black and White. A guide to magazine articles, newspaper articles, and books concerning Black individuals and groups, 3rd ed., supp., ed. by M. M. Spradling; and Ragging it: getting Ragtime into history (and some history into Ragtime), by H. L. White.
Subjects: Freedom, Migration West, Mothers, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers
Geographic Region: Kentucky / Texas

Joplin, Giles
Birth Year : 1842
Giles (or Jiles) Joplin was a slave who may have passed through Kentucky on the way to Texas with his master. They had come from North Carolina, where it is speculated that Giles was born around 1842. Giles Joplin, a fiddler, was the father of composer Scott Joplin. Giles left his wife, Florence, and their six children, in 1880 for another woman. For more see In Black and White. A guide to magazine articles, newspaper articles, and books concerning Black individuals and groups, 3rd ed., supp., ed. by M. M. Spradling; and Ragging it: getting Ragtime into history (and some history into Ragtime), by H. L. White.
Subjects: Fathers, Freedom, Migration West, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers
Geographic Region: Kentucky / Texas

Kennedy, Paul Horace
Birth Year : 1848
Death Year : 1921
Reverend Paul H. Kennedy was born in Elizabethtown, KY, son of John M. and Caroline Kennedy. He was a minister and a musician who authored and published the Baptist Directory and Year Book in Henderson, KY, and he was editor of the Kentucky Missionary Visitor. Rev. Kennedy was also an instructor of the organ, piano, violin, and band instruments. He served as a U.S. Marshall during the administration of President McKinley. For more see Paul H. Kennedy in Who's Who of the Colored Race, 1915; and Rev. Paul H. Kennedy in the Afro-American Encyclopaedia: Or, the Thoughts, Doings..., by James T. Haley, pp. 613-614 [available online at the UNC University Library, Documenting the American South].


Subjects: Authors, Journalists, Newspapers, Magazines, Book Publishers, Music Publishers, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Religion & Church Work, Appointments by U.S. Presidents/Services for U.S. Presidents
Geographic Region: Elizabethtown, Hardin County, Kentucky / Henderson, Henderson County, Kentucky

Kentucky African American Musicians in Illinois (Chicago)
Start Year : 1880
End Year : 1950
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 hardly any 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.

 

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]

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

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

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) [1940 Census]

Harry Johnson (b. 1894 KY - lived in Chicago) [1940 Census]

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]

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)

Robert Montgomery (b. 1903 KY - lived in Chicago) [1940 Census]

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

Henderson Smith (b. 1858 Frankfort, KY - d. 09/21/1923 Chicago) - son of William and Maria Smith 

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]

 
Subjects: Migration North, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers
Geographic Region: Kentucky / Illinois

"Kentucky Babe" (song)
Start Year : 1896
The most famous of the Negro lullabies, "Kentucky Babe" was sung by Clarence Carroll Clark, who was born 1885 in Indiana. The song was a major hit in 1896. The record was sold in the Sears, Roebuck, and Company catalogue No.113, in 1903. For more see chapter 12 in Lost Sounds: blacks and the birth of the recording industry, 1890-1919, by T. Brooks. There is a Kentucky Babe sound recording by Adam Geibel and Richard Henry Buck, recorded in 1911, 78 RPM, 12 in.: "Presents a sentimental song about an Afro-American baby in Kentucky." That recording is available at the Library of Congress. A later recording is available at the University of Kentucky Fine Arts Media Center (Title: Tintypes [sound recording]: original Broadway cast recording). View video of Dean Martin & Four Vagabonds singing "Kentucky Babe" on YouTube.
 
Subjects: Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers
Geographic Region: Kentucky

Kentucky Choir
Start Year : 1927
The choir was made up of men from the 369th Colored Infantry, also known as the Harlem Hellfighters. The unit, commanded by Colonel Arthur Little, was the first to reach the Rhine in 1918 during World War I. In 1927, Colonel Little's wife, Mrs. Charlotte Fairchild Little, passed away, and four members of the Kentucky Choir and Noble Sissle provided music at the funeral. For more see "Sing Negro Spirituals at Mrs. Little's bier," New York Times, 09/09/1927, p. 25.
Subjects: Military & Veterans, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers
Geographic Region: Kentucky

Kentucky Club Café (Los Angeles, CA)
Start Year : 1929
The Kentucky Club Café, located at 2220 Central Avenue in Los Angeles, California, was named for its Kentucky racing décor. Central Avenue was the entertainment area of the city of Los Angeles. The Kentucky Club opened Thursday, March 14, 1929, as a premier club for African Americans and white Hollywood movie stars. The performers were all African American, headed by Miss Mildred Washington, with dance music by Howard's Quality Serenaders. Dinner cost $1.25, with the opening cover charge $1.50 and the regular cover charge 75 cents. For more see California soul: music of African Americans in the West, by J. C. DjeDje and E. S. Meadows; and the ad "Grand Opening Kentucky Club Café," California Eagle, 03/08/29, p. 6.
Subjects: Businesses, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers
Geographic Region: Kentucky / California

Kentucky Club (New York)
Start Year : 1925
Located on West 49th Street between 7th Avenue and Broadway in New York, the Kentucky Club had previously been called the Hollywood Club. By spring 1925 the club had closed and reopened as the Kentucky Club. Duke Ellington and his Kentucky Club Orchestra, a five-piece band, were the main feature for about two more years before the band left to play at the Cotton Club in 1927. The Kentucky Club is very often mentioned in reference to Duke Ellington and his band. For more on Duke Ellington at the Kentucky Club, see Current Biography, 1941 & 1970. 

See images and listen to East St. Louis Toodle-Oo (1927) HQ - Duke Ellington and his Kentucky Club Orchestra, on YouTube.
Subjects: Businesses, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers
Geographic Region: Kentucky / New York

The Kentucky Four
Start Year : 1890
This dance group performed with Orpheus McAdoo's Minstrel and Vaudeville Company in the late 1890s when the company was located in Australia. Their performances were written about in the Freeman newspaper in the U.S. The dance group members were Katie Carter, a vernacular dance specialist; Muriel Ringold; Amon Davis; and Aaron Taylor (Master Livers). Katie Carter also danced in the South Before the War production. According to J. Malone, author of Steppin on the Blues, p. 60, Carter's buck and wing dancing helped establish the dance form as a major attraction in black shows. For more see Out of Sight: the Rise of African American Popular Music, 1889-1895, by L. Abbott and D. Seroff.
Subjects: Actors, Actresses, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Migration Outside the U.S. and Canada, Minstrel and Vaudeville Performers
Geographic Region: Kentucky / Australia

Kentucky Harmony Singers, [Housewife Training School] (Fulton, KY)
Start Year : 1923
End Year : 1936
The Kentucky Harmony Singers, from Fulton, KY, a women's quintet led by Mrs. Louise Malone Braxton (an educator, lecturer, and female bass singer), sang in churches and traveled throughout the country for several weeks at a time, performing Negro spirituals, and southern plantation and jubilee songs. The group's travels took them to Illinois, Iowa, North Dakota, New Mexico, Nebraska, Missouri, Maryland, Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Michigan, Indiana, New York, Wisconsin, Canada, and Mexico. The performances were initially a fund-raising effort for the building of the Housewife [or wives] Training School for Colored girls and women, located in Fulton. The school taught the students how to be good wives, including the art of homemaking. Four of the singing group members were students; funds from their later performances were used to pay for a dormitory and industrial department. There was no admission charge for the performances, but a "free-will offering" was collected at the end of each program. The group became a favorite at African American churches, and they continued performing for several years at not only churches but also at social functions held by such groups as the Kiwanis, the YMCA, the Ladies Aid Society, and the Exchange Club. Articles about the group first appeared in Illinois newspapers in 1923, and for the next 13 years there were announcements and articles in an array of town newspapers. In the 1930s, they were singing as a quartet to audiences with close to 1,000 in attendance. Louise M. Braxton, who was credited with founding five schools, was a graduate of Tuskegee Institute [now Tuskegee University]. She was described as being of French, Indian, Scotch Irish, and Negro descent. For more see "Mrs. Louise Braxton and Company please," Waterloo Evening Courier, 12/01/1923, p. 6; "Harmony Singers in concert here," The News-Palladium, 07/26/1929, p. 6; "Concerts are featured in two churches," The News-Palladium, 09/22/1930, p. 4; photo and caption, "Kentucky Harmony Singers here Sunday," The Piqua Daily Call, 02/21/1931, p. 10; and "Harmony quartet render concert," The Richwood Gazette, 11/19/1931, p. 1. See also the NKAA entry for African American Schools and students in Fulton County, KY.
Subjects: Education and Educators, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Religion & Church Work, Higher Education Before Desegregation, Kentucky, YMCA (Young Men's Christian Association)
Geographic Region: Fulton, Fulton County, Kentucky

Kentucky Jubilee Singers
Start Year : 1870
The chorus was probably formed in the mid-1870s but may have existed prior to that. The group toured around the country singing spirituals, and, unlike other jubilee groups, survived at least until the 1890s. In 1928, Forbes Randolph organized an eight-man chorus by the same name; the group was used in a stage production, made film shorts and recordings, and toured in Australia and Europe until the beginning of World War II. Arthur J. Gaines was one of the group members. A trio from the group, known as Day, Dawn, and Dusk, continued to perform until the 1950s. For more see chapter 7 of Lost Sounds: blacks and the birth of the recording industry, 1890-1919, by T. Brooks; and "The Kentucky Singers" in Under the Imperial Carpet edited by R. Lotz and I. Pegg, pp.157-163. *Songs performed by Forbes Randolph's Kentucky Jubilee Singers can be heard on the album, Church Choirs, Gospel Singers and Preachers Vol. 2 (1925-1955), availabe in African American Song, an online listening service by Alexander Street Press.
Subjects: Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Migration Outside the U.S. and Canada, Movies and Films
Geographic Region: Kentucky / Australia / Europe

Kentucky State Collegians
Start Year : 1938
End Year : 1976
The collegians were college dance bands, one of which was located at Kentucky State College [now Kentucky State University]. The Kentucky group, first called the Danny Williams Band of Chicago, had performed in 1938 for the Kentucky State Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, thanks to Mrs. Clarice J. Michaels, head of the school's music department. Michaels, a pianist and soprano, had been a member of the World Famous Williams Jubilee Singers, formed in 1904 by Charles P. Williams from Holly Springs, MS. C. P. Williams, who had migrated to Chicago, was the father of Danny Williams. Kentucky State Dean John T. Williams (no relation) persuaded President Rufus Atwood to enroll the Danny Williams Band members and allow them to become the school band for student and faculty dances. The contract stipulated performance payments for the band members from which school fees would be paid. Harvey C. Russell, Jr. president of the student council, became the group’s business manager. They performed on campus and throughout the state, including at white fraternity parties and dances at the University of Kentucky and at functions given by then Governor Happy Chandler. After a year, Kentucky State was no longer able to honor the contract because funding was tight, and Danny Williams and several band members left school. New student members were added to the group that then became known as the Kentucky State College Collegians. The band grew to include 16 members and continued performing until 1946, when John T. Williams was president of Maryland State College [now University of Maryland Eastern Shore] and the band members left to join him; they became the Maryland State Collegians. [Mrs. Clarice J. Michaels would also eventually move on to Maryland State.] One of the band members, Newman Terrell, returned to Kentucky to complete his studies, and he organized and led the new Kentucky State College Collegians. Both the group and the music department prospered; in 1962, the group was the third ranked jazz ensemble among small colleges, and President Carl M. Hill is credited with developing the school’s music department into an accredited program with 14 full-time music specialists. In 1976, several members of the Collegians left to form the group Midnight Star. For more see W. C. Swindell, "The Kentucky State Collegians," The Black Perspective in Music, vol. 15, issue 1 (Spring 1987), pp. 3-23; and Kentucky State University Archives. See photo images of the Kentucky State Collegians members in the Kentucky State University Thorobred yearbooks (most are online).

 

  See photo image of the 1958 Kentucky State Collegians, on p.63 of the Kentucky State University Thoroghbred yearbook.

 

 
Subjects: Education and Educators, Fathers, Migration North, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Higher Education Before Desegregation, Kentucky
Geographic Region: Chicago, Illinois / Holly Springs, Mississippi / Frankfort, Franklin County, Kentucky / Princess Anne, Maryland

Kirk, Andrew D. "Andy"
Birth Year : 1898
Death Year : 1992
Kirk was born in Newport, KY, and raised in Denver, CO. He was a mail carrier prior to joining George Morrision's jazz band in Denver, CO, in 1924. He organized his band, Andy Kirk and His Clouds of Joy, in Oklahoma City in 1929. Kirk's first recording was made in 1929, and he went on to acquire international fame. One of his more popular songs was Until the Real Thing Comes Along. He played in the major night clubs and ballrooms such as the Cotton Club in New York and the Tunetown Ballroom in St. Louis. Kirk died in New York according to the Social Security Death Index. For more see Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Musicians, 7th-8th eds., revised by N. Slonimsky. View images and listen to I Lost My Girl From Memphis - Andy Kirk and His Twelve Clouds of Joy on YouTube.

Subjects: Migration North, Migration West, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Postal Service
Geographic Region: Newport, Campbell County, Kentucky / Denver, Colorado / New York

Knight, Mattye Breckinridge Guy
Birth Year : 1914
Death Year : 1986
Knight, a teacher, civic and community leader, and musician, is remembered for leading the drive to get new homes to replace those lost in the mudslide at Sanctified Hill in Cumberland, KY. Knight had also lost her home in the slide. She received a number of awards for her leadership, including a HUD award in 1979. Knight taught for more than 30 years in Franklin County, Lebanon, and Harlan County. She taught English, history and music in the public schools and was the minister of music, director of education, and a Sunday school teacher at her church. Knight also founded the Greater Harlan County Community Center. She was a graduate of Mayo-Underwood High School and Kentucky State College [now Kentucky State University], both in Frankfort, and Hampton Institute [now Hampton University] in Virginia. For more see J. Hewlett, "Mattye Knight Dies," Lexington Herald-Leader, 02/28/1986, Obituaries, p. B15. Also see the entry Sanctified Hill, Cumberland, KY.
Subjects: Civic Leaders, Communities, Education and Educators, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Grade Schools & High Schools in Kentucky, Sunday School, Community Centers and Cultural Centers
Geographic Region: Cumberland, Harlan County, Kentucky

Langley, Shelton H. Jr.
Birth Year : 1905
Death Year : 2006
Langley was born in Henderson, KY, and graduated from segregated Douglass High School in 1925. He was a musician who first learned to play the clarinet, then continued to learn to play many other instruments. He supplemented his income playing in bands before deciding to attend college. Langley graduated from Tennessee State College [now Tennessee State University] in 1931, then taught math and music at Douglass School for 33 years and Henderson City High for six years. He attended the Kentucky Negro Educational Association Conference in 1935, one of 40 KNEA members from Henderson that year. Langley was featured in the notable African Americans exhibit in Henderson in 2007. He has an oral history audio at the Henderson County Public Library's Genealogy and Local History Department. For more see the Kentucky Negro Educational Journal, vol. 6, issue 1; J. Jenkins of The Gleaner, "Century of memories: educator, musician has seen much of Henderson's history," The Associated Press State & Local Wire, 12/28/2005; C. Gehret, "Everyday People," an exhibit of African Americans in celebration of Black History Month, The Warbler: John James Audubon State Park Newsletter, vol. 14, issue 1, January-March 2007, pp. 1 & 7; and Shelton H. Langley in the Obituaries of the Evansville Courier & Press, 09/15/2006, Metro section, p. B4.
Subjects: Education and Educators, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers
Geographic Region: Henderson, Henderson County, Kentucky

Lawson, Raymond A.
Birth Year : 1875
Death Year : 1959
Born in Shelbyville, KY, Lawson became a concert pianist. He completed his college courses in music and his B.A. at Fisk University. Lawson also received training in Munich, Germany. He was a soloist in the G-minor Concerto of Saint-Saens with the Philharmonic Society in 1911 and 1918. He also taught piano; his children were two of his students. His son, Warner, would become dean of the School of Music at Howard University. Lawson was honored in many cities in the U.S. and abroad and received a number of awards. For more see Dictionary of American Negro Biography, by R. W. Logan & M. R. Winston.
Subjects: Education and Educators, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers
Geographic Region: Shelbyville, Shelby County, Kentucky

Lee, Everett, Jr. and Sylvia Olden
Birth Year : 1916
Everett Lee (1916- ), from Wheeling, WV, was the first African American to direct a white orchestra, the Louisville Philharmonic in 1953; the audience was integrated. Everett was also the first African American to conduct a Broadway show. He was the husband of Sylvia O. Lee (1917-2004), who was born in Mississippi. She was a pianist and vocal coach, the first African American professional musician at the New York Metropolitan Opera. Sylvia's paternal grandfather, George Olden, had served in the Union Army when he was a teen after running away from slavery at the Oldham Plantation in Oldham County, KY. Her father, Rev. J. C. Olden, was living in Louisville, KY, when he arranged for Everett to conduct the Louisville Philharmonic. For more see "Schiller Institute Dialogue with Sylvia Olden Lee, Pianist and Vocal Coach," 02/07/1998, [reprinted from Fidelio Magazine, vol. 7, issue 1 (Spring 1998)]; and W. M. Cheatham, "Lady Sylvia speaks," Black Music Research Journal, vol. 16, issue 1 (Spring 1996), pp. 183-213.

See photo image of James C. Olden and his then son-in-law, Everett Lee, at the Courier-Journal.com "Black History Month | 1953 Everett Lee," 02/01/2010.
Subjects: Freedom, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Grandparents
Geographic Region: Wheeling, West Virginia / Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky / Mississippi / New York / Oldham County, Kentucky

Lester, Bobby [nee Robert L. Dallas]
Birth Year : 1930
Death Year : 1980
Lester was born in Louisville, KY, he was a tenor singer. Lester sung with Harvey Fuqua playing piano when both were teens in Louisville, they first performed in 1949. They would become members of the group Moonglows in Cleveland, OH. Lester was the lead singer on most of the group's recordings from 1952-1960. Prior to the group becoming a hit, Lester worked in a coal yard by day and sung at night. One of the group's best known hits is "Sincerely," released in December 1954. With success also came change, and the group was named Bobby Lester and the Moonglows for a bief period. The group split up around 1960 and Lester returned to Louisville. He was managing a night club, when in 1970, he revived the group as the New Moonglows and also revived the Flamingos [which had began as a Black Jewish group in Chicago in the early 1950s]. The New Moonglows lasted for a couple of years,and the group was reconfigured in 1972 with Lester, Fuqua, Alexander Graves, Chuck Lewis, and Doc Williams. They recorded the album The Return of the Moonglows. The group would be reconfigured again in 1978 and continued to perform with Lester as a member until his death in 1980. Lester died of lung cancer in Louisville. After his death,a new leader was chosen and the Moonglows continued performing into the 1990s. The group was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2000. See images and hear the Moonglows singing "Sincerely" (1972 version) on YouTube. For more see the Bobby Lester entry in The Encyclopedia of Dead Rock Stars by J. Simmonds; see also the album The Best of Bobby Lester and the Moonglows. For more on the Moonglows see American Singing Groups by J. Warner.

Subjects: Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers
Geographic Region: Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky

Lewis, Meade Lux
Birth Year : 1905
Death Year : 1964
Lewis was a pianist and composer. He was born in Louisville, KY, and raised in Chicago. Meade was the son of Hattie and George Lewis. George was employed as a postal clerk and was also a Pullman Porter. Hattie and George were Kentucky natives, and according to the U.S. Federal Census, in 1920 the family was living in apartment 29, a rear unit on LaSalle Street in Chicago. Meade Lewis's first instrument was the violin, which he learned to play when he was 16 years old. He taught himself to play the piano and developed a boogie-woogie style. His best known work is Honky Tonk Train Blues, recorded in 1927. Boogie-woogie was still a new sound. To supplement his income, Lewis worked washing cars and driving a taxi. He played the piano at house parties, clubs, and after-hours joints. His fame is said to have begun in 1938 when Lewis performed in John Hammond's concert at Carnegie Hall. He is regarded as one of the three noted musicians of boogie-woogie. For more see the Meade Lux Lewis entry in the Afro-American Encyclopedia; and "Meade Lux Lewis pianist, is killed," New York Times, 06/08/1964, p. 18. A picture of Lewis and additional information are available in Men of Popular Music, by D. Ewen. View film with Meade Lux Lewis playing boogie woogie on YouTube.


