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George E. Lewis

Trombonist and musical composer George E. Lewis was born on July 14, 1952 in Chicago, Illinois to Cornelia Griffith Lewis and George Lewis. He graduated from the University of Chicago Laboratory School in 1969, and went on to receive his B.A. degree in philosophy from Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut in 1974. Later, he received his D.Mus. degree from the University of Edinburgh in 2015.

Lewis was first taught to play the trombone at the University of Chicago Laboratory School; he later took private lessons with graduate students. At the age of nineteen, he joined the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians and studied at the Association’s School of Music. There, he learned composition with Muhal Richard Abrams and trombone with Dean Hey. Lewis began to explore computer programming in the early 1970s. Between 1985 and 1987, he wrote the software program Voyager, which was designed to improvise and interact with human musicians. In a recording entitled “Voyager”, released in 1993, Lewis and saxophonist Roscoe Mitchell played duets with the computer software program. Lewis continued to produce music during this time, and became a curator of music at the New York non-profit arts organization The Kitchen in 1990. In 1991 he was named a professor of Music, Critical Studies/Experimental Practice at the University of California-San Diego. In 2004, he became the Edwin H. Case Professor of American Music at New York’s Columbia University, where he was named director of the Center for Jazz Studies in 2007. Lewis produced hundreds of compositions over his career.

Lewis wrote numerous journal articles and one book on the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians. In 2015, he co-edited a two-volume collection entitled The Oxford Handbook of Critical Improvisation Studies. Lewis received numerous awards for his work, including several grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, a Cal Arts Alpert Award in the Arts in 1999, and a 2002 MacArthur Genius Fellowship. In 2015, he was awarded a Guggenheim fellowship. Lewis toured extensively across North America, Europe, and Asia, and his work was performed by the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, London Philharmonic Orchestra, Boston Modern Orchestra Project, and others. His book, A Power Stronger Than Itself: The AACM and American Experimental Music received the American Book Award and American Musicological Society’s Music in American Culture Award.

Lewis and his wife, Miya Masaoka, have a son named Tadashi.

George E. Lewis was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on October 24, 2016.

Accession Number

A2016.107

Sex

Male

Interview Date

10/24/2016

Last Name

Lewis

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Emanuel

Occupation
Schools

Walter Scott School

University of Chicago Laboratory Schools

Yale University

First Name

George

Birth City, State, Country

Chicago

HM ID

LEW22

Favorite Season

Spring, Summer

State

Illinois

Favorite Vacation Destination

None

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

7/14/1952

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Sushi, Salmon, Chicken

Short Description

Trombonist and music composer George E. Lewis (1952 - ) was a leading figure in the field of computer music and improvisation. He composed hundreds of compositions, and served as the Edwin H. Case Professor of American Music at Columbia University.

Employment

CNA Insurance

Freelance Artist

The Kitchen Center for Video, Dance, Music, and Performance

Koninklijke Conservatorium Den Haag

Simon Fraser University

School of the Art Institute of Chicago

University of California

Mills College

Milton Avery School of the Arts, Bard College MFA

The Kitchen

Edwin H. Case Professor of American Music, Columbia University

Favorite Color

None

Timing Pairs
0,0:648,7:4640,103:15260,235:19550,337:21310,362:25578,390:28050,411:31947,446:33423,459:40383,534:56810,815:63388,911:63952,918:69588,992:70133,1031:83656,1275:94862,1515:95266,1521:95670,1526:115876,1765:124622,2042:127736,2052:131818,2098:134626,2153:137650,2171:145604,2532:160636,2635:170081,2781:174753,2875:175191,2882:178280,2887:179405,2916:181880,2969:182630,2980:183305,2992:183755,3003:184355,3012:186230,3056:187805,3090:189830,3127:196475,3201:202765,3357:206335,3418:211494,3450:211908,3458:216393,3614:216945,3624:221042,3674:224177,3739:230093,3821:237401,3989:237923,4005:241840,4015:243680,4103:258094,4297:258675,4305:263242,4333:264122,4349:267994,4416:271250,4478:273010,4512:279076,4584:280732,4608:282043,4626:286666,4723:288322,4793:288598,4798:295002,4828:295418,4833:295938,4839:297082,4865:307650,4964$0,0:2079,24:4356,59:14652,204:15048,209:25550,270:27070,300:27630,310:28830,336:33550,424:49644,645:53163,723:53991,737:67655,937:68488,947:68964,953:72454,999:76754,1175:77786,1187:97784,1599:98440,1613:99096,1621:101474,1653:102458,1672:106010,1679:113831,1780:114425,1790:115910,1811:116603,1821:119474,1916:134092,2114:137312,2314:163820,2683
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of George E. Lewis' interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - George E. Lewis lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - George E. Lewis describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - George E. Lewis talks about his mother's move to Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - George E. Lewis describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - George E. Lewis describes his parents' marriage

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - George E. Lewis describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - George E. Lewis describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - George E. Lewis remembers the Walter Scott School in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - George E. Lewis remembers his transfer to the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - George E. Lewis recalls his teachers at the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - George E. Lewis remembers his decision to play the trombone

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - George E. Lewis recalls his musical training at the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - George E. Lewis describes his social life at the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - George E. Lewis talks about his transition to private schooling

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - George E. Lewis remembers his decision to attend Yale University

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - George E. Lewis recalls the civil unrest in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - George E. Lewis describes his experiences at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - George E. Lewis remembers meeting Anthony Davis at Yale University

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - George E. Lewis recalls his leave of absence from Yale University

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - George E. Lewis describes the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - George E. Lewis describes the ideology of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - George E. Lewis recalls performing with the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - George E. Lewis talks about the members of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - George E. Lewis describes the emphasis on composition at the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - George E. Lewis recalls his activities while on leave from Yale University

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - George E. Lewis recalls studying music and philosophy at Yale University

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - George E. Lewis talks about his membership in the Skull and Bones society, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - George E. Lewis talks about his membership in the Skull and Bones society, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - George E. Lewis describes his interest in early computer technology

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - George E. Lewis recalls joining the Count Basie Orchestra

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - George E. Lewis remembers touring with the Count Basie Orchestra

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - George E. Lewis talks about experimenting with free jazz

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - George E. Lewis describes the influence of Count Basie on his career

