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John Lee Hooker

August 22nd in African American History – John Lee Hooker

John Lee Hooker August 22, 1917 John Lee Hooker, singer, songwriter, and blues guitarist, was born in Coahoma County near Clarksdale, Mississippi. At the age of 15, Hooker ran away from home and in 1948 landed in Detroit, Michigan working at the Ford Motor Company and playing in the blues venues and saloons on Hasting […]

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Ella Jenkins

August 6th in African American History – Ella Jenkins

August 6, 1924 Ella Jenkins, folk singer and “The First Lady of the Children’s Folk Song,” was born in St. Louis, Missouri but grew up in Chicago, Illinois. In 1951, Jenkins earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in sociology with minors in child psychology and recreation from San Francisco State University. After graduating, she began […]

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Marvin Pentz Gay, Jr.

April 1st in African American History – Marvin Pentz Gaye, Jr.

April 1, 1984 Marvin Pentz Gaye, Jr., instrumentalist, singer, and songwriter, was fatally shot. Gay was born April 2, 1939 in Washington, D.C. He started as a member of The Moonglows in 1958 and after they disbanded in 1960, he moved to Detroit, Michigan and signed with Motown Records. Gaye experienced his first significant success […]

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Nathaniel Adams “Nat King” Cole

March 17th in African American History – Nathaniel Adams “Nat King” Cole

March 17, 1919 Nathaniel Adams “Nat King” Cole, jazz pianist and singer, was born in Montgomery, Alabama. Cole learned to play the organ from his mother and began performing in the 1930s with the King Cole Trio. They signed with Capitol Records in 1943 and revenue from Cole’s recordings accounted for so much of Capitol’s […]

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Roy Owen Haynes

March 13th in African American History – Roy Owen Haynes

March 13, 1925 Roy Owen Haynes, jazz drummer and bandleader, was born in Boston, Massachusetts. Haynes made his professional debut in 1944 and from 1947 to 1949 worked with saxophonist Lester Young. From 1949 to 1952, Haynes was a member of Charlie Parker’s quintet and from 1953 to 1958 he toured with Sarah Vaughn. In […]

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Antoine Dominique “Fats” Domino

February 26th in African American History – Antoine Dominique “Fats” Domino

February 26, 1928 Antoine Dominique “Fats” Domino, pianist, singer, and songwriter, was born in New Orleans, Louisiana. Domino first attracted national attention with the 1949 release of “Fat Man” which is widely regarded to be the first rock and roll record to sell more than a million copies.

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William “Smokey” Robinson, Jr.

February 19th in African American History – William “Smokey” Robinson, Jr.

February 19, 1940 William “Smokey” Robinson, Jr., singer, songwriter, and record producer, was born in Detroit, Michigan. In 1955, Robinson co-founded a vocal group called The Five Chimes which was later renamed the Miracles. In 1959, they were one of the first groups to sign with the newly formed Motown Records.

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