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

Lee, Everett Astor, Jr. and Sylvia Olden

(born: 1916) 

Everett Astor Lee (8/31/1916 – 1/12/2022) from Wheeling, WV, became the first African American to direct a white orchestra, the Louisville (KY) Philharmonic, in 1953; the audience was integrated. Everett was also the first African American to conduct a Broadway show.

EverettLee was the husband of Sylvia O. Lee (1917-2004), 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 enslavement at the Oldham Plantation in Oldham County, KY. Her father Rev. J. C. Olden was living in Louisville  when he arranged for Everett to conduct the Louisville Philharmonic.

For more see "Schiller Institute Dialogue with Sylvia Olden Lee, Pianist and Vocal Coach," 2/07/1998, [reprinted from Fidelio Magazine, vol. 7, issue 1 (Spring 1998)]; W. M. Cheatham, "Lady Sylvia speaks," Black Music Research Journal, vol. 16, issue 1 (Spring 1996), pp. 183-213; Carnegie Tribute to Sylvia Olden Lee  at The Foundation for the Revival of Classical Culture website; "Maestro Everett Lee" at the website; "Happy 100th Birthday Everett Lee, Trailblazing Conductor" at the WQXR website; "Wheeling Hall of Fame: Everett Lee" at the Ohio County Library website; Coreisa Janelle Lee, "My Unsung Heroes" at The Flute Examiner website; and "Everett Lee, Who Broke Color Barriers on the Conductor's Podium, Dies at 105," The New York Times, 1/20-25/2022.

Kentucky County & Region

Read about Jefferson County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Oldham County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Kentucky Place (Town or City)

Read about Louisville, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Outside Kentucky Place Name

Item Relations

Cited in this Entry

NKAA Entry: Olden, James Clarence "J. C."
NKAA Source: Black music research journal (periodical)

Related Entries Citing this Entry

NKAA Entry: Militant Church Movement (Louisville, KY)
NKAA Entry: Olden, James Clarence "J. C."

Cite This NKAA Entry:

“Lee, Everett Astor, Jr. and Sylvia Olden,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed May 25, 2024,

Last modified: 2023-06-30 18:18:39