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$4

DAStory

1$7

DATitle
George E. Lewis recalls studying music and philosophy at Yale University
George E. Lewis talks about experimenting with free jazz
Transcript
You go back to Yale [Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut], this is though, I guess your third year that you're in Yale, right?$$Yeah, third year, yeah, I didn't--finished it in four, I ended up finishing in four years, yeah.$$And, while you're there, since you've had the AACM [Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians] experience, what are you doing at Yale with music at this reentry point?$$Well it's very interesting. I was disappointed with, you know, becoming a music major, you know, I was having a hard time with that for a number of reasons, I have no idea why I sort of, I sort of squeaked by like, you know, total harmony and things like that, did okay in that, but it wasn't that great. But I had some, I had some pretty good teachers. Lazarus Ekwueme was freshman, you know, he's a great Nigerian musicologist and theorist, he was teaching there then, so I had some pretty cool people there, Mr. Tirro [Frank Tirro] wasn't there at the time but he later came later--$$Yeah.$$--became the, yeah, he became the dean of the school of music. So (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) After you left?$$Well after I left.$$Um-hm.$$But I got back, but I said, "Well I don't know if I wanna major in music again, you know?" He said, "Okay well you don't have to major in music, but you should go back," this is when Muhal [Muhal Richard Abrams] and these people were telling me, you should, you should go back. So, have you thought about anything else you might wanna major in? I said "Well, that, that book you gave me, 'Genealogy of Morals' ['On the Genealogy of Morality,' Friedrich Nietzsche], that looked like a pretty good book, I could probably--maybe if that's a kind of philosophy, right? Maybe I could do that." He said, "I think that would be a good idea," you know, they'd all been reading, like him and Phil Cohran [HistoryMaker Philip Cohran], they'd all been reading Nietzsche [Friedrich Nietzsche]. So, so I went back as a philosophy major and that's how I finished.$$And how has philosophy affected your art, your music?$$Well I fell in with a good crowd there when I got to--I started doing the philosophical work, the guy who almost flunked me in total harmony became interested in phenomenology, and he wrote a kind of what's now a famous book called, 'Music as Heard' [Music As Heard: A Study in Applied Phenomenology'], Thomas Clifton. So, and he was doing a seminar, he hadn't written the book yet, but he was interested in this, he was interested in exploring the phenomenology of music, so I took the course, I just said, "Well let's see what happens here, you know? I'll take this course, I don't wanna do that much music but, you know, this sounds like my kind of thing."$$So the phenomenology of music, what does that mean?$$Well, you know, phenomenology being this branch of philosophy that deals with experience, and rather than being, you know, there's the being thing and there's the ontology and there's the experience there, what people are actually experiencing and how they experience it and describing that. So there's this phenomenal logic, the description of phenomena, so they don't make any claim that the phenomena are real, it's just like that's what you're experiencing so you describe that and you kind of try to figure out what that or how that gets grounded. So, there's a famous book by one of the founders of that field, Edmund Husserl, a German phenomenologist who, the book is called 'Phenomenology of Internal Time-Consciousness' ['The Phenomenology of Internal Time-Consciousness'], where he's trying to think, get people to think about how people understand and experience time, so he uses music as an example, so. And that's what these guys were doing, these two professors, David Carr and Thomas Clifton, team teaching this class, we were reading Husserl, we're reading all this stuff, they had a lot of phenomenologists at Yale at the time, later they all got fired but they're all still in wonderful places now. So that was, that actually wa- I was able to work on music and phenomenology at the same time and to work on improvisation, which is something I had become interested in and sort of fi--it could have been Tom or David or it could have been Ed Casey [Edward S. Casey], but somehow I found myself writing about improvisation and the phenomenon, the experience of improvisation, the temporal experience of it and all that, so that's something I still do.$$Did you feel like AACM prepared you for that, like their opening the door to (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Oh yeah--$$--to no style--$$--well because they were, it's a research, it's like a think tank, the AACM is like a self-funded think tank--$$Um-hm.$$--with no money really, the think tank is in your head, you have to kind of use your head as a think tank, you can talk about anything with anyone, you know? It was very intellectually broad minded, open ended, cosmopolitan, all that stuff, you know?$When you were doing the same sets every night, having come from a very free form of creating and performing music, was there ever any conflict for you in having to do the same thing over and over, or was that possibly why you did your free form when you did?$$Well, you know, you're always free, you know, you play your solo and you're free, and you figure out how to use that freedom in the environment, it's not like the, having to play the twelve-bar blues, it's some sort of, you know, slave setup, you know, you work with the environment. That's what you do as an improviser, so it's nothing unfree about it at all. And, you know, it's a different sort of freedom and you're dealing with a different relationship to materials and methods, but also when you get up there and play, you can do whatever you wanna do. And I thought th- you know the quasi-Cage [John Cage] thing was the ultimate sort of expression of that and it was like, you know, people thought it was okay, I mean maybe, one person didn't, Al Grey didn't think it was okay. But I mean (laughter)--$$And what did he say?$$Well Bill [Bill Hughes] said he went to Basie [Count Basie] and complained, he said, "Well this guy is," says, "he might not be taking care of the music, you know?" But, you know, and then Bill said, "No, no, he's taking care of the music," and that was all Basie really cared about, is he playing the music? If he plays the music, if he can't play the music he's got to go.$$Um-hm.$$But, if he's playing the music, well I didn't know any of this was going on, so I didn't know about it. But I don't look at it as being a real contrast, I mean maybe for myself, I wouldn't choose that kind of way of expressing, but then I'm me and not Count Basie. But, other than that, he was a figure of real leadership, you know, he, people revered him and the band, and I went to see the band later after I just, I wasn't there that long.$$What year were you there?$$Seventy-six [1976].$$Um-hm.$$April to, yeah probably March and April, something like that, but the name new boy stuck, I guess, so after that, whoever came in they started calling him the new boy and so, so I met this guy on the train and he said, "Aren't you the original new boy?" I said, "What?" Said, "Well I played with the band too but, you know, you were the original new boy, we heard about you." I said, "Wait a minute now, this is like twenty years later what do you mean the new boy?" And so, I guess whatever it was, that name new boy stuck, so it was kind of a nice name I guess or whatever they were doing, I didn't know, I couldn't doubt I was the original new boy that's probably just something they made up.

Herbie Hancock

Pianist and composer Herbert Jeffrey "Herbie" Hancock was born on April 12, 1940 in Chicago, Illinois to Winnie Belle and Wayman Edward Hancock. Hancock began to study music at age seven, and performed a Mozart piano concerto with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra by age eleven. He played jazz in high school and double-majored in music and electrical engineering at Grinnell College.

In 1960, Hancock was discovered by trumpeter Donald Byrd. After two years of session work with Byrd, as well as Phil Woods and Oliver Nelson, he signed with Blue Note Records as a solo artist. Hancock’s 1963 debut album, Takin’ Off, was an immediate success, and produced the hit “Watermelon Man.” Subsequent albums on Blue Note included Maiden Voyage, Empyrean Isles, and Speak Like a Child, among others. In 1963, trumpeter Miles Davis invited Hancock to join the Miles Davis Quintet alongside Wayne Shorter, Ron Carter, and Tony Williams, where he stayed for five years. Hancock also composed the score to Michelangelo Antonioni's 1966 film Blow Up, which led to a successful career in feature film and television music.

After leaving the Davis Quintet, Hancock established his own sextet and recorded several albums, including 1971’s Mwandishi. He then formed a new band called The Headhunters and, in 1973, recorded Head Hunters for Columbia Records, which became the first jazz album to go platinum. Hancock produced eleven albums that were included in the pop charts during the 1970s. He also recorded and performed with the group V.S.O.P. in the late 1970s, toured with trumpeter Wynton Marsalis in 1980, and then collaborated with producer Bill Laswell in the mid-1980s. Hancock later moved to the Verve record label and formed a band to record 1996's The New Standard. He then released 1 1 with Wayne Shorter in 1997. Hancock reunited with The Headhunters in 1998 and, that same year, collaborated with a number of artists on his multiple Grammy Award-winning album Gershwin's World. His albums in the 2000s included Future2Future, Directions In Music: Live at Massey Hall, Possibilities, The Imagine Project, and River: The Joni Letters, which won him the Grammy Award for Album of the Year in 2008.

