April 30, 1983 McKinley Morganfield (Muddy Waters), blues musician and “the father of Chicago Blues,” died. Waters was born April 4, 1913 in Issaquena County, Mississippi. He started out playing the harmonica but by age 17 he was playing the guitar at parties. In 1943, Waters moved to Chicago and drove a truck and worked […]
April 29, 1899 Edward Kennedy “Duke” Ellington, composer, pianist and big band leader, was born in Washington, D. C. Ellington began taking piano lessons at the age of 7 and at 14 wrote his first composition, “Soda Fountain Rag.” At the age of 18, he formed his first group, The Duke’s Serenaders, who played throughout […]
April 25, 1917 Ella Jane Fitzgerald, jazz and pop vocalist also known as the “First Lady of Song,” was born in Newport News, Virginia. Fitzgerald made her singing debut at the age of 17 at the Apollo Theater and won the first prize of $25.00. In 1935, she began singing with the Chick Webb Orchestra […]
April 8, 1993 Marian Anderson, contralto, died. Anderson was born February 27, 1897 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. At the age of six, she began singing at local functions for small change. She got her first big break in 1925 when she won a singing competition sponsored by the New York Philharmonic. In 1939, the Daughters of the […]
March 16, 1975 Aaron Thibeaux “T-Bone” Walker, blues guitarist, singer and songwriter, died. Walker was born May 28, 1910 in Linden, Texas and learned his craft as a teenager. He made his debut recordings in 1929 with “Wichita Falls Blues” and “Trinity River Blues.” Much of his output was recorded between 1946 and 1948, including […]
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 1, 1927 Harold George “Harry” Belafonte, Jr., musician, actor and social activist, was born in New York City. Belafonte served in the United States Navy during World War II and after his discharge began his music career singing in clubs to pay for acting classes.
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Other African American History Posts
- October 20th in African American History – The Johnny Bright Incident
- July 16th in African American History – John Henrik Clarke
- August 28th in African American History – March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom
- January 9th in African American History – Earl Gilbert Graves, Sr.
- June 10th in African American History – John Arthur “Jack” Johnson