Subjects: Fathers, Migration North, Mothers, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Postal Service, Pullman Porters, Movies and Films
Geographic Region: Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky / Chicago, Illinois

Little, Charles F., Jr.
Birth Year : 1949
Charles F. Little, Jr. was born in Memphis, TN. He graduated from Kentucky State University with a B.S. in Music Education, then earned his M.S. in Secondary Education at the University of Kentucky. He was a band director in the Fayette County Public Schools for 30 years and taught music to more than 4,500 students from 1971 to 2001. He was the band director/keyboard instructor at the Academy of Lexington, teaching 120 students classroom piano from 2001 to 2005. The Lexington Traditional Magnet School Band Room was named in his honor in 2001. To date, he has also provided private piano lessons to 175 students and organ lessons to five students of all ages in Fayette County and eight surrounding counties. He has been the musical director, pianist, and coordinator, of hundreds of programs, productions, and performances dating back to the 1960s. Most recently Charles Little was the musical director of the off-Broadway production of Crowns, Actors Guild of Lexington, Kentucky, 2005-2006. He has performed on programs with Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Rev. James Cleveland, Larnelle Harris, the Rev. Billy Graham (Subsidiary) Crusade, Dr. Bobby Jones and New Life, and Miss Albertina Walker. Charles Little has also received a number of awards, including the Teachers Who Made a Difference Award from the College of Education at the University of Kentucky in 2003. He is the author of Praise Him with the Gospel: Black gospel piano music arrangements, book 1 & 2, with accompanying sound cassettes. He was the developer and editor of Orchestrating the Perfect Meal, a cookbook published in 2000. Charles Little has recorded with the United Voices of Lexington on "Genesis" and the Wesley United Voices on "We've Come to Praise Him"; provided piano accompaniment on the Lexington musical "Madame Belle Brezing"; and performed on many other recordings. For more information see M. Davis, "Teacher's not changing his tune," Lexington Herald Leader, 03/23/03, City/Region section, B, p. 1; S. Dobbins, "Charles F. Little, Jr.: music master of all," Tri-State Defender, 03/10/1999, p.2B; and the Resume of Charles F. Little, Jr.
Subjects: Authors, Education and Educators, Migration North, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Grade Schools & High Schools in Kentucky
Geographic Region: Memphis, Tennessee / Lexington, Fayette County, Kentucky

Livingston, Valinda E. Lewis
Birth Year : 1937
Born in Lexington, KY, Valinda E. Lewis Livingston was an educator in the Lexington schools for 37 years. She is a graduate of old Dunbar High School and one of the top academic achievers in the school's history. She graduated from Kentucky State University (KSU) with a bachelor's degree in elementary education, then earned a master's degree in elementary education from the University of Kentucky and principalship and supervision certificates from Eastern Kentucky University. Her teaching career began at Booker T. Washington Elementary School prior to the full integration of the Lexington city school system. She taught at two other elementary schools before being named head principal of Russell Elementary. Prior to her retirement, Livingston was a district administrator for six years, overseeing the students' at-risk programs. Her post-retirement career includes serving as a member of the Board of Examiners of Kentucky's Education Professional Standards Board, chair of the Board of Regents at Kentucky State University, President of the Baptist Women State Education Convention, vice-president of the Lexington Chapter of the KSU National Alumni Association, and Sunday School Superintendent and Music Committee Chair at Shiloh Baptist Church in Lexington, KY. Livingston is also a professional singer, a soprano with the Lexington Singers. She is also a key resource for historical researchers looking to make a connection to past events in the Lexington African American community with present day people. The Valinda E. Livingston Endowed Student Scholarship for Teacher Education Majors has been established at Kentucky State University. For more see "Retired educator leaves legacy for future educators," Onward and Upward, Fall - Summer 2005 - 2006, p. 3.
Subjects: Education and Educators, Historians, Kentucky African American Churches, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Women's Groups and Organizations, Grade Schools & High Schools in Kentucky, Sunday School
Geographic Region: Lexington, Fayette County, Kentucky / Frankfort, Franklin County, Kentucky

Lowery, Perry G.
Birth Year : 1871
Death Year : 1942
It is thought that Perry G. Lowery was born in Kentucky and his family later moved to Kansas. He was the first African American graduate from the New England Conservatory of Music. Lowery played the cornet and was a band leader, playing with a number of bands and in vaudeville and circuses, directing the side show of the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus Band. He is known for the band composition, Prince of Decora Galop. Perry G. Lowery was the husband of Carrie Lowery (1884-1943), the couple married in 1916 [source: Ohio, County Marriages]. He was the son of Andrew and Rachel Liggins Lowery Lowery [source: Perry G. Lowery in the Ohio Deaths Index]. For more see Showman: the life and music of Perry George Lowery, by C. E. Watkins.

See photo image with Perry G. Lowery and other band members at Kansas Memory website.
Subjects: Migration West, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers
Geographic Region: Kentucky / Kansas

Madison, Clarence "Duke"
Birth Year : 1923
Death Year : 1997
Clarence "Duke" Madison was a recognized jazz saxophone player in Kentucky. He was born in Anderson, IN, the son of Roger and Beatrice Madison. Clarence Madison started playing the saxophone when he was eight years old, and as a teen he played with a number of bands. He performed and taught music, then enlisted in the U.S. Army on March 5, 1943 [source: U.S. World War II Army Enlistment Records]. During his time in the service, Madison was a member of the military band. After serving in the Army, Madison continued playing with various bands, coming to Kentucky in the 1940s to play with the Jordan Embry Band in Richmond, KY. He later moved to Lexington, KY, where he played jazz at local clubs and events for 50 years and led the Duke Madison Trio. He was also employed as a postal worker. He was mentioned in the Insiders' Guide to Greater Lexington: and Kentucky Bluegrass, by R. Maslin and J. Walter. There are also several earlier articles in the Lexington Herald-Leader newspaper that cover Madison and his music. The Lexington Jazz Arts Foundation established the Annual Duke Madison Scholarship in honor of Clarence "Duke" Madison for his many years of providing music to the Lexington area. Clarence Madison was the husband of Anna M. Gaines Madison. For more see Kentucky Senate Resolution 13 (SR13), 12/19/1997; J. Hewlett, "Jazz musician played in area for 50 years," Lexington Herald-Leader, 05/14/1997, p. B1; and T. Carter, "New group seeking support for Jazz," Lexington Herald-Leader, 04/22/1990, p. J1.

Access Interview Read about the Clarence D. Madison oral history interview available at the University of Kentucky Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, item record in the SPOKE Database.
Subjects: Military & Veterans, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Postal Service, Migration South
Geographic Region: Anderson, Indiana / Richmond, Madison County, Kentucky / Lexington, Fayette County, Kentucky

Mallory, Toreada D. Gardner
Birth Year : 1868
Death Year : 1911
Toreada Mallory was born in Kentucky, she was a soprano singer who lived in Chicago. Her name was Toreada D. Gardner when she married Henry C. Mallory in Kansas City, MO, May 9, 1893, according to their marriage license. The couple lived in Chicago, according to the 1900 U.S. Federal Census. They were living there in 1898 when their newborn son died [source: Cook County, Illinois, Death Index]. Henry was a day laborer and Toreada was a concert singer. According to author Anne M. Knupfer, Toreada Mallory was a well known soprano in Illinois, and she was the aunt of poet and Kentucky native Bettiola Fortson. See Fortson's entry in Toward a Tenderer Humanity and a Nobler Womanhood by A. M. Knupfer.
Subjects: Migration North, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers
Geographic Region: Kentucky / Kansas City, Missouri / Chicago, Illinois

Marable, Fate C.
Birth Year : 1890
Death Year : 1947
Fate C. Marable was born in Paducah, KY, the son of James and Lizzie L. Marable. He was a musical director, pianist, and riverboat calliope player. Fate Marable received his music training from his mother, who had taught music when she was a slave. In 1917, Marable formed the Kentucky Jazz Band with musicians from Paducah. He later formed the Jazz Maniacs, which included musician Louie Armstrong. Marable made two recordings in 1924: Frankie and Johnny and Pianoflage, both by Fate Marable's Society Syncopators. For more see American National Biography, ed. by J. A. Garraty and M. C. Carnes; Classic Jazz, by S. Yanow; and Fate Marable and Fate Marable's Society Syncopators at redhotjazz.com. View images and listen to Fate Marable's Society Syncopators - Frankie and Johnny (1924) on YouTube.

Subjects: Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers
Geographic Region: Paducah, McCracken County, Kentucky

Marshall, Harriet (Hattie) A. Gibbs
Birth Year : 1868
Death Year : 1941
The daughter of Mifflin Gibbs - the first African American judge - and Maria A. Alexander Gibbs, Hattie entered Oberlin Conservatory of Music at the age of 11. She graduated with honors in 1889, receiving a diploma in music, the first African American to do so. Hattie had been born in Victoria, British Columbia; the maternal side of her family lived in Kentucky. In 1891, she came to Kentucky to establish a music school at Eckstein Norton in Cane Springs; when the school closed she left Kentucky and was named director of music for the African American schools in Washington, D.C. While maintaining her position with the public schools, Gibbs opened the Washington Conservatory of Music (1903-1960), a successful institution that continued after her death. Hattie Gibbs' married name was Marshall. She was the granddaughter of Lucy Alexander and Henry Alexander. For more see Evidences of Progress Among Colored People, by G. F. Richings at the the Documenting the American South website; The Fascinating Story of Black Kentuckians, by A. A. Dunnigan; Harriet Gibbs Marshall, a Howard University website; "Career women of the capital," Baltimore Afro-American, 07/22/1939, p.17; and A History of Three African-American Women Who Made Important Contributions to Music Education Between 1903-1960 (thesis) by D. R. Patterson.

See photo image and additional information on Harriet (Hattie) A. Gibbs Marshall at BlackPast.org.
Subjects: Education and Educators, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers
Geographic Region: Victoria, British Columbia, Canada / Cane Springs, Bullitt County, Kentucky / Washington D. C.

Martin, Sara [Dunn]
Birth Year : 1884
Death Year : 1955
Born Sara Dunn in Louisville, KY, she began singing in church. At the age of 16 she was married and widowed. Sara took her second husband's last name, Martin. She began as a vaudeville singer in 1915 and later became the highest paid blues singer of the 1920s. She lived for a while in Chicago, then moved to New York. Martin sang with the W. C. Handy Band, sometimes billed as "Moanin' Mama" and sometimes performing under other names. Her first recording was Sugar Blues. She appeared on film with Bill "Bojangles" Robinson and in 1930 appeared in the first all African American sound films, Darktown Scandals Revue [produced with The Exile]. Martin returned to Kentucky where she was a gospel singer; she also operated a nursing home in Louisville. For more see All Music Guide to the Blues. The experts' guide to the best blues recordings, ed. by M. Erlewine, et al.; The Encyclopedia of Popular Music, 3rd ed., edited by C. Larkin; and Classic Jazz, by S. Yanow. View image and listen to Sara Martin & Her Jug Band - I'm Gonna Be a Lovin' Old Soul on YouTube.

Subjects: Actors, Actresses, Businesses, Migration North, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Migration South, Minstrel and Vaudeville Performers, Movies and Films
Geographic Region: Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky / Chicago, Illinois / New York

Martin, William
Birth Year : 1931
Death Year : 1997
Martin was born in Covington, KY. He was Northern Kentucky's best-known advocate for the rights of African-Americans. Martin appeared before the Covington City Commission to argue for better housing and youth programs. In 1975, he became the executive director of the city's community center. He had been a pianist and a high school music teacher at Lincoln-Grant and Holmes Hall. The community center, which would become the Martin Community Center, was moved into the Lincoln-Grant building; the school closed following integration. For more see J. C. K. Fisher and P. Kreimer, "Civil Rights advocate Martin dies," Cincinnati Post, 04/14/97.
Subjects: Activists, Civil Rights, Civic Leaders, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Housing, Fair Housing, Open Housing, Housing Agencies, Community Centers and Cultural Centers
Geographic Region: Covington, Kenton County, Kentucky

McCann, Les
Birth Year : 1935
Born in Lexington, KY, Les McCann is a self-taught musician. He left Kentucky to join the Navy in the 1950s. In 1956, while still in the Navy, he won a talent contest for his singing, leading to his appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show. McCann later formed a trio in Los Angeles. In 1960 he signed a contract with Pacific Jazz and recorded Les McCann Plays the Truth and The Shout. He was known for his piano playing style, and on the successful album, Swiss Movement, McCann emphasized his singing. He suffered a stroke in the 1990s, but returned to singing and playing. In 2002 he was included in the recording of Pump It Up. For more see Les McCann Biography, and Biographical Dictionary of Afro-American African Musicians, by E. Southern.

 
Subjects: Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers
Geographic Region: Lexington, Fayette County, Kentucky

McClain, William C. "Billy"
Birth Year : 1857
Death Year : 1950
Multi-talented William McClain was a minstrel actor and Hollywood motion pictures actor, he was also a dancer, a musician, a playwright, wrote music and lyrics, and was a short story writer. He played cornet in Lou Johnson's Minstrels, and spent many years with the minstrels in Europe and lived in Paris, France from 1906-1913. He was also a member of Orpheus McAdoo's Jubilee Singers and Concert Company in Australia. One of McClain's works was The Smart Set, written in 1901. He wrote several songs including Shake, Rattle, and Roll. McClain had also trained as a boxer, and he managed and trained famous heavyweight boxer Sam McVey. On the screen, McClain played the role of The King in Nagana in 1933, and appeared in more than 20 movies, the last in 1946. He played various restricted roles, such as a servant, butler, footman, cook, and janitor. In 1938, he played the role of Zeke in Kentucky, and in 1939, the role of a horse groomer in Pride of the Bluegrass [aka Steeplechase]. McClain was the husband of Cordelia McClain, and the father of actress Teddy Peters. At the time of his death, his age was estimated to be 93, but his birth year has also been given as 1866, and his birth location has been given as Kentucky and Indianapolis, IN. For more see "Arrangements incomplete for actor's rites," Los Angeles Sentinel, 02/02/1950, p.A4; "Billy McClain" in Who Was Who On Screen, by E. M. Truitt; A History of African American Theater by E. Hill and J. V. Hatch; and The Ghost Walks by H. T. Sampson.
Subjects: Actors, Actresses, Boxers, Boxing, Migration West, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Migration Outside the U.S. and Canada, Minstrel and Vaudeville Performers, Movies and Films
Geographic Region: Kentucky / Indianapolis, Indiana / Paris, France, Europe / Australia / Hollywood and Los Angeles, California

McDonald, Earl
Birth Year : 1884
Death Year : 1949
McDonald, born in Louisville, KY, was a musician and founder of the Original Louisville Jug Band in 1902. The group was named the Ballard Chefs from 1929 to 1932. Clifford Hayes was a member of the group before forming his own jug band in 1919. After McDonald's death, his band was continued by Henry Miles. For more see the Earl McDonald entry by B. Bogert in The Encyclopedia of Louisville, ed. by J. Kleber. View image and listen to Under the Chicken Tree - Earl McDonald's Original Louisville Jug Band, 1924-1931 on YouTube.

Subjects: Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers
Geographic Region: Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky

McIntosh, Tom
Birth Year : 1840
Death Year : 1904
McIntosh, born in Lexington, KY, was a comedian who had his greatest success with Callender's Georgia Minstrels. In addition to his great comedic talent, McIntosh was also an exhibition drummer and singer. During his career, he teamed with female impersonator Willis Ganze, performing on some of the leading circuits in the U.S. He then teamed with his wife, Hattie McIntosh, for a short period. McIntosh later took the starring role of Mr. Bullion in "Southern Enchantment" with the Smart Set Company; he replaced Kentucky native Ernest Hogan [Reuben Crowders]. McIntosh died of a stroke while the Smart Set Company was en route to Indianapolis. For more see his career review by Sylvester Russell, "Tribute to Tom M'Intosh," Indianapolis Freeman, 04/09/1904, p. 5; and Profiles of African American Stage Performers and Theatre People, 1816-1960, by B. L. Peterson, Jr.
Subjects: Actors, Actresses, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Minstrel and Vaudeville Performers, Cross Dressing, Dress in Drag
Geographic Region: Lexington, Fayette County, Kentucky

McKinney, William "Bill"
Birth Year : 1895
Death Year : 1969
McKinney, who was born and died in Cynthiana, KY, was a drummer. He served in the U.S. Army during WWI, then played with a circus band before settling in Springfield, OH, where he formed the Synco Jazz Band around 1921. McKinney ceased being a drummer around 1923 and became the group's manager. The band would be renamed McKinney's Cotton Pickers around 1926 and they performed regularly at the Graystone Ballroom in Detroit, MI. The band also had comedy routines incorporated into their performances; they were considered the best of the rival bands of Duke Ellington and Fletcher Henderson. They were one of the first African American bands to play on national radio. Up until the early 1940s, the group continued performing with various musicians, and in various locations, including Harlem. Their recordings include songs such as Gee, Ain't I Good to You?, If I could Be With You One Hour Tonight, and Shim-Me-Sha-Wabble. McKinney did not secure any wealth from his many years as a musician, band leader and manager. Before returning to Cynthiana, KY, he worked as a hotel bellhop and other low wage paying jobs in Detroit. For more see "William (Bill) McKinney" in v.5 of African American National Biography edited by H. L. Gates, Jr. and E. B. Higginbotham; see McKinney's Cotton Pickers, a redhotjazz.com website; and in Oxford Music Online (database); and see photo images of the group and listen to the recording of Shim-Me-Sha-Wabble (1928) on YouTube.

Subjects: Migration North, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers
Geographic Region: Cynthiana, Harrison County, Kentucky / Springfield, Ohio

McLawler, Sarah
Birth Year : 1926
Born in Louisville, KY, Sarah McLawler is a vocalist, performer, and jazz organist (she played the Hammond B-3 organ). When she was a child her family moved to Chicago, where McLawler learned to play the piano and later attended Fisk University. McLawler returned to Chicago and played piano in nightclubs and led all-female combos (McLawler on piano, Lula Roberts on sax, Vi Wilson on bass, and Hetty Roberts on drums). In 1950, McLawler recorded "My whole Life Through" and "Your Key Won't Fit my Door." McLawler later married Richard Otto, a classical violinist, and together they formed a duo with Otto on violin and McLawler on organ. She helped popularize the jazz organ, which few women were playing. The couple resided in New York, recording such tunes as "Rainbow on the River" and "My Funny Valentine." Richard Otto died in 1979. For more see The Encyclopedia of Popular Music, 3rd ed., by C. Larkin; Sarah McLawler, by World Wind Records; and H. Boyd, "Black New Yorkers; Pioneer organist in concert," New York Amsterdam News, 04/24/2003, p. 34. 
 
Subjects: Migration North, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Women's Groups and Organizations
Geographic Region: Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky / Chicago, Illinois / New York

Merrifield, Norman L.
Birth Year : 1906
Death Year : 1997
Norman L. Merrifield, a music teacher, was born in Louisville, KY, the son of Clarence and Henrietta Merrifield. The family moved to Indianapolis in 1913. He was a graduate of Northwestern University with a bachelor's and master's in music education. Merrifield was a bandmaster while enlisted in the U.S. Army and attended the Army Band School. He taught at Fisk and public schools in Tennessee, Florida A&M, and high school in Indianapolis. He also published spiritual arrangements and published a number of articles. Some of those influenced by Merrifield's teaching were Bobby Womack, James "J.J." Johnson, and LaVerne Newsome. For more see "Norman L. Merrifield" in Biographical Dictionary of Afro-American and African Musicians, by E. Southern; and the Norman Merrifield Oral History Interview within the African American Personal Papers at the Indiana Historical Society.
Subjects: Education and Educators, Journalists, Newspapers, Magazines, Book Publishers, Music Publishers, Migration North, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers
Geographic Region: Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky / Indianapolis, Indiana

Midnight Star
Start Year : 1976
The group Midnight Star was formed in 1976 when the members were students at Kentucky State University in Frankfort, KY. Brothers Reginald Calloway, on trumpet, and Vincent Calloway, on trombone, both from Cincinnati, Ohio, were joined by vocalist Belinda Lipscomb from Louisville, KY. Beginning in 1980, the group's first albums (The Beginning, Standing Together and Victory) were recorded using studio musicians. A full band was later added with Melvin Gentry on guitar, Kenneth Gant on bass, Bobby Lovelace on drums, and Bo Watson on keyboard. Midnight Star was the only African American group with a platinum album in 1983, thanks to the huge success of the single (and album) No Parking on the Dance Floor. The single Freak-A-Zoid was number two on the R&B charts. The group's success continued with the album Headlines becoming their third and final gold album. Later albums did not sell well, and the group broke up in 1990, the members going on to have other successful endeavors. In 1998 the group members reunited as Midnight Star, minus the Calloway brothers, and they often perform in Kentucky. For more see All Music Guide to Soul: the definitive guide to R&B and Soul, by V. Goddanov, C. Woodstra, and S. T. Erlewine; Funk, by D. Thompson; and the group's biography at the Midnight Star website. For an earlier history see Kentucky State Collegians. View the No Paking on the Dance Floor video on YouTube.

