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H. B. Barnum

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Information about H. B. Barnum

Profile image of H. B. Barnum

Profession

Category:
MusicMakers
Occupation(s):
Music Producer

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Purple
Favorite Food:
Cobbler (Peach)
Favorite Time of Year:
None
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Golfing
Favorite Quote:
Praise The Lord.

Birthplace

Born:
7/15/1936
Birth Location:
Houston, Texas

Profession

Category:
MusicMakers
Occupation(s):
Music Producer

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Purple
Favorite Food:
Cobbler (Peach)
Favorite Time of Year:
None
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Golfing
Favorite Quote:
Praise The Lord.

Birthplace

Born:
7/15/1936
Birth Location:
Houston
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Biography

Legendary music producer and arranger H. B. Barnum has worked with an extraordinary cross-spectrum of performers in his long career. Barnum was born Hidle Brown Barnum, Jr., on July 15, 1936, in Houston, Texas. At age four, he won a nationwide talent contest for his singing and piano playing, which launched a film and radio career that included appearances on Amos ‘n’ Andy and The Jack Benny Program. Barnum recorded his first solo album at the age of fourteen as Pee Wee Barnum. He attended Manual Arts High School in Los Angeles, California.

In 1955, Barnum co-founded the short-lived doo-wop group, The Dootones, at the request of Dootone label owner, Dootsie Williams. When the group broke up, he joined another doo-wop group, The Robins. Barnum began producing for The Robins in 1958, and also recorded a single on his own. Barnum had his first major hit as a producer when Dodie Stevens’ “Tan Shoes and Pink Shoelaces” reached the U.S. Top 5 in 1959. Although he recorded three albums during the 1960s – The Record, The Big Voice of Barnum – H. B., That Is, and Everyone Loves H. B. – Barnum, That Is – as well as the hit single “Lost Love,” his work as a producer and an arranger began to outpace his musical career. Barnum’s reputation flourished after he joined Capitol Records, where he often worked in collaboration with producer and longtime friend David Axelrod, forging an innovative orchestral jazz-funk sensibility much copied and sampled in later decades. Barnum has arranged for many notable musicians including Gladys Knight & The Pips, Johnny Bristol, Lamont Dozier, Jimmy Norman, Aretha Franklin, Count Basie, Etta James, Nancy Wilson, Martha Reeves, The Temptations, The Jackson 5, The Marvelettes, O.C. Smith, Frank Sinatra, Lou Rawls, The Supremes, Al Wilson, B.B. King and Puff Daddy. By the mid-1970s, Barnum switched from pop music to television, scoring countless series and specials in addition to composing numerous advertising jingles. He won international awards for his musical compositions for commercials. Barnum has claimed to be responsible for around 100 gold LPs and 160 gold singles.

Beginning in 1967, Barnum has held an annual Thanksgiving dinner for the homeless in his Los Angeles community. In 1981, he founded and began directing H. B. Barnum’s Life Choir, a large well-known gospel group that assists him in helping feed nearly one thousand needy people every Thanksgiving. Barnum has also served as minister of music at St. Paul’s Baptist Church of Los Angeles.

