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

Cooke, Charles L. "Doc"

(born: 1887  -  died: 1958) 

Born in Louisville, KY, Charles Lee Cooke earned a bachelor's and doctoral degrees in music from the Chicago College of Music in 1926. He was one of the first African Americans to receive a doctorate in music.

Doc Cooke began writing musical compositions when he was a child in Louisville, where he organized an eight-piece band by the time he was 15. He 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 World War I Draft Registration card, Charles Lee Cooke was born 9/03/1887. His family moved to Detroit, MI, when he was 18. 

For more see Charles "Doc" Cooke and Doc Cook and His Dreamland Orchestra as well as other entroes in The Red Hot Jazz Archive at; His entry (second from the top) at; "Charles L. Cooke" in The University of Southern Florida Libraries Special Collections Exhibits (online); and Doc Cook [Cooke, Charles L.] at Grove Music Online.

See photographs and listen to Cook & His Dreamland Ballroom Orchestra - "Here Comes The Hot Tamale Man!" (1926) on YouTube.


Cited in this Entry

NKAA Source: Grove Music Online [New Grove dictionary of music and musicians (Online)]

Related Entries Citing this Entry

NKAA Entry:  Pasquall, Jerome Don, Sr.
NKAA Entry:  Kentucky African American Musicians in Illinois (Chicago)

Cite This NKAA Entry:

“Cooke, Charles L. "Doc",” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed July 27, 2021,

Last modified: 2021-03-26 17:04:10