Subjects: Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers
Geographic Region: Frankfort, Franklin County, Kentucky / Cincinnati, Ohio / Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky

Miles, Henry
Birth Year : 1905
Death Year : 1984
Miles was born in Samuels, KY, the son of Henry and Mattie Miles. He was a musician most remembered for his fiddle playing with the Ballard Chefs (1929-1932) and his group, the Henry Miles Jug Band. The Jug Band performed at the 1965 World's Fair in New York and the 1974 Smithsonian Folklife Festival in Washington, D.C. Miles played the fiddle, guitar, violin, and mandolin. For more see the Henry Miles entry by B. Bogert in The Encyclopedia of Louisville, ed. by J. E. Kleber.
Subjects: Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers
Geographic Region: Samuels, Nelson County, Kentucky / Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky

Miller, Hazel
Birth Year : 1954
Born in Louisville, KY, Miller sings a blend of blues, pop, and gospel. She had a 26-year singing career in Louisville. Miller began singing professionally when she was 15 years old, but her experience was not enough to get her into the University of Louisville School of Music in three attempts. Miller went on with her career, singing backup tracks for Al Green; opening for Bob James and Mel Torme and many others, including twice for Lou Rawls; and performing as a featured singer in the "Look What We Can Do" community promotion campaign in Louisville. Miller and her band were the first regular African American band at the Hyatt in Louisville and the first ever to play at Phoenix Hill. In 1984, Miller was moving to California when the rental truck broke down in Denver, Colorado, and she decided to stay. She has continued to perform nationally and internationally. Miller has performed at the White House for then President Bill Clinton, for the Denver Broncos after their 1998 NFL Super Bowl win, and for the Colorado Avalanche after its 1998 NHL Stanley Cup win. Her recordings are included on her albums I'm Still Looking; Hazel Miller, Live; Finally; Live at the Fox; and Icons. For more see the Hazel Miller Band website; and M. Brown, "Lady belts the blues the spirit of Hazel Miller has lots of believers," Rocky Mountain News (Colorado), 11/19/2000. Watch Hazel Miller-Moon Dance on YouTube.

Subjects: Migration West, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Appointments by U.S. Presidents/Services for U.S. Presidents
Geographic Region: Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky / California / Denver, Colorado

Mitchell, George
Birth Year : 1899
Death Year : 1972
Mitchell, born in Louisville, KY, was a cornet player for a number of groups, including Jelly Roll Morton's Red Hot Peppers. His career began in Louisville, then in 1919 he left for Chicago. He recorded with a number of groups, including the New Orleans Wanderers when he replaced Louis Armstrong, who had a prior contract agreement. Mitchell stopped performing in the 1930s, and little is known about his life after that, other than he settled in Chicago. For more see George Mitchell at redhotjazz.com; and The Rough Guide to Jazz, by D. Fairweather, B. Priestley, and I. Carr. Veiw image and listen to George Mitchell on cornet along with other band members playing Doctor Jazz - by Jelly Roll Morton's Red Hot Peppers with Kid Ory 1926 on YouTube.

Subjects: Migration North, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers
Geographic Region: Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky / Chicago, Illinois

Moonglows (musical group)
Start Year : 1952
The Moonglows, the group that perfected blow harmony, are recognized as one of the most innovative vocal groups. The group began in Cleveland, OH, with members Harvey Fuqua from Louisville, KY; Danny Coggins, singing lead; and Prentiss Barnes. [Fuqua is the nephew of Charlie Fuqua, who sang with the Ink Spots.] They were originally known as the Crazy Sounds. Coggins would leave, and Bobby Lester [nee Robert L. Dallas] from Louisville and Alexander Graves were added to the group. Their first recording was "I Just Can't Tell No Lie," a song composed by Harvey Fuqua and Bobby Lester; the two had sung together as teenagers in Louisville. The group's name was soon changed to the Moonglows, and they moved to Chicago, where their first recordings were "Baby Please" and "Whistle My Love." They continued recording on the Chance label until 1954 when they signed with Chess Records; they later signed with the Checker label. In 1956, the group appeared on film in Rock Rock Rock. Over the next few years, the group continued recording and preforming around the U.S. Harvey Fuqua met 14 year old Marvin Gaye in Washington, D.C., and when the Moonglows split up in 1960, Fuqua and Gaye went to Detroit, where Fuqua helped found Motown Records. In 1964, Alexander Graves formed a second group known as the Moonglows, with Doc Green, George Thorpe, and Bearle Easton; the group did not last very long. In 1970, Bobby Lester was back in Louisville, where he formed a third group known as the Moonglows, with Albert Workman, Gary Rodgers, Robert Ford, and Billy McPhatter; this version, too, was short lived. In 1972, the Moonglows were once again restructured with Lester, Fuqua, Alexander Graves, Chuck Lewis, and Doc Williams. The group recorded the chart hit album The Return of the Moonglows. The group was again restructured in 1978 and stayed together until the death of Bobby Lester in 1980, after which Billy McPhatter took over the group that continued performing into the 1990s. The Moonglows were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2000. For more see Moonglows' entry in American Singing Groups, by J. Warner; Doo-Wop, by R. Pruter; Encyclopedia of Pop, Rock and Soul, by I. Stampler; and Encyclopedia of Rhythm & Blues and Doo-Wop Vocal Groups, by M. Rosalsky. View the video from the 1956 movie Rock, Rock, Rock with The Moonglows - I knew from the start on YouTube.

Subjects: Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Movies and Films
Geographic Region: Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky / Cleveland, Ohio / Chicago, Illinois

Moxley, George L.
Birth Year : 1865
Born in Kentucky around 1865, Moxley was a tenor singer, stage manager, interlocutor, and minstrel performer. On occasion he passed for white while working with companies such as the Elk's Minstrels. He began singing in public at the Philadelphia Centennial in 1876; by age 70, in 1935, he was telling fortunes in Texas. Moxley was known for getting into precarious situations such as his fine dining without a cent to his name, from which he was able to talk his way out. For more see Out of Sight: the Rise of African American Popular Music, 1889-1895, by L. Abbott and D. Seroff; and Father of the Blues, an autobiography, by W. C. Handy.
Subjects: Actors, Actresses, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Minstrel and Vaudeville Performers
Geographic Region: Kentucky

Mozart Society (Louisville, KY)
Start Year : 1852
The Louisville Mozart Society, considered the first African American musical society in the city, was organized in 1852 and included German musicians. The society, which gave concerts and performed at the local churches, is credited with introducing classical music to the African American community. W. H. Gibson, Sr. had introduced the first musical instrument, a violin, in a Louisville African American church in 1847. The first organ was placed in Quinn Chapel, but was quickly removed when the church sisters threatened to throw it out into the streets. For more see A History of Blacks in Kentucky: from slavery to segregation, 1760-1891, by M. B. Lucas; and The History of the United Brothers of Friendship and Sisters of the Mysterious Ten, by W. H. Gibson, Sr.
Subjects: Kentucky African American Churches, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers
Geographic Region: Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky

Mullins, Robert
Birth Year : 1930
Death Year : 2006
Robert Mullins was born in Hall's Gap in Stanford, KY, the son of Florence Dunn. He was the father of six children, including the first African American woman elected to the Covington City Commission, Pamela Mullins. Robert Mullins was a former construction worker and also a tenor in the all male a cappella group the Northern Kentucky Brotherhood Singers. The group specializes in singing Negro spirituals and old gospel songs. Mullins was often referred to as the "old man" of the group. The group formed around 1988 and sang at a variety of events in the U.S. and abroad. Their popularity continued to grow: they opened for Ray Charles at the Ottawa Blues Festival in front of an audience of 10,000. Mullins had moved to Covington in 1951. For more see R. Goodman, "Robert Mullins sang spirituals in U.S., Europe," The Cincinnati Enquirer, 01/21/2006, Metro section, p. 7B; and listen to the Northern Kentucky Brotherhood oral history recording by Dale W. Johnson, at Western Kentucky University, Manuscripts and Folklife Archives.

  Northern Kentucky Brotherhood Singers website

 

   See "Northern Kentucky Brotherhood Singers - Gospel" on YouTube
Subjects: Fathers, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers
Geographic Region: Stanford, Lincoln County, Kentucky / Covington, Kenton County, Kentucky

Mundy, James A.
Birth Year : 1886
Death Year : 1978
James Ahlyn Mundy was born in Maysville, KY. He was a choral director, composer, and arranger. Mundy studied music education at Simmons College (KY) and Cosmopolitan School of Music in Chicago. Mundy moved to Chicago around 1906, spending the remainder of his life there. He is recognized as one of Chicago's pioneer musicians. Mundy organized and directed a number of community singing groups, companies, and choruses that performed at events such as the Lincoln Jubilee and Half-Century Exposition, Emancipation Day celebrations, and the Chicago World's Fair. He was also choirmaster at Bethel AME Church and founded Chicago's early opera groups. For more see E. P. Holly, "Black Concert Music in Chicago, 1890 to the 1930s," Black Music Research Journal, vol. 10, issue 1 (Spring, 1990), pp. 141-149; and "James Ahlyn Mundy" in Biographical Dictionary of Afro-American and African Musicians, by E. Southern.
Subjects: Education and Educators, Migration North, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers
Geographic Region: Maysville, Mason County, Kentucky / Chicago, Illinois

My Friend from Kentucky (Darktown Follies)
Start Year : 1913
The Darktown Follies in "My Friend from Kentucky" was a three act comedy that was produced and initially staged in Harlem by J. Leubrie Hill. The production had been previously named "My Friend from Dixie" and it would go through a series of title and content changes before finally becoming known as Darktown Follies. The show is remembered for the dancing, unlike anything that had been witnessed on Broadway, and it had great drawing power that brought whites into Harlem at night. The production would eventually be moved downtown and performed for white audiences. One of the main characters is Bill Simmons, a businessman from Kentucky, who convinces character Jim Jackson Lee that for a fee he can leave his wife and her father's Virginia plantation (an African American-owned plantation) for a better life and a newer wife in Washington, D.C. For more see "The Darktown Follies" in A Century of Musicals in Black and White, by B. L. Peterson; and Steppin' On the Blues, by J. Malone.
Subjects: Actors, Actresses, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers
Geographic Region: Kentucky

"Ol Man River" / "Long Haired Mama"  Song Controversy
Start Year : 1927
End Year : 1959
The song, "Ol Man River," written in 1927, has been referred to as a Negro folk song and is credited to Jerome Kern for the music and Oscar Hammerstein II for the lyrics. There is also a claim that the song was originally written as "Long Haired Mama," by Maury Madison from Kentucky. Maury Madison [born William Renick Smith] and his parents are listed as white in the U.S. Federal Census. However, in 1959, The Commercial Appeal newspaper identified Maury Madison as a Negro who wrote "Ole Man River." The story was reprinted in various newspapers in the United States [sources: "Long-haired Mama," in The Florence Times, 10/10/1959, p. 4, and in the Kentucky New Era, 10/06/1959, p. 4]. The song "Long-Haired Mama" had been written by Maury Madison in 1927 when he was living in Paris, France. According to Sigmund Spaeth, the song was copied as "Old Man River" and credited to Jerome Kern; it was the opening song to Kern and Hammerstein's musical, Show Boat, sung by Paul Robeson [source: "Says Negro, not Jerome Kern, wrote 'River'," Jet, 10/15/1959, p. 61]. The matter of who actually wrote the song was said to have been settled out of court with Maury Madison receiving $5,000 in compensation. The story had actually come to light in 1933 in the New York Times when Spaeth, referred to as "The Tune Detective," noted that the song "Old Man River" was "a remarkable imitation of the real thing...." "In 1927 there was published in Paris a song named 'Long Haired Mamma,' by Maury Madison, with the opening measures of its chorus practically identical with the corresponding part of 'Ol Man River.' - - [source: O. E. Dunlap, Jr., "Trailing the Songs" within the article "100,000 Melodies are on tap for a network - The Tune Detective sleuths ten popular songs," New York Times, 10/08/1933, p. X11].  The name Maury Madison was an alias for William Renick Smith, a musician and composer born in Paris, KY. His birthday is given as July 5, 1893, on the New York Passengers List (for the Immigration Authorities), dated 08/27/1931, p. 55, No. 5. Madison had first applied for a passport in 1920 in Los Angeles, CA, under the name William R. Smith [source: U.S. Passport Application #168772, dated 01/28/1920]. On his application, William R. Smith said that he lived in Los Angeles, CA, and was a newspaper writer who would be leaving from New York on April 15, 1920, to travel abroad for six months to gather literary material from France, Spain, Italy, Switzerland, Belgium, and England. William Renick Smith's World War I draft registration card, completed May 24, 1917, says that he was a reporter at the Houston office of the Galveston News. During the 1920s, he would make several trips to Europe, and while abroad, he published a number of songs written in both English and French, penned under the name of Maury Madison. One of his earliest songs, "By the Shenandoah," was published in 1913 in Dallas, TX, under the name William Renick Smith [available at the Virginia Historical Society Library]. The Maury Madison Papers, 1926-1950 are held at the University of Texas at Austin. The collection includes music written by Madison after his return to the U.S. in 1931, when he began writing music to accompany poems written by U.S. Presidents and their families. The collection also includes songs for the play Out of the Blue by Leslie Hollingsworth. In 1942, Maury Madison was noted as living in Winchester, KY, when four of his songs were copyrighted: "We Shall Win" w Douglas McArthur and melody #23599; "Bataan Went Out Fighting" w Douglas McArthur #14933; "Glorious Old Banner" w William McKinley #10762; and "Harbor in Hawaii" #6287 [source: Catalog of Copyright Entries, Part 3, Musical Compositions, New Series, v.37, Part 1, First Half of 1942, Nos. 1-5].  William Renick Smith [Maury Madison] was the son of Curtis Pendleton Smith (b. 1863) from Indiana, and Anna E. Renick Smith (b. 1866) from Paris, KY.  The family left Kentucky around 1897 and lived in Dallas, TX, where Curtis P. Smith was a lawyer and served as Mayor of Dallas (1906-07) [source: City Mayors of the City of Dallas]. Curtis P. Smith died in Dallas on February 20, 1919 [source: Texas Death Index].  By 1920, William Renick and his mother were living in Los Angeles, CA. They both applied for passports in 1920 to visit Europe, and both returned to the U.S. on August 9, 1920, aboard the Kaiserin Auguste Victoria [source: List of United States Citizens (for the Immigration Authorities), p. 11, No. 3]. William Renick and his mother traveled together, making several trips to Europe during the 1920s. His mother, Anna E. Renick Smith, died in Winchester, KY on March 17, 1956 [source: Kentucky Death Index]. William Renick Smith also died in Winchester, KY, September 30, 1961 [source: Kentucky Death Index].  William Renick Smith and his parents are buried in the Paris Cemetery in Paris, KY. No official documents have been found that indicate William Renick Smith [Maury Madison] was African American.

 

 

See Paul Robeson singing "Ol Man River" (in Showboat, 1936) on YouTube. 
Subjects: Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers
Geographic Region: Paris, Bourbon County, Kentucky / Paris, France, Europe / Los Angeles, California / Winchester, Clark County, Kentucky

Olden, Clarence E.
Birth Year : 1904
Death Year : 1981
Clarence E. Olden, from Paducah, KY, was a trumpet player and band leader. He also played the saxophone. He left Kentucky for New York in the early 1930s, and opened at the Apollo Theater around Christmas Day of 1934. In 1940, Clarence and his wife Iva (1905-1991) were lodgers at the home of Mildred Harris on Lexington Avenue in Columbus, OH, and both were listed as musicians [source: U.S. Federal Census]. Clarence Olden was head of the band known as Clarence Olden and His Dixie Rhythm Boys. Kentucky trumpeter Jonah Jones was once a member of the Clarence Olden Band. The band name was later changed to the Clarence Olden Orchestra. During WWII, Clarence Olden worked at the Curtiss-Wright Aircraft Plant in Columbus, OH, and due to financial constraints, he merged his band with Earl Hood and His Orchestra. Olden took over the Hood Orchestra in 1951. In 1957, Olden gave up his job at the plant and quit playing music, he bought a grocery store. In 1964, his wife, Iva Olden, was shot at the store during a robbery [source: "Clerk shot," The Times Recorder (Zanesville), 07/01/1964, p.1]. Clarence Olden was the son of Onine Olden Danner, according to the 1930 U.S. Federal Census, and he was the stepson of Artis Danner who died in 1940 according to Kentucky Death Certificate, State File #5020. {The spelling of the name "Onine" was taken from her signature on the death certificate of Artis Danner.} For more see Columbus: the musical crossroads by D. Meyers et. al.; and Clarence Olden, trumpeter, saxophonist, bandleader, April 1, 2012, by A. Howard, a Columbus Bicentennial blog.

See photo image of Clarence Olden at the Columbus Metropolitan Library website.
Subjects: Businesses, Migration North, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers
Geographic Region: Paducah, McCracken County, Kentucky / New York / Columbus, Ohio

Olden, James Clarence "J.C."
Birth Year : 1884
Death Year : 1967
James C. Olden was a Baptist minister and a civil rights leader in Louisville, KY. He was born in Murfreesboro, TN, the son of George Olden who had been a slave in Oldham County, KY, before running away to join the Union Army during the Civil War. Rev. J. C. Olden came to Kentucky around 1949 and developed the Militant Church Movement (MCM) in Louisville. MCM was a civil rights organization that led in many protest campaigns, including the Interracial Hospital Movement that initiated the desegregation of Kentucky hospitals in 1953. Rev. Olden also led in the 1953 effort to bring Everett Lee, Jr. [Sylvia Olden Lee's husband] to Louisville, where he become the first African American to direct a white orchestra, and the first orchestra director to perform before an integrated audience in Louisville. Rev. Olden had been a civil rights activist prior to coming to Kentucky; in 1948, while a visiting minister at Salem Methodist Church in Harlem, NY, he led a national campaign against segregation in transportation. J. C. Olden was a graduate of Fisk University, where he sung in a quartet with Roland Hayes, Lem Foster, and Charles Wesley. He was a second tenor in Hayes' Apollo Quartet in 1910. In 1913, Olden married Sylvia Alice Ward (b.1889 in New Orleans, LA), a pianist and vocalist; they had met while students at Fisk. Sylvia Ward had turned down a singing position with the Metropolitan Opera in 1913, because the job came with the stipulation that she not tell anyone that she was Colored. Many years later, the first African American with the New York Metropolitan Opera would be Sylvia Olden Lee (1917-2004), musician, vocalist, and vocalist coach; the daughter of Sylvia and Rev. J. C. Olden. Sylvia O. Lee grew up in Washington, D.C. where her father was pastor of the Plymouth Colored Congregational Church. The Oldens were also international travelers. In 1926, Rev. Olden and his wife returned to the U.S. from Southampton, England, aboard the ship Majestic, according to the New York Passenger Lists. For more see To Stand and Fight by M. Biondi; and "Schiller Institute Dialogue with Sylvia Olden Lee, Pianist and Vocal Coach" 02/07/1998, [reprinted from Fidelio Magazine, vol. 7, issue 1 (Spring 1998)].

See photo image of James C. Olden and his then son-in-law, Everett Lee, at the Courier-Journal.com "Black History Month | 1953 Everett Lee," 02/01/2010.
Subjects: Activists, Civil Rights, Civic Leaders, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Religion & Church Work, Hospitals and Clinics: Employment, Founders, Ownership, Incidents
Geographic Region: Murfreesboro, Tennessee / Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky / Oldham County, Kentucky / Detroit, Michigan

Oliver Scott's Refined Negro Minstrels
Start Year : 1890
End Year : 1904
The company had previously been the A. G. Field's Colored Minstrels; Oliver Scott purchased the company in the 1890s. The company did not originate in Kentucky but disbanded in Middlesboro, KY, in 1904. "While the show was in progress, the manager caught the 9:30 train and left town, owing 22 people two weeks' salary." For more see The Ghost Walks: a chronological history of blacks in show business, 1865-1910, by H. T. Sampson. View a theatrical poster of Oliver Scott's Refined Negro Minstrels at the Library of Congress (image may be enlarged).


