April 2, 1995 Julius Arthur Hemphill, jazz composer and saxophone player, died. Hemphill was born January 24, 1938 in Fort Worth, Texas. He joined the United States Army in 1964 and served for several years. In 1968, Hemphill moved to St. Louis, Missouri and co-founded the Black Artists’ Group, a multi-disciplinary arts collective. He moved […]
March 29, 2001 John Aaron Lewis, jazz pianist, composer and the musical director of the Modern Jazz Quartet, died. Lewis was born May 3, 1920 in LaGrange, Illinois but raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He began to learn the piano and classical music at the age of seven. In 1942, he graduated from the University […]
March 27, 1924 Sarah Lois Vaughan, jazz singer known as “The Divine One,” was born in Newark, New Jersey. Vaughan began piano lessons at the age of seven and sang in the church choir. By her mid-teens, she was performing in local nightclubs. In 1942, Vaughan sang “Body and Soul” at the Apollo Amateur Night […]
March 15, 1959 Lester Willis Young, jazz tenor saxophonist and clarinetist, died. Young was born August 27, 1909 in Woodville, Mississippi and played in his family’s band on the vaudeville and carnival circuit. He left the family band in 1927 because he refused to play in the South where Jim Crow Laws were in effect. […]
March 12, 1955 Charles “Bird” Parker, Jr., jazz saxophonist and composer, died. Parker was born August 29, 1920 in Kansas City, Kansas. He began playing the saxophone at age 11 and by 1938 was touring nightclubs and other venues in the southwest. In 1939, he moved to New York City where on November 26, 1945, […]
March 8, 1993 William Clarence “Billy” Eckstine, bandleader and balladeer, died. Eckstine was born July 8, 1914 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and began singing at age seven. In 1939, he joined Earl Hines’ Grand Terrace Orchestra as vocalist and occasional trumpeter. In 1944, Eckstine formed his own band which was the first bop big-band.
March 2, 1942 Charles Henry Christian, swing and jazz guitarist, died. Christian was born July 29, 1916 in Bonham, Texas but raised in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. By 1936, he was playing electric guitar and had become a regional attraction. In 1939, he was hired by Benny Goodman for the newly formed Goodman sextet. By 1940, […]
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- March 2nd in African American History – Frank E. Petersen, Jr.
- November 3rd in African American History – The Commonwealth of Dominica
- October 22nd in African American History – Samuel Lee Gravely, Jr.
- March 22nd in African American History – George Benson
- September 7th in African American History – James Madison Nabrit, Jr.