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

Edison, Harry "Sweets"

(born: 1915  -  died: 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]. 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).


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NKAA Source: American National Biography Online (database)

Related Entries Citing this Entry

NKAA Entry:  The African American Borah Family

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“Edison, Harry "Sweets",” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed July 28, 2021,

Last modified: 2017-09-14 18:29:08