Tag Archives | National Medal of Arts
Cabell “Cab” Calloway III

November 18th in African American History – Cabell “Cab” Calloway III

November 18, 1994 Cabell “Cab” Calloway III, jazz singer and bandleader, died. Calloway was born December 25, 1907 in Rochester, New York. After graduating from high school, Calloway joined his sister in a touring production of the black musical revue “Plantation Days.” In 1930, he assumed leadership of his orchestra and they became the co-host […]

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John Birks “Dizzy” Gillespie

October 21st in African American History – John Birks “Dizzy” Gillespie

October 21, 1917 John Birks “Dizzy” Gillespie, jazz trumpeter, bandleader, and composer, was born in Cheraw, South Carolina. By the age of 12, Gillespie had taught himself to play the piano, trombone, and trumpet and he took his first professional job at 18. Together with Charlie Parker, Gillespie was a major figure in the development […]

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Theodore Walter “Sonny” Rollins

September 7th in African American History – Theodore Walter “Sonny” Rollins

September 7, 1930 Theodore Walter “Sonny” Rollins, jazz tenor saxophonist and composer, was born in New York City. Rollins received his first saxophone at 13 and first recorded in 1949. By 1954, Rollins had recorded with such jazz giants as Miles Davis, Charlie Parker, and Thelonious Monk. By 1956, Rollins was leading his own groups […]

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Lionel Leo Hampton

August 31st in African American History – Lionel Leo Hampton

August 31, 2002 Lionel Leo Hampton, jazz vibraphonist and band leader, died. Hampton was born April 20, 1908 in Louisville, Kentucky. While still a teenager, he played the xylophone and drums. In 1936, he joined the Benny Goodman Quartet, making it one of the first racially integrated jazz groups to record and play before wide […]

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Bennett Lester “Benny” Carter

July 12th in African American History – Bennett Lester “Benny” Carter

July 12, 2003 Bennett Lester “Benny” Carter, jazz musician, composer, arranger and bandleader, died. Carter was born August 8, 1907 in New York City. Largely self-taught, by the age of 15 Carter was sitting in with some of New York’s top bands. In 1929, Carter formed this first big band and from 1931 to 1932 […]

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Lloyd George Richards

Lloyd George Richards – June 29th in African American History

June 29, 1919 Lloyd George Richards, theater actor, director and educator, was born in Toronto, Canada, but raised in Detroit, Michigan. Richards earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from Wayne State University in 1944 and then became one of the first black military pilots while serving in the United States Air Force during World War […]

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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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