Tag Archives | National Medal of Arts
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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Charles “Honi” Coles

April 2nd in African American History – Charles “Honi” Coles

April 2, 1911 Charles “Honi” Coles, tap dancer and actor, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Coles developed his high-speed rhythm tapping on the streets of his hometown. In 1940, while dancing with the Cab Calloway band, he teamed with Charles “Cholly” Atkins to form Coles & Atkins. Their partnership lasted 19 years. Coles made his […]

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William “Smokey” Robinson, Jr.

February 19th in African American History – William “Smokey” Robinson, Jr.

February 19, 1940 William “Smokey” Robinson, Jr., singer, songwriter, and record producer, was born in Detroit, Michigan. In 1955, Robinson co-founded a vocal group called The Five Chimes which was later renamed the Miracles. In 1959, they were one of the first groups to sign with the newly formed Motown Records.

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Billy Taylor

December 28th in African American History – Billy Taylor

December 28, 2010 Billy Taylor, jazz pianist, composer, and educator, died. Taylor was born July 24, 1921 in Greenville, North Carolina but raised in Washington D.C. He earned his Bachelor of Science degree in music from Virginia State College in 1942 and later earned a master’s and Ph.D. in music education from the University of […]

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Ossie Davis

December 18th in African American History – Raiford Chatman “Ossie” Davis

December 18, 1917 Raiford Chatman “Ossie” Davis, actor, director, playwright and social activist, was born in Cogdell, Georgia. Davis began his acting career in 1939 with the Rose McClendon Players in Harlem and made his film debut in 1950 in “No Way Out.” Over the next 55 years, he appeared in almost 50 movies, including […]

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Odetta Holmes

December 2nd in African American History – Odetta Holmes

December 2, 2008 Odetta Holmes, singer, actress, songwriter, and human rights activist, died. Odetta was born December 31, 1930 in Birmingham, Alabama. Her first professional experience was in musical theater in 1944 and in 1949 she joined the “Finian’s Rainbow” touring company. She began her solo career in 1956 with “Odetta Sings Ballads and Blues” […]

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