February 26, 1933 Godfrey MacArthur Cambridge, comedian and stage and film actor, was born in New York City. Cambridge won a four-year scholarship to study medicine, but instead decided to become an actor, leaving college in his third year.
February 22, 1922 Joe Wilder, jazz trumpeter, composer, and bandleader, was born in Colwyn, Pennsylvania. Wilder studied at the Mastbaum School of Music, but turned to jazz when he felt there was little opportunity for an African American classical musician.
February 16, 1904 James Baskett, actor and the first male performer of African descent to receive an Oscar, was born in Indianapolis, Indiana. Baskett appeared on Broadway in the all-black musical revue “Hot Chocolate” in 1929. He also appeared in a number of all-black films, including “Harlem is Heaven” (1932) and “Straight to Heaven” (1939).
February 15, 1952 Bill T. Jones, dancer, choreographer and artistic director, was born in Bunnell, Florida. Jones performed and choreographed worldwide before forming the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company in 1982.
Tags: Broadway, Central State College, February 10, Grammy Award, Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, Kennedy Center Honors, NAACP, National Medal of Arts, opera, Presidential Medal of Freedom, Spingarn Medal
February 10, 1927 Mary Violet Leontyne Price, operatic soprano, was born in Laurel, Mississippi. Price earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from Central State College in 1948 and her first important stage performance was in the 1952 production of “Falstaff.”
December 17, 1975 Noble Sissle, composer, lyricist, bandleader, and playwright, died. Sissle was born July 10, 1889 in Indianapolis, Indiana. At an early age, he started singing in the church choir and as a teenager toured the Midwest as part of a gospel quartet. In 1915, he met Eubie Blake and they formed a vaudeville […]
December 15, 1943 Thomas Wright “Fats” Waller, jazz pianist, organist and composer, died. Waller was born May 21, 1904 in New York City. He started playing the piano at the age of six. At the age of 14, he was playing the organ at Harlem’s Lincoln Theater and within 12 months had composed his first […]
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- May 2nd in African American History – Isaiah Mays
- October 21st in African American History – Valerie Thomas
- March 17th in African American History – Elizabeth Louise “Betty” Allen
- August 11th in African American History – Viola Davis
- October 14th in African American History – Oscar McKinley Charleston