Hancock has been named by the Los Angeles Philharmonic as Creative Chair For Jazz. He also serves as Institute Chairman of the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz, and as the 2014 Charles Eliot Norton Professor of Poetry at Harvard University. In addition, he is a founder of The International Committee of Artists for Peace, and was designated an honorary UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador in 2011.

In all, Hancock has released over forty albums and received fourteen Grammy Awards. He also received an Oscar Award for composing the score to 1986’s Round Midnight. His other honors include a Soul Train Music Award, a U.S. Radio Award, and multiple BMI Film Music Awards and MTV Video Awards. He was also awarded the “Commandeur des Arts et des Lettres” by French Prime Minister Francois Fillon.

Herbie Hancock was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on November 13, 2014.

Accession Number

A2014.260

Sex

Male

Interview Date

11/13/2014

Last Name

Hancock

Maker Category
Middle Name

Jeffrey

Occupation
Schools

Hyde Park Academy High School

Grinnell College

Forrestville Elementary School

First Name

Herbert

Birth City, State, Country

Chicago

HM ID

HAN05

Favorite Season

None

State

Illinois

Favorite Vacation Destination

Home

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

California

Birth Date

4/12/1940

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Los Angeles

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Meatloaf

Short Description

Pianist and music composer Herbie Hancock (1940 - ) was a fourteen time Grammy Award-winning artist. He played with numerous jazz ensembles and released over forty albums.

Employment

Blue Note Records

Miles Davis Quintet

Herbie Hancock Sextet

The Headhunters

Favorite Color

None

Timing Pairs
0,0:2105,45:6112,89:6444,94:7274,123:7689,129:8021,134:12132,204:12536,209:18224,267:18860,275:19390,281:22146,316:22888,326:27244,351:27764,357:28700,367:30950,385:31856,393:35302,428:36420,451:37194,461:41380,496:49078,579:53407,620:55738,650:57736,679:65973,746:81760,901:82615,911:83185,918:108873,1175:109157,1180:110293,1203:110790,1212:119782,1287:120074,1292:124220,1336:129100,1410:134944,1490:137335,1512:137725,1560:163056,1755:169960,1794:174932,1847:181724,1938:188905,2025:191084,2048:199490,2108:199970,2116:204844,2155:205996,2184:206428,2192:213371,2319:214449,2334:215604,2505:226260,2623:238730,2707$0,0:26621,336:26953,353:27700,360:28281,368:41828,486:42465,494:44831,532:45559,541:51644,595:52292,626:63349,803:64186,819:65674,854:68929,898:69301,903:76204,919:77610,935:77890,940:80336,953:85605,1003:90810,1059:91158,1064:92550,1090:94808,1122:95156,1129:97641,1155:100170,1194:106664,1260:108008,1275:110180,1287:112622,1320:125526,1400:125838,1405:130980,1501:132240,1530:134236,1547:136657,1560:137133,1565:159790,1829:160438,1845:168410,1980:176160,2067:176730,2073:178560,2091:179288,2101:179925,2109:184974,2132:203660,2276:210820,2360
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Herbie Hancock's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Herbie Hancock lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Herbie Hancock describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Herbie Hancock talks about how his parents met

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Herbie Hancock lists his siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Herbie Hancock describes his sister's career

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Herbie Hancock talks about his father's education and profession

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Herbie Hancock remembers his mother's mental illness

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Herbie Hancock describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Herbie Hancock remembers his neighborhood in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Herbie Hancock describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Herbie Hancock recalls the music of his youth

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Herbie Hancock describes the Regal Theater and Metropolitan Theatre in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Herbie Hancock remembers his first piano

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Herbie Hancock describes his early piano teachers

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Herbie Hancock recalls his experiences with sports

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Herbie Hancock recalls winning the Young People's Concerts contest

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Herbie Hancock remembers performing with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at eleven years old

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Herbie Hancock shares a story from his travels in Africa

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Herbie Hancock recalls learning a new piece for his performance with Chicago Symphony Orchestra

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Herbie Hancock remembers organizing a jazz concert at Grinnell College in Grinnell, Iowa

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Herbie Hancock describes the racial demographics of Hyde Park High School in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Herbie Hancock describes his introduction to jazz

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Herbie Hancock recalls listening to George Shearing

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Herbie Hancock talks about his early exposure to jazz music

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Herbie Hancock recalls his decision to attend Grinnell College in Grinnell, Iowa

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Herbie Hancock remembers his classmates at Grinnell College

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Herbie Hancock talks about attending Jack and Jill of America, Inc. events

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Herbie Hancock recalls his academic achievements

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Herbie Hancock describes his experiences at Grinnell College

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Herbie Hancock recalls majoring in engineering at Grinnell College

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Herbie Hancock describes the music department at Grinnell College

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Herbie Hancock remembers his summer job at the post office

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Herbie Hancock recalls balancing his music career with his work at the post office

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Herbie Hancock remembers the jazz musicians at Grinnell College in Grinnell, Iowa

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Herbie Hancock recalls his first performance with Donald Byrd and Pepper Adams

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Herbie Hancock remembers joining Donald Byrd's band

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Herbie Hancock recalls living as a struggling jazz musician in New York City

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Herbie Hancock remembers moving in with Donald Byrd

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Herbie Hancock talks about the mentorship of Donald Byrd

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Herbie Hancock recalls finding the courage to write his own compositions

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Herbie Hancock talks about the start of his music writing career

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Herbie Hancock recalls being approached by Miles Davis

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Herbie Hancock remembers buying his first sports car, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Herbie Hancock remembers buying his first sports car, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Herbie Hancock describes his early performances in New York City

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Herbie Hancock describes the process of composing 'Watermelon Man'

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Herbie Hancock remembers performing with Mongo Santamaria

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Herbie Hancock describes his early understanding of the music industry

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Herbie Hancock talks about developing his craft with other pianists from Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Herbie Hancock recalls meeting Tony Williams

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Herbie Hancock remembers auditioning for Miles Davis

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Herbie Hancock talks about the formation of Miles Davis' Second Great Quintet

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Herbie Hancock recalls developing the post-bop style of jazz with Miles Davis

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Herbie Hancock remembers recording 'Live at the Plugged Nickel 1965'

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Herbie Hancock describes the Second Great Quintet's improvisational style

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Herbie Hancock talks about the lack of a bandleader in the Second Great Quintet

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Herbie Hancock recalls lessons from his time with Miles Davis

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Herbie Hancock reflects upon his career with Miles Davis

