Arts & Entertainment

Ethel Waters

May 30th, 2011 | By
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1896-1977  Ethel Waters overcame an early life of difficulty to become one of the best-known entertainers of her time. Her unique singing style broke through racial barriers and was embraced by a broad audience, black and white alike. In stage and film, she used her natural acting talent to transcend musical and “Mammy” roles and
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Billie Holiday

May 28th, 2011 | By
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1915 – 1959 Billie Holiday, affectionately known as “Lady Day,” lent a life of suffering to her art, and created a unique vocal style. Many of her songs embody her pain in a way that touches a chord in the audience. Her heartfelt rendition of the anti-racism song “Strange Fruit” serves as an enduring part
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Duke Ellington

May 23rd, 2011 | By
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1899 – 1974 Edward Kennedy “Duke” Ellington is recognized as one of the greatest jazz composers and performers who ever lived. He combined an exceptional talent for instrumental voicings, improvisation, and jazz arrangements to create a unique big-band sound that expanded the range of the musical form and excited audiences around the world. His recordings
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Otis Redding

May 21st, 2011 | By
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1941-1967  Otis Redding was one of the greatest voices of “Southern Soul.” His rapid rise to broad popularity, culminating with a boundary-breaking performance at the Monterey Pop Festival, was tragically curtailed at an early age, and then perpetuated with the posthumous release of his most successful recording. An Accidental Introduction Redding was born in 1941
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Josh White

May 19th, 2011 | By
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1914-1969  Josh White was one of the most popular African American entertainers of his era. Combining blues roots with an acute political conscience, he was an early mainstream crossover artist and arguably the greatest black folk singer of all time. Despite setbacks in the McCarthy period, he had a seminal influence on several styles of
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Angelina Weld Grimke

Aug 5th, 2010 | By
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1880-1958 Angelina Weld Grimke was a poet and educator from a prominent, multiracial family. Her published works include passionate protests against racism and eloquent portrayals of the issues faced by black Americans in the early 20th century. Famous Family Grimke was born in Boston, Massachusetts, on February 27, 1880. Her mother, Sarah E. Stanley, was
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Alvin Ailey

Jun 8th, 2010 | By
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1931-1989  Alvin Ailey combined the spiritual music of his Baptist upbringing with a unique and revolutionary dance style to create an artistic legacy that is critically acclaimed throughout the world. A Nomadic Childhood Ailey was born in Rogers, Texas, on January 5, 1931. His mother, Lula, was only 16 years old when she met Alvin
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Paul Laurence Dunbar

Jun 8th, 2010 | By
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1872 – 1906  Once called the “poet Laureate of the Negro Race,” and praised as “the first American Negro poet of real literary distinction,” Paul Laurence Dunbar was popular with both Black and White turn of the century readers.  Although he lived only  to the age of 33, Dunbar published eleven books of poetry, four
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W.C. Handy

Jun 8th, 2010 | By
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1873-1958  W.C. Handy used his musical knowledge and deep appreciation for rural black folk idioms to develop a new form and style, known as the blues. It would become the most popular genre of its time, and a foundation for nearly all subsequent popular music. As such, his importance cannot be overestimated. Minstrel Shows and
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Louie Armstrong

Jun 8th, 2010 | By
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1901 – 1971  Louis Armstrong, known to generations of adoring fans and admirers as “Satchmo,” was among the preeminent jazz musicians of all time.  His influence on this uniquely American — and predominantly African American — art form cannot be overestimated. Armstrong was able to use that influence and visibility to rise to the stature
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