Mercer Ellington  Mercer Kennedy Ellington (11 March 1919  8 February 1996) was an American jazz trumpeter composer and arranger.  Biography Ellington was born in Washington DC the son of the composer pianist and bandleader Duke Ellington and Edna Thompson. By the age of eighteen he had written his first piece to be recorded by his father (Pigeons and Peppers).  In 1939 19461949 and 1959 he led his own bands many of whose members went on to play with his father or to achieve independent…

Mercer Ellington Mercer Kennedy Ellington (11 March 1919 8 February 1996) was an American jazz trumpeter composer and arranger. Biography Ellington was born in Washington DC the son of the composer pianist and bandleader Duke Ellington and Edna Thompson. By the age of eighteen he had written his first piece to be recorded by his father (Pigeons and Peppers). In 1939 19461949 and 1959 he led his own bands many of whose members went on to play with his father or to achieve independent…

Duke Ellington Edward Kennedy Duke Ellington (April 29 1899  May 24 1974) was an American composer pianist and bandleader of jazz orchestras. He led his orchestra from 1923 until his death his career spanning over 50 years.  Born in Washington D.C. Ellington was based in New York City from the mid-1920s onward and gained a national profile through his orchestras appearances at the Cotton Club in Harlem. In the 1930s his orchestra toured in Europe. Though widely considered to have been a…

Duke Ellington Edward Kennedy Duke Ellington (April 29 1899 May 24 1974) was an American composer pianist and bandleader of jazz orchestras. He led his orchestra from 1923 until his death his career spanning over 50 years. Born in Washington D.C. Ellington was based in New York City from the mid-1920s onward and gained a national profile through his orchestras appearances at the Cotton Club in Harlem. In the 1930s his orchestra toured in Europe. Though widely considered to have been a…

Billy Eckstine William Clarence Billy Eckstine (July 8 1914 March 8 1993) was an American singer and a bandleader of the swing era. Eckstines recording of I Apologize (MGM 1948) was awarded the Grammy Hall of Fame Award in 1999. Biography Eckstines paternal grandparents were William F. Eckstein and Nannie Eckstein a mixed-race married couple who lived in Washington D.C.; both were born in 1863. William F. was born in Prussia and Nannie in Virginia. His parents were William Eckstein a…

Billy Eckstine William Clarence Billy Eckstine (July 8 1914 March 8 1993) was an American singer and a bandleader of the swing era. Eckstines recording of I Apologize (MGM 1948) was awarded the Grammy Hall of Fame Award in 1999. Biography Eckstines paternal grandparents were William F. Eckstein and Nannie Eckstein a mixed-race married couple who lived in Washington D.C.; both were born in 1863. William F. was born in Prussia and Nannie in Virginia. His parents were William Eckstein a…

Niecy Nash Carol Denise Niecy Nash (née Carol Denise Ensley; born February 23 1970) is an American comedian model actress and producer best known for her performances on television.  Nash hosted Style Network show Clean House from 2003 to 2010 for which she won the Emmy Award in 2010. As actress she is best known for her role as Deputy Raineesha Williams in the Comedy Central comedy series Reno 911! (2003-2009). She is starring as Lolli Ballantine on the TV Land sitcom The Soul Man…

Niecy Nash Carol Denise Niecy Nash (née Carol Denise Ensley; born February 23 1970) is an American comedian model actress and producer best known for her performances on television. Nash hosted Style Network show Clean House from 2003 to 2010 for which she won the Emmy Award in 2010. As actress she is best known for her role as Deputy Raineesha Williams in the Comedy Central comedy series Reno 911! (2003-2009). She is starring as Lolli Ballantine on the TV Land sitcom The Soul Man…

