February 26, 1990 Cornelius E. Gunter, rhythm and blues singer, died. Gunter was born November 14, 1936 in Coffeyville, Kansas. He began recording in 1953 singing backup on Big Jay McNeelly’s “Nervous Man Nervous.” In 1957, he sang the title song for the movie “The Green Eyed Blonde.” From 1958 to 1961, Gunter performed as […]
March 15, 1912 Sam John “Lightnin” Hopkins, country blues guitarist, singer, and songwriter, was born in Centreville, Texas. Hopkins developed a deep appreciation of the blues at the age of eight, but did not make his first recording until 1946.
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 […]
December 11, 1926 Willie Mae “Big Mama” Thornton, singer and songwriter, was born in Ariton, Alabama. Thornton began to sing at a very early age and at 14 she joined the Hot Harlem Revue and toured with them for seven years. Thornton began her recording career in 1951 and the next year recorded “Hound Dog.”
January 25, 1974 Nora Douglas Holt, singer, composer and music critic, died. Holt was born Lena Douglas on May 26, 1885 in Kansas City, Kansas. She earned her Bachelor of Music degree in 1917 from Western University and her Master of Music degree in 1918 from Chicago Musical College, the first African American woman to […]
January 21, 1984 Jack Leroy “Jackie” Wilson, singer and performer known as “Mr. Excitement,” died. Wilson was born June 9, 1934 in Detroit, Michigan. He gained early fame as a member of The Dominoes. In 1957, Wilson began his solo career with the release of “Reet Petite” and over the next 15 years recorded more […]
December 31, 1948 LaDonna Adrian Gaines (Donna Summer), the Queen of Disco, was born in Boston, Massachusetts. At 18, she left home for New York City and landed on the European Tour of the musical “Hair.” Her first solo single, “Sally Go Round the Roses,” was released in Europe in 1971. In 1975, “Love to […]
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- October 13th in African American History – Jesse LeRoy Brown
- Arnold Raymond Cream (Jersey Joe Walcott) – January 31st in African American History
- January 4th in African American History – Grace Bumbry
- March 8th in African American History – Clarence M. Mitchell, Jr.
- March 13th in African American History – Leon Day