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$5

DAStory

7$10

DATitle
Herbie Hancock recalls finding the courage to write his own compositions
Herbie Hancock remembers auditioning for Miles Davis
Transcript
Now, Horace Silver, his records were his own compositions and his records sold. Why did they sell? 'Cause they were like funky jazz compositions. People seem to like that. So, I started to think, I'm from Chicago [Illinois], that's a blues town. And, if I can't write a funky jazz tune, something's wrong. So, anyway, I decided that I wanted to write something that was honestly from my experience as an African American, from my neighborhood. Something that was, you know, truly ethnic. Because, I mean, that's where the whole funky thing came from. So, since I hadn't experienced being in a chain gang or, or being beaten, or being in the South and abused, I was from Chicago. And, so, I started thinking, okay, who's the most ethnic character I would think of? And, it was the watermelon man. But, I started to think, I don't know if I wanna write a tune called 'Watermelon Man' 'cause there was stigma attached to watermelons. And, that stigma was this image of the (air quotes) pickaninny, you know, with big eyes, you see the white of his eyes and, you know, lip smacking, you know, the watermelon. It was very like a stereotypical negative--that was the idea that it was a negative image of black people. And, so, I didn't wanna call attention to that. I mean, at that time, and it sounds ridiculous today. But, black people would buy watermelons in a black neighborhood. Black people would not buy watermelons in a grocery store in a white neighborhood because of that stigma. It just wasn't done. So, but, I started to think about that, you know. And, I, I thought, okay. Maybe I could call it the vegetable man. But, that didn't fly. So, I said, okay. How can I work this? I started thinking, okay. Is there anything wrong with watermelons? Nope. Tasty, delicious, it's not unhealthy at all. It's a lot of water in it, you know. Okay, that's--the fruit is fine. Is there anything actually wrong with the watermelon man? Nope. Couldn't find anything wrong with that. So, I had no compelling argument to dissuade me from calling it 'Watermelon Man,' except my own lack of courage. So, I couldn't let myself do that. So, I said, I'm gonna have to stand up for what I believe in. It's nothing wrong with the watermelon man. I'm calling it 'Watermelon Man.' And, there was some musicians that when I told 'em I had written a song called 'Watermelon Man,' this was before I actually--yeah, maybe I had recorded it but it wasn't released yet. And, I told them that I'd written a song called 'Watermelon Man.' They said, "You're not really gonna call it that, are you?" And, I said, "Yes. I am," (laughter). And, they'd walk away shaking their head, you know.$So, anyway, he and I became really, you know, close friends, really bonded together and so this is why when Miles called me, the next thing is Tony [Tony Williams] calls me and says, "Hey, did Miles call you?" I said, "Yeah." And, he--we were both really excited about it. So, the next day we show up at Miles' house and Ron Carter, bass player, was player already there. George Coleman who had been playing with Miles along with Ron was, was already there. And, Miles--we started playing something, you know, some, maybe some standard tunes. I don't remember now what, what we started to play. And, Miles played a few notes and then took his horn and threw it on the couch and, and kind of went upstairs like it was, didn't wanna, he didn't wanna be bothered or he was disgusted or I don't know what. But, not with us but he just threw the horn down and left. And, so, Ron Carter kind of took over to proceed with us playing more music. And, this went on for three days. And, the second day Miles came down for a minute to meet two friends of his that came, came by, Philly Joe Jones, a great drummer that had played with Miles in the, in the First Great Quintet. What we call the First Great Quintet. And, Gil Evans who was the arranger of, of, some orchestra pieces with Miles, 'Miles Ahead,' 'Porgy and Bess,' and 'Sketches of Spain.' Two heroes of mine, by the way. Anyway, Miles came down to speak to them, and they listened to us for a while. And, then the third day Miles came down, he played a little bit more and then he said, "Okay, next Monday we're gonna meet at--" he said (imitates Miles Davis), "Monday we're gonna meet at Columbia, Columbia recording studio [CBS 30th Street Studio, New York, New York] at 3:30." And I, I said, "Miles, does that mean I'm in the band?" And, Miles looked at me, first thing was some expletive (laughter), and he said (imitates Miles Davis), "You're making the record." But, he had a little glint in his eye, you know. And, that was fine with me. I just, I'm thinking, I'm gonna make a record with Miles Davis. You know, beyond my wildest dreams. But, it was a combination of rehearsal and audition. And, because after we made the record, we went and played our, our first gig up in, in Maine at a, at a college and that was the beginning of a five and a half year stint with Miles Davis.

Wayne Shorter

Saxophonist and composer Wayne Shorter was born on August 25, 1933 in Newark, New Jersey. Shorter played the clarinet at Newark Arts High School, but switched to the saxophone before entering New York University in 1952. After graduating with his B.M.E. degree in 1956, Shorter worked for a short time with composer John Eaton until he was drafted into the U.S. Army for two years.

In 1958, Shorter briefly played with Horace Silver, and then joined Maynard Ferguson's big band. The following year, he joined Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers where he remained until 1963, eventually becoming the band's music director. During the Blakey period, Shorter also made his debut on records as a leader, and produced several albums for Chicago's Vee-Jay label including Introducing Wayne Shorter, Second Genesis, and Wayning Moments.

In September of 1964, Miles Davis invited Shorter to join his quintet, completing a lineup that included Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter and Tony Williams. Shorter stayed with Davis until 1970 and was one of the band's most prolific composers, contributing songs like "E.S.P.," "Pinocchio," "Nefertiti," "Sanctuary," "Footprints," "Fall," and "Prince of Darkness." Shorter also became a productive solo artist for Blue Note Records during this period, recording eleven albums including Night Dreamer, JuJu, Speak No Evil, The All Seeing Eye and Adam's Apple.

In November of 1970, Shorter teamed up with Joe Zawinul to form the jazz fusion band Weather Report. Four years later, he released the album Native Dancer, which featured Herbie Hancock and Brazilian composer and vocalist Milton Nascimento. In the late 1970s, Shorter toured with Freddie Hubbard, Hancock, Ron Carter, and Tony Williams as V.S.O.P. He then left Weather Report in 1985 and went on to record three albums on Columbia Records from 1986 to 1988.

Shorter re-emerged in 1992 with Wallace Roney and the V.S.O.P. rhythm section in the "A Tribute to Miles" band. In 1995, now on the Verve record label, Shorter released the solo album High Life; and, in 1997, released 1 1 with Herbie Hancock. Footprints Live! was released in 2002 under his own name with a new quartet, followed by Alegría in 2003 and Beyond the Sound Barrier in 2005. Without a Net, his first recording for Blue Note Records in forty-three years, was released in February of 2013.

In all, Shorter recorded over twenty albums as a bandleader, and appeared on numerous others, including several Joni Mitchell studio albums. He has also toured and recorded alongside Carlos Santana, among others. Shorter has received ten Grammy Awards; the Montreal International Jazz Festival’s Miles Davis Award; a Jazz Journalists Association Jazz Award; and Honorary Doctorate of Music degrees from the Berklee College of Music and New York University.

Wayne Shorter was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on November 11, 2014.

Accession Number

A2014.255

Sex

Male

Interview Date

11/11/2014 |and| 11/14/2014

Last Name

Shorter

Maker Category
Organizations
Schools

Arts High School

New York University

First Name

Wayne

Birth City, State, Country

Newark

HM ID

SHO03

State

New Jersey

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

California

Birth Date

8/25/1933

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Los Angeles

Country

United States

Short Description

Saxophonist and music composer Wayne Shorter (1933 - ) won ten Grammy Awards during his career, and was one of jazz’s leading figures beginning in the 1960s.

