Tag Archives | singer
Nichelle Nichols

December 28th in African American History – Grace Nichols (Nichelle Nichols)

December 28, 1932 Grace Nichols (Nichelle Nichols), actress, dancer and singer, was born in Robbins, Illinois. Nichols danced in Chicago, Illinois with the College Inn Revue around 1947 and toured the United States, Canada, and Europe as a singer with the Duke Ellington and Lionel Hampton bands in 1950 and 1951. In 1966, Nichols was […]

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John Lee Hooker

August 22nd in African American History – John Lee Hooker

John Lee Hooker August 22, 1917 John Lee Hooker, singer, songwriter, and blues guitarist, was born in Coahoma County near Clarksdale, Mississippi. At the age of 15, Hooker ran away from home and in 1948 landed in Detroit, Michigan working at the Ford Motor Company and playing in the blues venues and saloons on Hasting […]

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William Lee Conley “Big Bill” Broonzy

August 15th in African American History – William Lee Conley “Big Bill” Broonzy

August 15, 1958 William Lee Conley “Big Bill” Broonzy, blues singer, songwriter, and guitarist, died. Broonzy was born June 26, 1898 in Lake Dick, Arkansas but raised in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. He began playing music at an early age and at the age of ten made himself a fiddle from a cigar box and began […]

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Ella Jenkins

August 6th in African American History – Ella Jenkins

August 6, 1924 Ella Jenkins, folk singer and “The First Lady of the Children’s Folk Song,” was born in St. Louis, Missouri but grew up in Chicago, Illinois. In 1951, Jenkins earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in sociology with minors in child psychology and recreation from San Francisco State University. After graduating, she began […]

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July 25th in African American History – Willie Mae “Big Mama” Thornton

July 25, 1984 Willie Mae “Big Mama” Thornton, R&B singer and songwriter, died. Thornton was born December 11, 1926 in Ariton, Alabama and began to sing at an early age. At the age of 14, she joined the Hot Harlem Revue and performed with them for 7 years. Thornton began her recording career in 1951 […]

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Marvin Pentz Gay, Jr.

April 1st in African American History – Marvin Pentz Gaye, Jr.

April 1, 1984 Marvin Pentz Gaye, Jr., instrumentalist, singer, and songwriter, was fatally shot. Gay was born April 2, 1939 in Washington, D.C. He started as a member of The Moonglows in 1958 and after they disbanded in 1960, he moved to Detroit, Michigan and signed with Motown Records. Gaye experienced his first significant success […]

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Willie King

March 18th in African American History – Willie King

March 18, 1943 Willie King, blues guitarist, composer, and singer, was born in Prairie Point, Mississippi. Prior to recording, he worked at many occupations. King later became active with the Civil Rights Movement which inspired him to write socially conscious blues songs. He described his music as struggling blues because of its focus on the […]

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