January 4, 1937 Grace Bumbry, considered one of the leading mezzo-sopranos of her generation, was born in St. Louis, Missouri. At the age of 17, Bumbry won a competition singing the aria “O don fatale” but was denied the first-place prize scholarship to the local music conservatory because it did not accept black students.
October 18, 1926 Charles Edward “Chuck” Berry, guitarist, singer and songwriter, was born in St. Louis, Missouri. Berry made his first public performances while he was still in high school and by early 1953 was performing at popular clubs in East St. Louis, Illinois. In 1955, Berry recorded “Maybelene” which sold over a million copies [...]
Tags: blues, country musician, gospel, Grammy Award, Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, Hollywood Walk of Fame, Jazz Hall of Fame, Kennedy Center Honors, National Medal of Arts, R&B, Rhythm & Blues Hall of Fame, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
June 10, 2004 Ray Charles, pioneering R&B, gospel, blues and country musician, died. Born Ray Charles Robinson on September 23, 1930 in Albany, Georgia, Charles began to lose his sight at the age of five and was completely blind by the age of seven. In 1943, he began to perform around Tallahassee and Jacksonville, Florida. [...]
Tags: activist, American Anthropological Association, author, Broadway, choreographer, dancer, Distinguished Service Award, educator, Hall of Fame of the National Museum of Dance, Kennedy Center Honors, Matriarch and Queen Mother of Black Dance, National Medal of Arts
May 21, 2006 Katherine Mary Dunham, dancer, choreographer, author, educator, activist, and “Matriarch and Queen Mother of Black Dance,” died. Dunham was born June 22, 1909 in Glen Ellyn, Illinois. She became fascinated with dance at a young age and while in high school started a dance school for young black children. Dunham studied dance [...]
Tags: actor, Army, Broadway, dancer, emmy Award, film, Grammy Hall of Fame, Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, International Civil Rights Walk of Fame, Kennedy Center Honors, NAACP, singer, Spingarn Medal
May 16, 1990 Sammy Davis, Jr., singer, dancer, film, and stage actor, died. Davis was born December 8, 1925 in New York City. He began performing almost as soon as he could walk as part of the vaudeville Mastin Troupe. After serving in the army, in 1955 Davis recorded his first album, “Starring Sammy Davis, [...]
May 10, 1943 Judith Anna Jamison, dancer and choreographer, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Jamison began studying dance at the age of 10 and made her New York City debut in 1964 in the ballet “The Four Marys” at the American Ballet Theater. In 1965, she joined the Alvin Ailey Company and soon became a [...]
Tags: actor, Best Supporting Actor, Bishop John T. Walker Distinguished Humanitarian Service Award, Broadway, Civil Rights Movement, Freedom Summer, Grammy Award, Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, Kennedy Center Honors, musician, National Medal of Arts, Navy, New York Film Critics Circle Award, social activist, Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee, World War II
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
- March 13th in African American History – Leon Day
- April 1st in African American History – Jesse Stone
- September 10th in African American History – Robert Jerry Lanier, Jr.
- October 2nd in African American History – Robert Henry Lawrence, Jr.
- March 1st in African American History – Emmett Littleton Ashford