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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
February 26, 1928 Antoine Dominique “Fats” Domino, pianist, singer, and songwriter, was born in New Orleans, Louisiana. Domino first attracted national attention with the 1949 release of “Fat Man” which is widely regarded to be the first rock and roll record to sell more than a million copies.
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.
February 16, 1932 Otis Blackwell, singer, pianist, and songwriter, was born in Brooklyn, New York. Blackwell learned to play the piano as a child. In 1952, he won a talent contest at the Apollo Theater, but his real love was songwriting.
February 10, 1937 Roberta Flack, singer, songwriter and musician, was born in Black Mountain, North Carolina. During her early teens, Flack so excelled at classical piano that Howard University awarded her a full music scholarship at the age of 15 and she graduated at the age of 19.
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- April 21st in African American History – Nina Simone
- October 7th in African American History – Sargent Claude Johnson
- August 11th in African American History – Bud Billiken Parade and Picnic
- James Baskett – February 16th in African American History
- May 16th in African American History – Sammy Davis, Jr.