Subjects: Actors, Actresses, Businesses, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Railroad, Railway, Trains, Minstrel and Vaudeville Performers, Theater: Companies, Education, Exhibitions, Performers, and Performances in Kentucky
Geographic Region: Middlesboro, Bell County, Kentucky

O'Rourke, James Ralph , Sr.
Birth Year : 1913
Death Year : 1999
In 2008, it was discovered that James R. O'Rourke, Sr. was the first African American graduate of the University of Kentucky School of Library and Information Science. He graduated in 1957. Prior to his enrollment, O'Rourke had been named head librarian at Kentucky State University (KSU), a position he held from 1949-1970. Before coming to Kentucky, O'Rourke was a history instructor and served as head librarian of Stillman Junior College [now Stillman College]. O'Rourke was a 1935 graduate of Stillman Junior College, a 1947 sociology and economics graduate of Talladega College, and a 1947 graduate of Atlanta University [now Clark Atlanta University], where he earned a B.S. in Library Science. He had owned a drug store and a shoe repair shop. He had been a singer, an actor, a barber, a Pullman Porter, and shoe shiner. In Kentucky, he was a library leader. O'Rourke was the author of several articles and co-authored the Student Library Assistants of Kentucky (SLAK) Handbook, which was distributed throughout the United States and to some foreign countries. O'Rourke and C. Elizabeth Johnson, Central High School Librarian, had co-organized SLAK in 1952; it was the only state-wide organization of its kind in the United States. The organization was created to spark students' interest in library science and provided scholarship opportunities to seniors who planned to go to college. O'Rourke also led an annual workshop to assist public library employees in getting certification, and he provided library training. He was one of the first African American members of the Kentucky Library Association (KLA). He also held several positions in community organizations. He was a civil rights advocate and served as presiding chairman of the National Conference of Christians and Jews in Lexington, KY, 1966-67. He was a member of the Governor's Planning Committee on Libraries, 1967-68, and co-chairman of the Lexington (KY) Librarians Association. O'Rourke was the last chairman of the Librarian's Conference of the Kentucky Negro Educational Association, 1952-1956. He was a member of the American Library Association, the Southeastern Library Association, and the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity. He was a member of the Kentucky Black History Committee of the Kentucky Commission on Human Rights, and was a co-contributor to the Commission's publication, Kentucky's Black Heritage. He left Kentucky a few years after his retirement from KSU in 1970 and settled in North Carolina. James R. O'Rourke, Sr. was born in Tuscaloosa, AL, the oldest child of Sally Reese and Timothy R. O'Rourke. He was the husband of George M. Wright O'Rourke [also a UK Library School graduate, 1966], and the great-grandson of Evalina Love and Shandy Wesley Jones. Shandy Jones was a slave who was freed in 1820 and later became an Alabama Legislator, 1868-1870 [see Descendants of Shandy Wesley Jones and Evalina Love Jones by Pinkard and Clark]. This information comes from the vita and the memorial tribute to James R. O'Rourke, Sr., provided by Dr. James R. O'Rourke, Jr. In 2009, the University of Kentucky Libraries and the School of Library and Information Science nominated James R. O'Rourke for the Lyman T. Johnson Torch Bearer Award (posthumously) for his work and dedication to librarianship in Kentucky. The award was received by his son, Dr. James R. O'Rourke, Jr.
Subjects: Activists, Civil Rights, Actors, Actresses, Authors, Barbers, Education and Educators, Librarians, Library Collections, Libraries, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Pullman Porters, Fraternal Organizations, Pharmacists, Pharmacies, Shoes: Finishers, Makers, Repairers, Shiners, Stores
Geographic Region: Tuscaloosa, Alabama / Frankfort, Franklin County, Kentucky / Lexington, Fayette County, Kentucky / North Carolina

Pasquall, Jerome Don
Birth Year : 1902
Death Year : 1971
Jerome D. Pasquall was born in Fulton, KY, and grew up in St. Louis, Missouri. He played the saxophone, clarinet, and mellophone. Pasquall played with many bands, including the riverboat bands of Charlie Creath and Kentucky native Fate Marable. He also played and recorded with Doc Cooke's Dreamland Orchestra while studying at the American Conservatory in Chicago. Pasquall studied at the New England Conservatory, graduating in 1927, and was lead alto saxophone with Fletcher Henderson's band. He played the clarinet and saxophone on a number of fox trot recordings from 1920s-1930s, including the 1924 song Moanful Man, Fox Trot, by Cooke's Dreamland Orchestra, and the 1936 song Where There's You There's Me: Fox Trot, by Fletcher Henderson and His Orchestra. For more see "Jerome Don Pasquall" in the Oxford Music Online Database. Listen to a sample of Jerome Pasquall on clarinet and alto sax on the song Black Maria recorded by Fletcher Henderson and His Orchestra in 1927, a Amazon.com website.
Access Interview
Subjects: Migration West, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers
Geographic Region: Fulton, Fulton County, Kentucky / Saint Louis, Missouri

Payne, George W.
Birth Year : 1888
Born in Union, KY, George W. Payne was an engineer with the Mt. Vernon (Indiana) Water, Light, and Power Co. beginning in 1906. He was regarded as one of the best engineers and engine repairman in southern Indiana. He was the son of Jefferson and Alice Benson Payne. He was a member of Butler's Cornet Band, and was a member of the Technical and Electrical Engineers Association of America. George W. Payne was the husband of Ethel Payne and he couple had five children when they were listed in the 1930 U.S. Federal Census living on East Sycamore Street in Mt. Vernon, IN. For more see Who's Who of Colored America, 1915.
Subjects: Engineers, Migration North, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers
Geographic Region: Union, Boone County, Kentucky / Mount Vernon, Indiana

Perry, Julia A.
Birth Year : 1924
Death Year : 1979
Perry was born in Lexington, KY, one of the five daughters of Dr. Abe Perry and America Lois Heath Perry. The family moved to Akron, Ohio, when Julia was a child. She was a two-time graduate of Westminster Choir College [now Westminster Choir College of Rider University]. She received two Guggenheim fellowships and a number of other awards during her career. Perry composed many works, including two one-act operas and a three-act opera-ballet, The Selfish Giant (published in 1964), for which she won the American Academy of Arts and Letters Prize. She taught in the music department at Hampton Institute [now Hampton University] and at Florida A&M, and she was a visiting lecturer at Atlanta University Center [now Clark Atlanta University]. Perry's career began to decline when she suffered her first stroke at the age of 46. She is buried in the Glendale Cemetery in Akron; the birth date on her tombstone, 1927, is incorrect. For more see "Julia Perry" in From Spirituals to Symphonies: African-American women composers and their music, by H. Walker-Hill; Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Twentieth-Century Classical Musicians, by N. Slonimsky; and Black Women in America. an historical encyclopedia, ed. by D. C. Hine.
Subjects: Authors, Education and Educators, Migration North, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers
Geographic Region: Lexington, Fayette County, Kentucky / Akron, Ohio

Perry, William H., Sr.
Birth Year : 1860
Death Year : 1946
William H. Perry, Sr. was born in Indiana. After the death of his father, he and his mother moved to Louisville, KY. He was a graduate of Louisville Central High School, becoming a teacher at the school following his graduation in 1877. He was also a graduate of the Illinois Medical College. In 1908 Perry became the first African American physician to receive his license by passing the Kentucky State Board of Medical Examiners. He was also one of the co-founders of the Louisville Red Cross Hospital. The Perry School in Louisville was named in his honor posthumously in 1952; Perry had been head principal of the school, 1891-1927. The school was later merged with the Roosevelt School, and the name was changed to the Roosevelt-Perry Elementary School. William H. Perry, Sr. was the husband of Ana Ridley, from Nashville, a concert pianist and vocalist. For more see The Fascinating Story of Black Kentuckians, by A. A. Dunnigan; and "Professor William H. Perry, Sr. passes," KNEA Journal, vol. 18, issue 1 (1946), pp. 12-13. Mark Shepard provided additional information from the Personal Papers of William H. Perry, part of the grass-roots collection at the Lost Creek Historical Society.

See photo image of William H. Perry, Sr. at Wabash Valley Visions & Voices website.
Subjects: Education and Educators, Medical Field, Health Care, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Migration South, Hospitals and Clinics: Employment, Founders, Ownership, Incidents
Geographic Region: Indiana / Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky

Pettigrew, L. [Luella] Eudora
Birth Year : 1928
Luella E. Pettigrew was born in Hopkinsville, KY, the daughter of Corrye L. Newell Williams and Warren C. Williams, the first African American agricultural agent in Christian County. She is a graduate of West Virginia State College [now West Virginia State University] and Southern Illinois University. Pettigrew was a professor at several universities, then for six years served as associate provost at the University of Delaware before being named president of SUNY College at Old Westbury in 1986. She was the first African American woman to become president of a SUNY campus; she retired in1998. She was also the first African American to become chair of a department at Michigan State University, 1974-78, and the first to become a central administrator at the University of Delaware. 1981-1986. Pettigrew's initial career plan was to become a concert pianist; she earned her BMus in 1950. She switched career paths when she was in her early 30s, leaving Kentucky to enroll at Southern Illinois, where she earned a masters in counseling and a Ph.D. in educational psychology. For more see S. C. Schaer, "Positive thinker L. Eudora Pettigrew sunny-old Westbury's president, is both a role model and a commanding presence," Newsday (Melville, NY, Nassau and Suffolk edition), 08/19/1990, The Newsday Magazine section, p. 08; Campus History, an Old Westbury website; Who's Who Among African Americans, 1975-2006; and K. Grossman, "Dr. L. Eudora Pettigrew," The Crisis, October 1991, vol.98, no.8, pp.27-29.

See photo image of L. Eudora Pettigrew near the bottom of the SIU Alumni Association website.
Subjects: Education and Educators, Migration North, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers
Geographic Region: Hopkinsville, Christian County, Kentucky / New York

Pickett, Wilson, Jr.
Birth Year : 1941
Death Year : 2006
In 2006, Wilson Pickett, Jr. was buried in an Evergreen Cemetery mausoleum in Louisville, KY [source: Find A Grave]. He was born in Prattville, AL, and died in Reston, VA. He had lived in Louisville when his mother moved there from Alabama, and he was laid to rest next to his mother in the Evergreen Cemetery. Wilson Pickett, Jr. was a singer and songwriter, known for such hits as In the Midnight Hour and Mustang Sally. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1991. For more information, see "Wilson Pickett laid to rest in Kentucky," TimesDaily, 01/29/2006, p. 2B; Wilson Pickett biography website; Wilson Pickett in Contemporary Musicians: profiles of the people in music, volume 10, by J. M. Rubiner; and Wilson Pickett in African Americans in the Performing Arts, by S. Otfinoski.

 

 

See the video and listen to "Wilson Pickett - In The Midnight Hour" on YouTube.
Subjects: Migration North, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Undertakers, Cemeteries, Coroners, & Obituaries
Geographic Region: Prattville, Alabama / Reston, Virginia / Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky

Pillow, Faith
Birth Year : 1954
Death Year : 2003
Born in Louisville, KY, Pillow was a singer and songwriter of blues, jazz and folk. Her 30-year career included ten years in Europe. She opened for Muddy Waters for three years. Pillow died unexpectedly during surgery at the University of Louisville Hospital. She was the daughter of Lucien and Archie Johnson Pillow. For more see Faith Pillow and listen online to her songs, at Faith Pillow website.
Access Interview
Subjects: Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Migration Outside the U.S. and Canada
Geographic Region: Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky / Europe

Pope, Gene
In 1938, Gene Pope established his band at West Kentucky College [now West Kentucky Community and Technical College] in Paducah, KY. According to an article in Billboard, Pope's orchestra specialized in club and ballroom music, and their first job was at Bud Shepherd's night club in Vincennes, IN, and they next played at the Cotton Club in Indianapolis, IN. The band played at the Cotton Club for three years; the club was owned by Kentucky natives Denver and Sea Ferguson. In 1943, Gene Pope and his orchestra were managed by the Ferguson Brothers' Booking Agency and the group played in Indianapolis, New York, Chicago, and Springfield, IL. Also in 1943, saxophone player Vincent Stewart joined the Gene Pope Orchestra, Stewart had been playing with Pha Terrell and Clarence Love. For more see "Gene Pope and His Orchestra," The Billboard Music Year Book 1943, p.160 [available online at Google Book Search]; and "Ex-Terrell saxman joins Gene Pope," The Afro-American, 03/27/1943, p.10.
Subjects: Migration North, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers
Geographic Region: Paducah, McCracken County, Kentucky / Indianapolis, Indiana

Postell, Peter, Sr. [Peter Glass]
Birth Year : 1841
Death Year : 1901
Postell (spelled Postel in some sources) was a former slave who was born in South Carolina according to census records. He owned a merchant business in Hopkinsville, KY, and was considered quite wealthy. He was often referred to as "The Richest Negro in the South." His estate was valued at $500,000. During slavery, Postell, had the name Peter Glass. He was brought to Kentucky from North Carolina, and he later escaped and joined the Union Army during the Civil War, serving with the 16th U.S. Colored Infantry, according to his military service record, he was in the brass band. Postell had enlisted in Clarksville, TN, in January of 1864, and North Carolina was listed as his birth state. He returned to Kentucky after the war and opened a grocery store in Hopkinsville and is listed in the 1870 U.S Federal Census as Peter Postell. He was the husband of Pauline Buckner Postell, b.1851 in Christian County, KY, [her father was born in S.C.]. Peter Postell was the son of Mrs. C. Kirkpatrick, who was born around 1819 in South Carolina. According to the 1880 U.S. Federal Census, the Postell household consisted of Peter, his wife and four children, his mother, her husband and their son, and a boarder. Peter and Pauline Postell had several more children before Peter died in 1901. For more see Evidences of Progress Among Colored People, by G. F. Richings at the the Documenting the American South website; "A Rich Negro," The Adair County News, 08/21/1901, p. 1; and "Death of a wealthy Negro," New York Times, 05/23/1901, p.1.
Subjects: Businesses, Freedom, Migration West, Military & Veterans, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers
Geographic Region: South Carolina / North Carolina / Hopkinsville, Christian County, Kentucky

Quarles, Alfred Nelson
Birth Year : 1862
Death Year : 1944
Professor Alfred N. Quarles was a well-known musician and music director in Cincinnati, OH. He was born in Frankfort, KY, the son of Charleston and Mary E. Quarles. Alfred was a baby when the family moved to Cincinnati; they are listed in the 1870 U.S. Federal Census. Alfred Quarles was educated in Cincinnati schools, and he studied music at the College of Music - harmony, pipe organ, and voice and technique. He taught music in the Covington, KY, schools, and he gave private lessons. He was the organist and choir director at Allen Temple and was choir director at The St. John A. M. E. Zion Church. Quarles participated in and directed a number of performances at the Allen Temple church. He also performed at special events in and around Cincinnati. He was a member of the Orpheus Club, said to be the leading music organization in Cincinnati [source: "From the Queen City," Cleveland Gazette, 05/22/1886, p. 1]. In 1903, Alfred Quarles visited Maysville, KY, to assist with the closing exercises given at the opera house by the Maysville Colored High School. The cantata was a rendition of "Ruth the Moabitess," and Alfred Quarles had the role of Boaz [source: "Prof. A. N. Quarles of Cincinnati..." and "Ruth the Moabitess," both in the Daily Public Ledger, 06/11/1903, p. 1]. For more see Cincinnati's Colored Citizens, by W. P. Dabney.
Subjects: Education and Educators, Migration North, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers
Geographic Region: Frankfort, Franklin County, Kentucky / Cincinnati, Ohio

Raglin Brothers
Six of the Raglin Brothers were ministers, each with his own church. They come from a long line of ministers that included their father and their grandfather and great-grandfather on their mother's side of the family. In addition to their calling to the ministry, when they were younger the brothers were also a highly sought after gospel singing group known as the Raglin Brothers. Between 1955 and the late 1970s, their singing itinerary included churches and church-related events throughout Kentucky, Ohio, Tennessee, Georgia, and Michigan. They were featured on the original PM Magazine television program. Their mother, Susie Brooks Raglin, and her sisters had also had a gospel singing group known as the Brooks Sisters. The Raglin family is known to many in Kentucky because their family has a long history in the state: they are the descendants of slaves Ben and Sally Ragland, who migrated to Kentucky in the early 1800s. They came from Virginia with a wealthy slave owner named Harris. The Ragland family (later spelled Raglin) later lived in Sugar Hill, an African American community located on what is today Sugar Hill Road, a narrow, one-lane, dead-end road off Paynes Mill Road in Woodford County, KY. John H. and Susie Raglin, parents of the Raglin Brothers, raised their family in Zion Hill, KY, not too far from the Sugar Hill community. Their children are Argie Shackleford, John C., James E., Thomas E. (deceased), Robert L., Earl B., Bennie O., and Floyd B. Raglin. (John C. is not a minister and was not a member of the gospel singing group.) Information submitted by Ponice Raglin Cruse and her father, the Reverend Floyd B. Raglin. For more information see K. Fister, "Their ministry is a family affair," Lexington Herald-Leader, 12/31/1983, Lifestyle section, p. C1.
Subjects: Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Religion & Church Work
Geographic Region: Virginia / Sugar Hill, Woodford County, Kentucky (no longer exists) / Zion Hill, Scott County, Kentucky

Rainer, Georgia B. Gomez [Madam Gomez]
Birth Year : 1885
Death Year : 1919
Madam Gomez was the stage name for Georgia Beatrice Barkley Gomez Rainer, a famous soprano operatic singer who was born in Lexington, KY. She was the daughter of Louisa Barkley Matthews and the stepdaughter of Courtney Matthews (1868-1940), a hostler and the overseer at Ashland Stud in Lexington, KY. Georgia Barkley was a graduate of Chandler Normal School in Lexington. She lived in Chicago with an aunt and uncle, Robert and Lily Davis, and received musical training in 1900 [source: U.S. Federal Census]. She was a graduate of Fisk University in Tennessee; Barkley had attended Fisk for three years specializing in vocal music and was an honors graduate. She had been giving concerts since 1904. After College, Barkley continued performing, and in 1907 she married Alphonse Frisco Gomez (b. 1884) in Mobile, Alabama. She would return to Lexington for engagements, performing before 22,000 people during the Booker T. Washington Day celebration at the Lexington Colored Fair. She sang at Pleasant Green Baptist Church in November of 1908. That same month, she sang at the Pekin Theater and the Odd Fellow's Hall in Louisville, KY. Gomez performed with the vaudeville team Williams and Walker and later teamed with Will Downs, performing as Gomez and Downs [or Downz]. The team split in 1917, according to an article in Freeman, but according to her death notice in the Lexington Leader newspaper, they were a team at the time of Gomez's death in July 1919. Gomez died in New York, and according to the Lexington Leader article, Gomez's second husband, Irving E. Rainer, brought her body to Lexington, KY, for the funeral and burial. It is not known when Georgia Gomez married Rainer; according to Alphonse F. Gomez's World War I U.S. Army registration (1917-18), Georgia was still his wife and was living at 3 West East Street in Mobile, AL. For more see the following articles in the Lexington Leader: W. Hill, "Madam Gomez," 07/25/1919, p. 3; "Complimentary notice," 07/28/1907, p. 3; "Married in Alabama," 04/14/1907, p. 4; "Colored Notes," 11/15/1908, p. 16. See the following articles in the Freeman: "One of Kentucky's favorite soprano singers...," 11/21/1908, p. 1;  "Chicago Weekly Review: Downz & Gomez at the Grand," by Sylvester Russell, 07/24/1915, p. 5; "Georgia Gomez, late of Williams and Walker...," 05/14/1910, p. 5; "Tallabee returns to the Pekin - Mott's Theatre again crowded," and the sentence that begins "Downs and Gomez sing in the...," 10/14/1911, p. 4. See also "Senora Georgia Gomez...," Washington Bee, 08/18/1917, p. 2.
Subjects: Migration North, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Migration South, Minstrel and Vaudeville Performers
Geographic Region: Lexington, Fayette County, Kentucky / Mobile, Alabama / New York

Randolph, Alma L.
Birth Year : 1957
Born in Beaver Dam, KY, Alma Randolph was the first African American woman elected to the Beaver Dam Council (1980) and the first African American to hold office in the county. Randolph is also a gospel singer locally and nationally. In 1993, she founded the Alma Randolph Charitable Foundation, which buys school supplies and back-to-school clothing for disadvantaged children. She is the Human Rights/Community Relations Specialist for Owensboro and in 2007 was appointed to the state Human Rights Commission by then Governor Ernie Fletcher. For more see Women in Kentucky Reform; and KET's "Connections with Renee Shaw" - #308: Alma Randolph.

 
Subjects: Civic Leaders, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Politicians, Politics, Appointments & Elections, Appointments by Kentucky Governors
Geographic Region: Beaver Dam, Ohio County, Kentucky / Owensboro, Daviess County, Kentucky

Ray, William Benjamin, Sr.
Birth Year : 1925
William Benjamin Ray, Sr. was born in Lexington, KY, to Beatrice Clifton Smith and Mason Ray. He is an Army veteran and a graduate of Oberlin College and Boston University. In the United States, he was an opera singer with De Paur's Infantry, Karamu Theater, and Cleveland Playhouse. His career began in 1957 in Europe, where he performed in operas and orchestras and on stage and television. In 1974, he founded Black Theater Productions in Stuttgart, Germany, and served as its president until 1985. Ray is included in Blacks in Opera. He was a faculty member at the University of Music and Dramatic Arts Graz - Austria and a professor of voice at the Peabody Conservatory of Music at Johns Hopkins University and at the Howard University Department of Music. Ray is retired and lives in Odenton, Maryland. For more see Who's Who Among African Americans, 1985-2006; and N. Sears, "Another high note for singer - Legacy Award crowns opera career filled with mentoring, teaching," Special to The Sun, 02/04/2007, Local section, p. 1G.

