Tag Archives | pianist
Mary Lou Williams

May 28th in African American History – Mary Lou Williams

May 28, 1981 Mary Lou Williams, jazz pianist, composer, and arranger, died. Born Mary Elfrieda Scruggs on May 8, 1910 in Atlanta, Georgia, Williams taught herself to play the piano at a young age and became a professional musician in her teens. In 1925, she played with Duke Ellington and his band the Washingtonians. In […]

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Edward Kennedy Duke Ellington

May 24th in African American History – Edward Kennedy “Duke” Ellington

May 24, 1974 Edward Kennedy “Duke” Ellington, composer, pianist, and big band leader, died. Ellington was born April 29, 1899 in Washington, D. C. He 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 […]

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Henry “Hank” Jones

May 16th in African American History – Henry “Hank” Jones

May 16, 2010 Henry “Hank” Jones, jazz pianist, bandleader, and composer, died. Jones was born July 31, 1918 in Vicksburg, Mississippi but raised in Pontiac, Michigan. He studied piano at an early age and by the age of 13 was performing in Michigan and Ohio. In 1944, he moved to New York City and from […]

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May 6th in African American History – Otis Blackwell

May 6, 2002 Otis Blackwell, singer, pianist, and songwriter, died. Blackwell was born February 16, 1932 in Brooklyn, New York and learned to play the piano as a child. In 1952, Blackwell won a talent contest at the Apollo Theater, but his real love was songwriting. In 1956, he had his first success, composing “Fever,” […]

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Earl Kenneth “Fatha” Hines

April 22nd in African American History – Earl Kenneth “Fatha” Hines

April 22, 1983 Earl Kenneth “Fatha” Hines, jazz pianist, died. Hines was born December 28, 1903 in Duquesne, Pennsylvania. As a youth, he took classical piano lessons and played the organ at the local Baptist church. At the age of 17, he left home to take a job playing in a Pittsburgh nightclub. In 1923, […]

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Thelonious Monk

February 17th in African American History – Thelonious Monk

February 17, 1982 Thelonious Monk, jazz pianist and composer, died. Monk was born October 10, 1917 in Rocky Mountain, North Carolina and began playing the piano at the age of six. In the early to mid-1940s, he served as the house pianist at Minton’s Playhouse in Harlem, New York which featured most of the leading […]

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James Herbert

February 12th in African American History – James Herbert “Eubie” Blake

February 12, 1983 James Herbert “Eubie” Blake, composer, lyricist and pianist, died. Blake was born February 7, 1887 in Baltimore, Maryland. He began taking music lessons at the age of 7 and at 15 was playing piano in a bordello. In 1912, he began playing in vaudeville and shortly after World War I joined forces […]

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