Employment

U.S. Army

Maynard Ferguson's Big Band

Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers

Miles Davis Quintet

Weather Report

Wayne Shorter Quartet

Terence Blanchard

Jazz trumpeter and composer Terence Oliver Blanchard was born on March 13, 1962 in New Orleans, Louisiana to Wilhelmina and Joseph Oliver Blanchard. Blanchard began playing piano at the age of five, but switched to trumpet three years later. While in high school, he took extracurricular classes at the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts. From 1980 to 1982, Blanchard studied at Rutgers University in New Jersey and toured with the Lionel Hampton Orchestra.

In 1982, Blanchard replaced trumpeter Wynton Marsalis in Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers, where he served as musical director until 1986. He also co-led a quintet with saxophonist Donald Harrison in the 1980s, recording five albums between 1984 and 1988. In 1991, Blanchard recorded and released his self-titled debut album for Columbia Records, which reached third on the Billboard Jazz Charts. He also composed musical scores for Spike Lee’s films, beginning with 1991’s Jungle Fever, and has written the score for every Spike Lee film since including Malcolm X, Clockers, Summer of Sam, 25th Hour, Inside Man, and Miracle At St. Anna’s. In 2006, he composed the score for Lee's four-hour Hurricane Katrina documentary for HBO entitled When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts. Blanchard also composed for other directors, including Leon Ichaso, Ron Shelton, Kasi Lemmons and George Lucas. In all, he has written over fifty film scores.

Blanchard has also recorded several award-winning albums for Columbia, Concord, Sony Classical and Blue Note Records, including Simply Stated (1992), The Malcolm X Jazz Suite (1993), In My Solitude: The Billie Holiday Songbook (1994), Romantic Defiance (1995), The Heart Speaks (1996), Wandering Moon (2000), Let's Get Lost (2001), Bounce (2003), Flow (2005), A Tale of God's Will (A Requiem for Katrina) (2007), Choices (2009), and Magnetic (2013).

In the fall of 2000, Blanchard was named artistic director of the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz at the University of Southern California. In 2011, he was appointed artistic director of the Henry Mancini Institute at the University of Miami. Blanchard also composed music for a number of Broadway plays, and, on June 15, 2013, he premiered his first opera, Champion, with the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis.

Throughout his career, Blanchard received thirteen Grammy Award nominations and won five. His other honors include an Emmy nomination, a Golden Globe nomination, a Soul Train Music nomination, two Black Reel nominations, and the Miles Davis Award from the Montreal International Jazz Festival. He received honorary degrees from Xavier University and Skidmore College in 2012.

Terence Blanchard was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on October 8, 2014.

Accession Number

A2014.248

Sex

Male

Interview Date

10/8/2014

Last Name

Blanchard

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Oliver

Schools

Mary D. Coghill Elementary School

P. A. Capdau School

St. Augustine High School

John F. Kennedy High School

New Orleans Center for Creative Arts

Rutgers University

First Name

Terence

Birth City, State, Country

New Orleans

HM ID

BLA17

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Louisiana

Favorite Vacation Destination

New Orleans, Louisiana

Favorite Quote

When You’re Creating Your Art Never Speak Above Nobody, Never Speak Beneath Them, Just Speak Straight To Them.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Louisiana

Birth Date

3/13/1962

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New Orleans

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Okra Gumbo

Short Description

Trumpet player and music composer Terence Blanchard (1962 - ) was a five-time Grammy Award-winning musician and a prolific film score composer. He released twenty jazz albums and wrote over fifty film scores for Spike Lee and other directors.

Employment

Henry Mancini Institute

Terence Blanchard

Herbie Hancock

Thelonious Monk Institute

Donald Harrison & Terence Blanchard

Art Blakey & the Jazz Messengers

Lionel Hampton

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Terence Blanchard's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Terence Blanchard lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Terence Blanchard describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Terence Blanchard remembers his father's musical talent

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Terence Blanchard describes his mother's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Terence Blanchard talks about his French heritage

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Terence Blanchard describes how his parents met

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Terence Blanchard describes his earliest childhood memories

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Terence Blanchard describes his childhood homes

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Terence Blanchard remembers living with his maternal grandmother

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Terence Blanchard talks about his early interests and aspirations

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Terence Blanchard describes his relationship with his father

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Terence Blanchard talks about his early education

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Terence Blanchard recalls his decision to attend the New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Terence Blanchard describes his education at the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Terence Blanchard recalls his friendship with Wynton Marsalis and Branford Marsalis

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Terence Blanchard recalls his decision to play the trumpet

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Terence Blanchard remembers meeting Alvin Alcorn

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Terence Blanchard recalls his decision to study music formally

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Terence Blanchard recalls his aspiration to become a musician

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Terence Blanchard recalls his early interest in jazz music

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Terence Blanchard recalls his decision to attend Rutgers University

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Terence Blanchard remembers the jazz venues in New Orleans, Louisiana

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Terence Blanchard remembers his teacher, Ellis Marsalis, Jr.

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Terence Blanchard remembers William Fielder

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Terence Blanchard talks about the importance of breath for musicians, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Terence Blanchard talks about the importance of breath for musicians, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Terence Blanchard recalls his introduction to Buddhism

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Terence Blanchard remembers playing in Lionel Hampton's band

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Terence Blanchard remembers leaving Rutgers University to tour with Art Blakey

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Terence Blanchard remembers touring with Art Blakey

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Terence Blanchard remembers Miles Davis

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Terence Blanchard recalls signing a contract with Columbia Records

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Terence Blanchard describes his composition and recording process

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Terence Blanchard talks about the messages in his music

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Terence Blanchard remembers the birth of his son

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Terence Blanchard remembers meeting his half-sister

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Terence Blanchard recalls the start of his collaborations with Spike Lee

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Terence Blanchard remembers scoring 'Malcolm X'

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Terence Blanchard describes his composition process for 'Malcolm X'

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Terence Blanchard remembers the other contributors to 'Malcolm X'

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Terence Blanchard describes his relationship with Spike Lee

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Terence Blanchard lists his film scores

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Terence Blanchard remembers scoring '4 Little Girls'

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Terence Blanchard remembers Hurricane Katrina

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Terence Blanchard remembers the destruction of his mother's home in New Orleans, Louisiana

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Terence Blanchard remembers the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Terence Blanchard talks about the response to Hurricane Katrina

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Terence Blanchard remembers scoring Spike Lee's 'When the Levees Broke'

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Terence Blanchard talks about teaching young musicians