See how H. B. Barnum is related to other HistoryMakers
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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of H. B. Barnum's interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - H. B. Barnum lists his favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - H. B. Barnum describes his mother's family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - H. B. Barnum talks about his mother's dreams and aspirations
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - H. B. Barnum talks about his father's family background and career
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - H. B. Barnum remembers leaving Texas with his mother
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - H. B. Barnum remembers becoming a child radio actor in Los Angeles, California
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - H. B. Barnum describes the Aliso Village in Los Angeles, California
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - H. B. Barnum describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - H. B. Barnum describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood, pt. 2
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - H. B. Barnum remembers his mother's jobs
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - H. B. Barnum rememberrs Eddie "Rochester" Anderson and Nick Stewart
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - H. B. Barnum describes his extracurricular activities
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - H. B. Barnum remembers Hollenbeck Junior High School in Los Angeles, California, pt. 1
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - H. B. Barnum remembers Hollenbeck Junior High School in Los Angeles, California, pt. 2
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - H. B. Barnum describes the fights between students at Hollenback Junior High School
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - H. B. Barnum recalls registering at Manual Arts High School in Los Angeles, California
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - H. B. Barnum recalls meeting his childhood mentor
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - H. B. Barnum recalls his early musical talent
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - H. B. Barnum remembers playing on the football team at Manual Arts High School, Los Angeles, California
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - H. B. Barnum remembers his early aspirations
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - H. B. Barnum remembers playing in bands as a teenager
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - H. B. Barnum talks about H. B. Barnum and the Circats
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - H. B. Barnum remembers his early touring experiences
  • Tape: 3 Story: 8 - H. B. Barnum describes his experiences of racial discrimination in Tennessee, pt. 1
  • Tape: 3 Story: 9 - H. B. Barnum describes his experiences of racial discrimination in Tennessee, pt. 2
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - H. B. Barnum recalls being stopped by the police in Florida
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - H. B. Barnum describes an experience of discriminatory policing in Sanderson, Texas
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - H. B. Barnum remembers performing with The Dootones
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - H. B. Barnum remembers his start as a music arranger
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - H. B. Barnum talks about his record labels
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - H. B. Barnum remembers writing the arrangement of 'Pink Shoe Laces'
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - H. B. Barnum recalls his attempt to play at country music club in Los Angeles, California
  • Tape: 4 Story: 8 - H. B. Barnum remembers his recordings in the late 1950s
  • Tape: 4 Story: 9 - H. B. Barnum talks about his music's popularity in Europe
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - H. B. Barnum remembers serving as Dinah Washington's pianist
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - H. B. Barnum remembers recording Lou Rawls' 'Live!' album
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - H. B. Barnum recalls recording the music of O.C. Smith
  • Tape: 5 Story: 4 - H. B. Barnum remembers his work with the O'Jays
  • Tape: 5 Story: 5 - H. B. Barnum recalls buying a home in the Hollywood Hills of Los Angeles, California, pt. 1
  • Tape: 5 Story: 6 - H. B. Barnum recalls buying a home in the Hollywood Hills of Los Angeles, California, pt. 2
  • Tape: 5 Story: 7 - H. B. Barnum talks about his annual Thanksgiving dinner
  • Tape: 5 Story: 8 - H. B. Barnum remembers his paternal aunt
  • Tape: 5 Story: 9 - H. B. Barnum talks about writing musical arrangements for commercials
  • Tape: 5 Story: 10 - H. B. Barnum remembers establishing the LIFE Choir
  • Tape: 6 Story: 1 - H. B. Barnum describes the LIFE choir
  • Tape: 6 Story: 2 - H. B. Barnum reflects upon the lessons of older generations
  • Tape: 6 Story: 3 - H. B. Barnum talks about his musical arrangement clientele
  • Tape: 6 Story: 4 - H. B. Barnum remembers learning to write music arrangements
  • Tape: 6 Story: 5 - H. B. Barnum reflects upon the universality of music
  • Tape: 6 Story: 6 - H. B. Barnum remembers conducting the Cincinnati Orchestra
  • Tape: 6 Story: 7 - H. B. Barnum recalls meeting Placido Domingo's conductor
  • Tape: 6 Story: 8 - H. B. Barnum talks about the politics of musicians' contracts
  • Tape: 6 Story: 9 - H. B. Barnum describes his sister's career
  • Tape: 6 Story: 10 - H. B. Barnum talks about his early musical performances
  • Tape: 7 Story: 1 - H. B. Barnum remembers an Aretha Franklin show in Paris, France, pt. 1
  • Tape: 7 Story: 2 - H. B. Barnum remembers an Aretha Franklin show in Paris, France, pt. 2
  • Tape: 7 Story: 3 - H. B. Barnum remembers dealing with gangsters at Aretha Franklin's concerts
  • Tape: 7 Story: 4 - H. B. Barnum reflects upon his life
  • Tape: 7 Story: 5 - H. B. Barnum reflects upon his legacy
  • Tape: 7 Story: 6 - H. B. Barnum talks about his family
  • Tape: 7 Story: 7 - H. B. Barnum describes how he would like to be remembered