Arts & Entertainment

Bessie Smith

Apr 24th, 2013 | By
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1894(?) – 1937 – Bessie Smith’s outsize voice and personality made her one of the most popular performers of the early 20th century. Her willingness to fight against any slight, her enormously powerful singing style, and her passion for life informed her music and engaged audiences in that unique expression of the African American experience,
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Anne Brown

Apr 24th, 2013 | By
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1912-2009 – Anne Brown navigated a difficult path through the segregated music and theater communities of her time to become one of its outstanding soprano singers. She is best known for her performances as Bess in the classic George Gershwin opera of black southern life, Porgy and Bess. Early Promise Brown was born in 1912
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Bert Williams

Sep 25th, 2011 | By
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1874-1922  Bert Williams was one of Broadway’s most successful performers during the first two decades of the 20th century. First with his partner George Walker, then working solo, he transcended the boundaries of the minstrel tradition in which he performed and triumphed as a comedian, dancer, singer, and songwriter. A Caribbean Childhood Williams was born
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Richard Pryor

Sep 24th, 2011 | By
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1940-2005  Richard Pryor rose from extreme poverty to become a household name in the entertainment industry. An award-winning writer, actor, and director, Pryor is considered by many to have been one of the greatest comedians in history. Unusual Circumstances Pryor was born on December 1, 1940, in Peoria, Illinois. His father, LeRoy “Buck Carter” Pryor,
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Hall Johnson

Sep 13th, 2011 | By
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1888-1970  Hall Johnson was a virtuoso violinist, composer, and musical director in New York and Hollywood. He was the founder of an acclaimed black choir that set the standard for the performance of African American spirituals. Steeped in Music Johnson was born on March 12, 1888, in Athens, Georgia, the son of William Decker Johnson,
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Jimi Hendrix

Sep 10th, 2011 | By
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1942-1970  Jimi Hendrix was among the most innovative and influential musicians of the 20th century. His highly charged and intuitive guitar playing and his early death cemented his brief career into legend. Playing by Ear Hendrix was born on November 27, 1942, in Seattle, Washington. His father, James Allen Ross Hendrix—a landscaper by trade—had been
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Oliver W. Harrington

Sep 9th, 2011 | By
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1912-1995  Oliver Wendell Harrington was one of America’s most talented and influential political cartoonists in the decades between the Great Depression and the end of the Cold War. After leaving the United States during the McCarthy era, he became a key member of the African American expatriate community in Paris, and lived out his final
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Lorraine Hansberry

Sep 8th, 2011 | By
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1930-1965  Playwright Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun was the first drama by an African American woman to be produced on Broadway. Widely acclaimed, it helped pave the way for other black playwrights. She completed only two plays in her short life, but left unfinished works that published posthumously, extended her contribution to literature,
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Ray Charles

Sep 1st, 2011 | By
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1930-2004  Ray Charles was a multitalented musician who artfully combined disparate musical traditions into his own pioneering genre. He overcame blindness and tragedy to become one of the most beloved and popular musicians of the 20th century. Tragedy in Childhood Charles was born Ray Charles Robinson in Albany, Georgia, on September 23, 1930. Shortly afterwards,
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Pearl Bailey

Aug 30th, 2011 | By
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1918-1990  Pearl Mae Bailey was a Big Band Era singer and actress whose career encompassed appearances on Broadway and in film. Over a nearly 40-year span, Bailey produced hit singles, caused a sensation on stage and screen, and earned a Tony award and multiple appointments as the U.S. Goodwill Ambassador to the United Nations under
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