See photo image and additional information about William Benjamin Ray, Sr. at bottom half of Sam's Subject Index webpage.
Subjects: Actors, Actresses, Education and Educators, Migration North, Military & Veterans, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Migration Outside the U.S. and Canada
Geographic Region: Lexington, Fayette County, Kentucky / Stuttgart, Germany, Europe / Austria, Europe / Odenton, Maryland

Rene, Leon T.
Birth Year : 1902
Death Year : 1982
Leon T. Rene, born in Covington, KY, was a bricklayer before becoming a recognized songwriter and record producer. He partnered in the music business with his older brother, Otis J. Rene, Jr., who was born in New Orleans in 1898. They moved to Los Angeles in 1922 and in the 1930s founded the record companies Exclusive Records and Excelsior Records. They became the leading producers of independent recording artists, with recordings by artist such as Nat King Cole, Johnny Otis, and Joe Liggins and His Honeydrippers. The Rene brothers were also the first owners of an independent record company on the West Coast. They also owned publishing companies Leon René Publications and Recordo Music Publishers. In 1957, they formed a new record label, Class Records. One of their best know songs was "When the Swallows Come Back to Capistrano." For more see "Leon Rene, immortalized swallows of Capistrano," United Press International, 06/08/1982, Inside section, p.3B; and "Leon T. Rene" in Biographical Dictionary of Afro-American and African Musicians, by E. Southern.

See photo image of Leon T. Rene on p.64 in Jet, 05/15/1958.
Subjects: Businesses, Journalists, Newspapers, Magazines, Book Publishers, Music Publishers, Migration West, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers
Geographic Region: Covington, Kenton County, Kentucky / Los Angeles, California

Rhea, La Julia Ray
Birth Year : 1908
Death Year : 1992
La Julia Ray Rhea was born in Louisville, KY, the daughter of Sally and William Ray. She opened in the role of "Aida" in the Chicago Civic Opera Company during the regular season, the first African American to do so. Rhea studied at the National University of Music in Chicago. The National Negro Opera Company Collection is at the Library of Congress (see the Finding Aid [pdf]) and contains biographical material on La Julia Rhea. She married Henry J. Rhea (1896-1976) from Henderson, KY; the family lived in Chicago in 1930, where Henry was a letter carrier, according to the 1930 U.S. Federal Census. La Julia Ray Rhea died in Chicago in 1992. For more see Blacks in Opera. An encyclopedia of people and companies, 1873-1993, by E. L. Smith; Biography Index. A cumulative index to biographical material in books and magazines, vol. 16 (Sept. 1988-Aug. 1990); and the La Julia Rhea entry in The Black Women in the Middle West Project, by D. C. Hine, et al.

See photo image of La Julia Ray Rhea with P. L. Prattis at the Carnegie Museum of Art website.
Subjects: Migration North, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Postal Service
Geographic Region: Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky / Henderson, Henderson County, Kentucky

Rhodes, Bessie M.
Birth Year : 1938
Death Year : 2002
Born in Hodgenville, KY, Bessie M. Rhodes was an assistant professor at Northwestern University and later a school teacher and principal in Chicago, IL. She then worked for Xerox and was transferred to California where she was the company's first African American woman regional controller in charge of the district's finances. Rhodes would return to Illinois to become a school principal and manage the first Home Day Care program in Evanston. She was a consultant to other schools in the U.S. and Mexico. Rhodes was a graduate of Kentucky State College [now Kentucky State University], where she earned a bachelor's in music, and she earned a master's in music education at Iowa State University. She earned a doctorate in educational administration at Northwestern University. For more see B. W. Rotzoll, "Bessie Rhodes, 64, professor and principal," Chicago Sun-Times, 04/21/2002, News section, p. 57; and S. Chen and M. Lopas, "Bessie M. Rhodes, 64, principal, local teacher," The Daily Northwestern, 04/22/2002, Campus section.
Subjects: Businesses, Education and Educators, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers
Geographic Region: Hodgenville, Larue County, Kentucky / Chicago and Evanston, Illinois / California

Rhodes, Todd Washington
Birth Year : 1900
Death Year : 1965
Rhodes was a pianist and an arranger, he was born in Hopkinsville, KY, and grew up in Springfield, OH, where he studied at the Springfield School of Music. He also studied at the Erie Conservatory and graduated in 1921. He began his career with William McKinney's Synco Jazz Band. Rhodes moved on to Detroit where he formed his own band, he died in Flint. Todd's albums include Your Daddy's Dogin' Around and Blues for the Red Boy. Todd Rhodes was the son of Mattie Johnson and the stepson of John Johnson. For more see "Todd (Washington) Rhodes" in Oxford Music Online Database; and Todd Rhodes by Dave Penny, a Black Cat website. View the image and listen to Todd Rhodes - Blues for the Red Boy on YouTube.

Subjects: Migration North, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers
Geographic Region: Hopkinsville, Christian County, Kentucky / Flint Michigan

Rich, Geneva Cooper
Birth Year : 1911
Death Year : 1989
Geneva Cooper Rich was a musician who played the organ and the piano, and she was an internationally known singer from Louisville, KY. She studied music under R. Todd Duncan at the Louisville Municipal College. She received the title of "Unofficial Ambassador of Democracy" while in Morocco in 1954. Geneva Cooper Rich had gone to Rabat, Morocco to join her husband, Clayburn Rich (1916-1991), who was a sergeant in the U. S. Air Force. While there, she trained singing groups and she performed at the Non-Commissioned Officers' Club. Her notoriety grew and Geneva Cooper Rich soon signed a singing contract with Radio-Maroc to perform American gospel music. She was the first African American to sign a singing contract in Morocco. She also sang live for the American-owned broadcast station in Morocco. In recognition, she received a letter of commendation from Mrs. Eisenhower for her work as a gospel singer with the Armed Forces in Northern Africa. Prior to her career in Morocco, Geneva Cooper had been a member of several singing groups in Louisville, KY, and she had guest appearances on the television and the radio. She was one of the first African Americans to have a sponsored radio program in Kentucky. After leaving Kentucky and traveling with her husband, Geneva Cooper Rich lived in a number of locations. Her husband had been in the Air Force for 18 years in 1958 when the family of four moved from Blytheville, AR, to Lebanon, IN. They had planned to live in their trailer, but because they were Negroes, they were not allowed to station their trailer at any of the lots in the city. The family decided to live in a house and sold the trailer. In 1964, the family moved to North Highlands, CA; Clayburn Rich was stationed at McClellan Air Force Base. When the family moved to Kentucky, Geneva Cooper Rich was still performing and she sang the national anthem at the 1967 inauguration of Kentucky Governor Louie B. Nunn. She also wrote the song "The Modern Moses" in 1970 as a dedication to the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. For more see "Radio Morocco presents Kentucky gal's spirituals," Washington Afro-American, 04/26/1955, p.7; see p.317 in The Fascinating Story of Black Kentuckians by A. A. Dunnigan; "Appreciation," Indianapolis Recorder, 04/19/1958, p.6; "Arkansas family in trailer gets no Hoosier hospitality," Indianapolis Recorder, 03/29/1958, p.1 & 2; "Louisville singer, pianist, radio artist...," Jet, 07/09/1964, p.64; see Geneva Cooper Rich in "Judge Dawson to introduce new governor," Daily News, 11/19/1967, p.12; and see the entry "The Modern Moses" by Geneva Cooper Rich, on p.1080 in the Catalog of Copyright Entries, 3rd series, v.24, part 1, number 1, section 1, 1970: January-June, Books and Pamphlets, Current and Renewal Registrations, by Library of Congress, Copyright Office.
Subjects: Military & Veterans, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Radio, Television, Migration Outside the U.S. and Canada
Geographic Region: Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky / Rabat, Morocco, Africa / Blytheville, Arkansas / Lebanon, Indiana / North Highlands, California

Richardson, Saunders, Jr. "Smoke" and Family
Birth Year : 1906
Death Year : 1963
One of the most recognized musicians in Lexington, KY, was Saunders "Smoke" Richardson. He was born in Covington, KY, the son of Julia Mae Thompson Richardson (1883-1934) and Saunders Richardson Sr. (1879-1935). Kentucky has been home to his family for several generations. His mother was from Covington, KY, and his father from Lexington. His parents lived on Price Street in Lexington in 1902; Saunders, Sr. was employed as a porter [source: p. 463, The Lexington City Directory and Rural Postal Delivery Routes for 1902-1903, Volume 1]. His brother Robert Richardson was born in Lexington, September 5, 1902 [source: Kentucky Certificate of Death Registered No. 1149]. By 1904, the family lived in Covington, and Smoke's sister Elza Richardson was born at home on Washington Street, June 19, 1904 [source: Kentucky Certificate of Live Birth Registrars No. 30A]. Two years later, Saunders "Smoke" Richardson, Jr. was also born in Covington. By 1909, the Richardson family was living in Lexington at 323 Race Street, and Saunders, Sr. was a bartender [source: p. 516 in Lexington City Directory, 1909. volume v]. He was also an umpire for the colored baseball games in Lexington [source: "The Lexington Hustlers..." in  "Colored Notes," Leader, 06/01/1913, p. 7, col. 6; and "The Cumminsville, O., ..." in "Colored Notes," Leader, 06/01/1914, p. 5, col. 5]. In 1920, Saunders, Sr. owned a soft drink store, and his son Robert worked with him as a salesman while Elza and Saunders, Jr. attended school [source: U.S. Federal Census]. His wife Julia Richardson may have been part owner of the store: the store name is given as J. Richardson Company, groceries, on p. 648 in The Lexington City Directory, 1923. A couple years later, while Julia and Saunders, Sr. continued with the store, their son Robert became a tailor, daughter Elza a school teacher; and son Saunders, Jr. a musician [source: pp. 661 & 662 in R. L. Polk & Co.'s Lexington (Kentucky) Directory, 1925]. It was during this time that Saunders, Jr. left Kentucky. The following information comes from Saunda C. Richardson Coleman, daughter of Saunders Richardson, Jr., and Carol Mills Richardson. "Around his junior year of high school, Smoke Richardson quit school and started playing music professionally; he played the baritone saxophone. He got the nickname Smoke because he smoked cigarettes all the time. He went to New York City for a brief period and studied under musician Coleman Hawkins. He was back in Lexington by the 1930s. His specialty was big band music, and he was pretty much a local entertainer." In 1928, the Richardson family lived at 301 E. 4th Street, and Julia and Saunders Sr. worked at the store along with Robert, who was a clerk; Elza was still a school teacher, and Saunders, Jr. was still away in New York [source: p. 451 in Polk's Lexington (Kentucky) City Directory, Vol. XIV, 1928]. Saunders, Jr. was back in Kentucky by 1930; he is listed in the city directory as a musician on p. 491 (Polk's Lexington (Kentucky) City Directory, Vol. XV, 1930). He was not listed in the 1931-32 directory with his parents, who had a confectioner business at 146 W. Vine St.; his brother Robert was a cook at Drake Cafeteria and lived at 515 E. 2nd Street; no occupation was listed for Elza, who lived with her parents [source: p. 425 in Polk's Lexington (Kentucky) City Directory, Vol. XVI, 1931-32]. In the previous directory, Saunders, Jr. was listed as a musician and the husband of Louise [source: p. 418, Polk's Lexington City Directory, 1931]. There is no further mention of Louise in the Richardson household in subsequent directories. A few years later, Smoke's family suffered a loss when Julia M. Thompson Richardson died, December 19, 1934; she was the daughter of Robert Thompson from Fayette County and Julia Johnson Thompson from Kenton County [source: Kentucky Certificate of Death Registered No. 1110]. Four months later, Saunders Richardson, Sr. died on April 13, 1935; he was the son of Henry Richardson from Fayette County and Mary E. Smith Richardson from Montgomery County [sources: Obituary in "Colored Notes," Leader, 04/16/1935, p. 10, col. 6-7; and Kentucky Certificate of Death File No. 332]. Both Saunders Richardson, Sr. and Julia Thompson Richardson are buried in Greenwood Cemetery in Lexington. It was during this time of loss that Saunders "Smoke" Richardson, Jr. and His Orchestra began playing for events at the University of Kentucky [source: "Final dance of semester will be held Saturday," The Kentucky Kernel, 08/09/1938, front page, column 4]. The University of Kentucky was a segregated school for white students, but African American bands were hired to entertain at social events. The group also played at Kentucky State College for Negroes (now Kentucky State University) and at high school events in Lexington and surrounding counties. In 1940, Smoke Richardson and his brother Robert were living with their sister Elza at the home place, 301 E. 4th Street; Elza was a maid, Robert was a waiter at a hotel, and Smoke was a musician [source: U.S. Federal Census]. The eldest sibling, Robert Richardson, died from tuberculosis on December 14, 1947 [source: Kentucky Certificate of Death Registered No. 1149]. After his brother's death, Smoke Richardson continued to live at 301 E. 4th Street with his sister Elza [source: p. 552 in Polk's Lexington (Fayette County, KY.) City Directory, vol. XXX, 1953]. He provided music for events such as the Zeta Tau Alpha annual houseparty at the University of Kentucky [source: p. 124 of the 1958 Kentuckian]. His music can be heard on an untitled 78 rpm album that has four songs on each side: a copy of the album is at the Isaac Scott Hathaway Museum on Georgetown Street in Lexington, KY. By 1960, Smoke Richardson and His Orchestra had been the house band at Circle H for several years {the establishment had been named the Circle Bar} [source: The Kentucky Kernel, 11/17/1958, p. 11]. Also by 1960, Smoke Richardson was the husband of Carol Mills Richardson; the couple lived at 301 E. 4th Street with Elza Richardson, who was the executive director of the Phyllis Wheatly {Colored} Branch of the Lexington YWCA [source: pp. 556 & 557 in Polk's Lexington (Fayette County, KY) City Directory, vol. XXXVI, 1960]. Elza Richardson had been a maid at the colored YWCA in 1942 [source: p. 331 in Polk's Lexington City Directory, 1942]; she was the assistant director in 1952 [source: p. 394 in Polk's Lexington (Fayette County, KY.) City Directory, vol. XXVIX, 1952]; and she became the executive director in 1956 [source: p. 511 in Polk's Lexington (Fayette County, KY.) City Directory, vol. XXXIII, 1956]. Elza Richardson had started at the YWCA as early as 1940 [source: p. 528 in Polk's Lexington (Fayette County, KY.) City Directory, vol. XXII, 1940-41]. In 1945, she was a cook at the Lexington Signal Depot [source: p. 317 in Polk's Lexington (Fayette County, KY.) City Directory, vol. XXV, 1945], and she was still there in 1947 [source: p. 465 in Polk's Lexington (Fayette County, KY.) City Directory, vol. XXVI, 1947]. In 1958, she was an elevator operator at Kaufman Clothers [source: p. 441 in Polk's Lexington (Fayette County, KY.) City Directory, vol. XXVII, 1948-49]. Three years later, she was the assistant director at the Phyllis Wheatly {Colored} Branch of the Lexington YWCA. Elza O. Richardson died January 26, 1983 [source: Kentucky Death Index], she outlived her brother Smoke by 20 years: Saunders "Smoke" Richardson, Jr. died September 12, 1963 in Fayette County, KY [source: Kentucky Death Index]. One of his last performances was at the patients' picnic at Eastern State Hospital in June of 1962 [source: Kentucky's First Asylum by A. W. Deese, p. 313]. This entry was suggested by Saunda C. Richardson Coleman.

 

*Robert Thompson (maternal grandfather)

*Julia Johnson Thompson (maternal grandmother)

*Henry Richardson (paternal grandfather)

*Mary E. Smith Richardson (paternal grandmother)

*Saunders Richardson, Sr., 1879-1935 (father)

*Julia Mae Thompson Richardson, 1883-1934 (mother)

*Robert Richardson, 1902-1947 (son)

*Elza Richardson, 1904-1983 (daughter)

*Saunders "Smoke" Richardson, Jr., 1906-1963 (son)

*Saunda Carol Richardson Coleman (daughter of Saunders "Smoke" Richardson, Jr.)

 

  See April 1934 photo image of Smoke Richardson and His Orchestra, photo at Explore UK (Smoke Richardson, top row, center).
Subjects: Baseball, Businesses, Education and Educators, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, YWCA (Young Women's Christian Association)
Geographic Region: Covington, Kenton County, Kentucky / Lexington, Fayette County, Kentucky

Robb, Jackson
Birth Year : 1910
Death Year : 1977
Jackson Robb was an undertaker, musician, owner of a dance school, and community leader in Frankfort, KY. Jackson was born in Frankfort, the son of Mary E. Jackson Robb and Thomas K. Robb. He was the husband of Kathryn Taylor Robb. The Robb family was considered wealthy: Jackson owned the family funeral home business that his father started in 1900 on Clinton Street in Frankfort. The family was also associated with politicians, such as Kentucky House Member Mae Street Kidd, who sometimes stayed at their home; and heavyweight boxer Joe Louis. In November 1940, Jackson Robb, and Joe Louis and his trainer Jack Blackburn and secretary, Freddie Guinyard, were involved in a car accident on the way to Kentucky State Industrial College [now Kentucky State University] to congratulate the football team on the invitation to play Morris Brown College in a bowl game. A photo of Jackson Robb is included in the Kentucky Historical Society Digital Collection. For more see "Joe Louis escapes death in auto crash with undertaker," Lowell Sun, 11/20/1940, p. 79; Passing for Black, by W. Hall; and Community Memories, by W. L. Fletcher, et. al.

Subjects: Activists, Civil Rights, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Undertakers, Cemeteries, Coroners, & Obituaries
Geographic Region: Frankfort, Franklin County, Kentucky

Robinson, Adam M., Jr.
Birth Year : 1950
In 2007, Adam M. Robinson, Jr. is the 36th Surgeon General of the U.S. Navy and was named Chief of the Navy's Bureau of Medicine and Surgery, both confirmed by the U.S. Senate. Robinson was born in Louisville, KY, the son of Hilda Brown Robinson and Dr. Adam Robinson, Sr. Their son, Adam, Jr., is a 1968 graduate of Louisville Dupont Male High School. Robinson came from a musical family that integrated the local symphony orchestra in Louisville: his mother, sister, and brother played violin, and Adam Robinson, Jr. played the French horn. After high school, Robinson earned his undergraduate degree in 1972 and Doctor of Medicine degree in 1976, both from Indiana University. He later earned a masters in business administration at the University of South Florida. Robinson has been in the Navy since his enlistment in 1977, and he has an extensive record of accomplishments, including having been the ship's surgeon on the USS Midway, head of the Colon and Rectal Surgery Division at the National Naval Medical Center in Maryland, and head of the General Surgery Department and director of the Residency Program at the Naval Medical Center in Virginia. In 2005, Robinson became the commander of the Navy Medicine National Capital Area Region. His accomplishments also include decorations such as the Distinguished Service Medal, Navy Achievement Medal, and the Joint Service Achievement Medal. Dr. Robinson is a member of numerous organizations, including the Black Academic Surgeons; he is an associate professor of surgery at the National Health Sciences School of Medicine. This entry was submitted by Charlene Genton Mattingly. For more see Vice Admiral Adam M. Robinson, Jr. at the United States Navy Biography website; and G. A. Dawson, "Vice Admiral Adam M. Robinson, Jr., MD", Journal of the National Medical Association, vol. 100, issue 2 (February 2008), pp. 168-170. Watch the video of Vice Admiral Adam M. Robinson, Jr. MC, USN on YouTube.


Subjects: Education and Educators, Medical Field, Health Care, Military & Veterans, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers
Geographic Region: Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky

Robinson, Keith
Birth Year : 1976
Keith Robinson, an actor and singer, was born in Kentucky and grew up in South Carolina and later moved to Augusta, GA. He played the character C. C. White, brother to Effie White, in the 2006 award-winning musical film, Dreamgirls. He played the role of the Green Lightspeed Ranger in the TV series Power Rangers: Lightspeed Rescue and had a guest role in the TV series Monk (2005). He has appeared in several films, including This Christmas, Fat Albert, and the Hallmark movie The Reading Room. Robinson has recorded a few singles. For more see M. K. Hoffman, "Keith Robinson: music is my first love," Jet, vol. 112, issue 3 (July 23, 2007), p. 40; and view Keith Robinson at R&B Live - Spotlight New York on YouTube.