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$2

DAStory

1$5

DATitle
Terence Blanchard remembers leaving Rutgers University to tour with Art Blakey
Terence Blanchard describes his education at the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts
Transcript
So when did you graduate college?$$I never graduated college.$$Oh, okay.$$No.$$So what's--tell me more about Rutgers [Rutgers University, The State University of New Jersey, New Brunswick, New Jersey]?$$(Laughter).$$And what, how do we go from, where do we go from Lionel Hampton--$$Yeah.$$--Rutgers (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) (Unclear) right.$$--and--$$Well, I was at Rutgers in 1980 and I was playing with Lionel Hampton. I was the first one in my immediate family--my aunt [Alice Ray Douglas] went to college but my mom [Wilhelmina Ray Blanchard] and my dad [Joseph Blanchard] didn't so I was the first one to go to college. And they were--and I went to an Ivy League school [sic.]? Please, you know, they wanted me to be a classical musician remember so I'm going, I'm going to Rutgers, "My son is at Rutgers," you know, that was a big thing. Had to come back with all the paraphernalia for everybody. And I was playing with Lionel Hampton who they also knew. And that was like--he was--I remember Ebony magazine took a picture of Lionel Hampton at some place and I was a speck in the corner of the picture, I think, I bet you Ebony sales went up that month 'cause everybody was buy- in my family was buying the magazine. So they were cool with me doing that. That was about a year and a half. All of a sudden Wynton [Wynton Marsalis] calls me up and he goes, "Hey, man, I'm leaving Art Blakey's band and I want you to audition." I'm like, "Cool." I go up and audition, didn't tell my parents, I got the gig. And I'm like oh, killing. They say we're gone leave for Europe for ten weeks and I went, "Uh-oh." So I had to call my parents and I had to tell 'em, I said, like, "Guess what? I got this gig playing with Art Blakey." "Oh, well, that's nice, that's nice." And I said, "But I think I'm gone have to leave school." (Makes sound) It was like the piano thing but even worse (laughter). Yeah. My father told me, he said--I'll never forget it--he said, "You're not my son." Yeah, that hurt me. He said, "You're not my son," he said "'cause my son wouldn't do nothing that stupid." 'Cause he didn't know who Art Blakey was, you know. And it didn't make sense to him, I was playing with Lionel Hampton on the weekends, making money and still in school and I'm gonna leave that to go play with some dude they don't know? You know, oh, man, it was, it was really, it was--it was amazing. But the thing that was cool about it, you know, me and my dad had a great relationship because at that moment he didn't talk to me for a little bit but I'll never forget when I made my first record with Art Blakey, right? Art--they called the album, they used my song as the title track, 'Oh-By the Way,' which is something that I had written when I was in high school, right. I come back with the album and I give it to my dad, like, "Man, see this is what I've been doing, this is, I'm, I'm telling you, this is the guy," then they got a picture of us on the back, you know. Like, "This, this is what I've been doing." My dad was kind of like, "Yeah, all right, whatever." But you gotta remember my dad had some jazz friends, right. So (laughter) I don't know if it was like a month, or a little while later, I get a phone call from my dad, I'm back up here in New York [New York] and my dad goes, "Hey, I was talking to Clem." Clem Tervalon [Clement Tervalon] was a trombone player in New Orleans [Louisiana], great trombone player. He said, "Yeah, I was talking to Clem and Clem told me this Art Blakey is somebody," (laughter). I said, I said, "Well, I was trying to tell you that," (laughter) you know. And that's when things started to turn around for, for me and him. And I'll never forget it--boy, I don't know what, how we got in this conversation. My dad was talking to me one day and he goes, "I'm proud of you." And I'm like, "Well, thank you," and, and he goes, "No, you don't understand." I said, "What do you mean?" He said, "If you would have listened to me," he said, 'cause he wanted me, he didn't want me to go away to school--he said, "if you would have listened to me you would have been in New Orleans, probably not doing what you wanna do, and you'd probably be bitter." He said, "And I'm proud of what you turned into." That was huge, that was really huge.$So I went to Kennedy [John F. Kennedy High School, New Orleans, Louisiana] in the morning and then at lunch time a bus would pick us up and bring us to NOCCA [New Orleans Center for Creative Arts, New Orleans, Louisiana] and my life changed overnight.$$How so?$$It was the first time in my life--and I'm not ashamed to say this--it was the first time in my life I wanted to go to school every day. I'll never forget, it hit me, you know, really hard because I was sick, I had like a flu and I was getting out of bed to get dressed and my mom [Wilhelmina Ray Blanchard] was like, "Boy, where are you going?" I'm like, "Ma, I gotta go to school," 'cause I know we were gonna be learning, I was learning something every day, you know, about music and I loved it, man, I, I loved it. I, I, I can't tell you how much, Dr. Bert Braud was my theory and analysis and composition instructor and he would challenge us, you know, to no end. And he would do things like, hey, man, you know, he knew I wanted to be a writer and he said, "Well, listen, man, you may be called upon in a session, you may have to write this horn line for five horns, all right, you got five minutes," (snaps fingers), "go do it." You know, and he would do things like that. And then he'd say, "Oh, listen, you may be in a session one place where you have to write out something so look I'm gonna give you thirty minutes to write out a whole tune, just give me the lead sheet." I'm like, "Thirty minutes?" He said, "Go" (snaps fingers). You know, and then we would, we would do things like serious analysis, you know, we'd sit down and break down, Liszt [Franz Liszt] 'Piano Concerto No. 2.' You know, and we'd sit down and have to go through the whole thing and break it down, what's the first theme, second theme, transitional phrases, and all of that stuff, what is this, what is the correct form of the piece, whether it's sonata-allegro form, all of those things. And I was doing that when I was fifteen, sixteen years old, you know. So I was like in a whirlwind. And the other thing I felt like was--see I only went to NOCCA for my junior and my senior year and most kids were going from sophomore so I felt like I was behind, so that's another reason why I didn't wanna miss 'cause I saw what it was doing for me, you know. And I'm, I'm always talking about NOCCA because they didn't sugarcoat things. They used to tell us. Well, the- they told us at orientation, they said, "Look around." They said, "After the first half of the year, half of y'all are not gonna be here." 'Cause they put you out if you didn't have, if your grades weren't up, you couldn't go. And they were right. My theory class had, when I first got there maybe it was, it was still relatively small, maybe it was about twenty, twenty-five people, at the end of that Christmas break, come back, it was only about ten or twelve of us.$$Wow.$$Yeah, no, they were no joke.

T.J. Anderson

Composer and music professor Thomas Jefferson Anderson was born on August 17, 1928 in Coatesville, Pennsylvania. Anderson attended West Virginia State College and Pennsylvania State University, where he received his B.A. degree in music and his M.Ed. degree in music education in 1950 and 1951, respectively. Anderson studied composition at the Cincinnati College - Conservatory of Music in 1954, before obtaining his Ph.D. degree in music at the University of Iowa in 1958. Anderson also studied composition at the Aspen School of Music in 1964 with Darius Milhaud

Anderson was hired as a professor of music at Langston University in Langston, Oklahoma, where he became chair of the music department. He then served as a music professor at Tennessee State University before being named composer-in-residence with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra in 1969. During his three year tenure at the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Anderson orchestrated the Scott Joplin opera Treemonisha and in 1972, the first full staging of Joplin’s work took place. His first opera, Soldier Boy, based on a libretto by writer Leon Forrest, was commissioned by Indiana University. After a visiting professorship at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Anderson was hired as a professor of music and department chair at Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts in 1972.