Willi Smith Willi Donnell Smith (February 29 1948  April 17 1990) was an American fashion designer regarded at the time of his death as one of the most successful young African-American designers in the industry. His company Williwear Ltd. sold $25 million worth of clothing a year.  Biography Smith was born in Philadelphia Pennsylvania and studied commercial art at Mastbaum Technical High School and attended Philadelphia College of Art for fashion illustration. He then moved to New York to…

Willi Smith Willi Donnell Smith (February 29 1948 April 17 1990) was an American fashion designer regarded at the time of his death as one of the most successful young African-American designers in the industry. His company Williwear Ltd. sold $25 million worth of clothing a year. Biography Smith was born in Philadelphia Pennsylvania and studied commercial art at Mastbaum Technical High School and attended Philadelphia College of Art for fashion illustration. He then moved to New York to…

Dr. Walter Turnbull  Dr. Walter Turnbull (19 July 1944 in Greenville Mississippi  23 March 2007) was an African American musician and the founder of the Boys Choir of Harlem. Turnbull graduated from Tougaloo College where he studied classical music and vocal performance.  He moved to New York City in 1968 and in addition to continuing his education at the Manhattan School of Music started to perform as a tenor with the New York Philharmonic. He also began teaching music at a Harlem church…

Dr. Walter Turnbull Dr. Walter Turnbull (19 July 1944 in Greenville Mississippi 23 March 2007) was an African American musician and the founder of the Boys Choir of Harlem. Turnbull graduated from Tougaloo College where he studied classical music and vocal performance. He moved to New York City in 1968 and in addition to continuing his education at the Manhattan School of Music started to perform as a tenor with the New York Philharmonic. He also began teaching music at a Harlem church…

Moses Hogan Moses George Hogan (March 13 1957  February 11 2003) was an American composer and arranger of choral music. He was best known for his settings of African-American spirituals. Hogan was a pianist conductor and arranger of international renown. His works are celebrated and performed by high school college church community and professional choirs today. His most famous work today is The Oxford Book of Spirituals created in 2002. He died at the age of 45 of a brain tumor and his…

Moses Hogan Moses George Hogan (March 13 1957 February 11 2003) was an American composer and arranger of choral music. He was best known for his settings of African-American spirituals. Hogan was a pianist conductor and arranger of international renown. His works are celebrated and performed by high school college church community and professional choirs today. His most famous work today is The Oxford Book of Spirituals created in 2002. He died at the age of 45 of a brain tumor and his…

Carmen McRae Carmen Mercedes McRae (April 8 1920 November 10 1994) was an American jazz singer composer pianist and actress. Considered one of the most influential jazz vocalists of the 20th century it was her behind-the-beat phrasing and her ironic interpretations of song lyrics that made her memorable. McRae drew inspiration from Billie Holiday but established her own distinctive voice. She went on to record more than 60 albums enjoying a rich musical career performing and recording in the…

Carmen McRae Carmen Mercedes McRae (April 8 1920 November 10 1994) was an American jazz singer composer pianist and actress. Considered one of the most influential jazz vocalists of the 20th century it was her behind-the-beat phrasing and her ironic interpretations of song lyrics that made her memorable. McRae drew inspiration from Billie Holiday but established her own distinctive voice. She went on to record more than 60 albums enjoying a rich musical career performing and recording in the…

Patricia Roberts Harris  Patricia Roberts Harris (May 31 1924  March 23 1985) served in the American administration of President Jimmy Carter as United States Secretary of Housing and Urban Development and United States Secretary of Health Education and Welfare (which was renamed the Secretary of Health and Human Services during her tenure). She was the first African American woman to serve in the United States Cabinet and the first to enter the line of succession to the Presidency. She…

Patricia Roberts Harris Patricia Roberts Harris (May 31 1924 March 23 1985) served in the American administration of President Jimmy Carter as United States Secretary of Housing and Urban Development and United States Secretary of Health Education and Welfare (which was renamed the Secretary of Health and Human Services during her tenure). She was the first African American woman to serve in the United States Cabinet and the first to enter the line of succession to the Presidency. She…

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