See photo image of Keith Robinson and additional information at IMDb.
Subjects: Actors, Actresses, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Migration South, Movies and Films
Geographic Region: Kentucky / South Carolina / Augusta, Georgia

Saffell, Daisy M. and George William Saffell
In 1912, Daisy Saffell (1875-1918), an "expert" embalmer in Shelbyville, KY, spoke on behalf of the National Negro Funeral Directors' Association during the 13th Annual Convention of the National Negro Business League in Chicago. Saffell estimated that there were 1,100 Colored undertakers and embalmers in the United States. [*Saffell is listed as a mulatto from Shelbyville, TN, in The Mulatto in the United States by E. B. Reuter, p.303* available full view at Google Book Search]. Saffell's death certificate lists Kentucky as both her birth and death location. She was born in Louisville, KY, where she attended school. She attended Roger Williams University and was later a graduate of Fisk University. Daisy Saffell taught for 15 years in Frankfort, KY, then left to become principal of the Lawrenceburg Colored School. She left teaching and enrolled in Clark's College of Embalming in Cincinnati, OH. With the completion of the program, Saffell became the second African American woman who was a licensed embalmer in Kentucky [Minnie Watson was first]. Daisy Saffell, who was an accomplished pianist, was editor of the Kentucky Club Woman, secretary of the District Household of Ruth of Kentucky, secretary of the Colored Funeral Director's Association of Kentucky, and treasurer of the National Association of Colored Funeral Directors. Named in her honor, the Daisy M. Saffell Colored Hospital was located in Martinsville, a community in Shelbyville, KY. Daisy Saffell was the daughter of Lizzie Travis, and in 1897 became the wife of undertaker George William Saffell (1876-1953). Daisy's funeral arrangements were handled by Thomas K. Robb, and Robb's funeral arrangements were handled by George W. Saffell. George was born in Kentucky, the son of Addie Weisger Saffell and George Saffell, according to his death certificate. In 1900, he had been a barber teacher and Daisy was a school teacher, they lived in Frankfort, KY, according to the U.S. Federal Census. By 1910, the couple had moved to Shelbyville, KY, where George was an undertaker and Daisy was a school teacher until she too became an undertaker. George Saffell was owner of the Calvary Cemetery, and he also had an ambulance service; the hearse was used as an ambulance. After Daisy's death, George Saffell married Mildred Stone in 1939. She would become a partner in the business after completing the Melton Mortuary School in Louisville, KY. George Saffell died in 1953. and Mildred continued managing the businesses. For more see "National Negro Funeral Directors' Association," Records of the National Negro Business League, Part 1 Annual Conference Proceedings and Organizational Records, 1900-1919, 13th Annual Convention, Chicago, Illinois, August 21-23, 1912, reel 2, frames 575-576; "Mrs. Daisy Saffell" on p.291 in Golden Jubilee of the General Association of Colored Baptists in Kentucky; "Race progress in Kentucky: broad achievements of Mrs. Daisy M. Saffell," Baltimore Afro-American, 05/22/1913, p.2; and "Saffell Funeral Home" by G. Graham on pp.170-171 in The New History of Shelby County Kentucky.

See photo image of Daisy Saffel[l] at the bottom of the left hand column on p.42 in the Golden Jubilee of the General Association of Colored Baptists in Kentucky, at the NYPL Digital Gallery.
Subjects: Barbers, Businesses, Education and Educators, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Undertakers, Cemeteries, Coroners, & Obituaries, Women's Groups and Organizations, Negro Business League, Hospitals and Clinics: Employment, Founders, Ownership, Incidents, Association of Colored Women's Clubs
Geographic Region: Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky / Shelbyville, Shelby County, Kentucky / Frankfort, Franklin County, Kentucky / Lawrenceburg, Anderson County, Kentucky

Short, Rodman J. and Myrtle Render
Born in Rockport, KY, Rodman Short (1883-1936) was the son of Kate E. and John Waltrip Short, the owner of a bit of farmland in Muhlenberg County, KY. Rodman, who left Kentucky for Danville, IL, was a brother of Nancy Short, who settled in Detroit, and John Will Short, who remained in Kentucky after his siblings left, and two younger brothers. Rodman was a coal miner in Danville, IL, and he later returned to Lynch, KY, without his family to find work in the mines during the Depression. He became ill from the mine work and died in Kentucky. His wife, Myrtle Render Short (1888-1971), also a Kentucky native, took his body to Danville, IL, to be buried. Myrtle and Rodman were the parents of cabaret singer and pianist Robert Waltrip "Bobby" Short (1924-2005), the ninth of their ten children. For more see the Bobby Short entry in Current Biography; Music legend Bobby Short's jazzy legacy, an NPR.org website; and Black and White Baby, by B. Short.
Subjects: Fathers, Migration North, Miners, Mines, & Steel Mills, Mothers, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Grandparents
Geographic Region: Rockport, Muhlenberg County, Kentucky / Danville, Illinois / Lynch, Harlan County, Kentucky

Shultz, Arnold
Birth Year : 1882
Death Year : 1931
Shultz was born in Racine, KY, and buried in the Morgantown, KY, Colored Cemetery. He was a blues guitarist and fiddler who is credited as a major influence on white guitarists in western Kentucky. There are no recordings of Shultz's music. He was the son of Dave and Lizzie Shultz, both of whom were born in Ohio County, KY, according to Arnold Shultz's death certificate. For more see Old Family Photo Album, an African American Web Connection website; and Kentucky Country: folk and country music of Kentucky, by C. K. Wolfe.
Subjects: Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers
Geographic Region: Racine, Ohio County, Kentucky / Morgantown, Butler County, Kentucky

Simpson, Abram Lyon
Birth Year : 1894
Death Year : 1956
Simpson, born in Louisville, KY, was a chemistry professor at Morris Brown College prior to WWI, where he unsuccesfully attempted to organize a chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity in 1914. He was later president of Allen University in South Carolina (serving 1932-1937) and was acting president of Bethune-Cookman College [now Bethune-Cookman University] from 1937-1939. He also served as supervisor and counselor in the United States Employment Services (U.S.E.S.) in Washington, D.C. Simpson composed the Alpha Phi Alpha National Hymn. A veteran of World War I, he was the youngest African American Army captain at the age of 23. He is thought to be one of the characters in and the inspiration behind his friend Joseph S. Cotter, Jr.'s poem "On the fields of France." Simpson graduated from Wilberforce University (in 1914) and the University of Chicago. He was the son of James Edward and Lida Simpson, and according to the 1900 U.S. Federal Census, the family of five lived on West Broadway. For more see Who's Who in Colored America 1950; Lost Plays of the Harlem Renaissance, 1920-1940, by J. V. Hatch and L. Hamalian; and Complete History of the Colored Soldiers in the World War: authentic story of the Greatest War..., Bennett and Churchill, 1919 [full-text at Google Book Search].
Subjects: Education and Educators, Employment Services, Military & Veterans, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Fraternal Organizations
Geographic Region: Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky / Columbia, South Carolina / Daytona Beach, Florida / Washington, DC / Chicago, Illinois / Wilberforce, Ohio

Simpson, Ophelia
According to John Jacob Niles, Ophelia Simpson was the first "shouter" in the Ohio Valley to be accepted and paid. Niles credited shouters' singing as a style of ancient origin, calling it "coon-shouting." It had two distinct styles: sacred shouting and the shouted moaning in blues and ballads. The singing technique had voice-breaks, slides, and high, rasping wails. Ophelia Simpson's shouting was new and novel and most effective when she sang the blues in Dr. Parker's Medicine Show. She was also the cook and helped prepare Parker's tapeworm eradicator. Ophelia Simpson was married to Henry (Dead Dog) Simpson, who worked at the fertilizer factory near Louisville, KY. In the winter of 1898 the Simpsons had a disagreement, and Ophelia killed Henry. While in jail, she wrote the long remembered ballad, Black Alfalfa's Jail-House Shouting Blues. After her release from jail, the name Ophelia Simpson was lost in time. For more see J. J. Niles, "Shout, Coon, Shout!" Musical Quarterly, vol. 16 (1930), pp. 516-521.
Subjects: Bakers, Cooks and Chefs, Medical Field, Health Care, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Corrections and Police
Geographic Region: Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky

Sissle, George A. and Martha A.
George A. Sissle (1852-1913), born in Lexington, KY, was a prominent minister in Indianapolis at the Simpson M. E. Chapel and in Cleveland at the Cory United Methodist Church, one of the oldest Black churches in the city. He was also an organist and choirmaster. He was the husband of Martha Angeline Sissle (1869-1916), and she too was from Kentucky. She was a school teacher and probation officer. The couple was married in 1888, and were the parents of several children, including composer and jazz musician, Noble Lee Sissle (1889-1975). Martha Sissle was raised by her mother's close friend; her mother had been a slave and could not afford to raise her child. George Sissle's father had been a slave on the Cecil Plantation; he disliked the name Cecil and changed the spelling to Sissle. For more see Slave and Freeman: the autobiography of George L. Knox, by G. L. Knox; The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History [online], sponsored by Case Western Reserve University and the Western Reserve Historical Society; A Life in Ragtime by R. Badger; and The Theater of Black Americans, v.1, edited by E. Hill. *The last name is sometimes spelled "Sisle" in the U.S. Federal Census.
Subjects: Education and Educators, Fathers, Migration North, Mothers, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Corrections and Police, Religion & Church Work
Geographic Region: Lexington, Fayette County, Kentucky / Indianapolis, Indiana / Cleveland, Ohio

Smith, Andrew W.
Birth Year : 1941
Andrew W. Smith was born in Lexington, KY. He earned a bachelor's degree from Kentucky State University and a master's from Roosevelt University. He made his operatic debut in 1969 and has sung with the Chicago Symphony, the Cleveland Orchestra, and the Buffalo Philharmonic. He was also an international baritone soloist with the Metropolitan Opera. He returned to Kentucky in 1997 to direct the Kentucky State University opera program. For more see "Andrew Smith, Baritone," The Negro Almanac, 5th ed.; "Love 'Jones'," Lexington Herald-Leader, 11/16/1997; and M. Davis, "Opera took him away, brought him back," Lexington Herald-Leader, 01/31/2006, Health/Family section, p. D1.

See photo image and additional information on Andrew W. Smith at the Kentucky State University website.
Subjects: Education and Educators, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers
Geographic Region: Lexington, Fayette County, Kentucky / Frankfort, Franklin County, Kentucky / Chicago, Illinois / Cleveland, Ohio / Buffalo, New York

Smith, Carl H.
Since 1958, Carl H. Smith has been the director of the Kentucky State University (KSU) Choir, exept for the year he took off to earn his doctorate at the University of Pittsburgh. Smith was born in Terrell, TX, and grew up in Tulsa, OK. He did his undergraduate work at Lincoln University of Missouri, and after graduating, he accepted the choral director's position at KSU. He has developed many great musicians, music teachers, and professional singers. Smith is known in Kentucky and throughout the United States for his music instruction and choral music. In 2009, he was honored at the 5th Annual Presidential Scholarship Gala held at KSU, a tribute to all that Carl H. Smith has accomplished. He has received numerous awards, and in 2009, Smith was chosen to conduct the performance of the 2nd Historically Black Colleges and Universities National Concert Choir performance at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. The Kentucky State University Singers, with director Carl H. Smith, can be heard singing on A Session of Afro-American Folk Songs. For more see M. Davis, "KSU is set to honor a choral icon," Lexington Herald-Leader, 03/29/2009, City Region section, p. C1; and additional information available at CESKAA, Kentucky State University.

See photo image of Carl H. Smith at the Kentucky State University website.
Subjects: Education and Educators, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Migration East
Geographic Region: Terrell, Texas / Tulsa, Oklahoma / Frankfort, Franklin County, Kentucky

Smith, Carl Lee "Cal"
Birth Year : 1903
Death Year : 1937
Cal Smith, born in Cave City, KY, played the banjo and guitar. He and his six brothers formed the Smith Brothers String Band, and in 1919 Cal Smith joined Henry Smith's Jug Band in Louisville. He also played and recorded with Earl McDonald's and Clifford Hayes' bands, and worked with W. C. Handy. Smith died of tuberculosis. For more see Cal Smith in the Oxford Music Online Database. Cal Smith is one of the three banjoist featured on the album cover of Clifford Hayes and the Dixieland Jug Blowers.

See album cover and listen to "Clifford Hayes' Louisville Stompers - Frog Hop (1929)" on YouTube.
Subjects: Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Tuberculosis: Care and Deaths
Geographic Region: Cave City, Barren County, Kentucky / Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky

Smith, Henderson
Birth Year : 1858
Death Year : 1923
Smith was born in Frankfort, KY, and his family later moved to Warren, OH, where Smith studied music at the Dana Musical Institute. He performed with a number of groups, including Sprague's Original Georgia Minstrels and Haverly's Genuine Colored Minstrels. Smith was also a bandleader and vaudeville entertainer, sometimes passing for white and performing with groups such as Patrick S. Gilmore's Famous Cornet Band. He also worked with Kentucky native Tom McIntosh and led John W. Vogel's "Darkest Africa" band, which toured Australia with the Orpheus McAdoo Company. Smith, who was sometimes referred to as America's Black Sousa, died in Chicago, where he had settled after retiring from the entertainment business. For more see "Henderson Smith" in the Biographical Dictionary of Afro-American and African Musicians, by E. Southern.
Subjects: Migration North, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Minstrel and Vaudeville Performers
Geographic Region: Frankfort, Franklin County, Kentucky / Warren, Ohio / Chicago, Illinois

Smith, John Robert [Johnny Hammond]
Birth Year : 1931
Death Year : 1997
Smith, born in Louisville, KY, was an organist who also played piano and acoustic piano, electronic keyboard and synthesizers. Smith was also a song writer. He left Kentucky to begin his career in Cleveland, OH, and after performing on the Hammond organ, he used the name Johnny Hammond Smith. He performed under this name while an accompanist with Nancy Wilson. In the 1950s he moved to New York, where he had his own group and recorded with other bands. In 1971, he performed on keyboards under the name Johnny Hammond. When he returned to playing the Hammond organ and recorded with Hank Crawford and Dan Papaila, he resumed using the name Johnny Hammond Smith. He is recognized as an organist who promoted the Hammond organ in soul and jazz music, and as a renowned Hammond B-3 organist. Smith died in California, where he had been teaching music at Cal Poly Pomona [California State Polytechnic University, Pomona]. For more see "Johnny Hammond" in the Oxford Music Online Database; and in The Guinness Encyclopedia of Popular Music. For an extensive list of recordings see Johnny Hammond, a Discogs website. View image and listen to Star Borne - Johnny Hammond Smith on YouTube.

Subjects: Education and Educators, Migration West, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers
Geographic Region: Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky / California

Smith-Hyatt, Mary E.
Born in Estill County, KY, Smith-Hyatt practiced medicine in Indianapolis, IN, specializing in women's and children's diseases. She was also a dressmaker and milliner as well as a voice and piano teacher. She wrote medical articles published in newspapers and journals and published a book of poetry and a book on health. Smith-Hyatt composed the words and music of My Little Hoosier Song and Consecration. For more see Who's Who in Colored America, 1933-37.
Subjects: Authors, Businesses, Medical Field, Health Care, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Poets
Geographic Region: Estill County, Kentucky / Indianapolis, Indiana

Spencer, Onah Lee
Birth Year : 1899
Death Year : 1972
Onah L. Spencer was a music composer, music and entertainment journalist, folklorist, and a historian. He was a member of Chicago's Black Renaissance. Onah L. Spencer was born in Kentucky, the son of Clara F. Bueler Spencer (1879-1961) and Lee Spencer [source: Onah L. Spencer in the Ohio County Marriages Index; and the Ohio Deaths Index]. Onah L. Spencer was described as a "light Negro" on his WWI Draft Registration Card, and he and his family are listed as white in the 1920 Census. They are listed as black, mulatto, or Negro in the 1910 and subsequent census records after 1920. It is not known when the family left Kentucky, but Onah's two younger sisters, Bessie and Elsie, were born in Ohio around 1902 and 1904, according to census records. The children were living in Cincinnati with only their mother when she, Clara Spencer, was listed as the widow of Lee Spencer on p.1713 in William's Cincinnati Business Directory for 1907. His mother was a laundrywoman and Onah L. Spencer started working at an early age. In the 1910 census his occupation was listed as a houseboy, and in 1920, he was a butcher at the Meat Emporium in Cincinnati. November 30, 1928, Onah L. Spencer married Cora B. Gray, and in 1930, Onah was employed as a printer [sources: Ohio County Marriages Index; and 1930 U.S. Federal Census]. By 1940, Onah L. Spencer was divorced and living in Chicago in a boarding house on Oakwood Boulevard, he was employed as a writer with the WPA Writers' Project [source: 1940 U.S. Federal Census]. His work includes a major contribution of articles and essays on Negro Music and Musicians, all of which can be found in the Illinois Writers' Project Papers in the Vivian Harsh Research Collection at the Chicago Public Library [finding aid to collection]. More information on the WPA work by Onah L. Spencer and others can be found in The Negro In Illinois by Brian Dolinar, who credits Spencer as the author of the 1934 pageant "O, Sing a New Song" (p.xxxix). In addition to his literary and news writing, Onah L. Spencer was also a composer, and in 1937 one of his works was premiered June 2 on Station WSAI in Cincinnati; the orchestra played "The Oriental Swing," a piece that Spencer collaborated on with Nobel Sissle while producing the 1934 pageant [source: "Spencer writes new swing tune," The Afro-American, 06/19/1937, p.10]. The song "Oriental Swing" was recorded by Lil Hardin Armstrong in 1938. Onah L. Spencer was also a composer on "Stack O'Lee Blues: melancholy" that was recorded by Johnny Dodds prior to Dodds' death to 1940.  At the close of his time with the WPA, Onah L. Spencer continued writing as a correspondent for the publication Down Beat, covering jazz on the south side of Chicago, and also traveling to other cities for interviews and reviews, as well as writing for other publications. He also continued his work as a composer on a number of records, such as the 1949 title "Mercenary Papa: you got to pay those dues," recorded by Cootie Williams around 1949. In December of 1951, he was composer of the Chess record "Leo the Louse" played by Jackie Brenston and his Delta Cats [image]. The record was released in January of 1952. By 1958, Onah L. Spencer had returned to Cincinnati where he died February 1, 1972 [sources: p.1262 in William's Cincinnati (Hamilton County, Ohio) City Directory, 1958; and Ohio Deaths Index].

 

  Listen to Cootie Williams and His Orchestra - Mercenary Papa (Mercury 8168) on YouTube. 

 

  Listen to Lil Hardin Armstrong & Her Swing Orchestra - Oriental Swing on YouTube.

 

  Listen to Johnny Dodds - Stack O'Lee Blues at Internet Archive.

 

 
Subjects: Authors, Journalists, Newspapers, Magazines, Book Publishers, Music Publishers, Migration North, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers
Geographic Region: Kentucky / Cincinnati, Ohio / Chicago, Illinois

The Spirituals: An Oral History Project
Start Year : 2003
End Year : 2006
The following information comes from the description on the "Pass the Word" website. "Thirty-nine interviews with scholars, historians, members of the Kentucky based American Spiritual Ensemble, ethno-musicologists, and laypeople concerning the Negro spiritual. These interviews were conducted to create a PBS documentary. The documentary recounts the history from which the spiritual art form arose, the importance of the spirituals to the Civil Rights movement, and goes on the road with The American Spiritual Ensemble as they gallantly try to preserve the vanishing folk songs of the slaves."

 

Access Interview  See list of interviews at "Pass the Word" website.