As a lecturer, consultant, and visiting composer, Anderson has taught at institutions in the United States, Brazil, Germany, France and Switzerland. He has been a fellow at the MacDowell Colony, Yaddo, Virginia Center for the Arts, the Djerassi Foundation, the National Humanities Center and a scholar-in-residence at the Rockefeller Center for the Creative Arts in Bellagio, Italy. Anderson has accumulated numerous honors throughout his illustrious career, including an honorary membership in Phi Beta Kappa, a fellowship from the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation and grants from the Rockefeller Foundation. He has received honorary doctorates from the College of Holy Cross, West Virginia State College, Bridgewater State College, St. Augustine’s College, Northwestern University, Bates College and Tufts University. In March, 1997, he was honored as a founder and first president of the National Black Music Caucus, now NASPAAM with a concert of his music. In 2005, Anderson was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Anderson and his wife, Lois, have three adult children, a son, Thomas J. Anderson and two daughters, Janet Anderson and Anita Anderson Downing.

T.J. Anderson was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on February 19, 2012.

Accession Number

A2012.045

Sex

Male

Interview Date

2/19/2012

Last Name

Anderson

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

J.

Occupation
Schools

University of Iowa

Pennsylvania State University

West Virginia State University

University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music

Monroe School

Harriet Beecher Stowe Junior High School

S. Horace Scott Senior High School

Speakers Bureau

No

First Name

T.

Birth City, State, Country

Coatesville

HM ID

AND11

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Pennsylvania

Favorite Vacation Destination

San Diego, California

Favorite Quote

It Is What It Is

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

North Carolina

Birth Date

8/17/1928

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chapel Hill

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Bread (Rolls)

Short Description

Music composer T.J. Anderson (1928 - ) was a leading composers of the twentieth century. He composed over eighty works, including operas, symphonies, choral pieces, chamber music and band music, and was the recipient of numerous honors, including seven honorary doctorates.

Employment

Tufts University

Morehouse College

Tennessee State University

Langston University

Atlanta Symphony Orchestra

West Virginia State College (Institute, W. Va.)

High Point Public Schools

Favorite Color

Gray

Timing Pairs
0,0:5467,139:5822,144:6248,151:7526,181:8165,191:9585,227:10224,237:10792,247:11289,255:11857,265:12496,275:13064,284:13348,289:15052,320:15691,330:32413,480:40435,595:44140,643:44900,652:62654,784:64586,830:67358,869:69878,918:86294,1079:86858,1109:105800,1375:113780,1588:114312,1597:114996,1611:115528,1618:125190,1696:125640,1736:133674,1815:137574,1904:137886,1909:142254,2021:153490,2155:153840,2161:154120,2212:160000,2355:165740,2409:177441,2532:185403,2608:187779,2653:193017,2708:193674,2718:194112,2726:195061,2741:209920,2908:216160,2959:232324,3115:233264,3229:234580,3247:234956,3252:236084,3272:241630,3366:249482,3472:253706,3554:266800,3711:267260,3717:276620,3863$0,0:4346,76:8364,101:16154,213:16646,221:16974,226:30594,364:35382,472:35762,601:49838,725:50126,756:53294,823:53654,847:58478,945:58982,954:61790,1005:68363,1014:70854,1032:71264,1038:91910,1376:92330,1382:95102,1424:96698,1458:97034,1463:97622,1472:99218,1497:114680,1722:117530,1765:118729,1776:119521,1785:121600,1817:125956,1934:126748,1943:130170,1965:131574,1981:139374,2117:140076,2129:145990,2220:147914,2275:153760,2393:154278,2406:161920,2495
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of T.J. Anderson's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - T.J. Anderson lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - T.J. Anderson describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - T.J. Anderson talks about his maternal grandfather's career as a minister

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - T.J. Anderson remembers his early interest in jazz music

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - T.J. Anderson describes his mother's upbringing

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - T.J. Anderson describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - T.J. Anderson describes his father's education

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - T.J. Anderson describes his parents' personalities and who he takes after

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - T.J. Anderson lists his siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - T.J. Anderson describes sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - T.J. Anderson remembers his early exposure to classical music

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - T.J. Anderson describes his first experiences with classical music and jazz

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - T.J. Anderson remembers S. Horace Scott Senior High School in Coatesville, Pennsylvania

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - T.J. Anderson recalls his extracurricular activities at S. Horace Scott Senior High School

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - T.J. Anderson remembers his influential high school teachers

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - T.J. Anderson recalls his decision to attend West Virginia State College in Institute, West Virginia

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - T.J. Anderson remembers his influences at West Virginia State College

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - T.J. Anderson describes his involvement in the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - T.J. Anderson remembers his father's friendship with Paul Robeson

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - T.J. Anderson remembers his family's political activities

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - T.J. Anderson remembers Roland Hayes and Marian Anderson

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - T.J. Anderson reflects upon the relationship between language, rhythm and culture

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - T.J. Anderson describes his experiences of Eurocentrism in academic music curricula

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - T.J. Anderson describes the start of his Ph.D. degree program

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - T.J. Anderson remembers completing his Ph.D. at the University of Iowa

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - T.J. Anderson talks about his creative process

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - T.J. Anderson describes his family's reaction to his Ph.D. degree

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - T.J. Anderson remembers meeting his wife

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - T.J. Anderson recalls meeting Melvin B. Tolson at Langston University

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - T.J. Anderson describes Melvin B. Tolson's poetry

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - T.J. Anderson remembers teaching at Langston University in Langston, Oklahoma

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - T.J. Anderson remembers his mentor, Edward C. Lewis

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - T.J. Anderson recalls his introduction to 'Treemonisha'

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - T.J. Anderson describes the history of the opera 'Treemonisha'

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - T.J. Anderson compares the works of Scott Joplin and George Gershwin

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - T.J. Anderson remembers the process of reconstructing 'Treemonisha'

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - T.J. Anderson talks about the music of 'Treemonisha'

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - T.J. Anderson remembers the first staging of 'Treemonisha'

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - T.J. Anderson talks about the role of performers as interpreters

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - T.J. Anderson talks about his academic career

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - T.J. Anderson describes his accomplishments at Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - T.J. Anderson describes his accomplishments at Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - T.J. Anderson remembers receiving his first honorary degree

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - T.J. Anderson talks about his awards and honors, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - T.J. Anderson describes his musical compositions

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - T.J. Anderson talks about his awards and honors, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - T.J. Anderson remembers meeting William Grant Still

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - T.J. Anderson remembers William Levi Dawson

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - T.J. Anderson remembers meeting Eubie Blake and Florence Price

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - T.J. Anderson describes the importance of black representation in majority universities

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - T.J. Anderson talks about racial discrimination in the classical music community

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - T.J. Anderson describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - T.J. Anderson reflects upon his life

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - T.J. Anderson reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - T.J. Anderson reflects upon his relationship with his wife

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - T.J. Anderson describes how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - T.J. Anderson narrates his photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$4

