Tag Archives | Kennedy Center Honors
Mary Violet Leontyne Price

Mary Violet Leontyne Price – February 10th in African American History

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.”

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John Birks “Dizzy” Gillespie

John Birks “Dizzy” Gillespie – January 6th in African American History

January 6, 1993 John Birks “Dizzy” Gillespie, jazz trumpeter, bandleader, singer, and composer, died. Gillespie was born October 21, 1917 in Cheraw, South Carolina. By the age of four, he had started to play the piano. He also taught himself to play the trombone and the trumpet. His first professional job was with the Frank […]

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Grace Bumbry

January 4th in African American History – Grace Bumbry

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.

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Charles Edward “Chuck” Berry

October 18th in African American History – Charles Edward “Chuck” Berry

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 […]

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Ray Charles

June 10th in African American History – Ray Charles

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. […]

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Katherine Mary Dunham

May 21st in African American History – Katherine Mary Dunham

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 […]

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Sammy Davis, Jr.

May 16th in African American History – Sammy Davis, Jr.

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, […]

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