Thirty-nine interviews with scholars, historians, members of the Kentucky based American Spiritual Ensemble, ethno-musicologists, and laypeople concerning the Negro spiritual. These interviews were conducted to create a PBS documentary. The documentary recounts the history from which the spiritual art form arose, the importance of the spirituals to the Civil Rights movement, and goes on the road with The American Spiritual Ensemble as they gallantly try to preserve the vanishing folk songs of the slaves. - See more at: http://passtheword.ky.gov/collection/spirituals-oral-history-project-0#sthash.mxNJtLnA.dpuf

Subjects: Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Oral History Collections
Geographic Region: Kentucky

Stevenson, Willie B.
Birth Year : 1904
Born in Lexington, KY, Stevenson taught voice in Chicago, supervised music and vocals at Western High School in Paris, KY, and received a number of awards for her poetry, including first place at the Golden State Anthropology Exposition in San Francisco. For more see Who's Who in Colored America 1950.
Subjects: Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Poets
Geographic Region: Lexington, Fayette County, Kentucky / Chicago, Illinois / Paris, Bourbon County, Kentucky

Stewart, Traquelia T. Riley Wharton
Birth Year : 1890
Death Year : 1970
Traquelia T. Riley Wharton Stewart was a recognized teacher at the African American schools in Indianapolis, IN. The Traquelia Stewart Memorial Library in Attucks High School was named in her honor in 1961. Stewart was born in July of 1890 in Kentucky, the daughter of Dovie M. Turner Riley and Walter H. Riley. Her father was a teacher in Cincinnati, OH, in 1900 when the family of six lived on McMillan Street and shared their home with three boarders who were also teachers [source: U.S. Federal Census, name spelled "Traquellia"]. By 1920, the family had moved to Indianapolis where Walter H. Riley was a Methodist minister and Traquelia was a music teacher [source: U.S. Federal Census, name spelled "Traquellia"]. The family lived on Boulevard Place and shared their home with an aunt. Traquelia F. Riley was a graduate of the University of Illinois where she earned her A.M. degree (music) and her A.B. degree in English. She began teaching in Indianapolis in 1914 at School 64. She later taught at School 17 before moving to Attucks High School were she taught English for 35 years. During the summer breaks, she attended Northwestern University and earned a Master of Arts degree in English in 1932. Three years later, Traquelia Wharton and fellow teacher Maude Meriwether, sailed to Europe to study the school systems in eight countries. Traquelia Stewart retired from the Indianapolis schools in 1958. Her brother Hurlbut T. Riley was a science teacher in the Indianapolis schools for 25 years. Herman M. Riley, twin brother to Hurlbut, was also an educator, he began teaching in 1924 and was principal at several African American schools in Indianapolis. Trequelia T. Riley Wharton was the wife of Rufus Mose Wharton from Pennsylvania, the marriage ended in divorce in 1939. She later married John F. Stewart [source: Polk's Indianapolis (Marion County, Ind.) City Directory, 1957, p.895]. For more see "Mrs. Traquelia R. Stewart's funeral rights Thursday," Indianapolis Recorder, 02/14/1970, p.1; see Traquelia Wharton in "Attucks chatter," Indianapolis Recorder, 09/24/1932, p.4; "Local teachers to study school system abroad," Indianapolis Recorder, 06/22/1935, p.5; "Hurlbut Riley, school teacher 25 years, buried," Indianapolis Recorder, 11/30/1946, pp.1-2; "H. M. Riley's funeral rites held Monday," Indianapolis Recorder, 03/31/1951, pp.1 & 3; and "Wharton case given hearing at Noblesville," Indianapolis Recorder, 11/04/1939, p.7.
Subjects: Education and Educators, Migration North, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers
Geographic Region: Kentucky / Cincinnati, Ohio / Indianapolis, Indiana

Story, Nathaniel Edward "Nat"
Birth Year : 1904
Death Year : 1968
Nathaniel E. "Nate" Story, born in Oak Station, KY, was a trombonist. He performed on riverboats with Floyd Campbell and Kentucky native Fate Marable. He moved to New York in the 1930s and played with a number of bands, recording with Luis Russell's band and Chick Webb's band. In the 1940s, Story played with the bands of Lucky Millinder and Kentucky native Andy Kirk. He can be heard playing on the recordings Stompin' at the Savoy, A-tisket A-tasket, and Strictly Jive. For more see "Nat Story" in the Oxford Music Online Database.

Listen to "Chick Webb - Stompin' at the Savoy - JazzAndBluesExperience" [Nate Story on trombone] on YouTube.
Subjects: Migration North, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers
Geographic Region: Oak Station, McCracken County, Kentucky

Strader v. Graham
Start Year : 1850
Three African American slaves, George, Henry, and Reuben, were often allowed to travel with a man named Williams; the three men were musicians in Williams' band and they received musical training from Williams. The men belonged to Christopher Graham, from Harrodsburg, KY. In 1837, the band left Kentucky aboard the steamboat Pike (owned by Jacob Strader, James Gorman, and John Armstrong) and traveled into Ohio and Indiana. In 1841, George, Henry, and Reuben escaped to Canada. Graham sued Strader, Gorman, and Armstrong for the loss of his slaves. The prominent legal question became whether the three slaves had become free men by virtue of their travel into a free state. In 1851, the U. S. Supreme Court ruled that the status of slaves depended on the laws of the state; thus, the three men were still considered slaves according to Kentucky Law. The case would be used to argue the fate of other African Americans in prominent cases such as Dred Scott v. Sanford and Rachel v. Walker. For more see Jacob Strader, James Gorman, and John Armstrong, Plaintiffs in Error, v. Christopher Graham. Supreme Court of the United States, December Term 1850. 51 U.S. 82, 10 How. 82, 1850 WL 6936, 13 L.Ed. 337 [available full text at Justia.com].
Subjects: Freedom, Migration North, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Court Cases
Geographic Region: Harrodsburg, Mercer County, Kentucky / Ohio / Indiana / Canada

Taylor, Marshall W. (Boyd)
Birth Year : 1846
Death Year : 1887
Born in Lexington, KY, Marshall W. Boyd was educated by private teachers and at private schools. (He later changed his last name to Taylor.) He organized the first school for African Americans in Hardinsburg, KY, in 1866, and armed himself in an effort to keep the school open; the school was bombed on Christmas Day, December 25, 1867. The following year, Taylor was elected president of the Negro Educational Convention, which was held in Owensboro, KY. He was licensed to preach in 1869 and was also a lawyer with the Kirkland and Barr law firm in Louisville, KY. Taylor edited the Southwestern Christian Advocate. He is most remembered for compiling the early African American hymnal, Collection of Revival Hymns and Plantation Melodies (1882). He was also author of Handbook for Schools and The Negro in Methodism. According to his entry in Herringshaw's National Library of American Biography, volume 4, Taylor died September 11, 1887 in Louisville, KY. Taylor was the grandfather of jazz saxophonist Sam Rivers (1923-2011). For more see History of the Negro Race in America from 1619 to 1880, by G. W. Williams [available full view at Google Book Search]; Out of Sight: the Rise of African American Popular Music, 1889-1895, by L. Abbott and D. Seroff; and Forty Years in the Lap of Methodism: history of Lexington Conference of Methodist Episcopal Church, by W. H. Riley.
Subjects: Authors, Education and Educators, Journalists, Newspapers, Magazines, Book Publishers, Music Publishers, Lawyers, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Religion & Church Work, Grandparents
Geographic Region: Lexington, Fayette County, Kentucky / Hardinsburg, Breckinridge County, Kentucky / Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky

Taylor, Steve L. "The Cowboy Steve Show"
Birth Year : 1922
Death Year : 1993
Steve Taylor was a radio station owner, WSEV in Lexington, KY. In 1969, the signal reached a block, maybe two blocks, from his Jefferson Street studio near Fourth Street. The studio also served as his one-room apartment. WSEV was a country radio station with ad lib commercials, all broadcast by Taylor from a self-built transmitter. For more than 10 years, three or four nights per week, around 6:00 p.m, The Cowboy Steve Show was broadcast to neighbors. Taylor's previous radio station, at his home on Brown Street, had a much weaker signal and was difficult to pick up outside his home. With that station he and friends had played live music, five nights per week. Taylor was a self-taught player of the guitar, fiddle, and mandolin. At the age of 14, he had started his first country music band, the group played in the Lexington vicinity and had a few engagements in Cincinnati. Taylor was also a song writer, three of his songs were recorded, two by Esco and Jackie, and one by the Rogers Sisters. Steve L. Taylor died in 1993 and is buried in Lexington Cemetery. For more see G. Mendes, "The Cowboy Steve Show," in the last issue of the Blue-Tail Fly, 1971, no. 11, pp. 12-14 [available full-text online at Kentucky Digital Library]. The article was reprinted in the Chevy Chaser Magazine, October 2006, pp. 40-43 & 45. This entry was suggested by UK Librarian Jo Staggs-Neel, who also provided the research.


See photo image of Steve Taylor and the online article "The Cowboy Steve Show" by Guy Mendes at the smileypete.com website.
Subjects: Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Radio
Geographic Region: Lexington, Fayette County, Kentucky

Thomas, John L.
Birth Year : 1902
Death Year : 1971
Thomas, a trombonist, was born in Louisville, KY, and raised in Chicago, IL. He played and toured with a number of bands, including the bands of Kentucky natives Fess Williams and Zack Whyte. Thomas recorded with Louis Armstrong and his Hot Seven, replacing trombonist Kid Ory. He left music for ten years, then returned in 1960 as a member of Franz Jackson's band, the Original Jass Al-Stars. The group played at the Red Arrow Night Club in Stickney, IL. For more see John L. Thomas in the Oxford Music Online Database; and listen to clips from the recording A Night at Red Arrow with John Thomas on trombone.
Access Interview

Subjects: Migration North, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers
Geographic Region: Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky / Chicago, Illinois

Thompson, Malachi Richard
Birth Year : 1949
Death Year : 2006
Thompson was born in Princeton, KY, and grew up in Chicago. He played the piano and trumpet and was a music activist and leader. Thompson graduated from Governor's State University with a B.A in composition. He played with a number of bands before becoming a member of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM) in 1968 [founded in Chicago, IL]. Thompson was also a member of Operation Breadbasket Big Band [Chicago], a division of the Southern Christian Leadership Council that played at rallies and marches. In 1974 he moved to New York, where he continued to perform with various groups, including that of Sam Rivers, the grandson of Kentucky native Marshall W. (Boyd) Taylor. Thompson also toured and recorded in Europe with Archie Shepp's band. He was a founding member of Bowie's Hot Trumpet Repertory Company [later named Brass Fantasy], and he founded the Freebop Band in 1978. He continued traveling and playing until 1989 when he was diagnosed with t-cell lymphoma (cancer) and returned to Chicago. He returned to music in 1991 to lead the Africa Brass band. He organized the Hyde Park/Kenwood Jazz Festival and founded the Sutherland Community Arts Initiative. Thompson's recordings include Buddy Bolden's Rag, Lift Every Voice, and Talking Horns. For more see "Malachi Thompson, trumpeter, 56," New York Times, 07/20/2006, The Arts/Cultural Desk section, p. 7; and "Malachi Thompson" in the Oxford Music Online Database. View images and listen to Lift Ev'ry Voice and Sing - Malachi Thompson and Africa Brass on YouTube.

Subjects: Activists, Civil Rights, Civic Leaders, Migration North, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers
Geographic Region: Princeton, Caldwell County, Kentucky / Chicago, Illinois

Thompson, Rudolph
Birth Year : 1913
Death Year : 1956
Thompson, born in Louisville, KY, was a jug blower. He was the son of Juanita and John H. Thompson, and according to the 1920 U.S. Federal Census, the family of five lived in the rear of Chestnut Street on Alley Wadila. John Thompson was a steamer at a tobacco factory. When his son Rudolph was 12, he played with the Mud Gutters Jug Band, one of several groups to perform at the 1926 Kentucky Derby. At the age of 13, he was a member of and recorded with Whistler's Jug Band. For more see "Rudolph Thompson" in the Oxford Music Online Database.

Subjects: Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers
Geographic Region: Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky

Threlkeld, Buford aka "Whistler"
Birth Year : 1893
Death Year : 1934
Threlkeld, born in Eminence, KY, was a guitarist, nose-whistle player, and singer. He moved to Louisville around 1915 and formed a jug band that played for all types of occasions. It was also in Louisville that he began playing the nose whistle. The band, which cut a record in 1924, is thought to be the first jug band to be recorded. A few years before his death, Threlkeld left Louisville for New York. His exact death date is not known. For more see "Whistler" in Oxford Music Online (database); "Foldin Bed," by Whistler and His Jug Band, on YouTube; and "Whistler's Jug Band" at redhotjazz.com.

Subjects: Migration North, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers
Geographic Region: Eminence, Henry County, Kentucky / Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky / New York

Tisdale, Clarence
Birth Year : 1875
Death Year : 1945
Born in Louisville, KY, Tisdale toured with the McAdoo Jubilee Singers in Australia and New Zealand. The group also sang in England and France before returning to the U.S. in 1910. In 1914 Tisdale was a member of the Right Quintette; the group had four recordings in 1915. Tisdale also recorded by himself. He was living in New York in 1920, rooming with playwright Jessie Shipp and his son Jessie Jr., according to the U.S. Federal Census, the three lived on W. 131st Street. [Jessie Shipp, Sr.'s mother, Ellen Shipp, was a Kentucky native.] Tisdale was still living in New York in 1930, he formed his own trio in the 1940s just prior to his death. Tisdale was the son of Carrie Tisdale, who was matron of the Colored orphan home in 1900, according to the U.S. Federal Census. Clarence was a printer at the home, which was located on 18th Street in Louisville. For more see Lost Sounds: blacks and the birth of the recording industry, 1890-1919, by T. Brooks.
Subjects: Migration North, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Orphans and Orphanages in Kentucky, Migration Outside the U.S. and Canada
Geographic Region: Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky / Australia / New Zealand / England, Europe / France, Europe / New York

Tite, B. D.
Birth Year : 1870
Death Year : 1935
Tite, born in Louisville, KY, was a jug blower who also played the banjo and guitar. He toured the South with fiddler Cy Anderson, taking over the band when Anderson retired in 1909. The group disbanded in 1917, and Tite joined Whistler's Jug Band -- he's included on the group's 1924 musical recordings. He stopped jug blowing in 1925. Tite is sometimes referred to as the first professional jug blower in Louisville and the creator of the jug band legacy. For more see "B. D. Tite" in the Oxford Music Online Database; and Whistler's Jug Band, at redhotjazz.com. View image and listen to B. T. Tite on jug with Whistler's Jug Band - Jerry O'Mine - Gennett - 5554 on YouTube.

Subjects: Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers
Geographic Region: Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky

Tolley, Florence B. W.
Birth Year : 1897
Death Year : 1969
Tolley was one of 18 children born to Fannie and Will Jackson of Avon, KY. She was married to Edd Brown and they lived in his home town of Clintonville, KY, prior to moving to Lexington, where Tolley later owned The Try Me Beauty Shop (opened in 1944) and the Williams Nursing Home (opened in 1950), both on Greenwood Avenue. Tolley was a graduate of the segregated Lexington Beauty College; she had been hired as a maid at the school and was allowed to study for her diploma in beauty culture, which she received in 1944. She was also instrumental in helping to bring gas to homes on the west side of Lexington by offering to sell the Central Kentucky Natural Gas Company a piece of her land for the regulation station; at that time, west side was outside the city limits. For a while, Tolley raised her family alone, having divorced her first husband, Edd Brown, and later married Rev. Jesse Williams, who passed away. She then married Rev. Robert Tolley. She continued her nursing home businesses and in 1965 built a new facility at 465 Greenwood Avenue. Williams Nursing Home was the first such facility for African Americans in Lexington. Tolley also helped raise funds for the Colored Orphan Home in Lexington. She wrote poetry, plays, and songs. Several of her songs were recorded: If I Had My Way and I am Packing Up to Move, sung by Ben Tate; Lord I Wonder, sung by LaVern Lattimore; and I Can Trust Him and My Savior, sung by Helen Williams. For more see Only Believe: biography of Florence Jackson Brown Williams Tolley, by E. B. S. Bosley.
Subjects: Businesses, Civic Leaders, Cosmetologists, Beauty Shops, Hairdressers, Beauty Supplies, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Higher Education Before Desegregation, Kentucky
Geographic Region: Avon, Fayette County, Kentucky / Clintonville, Bourbon County, Kentucky / Lexington, Fayette County, Kentucky

Townsend, Bross Elvie, Jr.
Birth Year : 1933
Death Year : 2003
Townsend was born in Princeton, KY, the son of Jean Calvert and Bross Townsend Sr., who was a truck driver for a grocery store, according to the 1930 U. S. Federal Census. Both parents were Kentucky natives. The family lived on Cave Street in Princeton. Bross Jr. was a jazz pianist who had studied at the Cleveland Institute of Music. He played with greats such as Woody Herman, Coleman Hawkins and John Coltrane as well as for singers such as Diana Ross, Big Maybelle, and Dinah Washington. He appeared in the movie Sweetback. Townsend died in Jamaica, New York. His performances can be heard on a number of recordings, including the albums I Love Jump Jazz, Darling Please Save Your Love for Me, and The Dynamic 3B's After Hours. For more see The New Grove Dictionary of Jazz, 2nd ed.; and A tribute to jazz pianist Bross Townsend by A. Bernstein.
Subjects: Migration North, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Movies and Films
Geographic Region: Princeton, Caldwell County, Kentucky / Cleveland, Ohio / Jamaica, New York

Tri-City Messengers
Start Year : 1999
Tri-City Messengers is a six part a capella gospel group from the Benham-Lynch, KY, coal mining area. All but one of the men are retired coal miners. The members are Roy Wilson, Alfonson Sims, George Massey, Bennie Massie, Sanford Baskin, and Willis Bates. For more about the group see the DVD, A Beautiful Sound, by Pigeon Pie Films; and the group's performances on Rhythm of My Soul, a PBS Home Video, and More Than Music, by the Kentucky Historical Society.

Access Interview Listen to the Tri-City Messengers perform during the Berea Celebration of Traditional Music in 2002, a Berea Digital Content website. 
Subjects: Miners, Mines, & Steel Mills, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Religion & Church Work, Movies and Films
Geographic Region: Benham and Lynch , Harlan County, Kentucky

Tyler, Charles Lacy
Birth Year : 1941
Death Year : 1992
Tyler was born in Cadiz, KY, and his family later moved to Indianapolis, IN, where he studied piano. He also played the clarinet and the baritone and alto saxophones. He moved to Cleveland, OH, in 1960, where he performed with Albert Ayler, and later moved on to New York. Tyler moved around while playing with a number of groups. He earned a teaching certificate at the University of California, Berkeley and taught music for several years at North Peralta Community College [now Vista Community College] and Mills College. In 1974, he left teaching and continued to play with various groups and tour in the U.S. and Europe. In 1985, Tyler settled in France, where he died in 1992. His recordings include the Charles Tyler Ensemble, Sixty Minute Man, and Saga of the Outlaws. He can be seen performing on the film Rising Tones Cross. For more see "Charles (Lacy) Tyler" in the Oxford Music Online Database. Listen to clips of Charles Tyler's recordings at iTunes Preview.
Access Interview
Subjects: Education and Educators, Migration North, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Migration Outside the U.S. and Canada, Movies and Films
Geographic Region: Cadiz, Trigg County, Kentucky / Toulon, France, Europe

Van Leer, Darryl
Birth Year : 1961
Darryl Van Leer is an actor, vocalist, writer, and photographer. He was born in Madisonville, KY, and is a graduate of Western Kentucky University. He began his career on BET's "Bobby Jones Gospel Show." Van Leer has appeared in First Time, a Nickelodeon movie, and HBO's The Second Civil War and Up Against the Wall. He was nominated for a 1996 NAACP Theatre Award and was recognized by the National Association of Campus Activities. His one-man plays, which he wrote and produced, represent African Americans such as Malcolm X, Nat Turner, and Marcus Garvey. His more recent work is Rubycat Lawson’s Roadhouse Lounge. There are several videos of Van Leer's performances on YouTube. Darryl Van Leer is also a public speaker, a musician, and he has done stand-up comedy. For more see the Darryl Van Leer website.

See Darryl Van Leer in the YouTube video Roadhouse Lounge.
Subjects: Actors, Actresses, Authors, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Photographers, Photographs, Movies and Films
Geographic Region: Madisonville, Hopkins County, Kentucky

Vance, Richard Thomas "Dick"
Birth Year : 1914
Death Year : 1985
Dick Vance, born in Mayfield, KY, was an arranger who also sang and played the trumpet. Vance's family move to Cleveland, OH, where he studied violin and later the trumpet. Vance settled in New York, where he played with a number of bands and toured with Frank Terry, Lil Armstrong, Kaiser Marshall, Willie Bryant, and Fletcher Henderson, to name a few. He was highly sought after for his ability to write arrangements. Vance wrote for bands that include those led by Fletcher Henderson, Cab Calloway, Don Redman, Billy Eckstine, Glen Gray, and Duke Ellington. Both his arrangements and trumpet playing found on many recordings, include Ellington '55, Stompin' at the Savoy, Coleman Hawkins, 1945, and Fletcher Henderson's Sextet, 1950. He was music arranger on the film No Maps on My Taps and music director on The Spirit Moves [volume 3]. See photo image, about midway down the page, of Dick Vance and other members of the Fletcher Henderson Orchestra brass section at the Keep It Swinging blog site. For more see "Dick Vance" in the Oxford Music Online Database; and Who's Who of Jazz.

