All entries by this author

Ethel L. Payne

Jul 26th, 2011 | By
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1911-1991  Ethel L. Payne combined a passionate concern for the rights of black people in all parts of the world with a talent for investigative reporting and writing. She became the leading African American journalist of her time, and a tireless supporter of civil rights. With the Help of a Diary Payne was born in
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Jelly Roll Morton

Jul 25th, 2011 | By
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1890-1941  Jelly Roll Morton brewed a gumbo of musical styles including New Orleans traditional, ragtime, blues, minstrel shows, hymns, spirituals, and classical genres to help create jazz. He was a prolific composer and one of the first to capitalize on the growing market for sheet music, and to master the art of creating music for
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Charlie “Bird” Parker

Jul 24th, 2011 | By
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1920 – 1955  Charlie Parker, widely known as “Bird” (both for his free lifestyle and affinity for chicken), was one of the creators of the jazz genre “bebop.” Along with Dizzy Gillespie and other musical pioneers, he created a new style of improvisation and composition that altered the entire jazz form, and inspired a generation
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Patricia Roberts Harris

Jul 23rd, 2011 | By
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1924-1985  Patricia Harris worked her way up from modest origins to become a trail-blazer for African Americans and women in the federal government at the highest levels. She served two Presidents in numerous roles, and achieved notable results in striving for improvements in housing and services for poor people and equitable treatment for women. Early
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John W. Coltrane

Jul 22nd, 2011 | By
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1926 – 1967  John Coltrane, widely known as “Trane,” was the finest tenor saxophonist of his era, a superb composer, and the leading experimentalist among the “free jazz” avant garde. His stunning innovations, infused with spiritual urgency, changed the direction of music and have inspired legions of fans, critics, and musicians to this day. Early
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Madam C.J. Walker

Jul 21st, 2011 | By
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1867-1919  Madam C.J. Walker invented and marketed a line of hair and skin-care products specially designed for the needs of black women. She and her
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Thelonious Sphere Monk

Jul 20th, 2011 | By
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1917 – 1982  Thelonious Monk was a giant of the American jazz scene. His angular playing, odd compositions, use of space and silence, and uncompromising integrity were essential elements in the creation of the “Bebop” style. He left a legacy of recordings and compositions that show the birth of a whole new era in jazz,
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Charles Mingus

Jul 19th, 2011 | By
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1922-1979  Charles Mingus fused musical styles drawn from classical, swing, bop, Latin, and avant-garde genres to develop a wholly original form of composition. In performance, his bass playing was strong and unique; and in his career and practice, he strove to create opportunities for jazz artists while forcing himself and those around him to strive
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James P. Johnson

Jul 18th, 2011 | By
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1894-1955  James P. Johnson was the finest popular pianist of his time, the seminal creator of the stride style bridging ragtime and jazz, the composer of “The Charleston,” and the creator of long-form classical works that incorporated African American motifs. His influence on every key jazz musician who followed is incalculable, as was his “soundtrack
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Erroll Garner

Jul 17th, 2011 | By
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  1921-1977  Erroll Garner was a self-taught pianist of astonishing originality and virtuosic technique who bridged key elements of the swing and bebop eras in a style all his own. He was the most popular pianist of his time, and was equally appreciated by other jazz musicians, jazz fans, and music lovers of all kinds.
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