  See image and hear Dick Vance on trumpet on the song "Stealn' Apples" by The Fletcher Henderson Band, a 1936 Blue Wax label, 78 rpm record - YouTube.
Subjects: Migration North, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Movies and Films
Geographic Region: Mayfield, Graves County, Kentucky / Cleveland, Ohio / New York

Waits, Ernest J., Sr. "Ernie"
Birth Year : 1920
Death Year : 2004
Ernie Waits, Sr. is often referred to as the first African American DJ [disc jockey] in both Kentucky and Ohio [source: E. S. Murrain, "Payola and the Pied Pipers," Tone, 09/01/1960, p. 11]. In Kentucky, he was a DJ at WNOP in Newport, KY [source: see "Gab Bag" in the column "Vox Jox," Billboard, 04/21/1951, pp. 28 & 33]. In Cincinnati, he was a DJ at WZIP [source: "Chicago Chatter," Billboard, 05/28/1949, p. 40]. Waits was also among the first African American broadcasters in both radio and television in Cincinnati, Ohio, his home town. He was a singer and musician, as well as a civil rights leader who helped start organized labor. He was an international representative for the United Auto Workers, integrated the Democrat Party of Hamilton County, Ohio, and was the first African American in Cincinnati to become a New York Stock Exchange registered representative. He owned a bowling alley and other businesses and helped establish the Black Expo in Cincinnati. Ernie Waits was born in Georgia and grew up in Cincinnati. He was the son of Jesse and Mozell Harper Waits. He was a veteran of World War II. For more see Ernie Waits, Sr. in the video Road to Equality at CETConnect.org; Ernie Waits in the H. Wilkinson article, "Berry showed them the way," Cincinnati Enquirer, 10/19/2000 [online at enquirer.com]; Ernie Waits in the Encyclopedia of American Radio, 1920-1960, by L. F. Sies; Who's Who in Black Cincinnati 2003-2004 Edition, M. C. Sunny and R. Love; and R. Goodman, "Civil Rights fighter Ernest Waits dies," Cincinnati Enquirer, 10/22/2004 [online at enquirer.com].

  See photo image of Ernie Waits Sr. within article about Theodore M. Berry at the Cincinnati Enquirer website.
Subjects: Activists, Civil Rights, Businesses, Military & Veterans, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Politicians, Politics, Appointments & Elections, Radio, Television, Union Organizations
Geographic Region: Georgia / Cincinnati, Hamilton County, Ohio / Kentucky

Wallace, Count X.
Birth Year : 1815
Death Year : 1880
Wallace, a barber and musician, played the violin at parties and other gatherings. He was born in Kentucky and was a freeman living in Fayette, Mississippi, according to the 1850 U.S. Federal Census. Judge Frank A. Montgomery recorded his meeting with Wallace in his book Reminiscences of a Mississippian in Peace and War, published in 1901 [available full-text at Google Book Search]. Wallace had been in Port Hudson, LA, when the Union Army seized the area in 1863 and gained control of the Mississippi River. The forces included two regiments of Colored soldiers, the 1st and 3rd Louisiana Native Guard. Wallace was a servant to the Union officers, and when the soldiers were to leave, they had planned to take Wallace with them, but Wallace requested and received a parole from his servant duties. He had shown the parole certificate to Judge Montgomery. In his civilian life, Wallace had been fairly well off, with $2,000 in personal property; he was also a slave-owner. He is listed in the 1860 Slave Schedule as owning a 35 year old female; Wallace was one of 28 slave owners in Fayette, MS. When he died in 1880, his property went to his 30 year old wife, Nelly [or Nellie], and their five children: Edgar, Gaitwood, Floyde, Mary, and Stanton.
Subjects: Barbers, Freedom, Military & Veterans, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Migration South, Free African American Slave Owners
Geographic Region: Kentucky / Fayette, Mississippi

Warren, William
Birth Year : 1876
Born in Georgetown, KY, Warren was the first Kentucky African American to lead a military band (Ninth Cavalry). For more see The Fascinating Story of Black Kentuckians, by A. A. Dunnigan.
Subjects: Military & Veterans, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers
Geographic Region: Georgetown, Scott County, Kentucky

Washington, Ford Lee "Buck"
Birth Year : 1903
Death Year : 1955
Born in Louisville, KY, Washington was a pianist, vaudeville dancer, and occasional singer. As a teen, he teamed with dancer John W. Sublett (both were orphans). Known as "Buck and Bubbles," they broke the color barrier by performing in the white vaudeville circuit. In 1922 the team performed at the New York Palace Theatre, the top venue for vaudeville performers. Washington performed in movies and recorded with Louis Armstrong, Bessie Smith, and Coleman Hawkins; he also recorded duets with Sublett. He performed for a short time with Jonah Jones. For more see Buck Washington, dancer extraordinaire! and The New Grove Dictionary of Jazz, 2nd ed., ed. by B. Kernfeld. View Buck and Bubbles... Variety Show (1937) on YouTube.

Subjects: Actors, Actresses, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Orphans and Orphanages in Kentucky, Minstrel and Vaudeville Performers, Movies and Films
Geographic Region: Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky / New York

Weaver, Sylvester
Birth Year : 1896
Death Year : 1960
Weaver was born in Louisville, KY, the son of Wallis and Mattie Embers Weaver. In 1900 the family lived on Logan Street, according to the U.S. Federal Census. Sylvester Weaver was the first country bluesman to be recorded (Guitar Blues) and was a talent scout for the Okeh blues label. Weaver brought Walter Beasley and Helen Humes to New York. His song, Guitar Rag, was taken and turned into a classic without credit to Weaver. For more see All Music Guide to the Blues. The experts' guide to the best blues recordings, 2nd ed., edited by M. Erlewine, et al; and The Encyclopedia of Popular Music, 3rd ed., edited by Colin Larkin. View image and listen to Sylvester Weaver & Walter Beasley - Bottleneck Blues [1927] on YouTube.

Subjects: Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers
Geographic Region: Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky / New York

Wells, Johnny
Birth Year : 1905
Death Year : 1965
Wells, born in Kentucky, was a drummer, singer, comedian, and dancer at the Apex Club in Chicago. Later, during the 1920s and 1930s, he played with Jimmie Noone's Band in Chicago, replacing drummer Olie Powers. Wells played on several of the band's recordings. He also played with a number of other bands before leaving Chicago for New York, where he performed and recorded with Joe Sullivan and his Cafe Society Orchestra. For more see Johnny Wells in Oxford Music Online (database); and Joe Sullivan and his Cafe Society Orchestra, a redhotjazz.com website.
Subjects: Migration North, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers
Geographic Region: Kentucky / Chicago, Illinois / New York

Wells, William "Dicky"
Birth Year : 1907
Death Year : 1985
Born in Centerville, TN, Wells grew up in Louisville, KY. He was a trombonist who played in a speech-like style and who invented his pepperpot mute. Throughout his career he played with Count Basie, Fletcher Henderson, Ray Charles, and a number of others. Wells co-authored The Night People with S. Dance. For more see Penguin Encyclopedia of Popular Music, ed. by D. Clark; and American National Biography, ed. J. A. Garraty and M. C. Carnes. View Born to Swing - pt.5 - Dicky Wells on YouTube.

Subjects: Authors, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers
Geographic Region: Centerville, Tennessee / Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky

Whitman, Albery A.
Birth Year : 1851
Death Year : 1901
Albery Allson Whitman was born into slavery in Hart County, KY, on the Green River Plantation. Albery was the husband of Caddie Whitman (1857-1909), who was also from Kentucky. Albery was a poet and a Bishop of the Methodist Church. He was a graduate of Wilberforce College [now Wilberforce University] and served as Dean of Morris Brown College in Atlanta. His published works include "Leelah Misled" in 1873, "Not a Man and Yet a Man" in 1877, and "The Rape of Florida" in 1884. His last work was published in 1901: "An Idyll of the South." His talent as a Negro poet has been described as between Phillis Wheatley and Paul L. Dunbar. Albery A. Whitman was also the father of musician Caswell W. Whitman (1875-1936) and the Whitman Sisters, one of the most successful vaudeville troupes in the U.S. Albery taught his older daughters to dance when they were children, and for a brief period they were manged by their mother, Caddie. The Whitman troupe first toured Kentucky in 1904. The Whitman Sisters were Mabel (1880-1962), Essie B. (1882-1963), Alberta (1887-1964), and Alice (1900-1969). Mabel directed the shows, Essie was a comic singer, Alberta was a flash dancer and did male drag, and Alice was an exceptional tap dancer. For more on Albery A. Whitman see Dictionary of American Negro Biography, by R. W. Logan and M. R. Winston; and Albery Allson Whitman (1851-1901), epic poet of African American and Native American self-determination (thesis), by J. R. Hays. For more about the Whitman Sisters see The Royalty of Negro Vaudeville by N. George-Graves; and Jazz Dance, by M. W. Stearns and J. Stearns. For more on Caswell Woodfin Whitman see the following Chicago Defender articles - "The Whitman Sister's kin passes away," 04/04/1936, pp.1 & 10; "Allen Bowers Entertains," 03/06/1932, p.7; and "The Whitmans arrive," 03/16/1918, p.6 - [article citations provided by the Curator of the Chicago Jazz Archive at the University of Chicago].
Subjects: Actors, Actresses, Authors, Education and Educators, Fathers, Mothers, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Poets, Religion & Church Work, Minstrel and Vaudeville Performers, Cross Dressing, Dress in Drag
Geographic Region: Hart County, Kentucky / Chicago, Illinois

Whyte, Zack [Zach]
Birth Year : 1898
Death Year : 1967
Whyte, born in Richmond, KY, was a banjoist and a bandleader. He was a member of Horace Henderson's student band while enrolled at Wilberforce College [now Wilberforce University] and formed his own band in 1923. Whyte would become the leader of the group known as the Chocolate Beau Brummels, a very successful band. Some of the groups recordings include Good Feelin' Blues, It's Tight Like That, and Mandy. Group members included Herman Chittison, Al Sears, Bubber Whyte, and Henry Savage. Zack Whyte retired from music in 1939. For more see "Zack Whyte" in Oxford Music Online; Zack Whyte and his Chocolate Beau Brummels at redhotjazz.com; and Zack Whyte in Classic Jazz. View image and listen to Zach Whyte's Chocolate Beau Brummels - West End Blues (1929) on YouTube.

Subjects: Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers
Geographic Region: Richmond, Madison County, Kentucky

Wiggins, Bobbie Reeves
Birth Year : 1949
Wiggins, born in Paducah, KY, is an educator, performer, author and writer. In the 1970s, she performed in movies and other productions, including Abby, Sheba Baby, and Combat Cops / Zebra Killer, which were all produced by Louisville, KY, native William B. Girdler, Sr. Wiggins was also a features writer with West Kentucky News, Kentucky Voice, The Paducah Sun, and Paducah Parenting and Family Magazine, a free publication. Wiggins was a school teacher for 13 yeas in Dallas, TX, and in 1995 she received the Junior Women's League Award for Innovative Teaching. Using the education grant she received in 1995, Wiggins wrote and recorded Rap N Learn in 2000 and It's a Rap in 2002. Both CDs contain curriculum-based songs geared to help young learners who have difficulty grasping language rules and fundamentals. Wiggins is the author of The Legacy of Woodland. She is a graduate of Lone Oak High School and Murray State University, where she received a B.A. in speech and English and an M.A. in speech and theater. Wiggins is a sister to Loretta Reeves Stewart. This information is presented, with permission, from Bobbie R. Wiggins biography.
Subjects: Actors, Actresses, Authors, Education and Educators, Journalists, Newspapers, Magazines, Book Publishers, Music Publishers, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Children's Books and Music, Movies and Films
Geographic Region: Paducah, McCracken County, Kentucky

Williams, Charley "Banjo Dick"
Birth Year : 1849
Born in Kentucky, Charley Williams moved to Arizona in 1871 as a cook and housekeeper for the L. A. Smith family, according to author Alton Hornsby in Black America: a state-by-state historical encyclopedia, v.1, p.41. Charley Williams was known as Banjo Dick, and in the 1880s, he had a mining company named the Banjo Dick Mine, located near Tucson, AZ. According to author Hornsby, the mine was thought to the be first African American owned and operated mining operation in Arizona. The mine lasted but a few years, then Charley Williams moved to Nogales, AZ, where he shined shoes and played the banjo for extra money. "His biggest engagement was that of playing at La Vennis Park, the exclusive rendezvous of the Tucson aristocrats." For more see In Steps of Esteban: Tucson's African American Heritage at the University of Arizona Library.

See photo image of Charley Williams at the University of Arizona website.
Subjects: Businesses, Bakers, Cooks and Chefs, Migration West, Miners, Mines, & Steel Mills, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Shoes: Finishers, Makers, Repairers, Shiners, Stores
Geographic Region: Kentucky / Tucson, Arizona

Williams, Henry H.
Birth Year : 1790
Death Year : 1850
Williams was born near Lexington, KY. A violinist, he was also the first African American dance teacher in Louisville, KY. He formed a cotillion band in 1835 that included other free African Americans, slaves, and German immigrants. Williams is remembered for his composition "Maysville March," which had not been played for more than a century when the sheet music was discovered by Filson Historical Society librarian Pen Bogert. For more see The Encyclopedia of Louisville, ed. by J. E. Kleber; and L. Blackford, "It's pure," Lexington Herald-Leader, 06/14/1998, City&Region section, p. B1.
Subjects: Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers
Geographic Region: Lexington, Fayette County, Kentucky / Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky

Williams, Stanley Rudolph "Fess"
Birth Year : 1894
Death Year : 1975
Stanley R. "Fess" Williams, born in Danville, KY, was a bandleader who played the clarinet, alto saxophone, and violin. In 1914, he moved to Cincinnati after graduating from Tuskegee Institute and returned to Kentucky in 1915 where he taught school in Winchester [source: WWI Draft Regisration Card, 1917-18]. He and his family later moved to Chicago before settling in New York in 1924, where he formed the Royal Flush Orchestra in 1925. The band played at the Savoy Ballroom from 1926-1928 and had a number of recordings that featured musicians such as pianist Henry "Hank" Duncan from Bowling Green, KY. One of the group's most memorable and best selling recordings was Hot Town. Fess Williams led bands in both New York and Chicago. He was the uncle, by marriage, to Charles Mingus; his wife, Louise Phillips Williams, was Mingus' maternal aunt. Stanley R. Williams died in Jamaica, NY, on December 17, 1975 [source: U.S. Social Security Death Index]. He was the son of Maria Jane Durham [source: 1900 U.S. Federal Census]. For more see Fess Williams and his Royal Flush Orchestra, at redhotjazz.com; and see "Fess Williams" in the Oxford Music Online Database.

  See album cover and listen to "Fess Williams and his Royal Flush Orchestra" on YouTube
Subjects: Migration North, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers
Geographic Region: Danville, Boyle County, Kentucky / New York

Williams, William "Colonel"
Birth Year : 1898
Death Year : 1973
Williams was born in Virginia. Also known as Bill, he settled in Greenup, KY, in 1922, remaining there until his death. Williams taught himself to play the guitar at the age of 10. He teamed up with Blind Blake and entertained at road gang camps in Tennessee. Once in Kentucky, he played at social parties and also at the Mountain Heritage Folk Festival, Louisville Folk Festival, and many others. For more see Blues Who's Who, by S. Harris; and Bill Williams on Blue Goose Records.


Subjects: Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Blind, Visually Impaired
Geographic Region: Virginia / Greenup, Greenup County, Kentucky

Wilson, Edith
Birth Year : 1896
Death Year : 1981
Born Edith Goodall in Louisville, KY, she would marry piano player Danny Wilson. She left Kentucky for northern locations to pursue a career of singing and acting. Edith Goodall Wilson became a blues singer who first recorded in 1921. She was the third African American woman to make phonographic records. She acted on radio programs, appeared on stage and in films, and was featured in cookie advertisements as 'Aunt Jemima'. Edith Goodall Wilson was the daughter of Susie A. Goodall. In 1910, the family of six lived on 5th Street in Louisville along with three lodgers [source: U.S. Federal Census]. For more see the Lexington Herald Leader, 09/18/03, p. E2; American National Biography, by J. A. Garraty and M. C. Carnes; and Edith Wilson, a Red Hot Jazz website.

See the image and listen to Edith Wilson - Rules and Regulations by Razor Jim, 1922, on YouTube.
Subjects: Actors, Actresses, Migration North, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Radio, Minstrel and Vaudeville Performers, Movies and Films
Geographic Region: Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky

Wilson, James Hembray, Sr. (musician/band director)
Birth Year : 1880
Death Year : 1961
Born in Nicholasville, KY, James Hembray Wilson was a noted band director and musician, he played the cornet. He was a faculty member at Alabama A&M College [now Alabama A & M University] 1903-1904, he took over the school band, succeeding W. C. Handy, the former band director. Wilson left the school to tour with Billy Kersands and the Georgia Minstrels. Wilson returned to the school in 1907 to remain there until his retirement in 1951. He had been a musician in Jacob Litt's 'In Old Kentucky' Company in 1896, bandmaster in Al Martin's Uncle Tom's Cabin from 1897-1899, cornetist in Mahara's Minstrels in 1899, and worked with many other groups. He became the first African American treasurer at Alabama A&M in 1947 and served as the first African American postmaster at the school from 1919-1942. The James Hembray Wilson Building, located on the Alabama A&M campus, houses the James Hembray Wilson State Black Archives Research Center and Museum. James Hembray Wilson was the son of Hester and Jacob Wilson, and the husband of Eveline Wilson. He graduated from high school in Cincinnati, OH, and from Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. He died in Normal, Alabama on October 2, 1961 [source: Alabama, Deaths and Burials Index]. For more see Who's Who in Colored America, 1950; "New Acquisitions" on p.3 in the Newsletter of the Yale University Collection of Musical Instruments, Fall 2006, no.29 [online .pdf]; and Alabama A&M Wilson Building under the headline "Why is it named that" by D. Nilsson on p.6 in Pen & Brush, February 2003, vol.43, issue 4 (newsletter of the Huntsville/North Alabama Chapter of the Society for Technical Communication and others).
Subjects: Education and Educators, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Postal Service, Migration South, Minstrel and Vaudeville Performers
Geographic Region: Nicholasville, Jessamine County, Kentucky / Huntsville and Normal, Alabama

Winters, Ruby
Born in Kentucky, and raised in Cincinnati, OH, Ruby Winters was a soul singer during the late 1960s and early 1970s. She joined with Johnny Thunder in 1967 for the chart hit "Make Love to Me." In 1969, "I Don't Want to Cry" and "Guess Who" were top 20 hits. Her 1970s hits included "I Will" and singles "Baby Lay Down" and "Come to Me!" For more see the Ruby Winters entry in All Music Guide to Soul, by V. Bogdanov, et al. Listen to Ruby Winters recordings at Rhapsody.com.
Access Interview
Subjects: Migration North, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers
Geographic Region: Kentucky / Cincinnati, Ohio

Young, Aurelia J. Norris
Birth Year : 1915
Death Year : 2010
Aurelia Young was a musician, composer, performer, writer, and educator. She was formerly a music professor at Jackson State College [now Jackson State University]. She was a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority and an original charter member of the Jackson (MS) Alumnae Chapter; Young served as the first president of the chapter 1941-1943. In 2008, she attended the chapter's "Legacy of Leadership" program. Aurelia Norris was born in Knottsville, KY, the daughter of John H., a farmer, and Hilda A. Stone Norris [sources: Kentucky Birth Index and the 1920 U.S. Federal Census]. By 1930, the family of five had moved to New London, OH, where John H. Norris was employed as a mechanic. Aurelia studied piano and violin and was a top graduate of her high school class. She was a 1937 graduate of Wilberforce University, where she studied music theory, organ, and French horn. She moved to Mississippi intending to teach for one year then leave, but she stayed after she married Jack Harvey Young, Sr. in 1938. Jack Young (1908-1976) would become a distinguished civil rights lawyer in Mississippi. Aurelia Young described her role in the Mississippi Civil Rights Movement as a supporter of her husband's efforts. In 1955, Aurelia Young earned her Master of Music degree at Indiana University then continued her studies in Europe and Africa. She held the copyright [PAu002421668] to a trilogy created in 1995 entitled Trilogy. Aurelia Young died in Los Angeles, California on October 17, 2010 [source: Social Security Death Index]. For more see the Aurelia Norris Young entry in Accomplishments of Mississippi Women, funded by the National Commission on the Observance of International Women's Year; Mississippi Black History Makers, by G. A. Sewell and M. L. Dwight; P. Jenkins, "PTA hears panelist: accept me as human," Delta Democrat-Times, 10/14/1970, p. 10; Mississippi, America [videorecording] by J. McCray; and J. Irons, "The Shaping of activist recruitment and participation: a study of women in the Mississippi Civil Rights Movement," Gender and Society, vol. 12, issue 6, Special Issue: Gender and Social Movements, Part 1, (Dec. 1998), pp. 692-709.
Subjects: Activists, Civil Rights, Education and Educators, Migration North, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Migration South, Women's Groups and Organizations
Geographic Region: Knottsville, Daviess County, Kentucky / Jackson, Mississippi / Los Angeles, California

 

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