DAStory

1$6

DATitle
T.J. Anderson describes his first experiences with classical music and jazz
T.J. Anderson talks about the music of 'Treemonisha'
Transcript
As a little kid you listened to classical music and you (unclear) (simultaneous)?$$(Simultaneous) Oh yes, very much so. I listened to--in fact that's about all we had in our home, classical music. I mean I, I--and when I say classical music I'm talking about the classical music of Paul Robeson, I'm talking about the classical music of Philippa Schuyler, I'm talking about the classical music of people like James Weldon Johnson, Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, I'm talking about the classical music of William Grant Still, William Dawson [William Levi Dawson]. I, I mean there's a whole litany of people that--that were represented in my--who I consider myself a descendant of. In other words, I'm a descendant of this tradition. So, that's the way I fit in.$$And was the violin your first instrument in terms of?$$The violin and then the piano, and then trumpet, then saxophone, then bassoon, I mean that's the order that they, they came.$$So when did you say you started playing the violin?$$About six years old, six or seven, yeah seven.$$You're about six--seven, okay. Now, this is both--you were living both in the Coatesville [Pennsylvania] area, right?$$No, this is Washington, D.C.$$D.C., okay. Then you moved to Coatesville?$$I moved to Coatesville when I failed seventh grade (unclear).$$Right, you--okay. Well what happened during that seventh grade period?$$I discovered jazz (laughter).$$That's basically it?$$Yeah, that's basically it. And, and of course that's where my mother [Anita Turpeau Anderson] and I parted, you know. And I can understand what she wanted, but what she wanted wasn't what I wanted inf- and as it turned out it ben- it saved my life, really. I mean in other words, I'd have been just another classical composer, I mean and that's not what I lucked up on. I lucked up on finding the Howard Theatre [Washington, D.C.]. I lucked up on hearing Jimmie Lunceford, Duke Ellington, Earl Hines [Earl "Fatha" Hines]. I mean just all the big bands that came through there with package shows, I heard. And so when I went to Cincinnati [Ohio] and went to the Cotton Club I, I was prepared for, for, for the bands that I would hear there, and they were traveling bands and, and that was a great movement. In fact, I--I've written a piece called 'What Ever Happened to the Big Bands?' [T.J. Anderson]. It's for trumpet, saxophone and trombone, and it's a tribute too. It's published in Berlin [Germany], but it's a tribute to that music, I mean.$$Did you have a favorite band?$$No, they were all different. Lunceford's band was a show band and Lunceford's band had great arrangements. Sy Oliver was the arranger of that band. And they could swing just about any piece, classical pieces, spirituals and everything. And it was a very interesting band. But the band for soloists was Duke Ellington, because he had Cootie Williams and the trombone player Brown, Lawrence Brown. Just, just a lot of outstanding, you know, players in--in his band. The alto saxophone player, Johnny Hodges was with him. And so that when I--when I thought, thought about soloists, although they were playing Duke Ellington tunes, the soloist really was the things I was fascinated by. In other words, that's improvisation. I just became in love with improvisation, and to this day I'm fascinated by improvisation.$$Okay. So your favorite--was Johnny Hodges one of your favorite?$$Oh Hodges, Ben Webster was in the band. So I mean there're a lot of people, there wasn't any one favorite. It was--I think that's, that's one of the things I try to avoid is having one favorite of anything. I think there's too much richness out there to settle in on one. And I think you can like two or three people for different reasons and all of them can be good. So I've learned, I learned at an early age not to settle in on one thing, you know, so.$Can you hum a little bit of it for us, I mean of a good part (laughter)?$$A good part?$$Just because this is audio, it's about music.$$(Sings musical notes) This is the overture, (sings musical notes). I mean it goes on like that yeah, I mean that's the overture. And then there's some marvelous arias, (singing), "Marching onward, marching onward, listening to that happy tune--." That's the--that's the last over--that's the last song. And, and the interesting thing about that is that Joplin [Scott Joplin] wrote dance steps in the score [of 'Treemonisha']. There're a lot of things Joplin did that nobody did. I mean people had done that before in French--in French opera they, they write dance steps in the score. That had been done before, but Joplin wrote drag--real slow drag, he wrote the dance steps, light right foot slides, left foot glides, and all of this, that's written in the score. Another thing that Joplin did, Joplin tried to capture the singing he heard in black churches and that was when he wrote--he wrote notes with stems, just stems only and no note--no note heads, in other words jus- just the stems of the notes and no note heads. And there are sections where they go, "Oh," you know, that type of singing. The cross between singing and speaking, and of course Schoenberg [Arnold Schoenberg] developed about the same time Sprechstimme, a cross between singing and speaking. So both of these men were thinking about the same kinds of problems to be solved in composition. I mean he was a genius, Joplin was a genius, no question about it. And the father of American opera (laughter), I'm back to that again. And I can say that wi- with, with confidence because I've talked it over with Edith Borroff who wrote the book 'The History of American Music--,' 'Music in America and Music in Europe' [sic. 'Music in Europe and the United States: A History']. It's a very famous history book on, on American music, mainly because most mus- music books up until that time don't have one line about Indian [Native American] music. I mean Americans, we, we dis- we discovered Indians when we got here. They taught us how to survive, yet we don't wanna acknowledge their music, the fact that they taught us how to live, they taught us how to plant corn, they taught us everything and we don't--we don't wanna acknowledge their existence. But she acknowledges that and she also acknowledges the black contribution to music too, which you don't see in most books.

Camara Kambon

Music composer and music producer Camara Yero Kambon was born on February 4, 1973, in Baltimore, Maryland to Anana Maisha Kambon, a preschool teacher, and Kwame Sietu Kambon, an artist. At the age of two, Kambon started studying drums. He moved to the piano at age four and composed his first musical riffs by the age of six. While living in Baltimore, Maryland, Kambon attended Cross Country Elementary and attended Fallstaff Middle School where he began to play other instruments besides the piano. After graduating from middle school, Kambon attended St. Paul's School for Boys in Lutherville, Maryland. In 1983, Kambon enrolled in the Peabody Preparatory School in Baltimore, studying jazz, classical piano and composition. Kambon graduated from Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts in 1994 where he studied music production, music engineering and film scoring. While there, he composed music for the Emmy nominated films, Dancing: New Worlds, New Forms and Malcolm X: Make it Plain.

In 1996, Kambon won an Emmy Award for the music he composed for the HBO film, Sonny Liston: The Mysterious Life and Death of a Champion. At the age of twenty-three, he was the youngest composer ever to receive a national Emmy Award. Kambon then became head of Inflx Entertainment, a musical production company in Hollywood, California, specializing in film, television and records. Kambon has worked as the composer for two television series, A Different World and Living Single. He has also worked as a keyboard player for producer and rapper, Dr. Dre. In addition, Kambon composed Korikabaya, which was performed by the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.

In 1998, Kambon received his second Emmy nomination for the HBO documentary, Where Have You Gone Joe DiMaggio? Kambon received three Grammy nominations in 2001 for co-writing the Mary J. Blige hit, Family Affair; for his keyboard work on Nelly Furtado’s Whoa, Nelly!; and for his contribution to Eve’s album, Scorpion. Two years later, Kambon received another Emmy nomination for A City on Fire: Tigers of ’68.

Camara Yero Kambon was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on September 18, 2008.

Accession Number

A2008.111

Sex

Male

Interview Date

9/17/2008

Last Name

Kambon

Maker Category
Organizations
Schools

Cross Country Elementary

Fallstaff Elementary

St. Paul Lutheran School

Berklee College of Music

First Name

Camara

Birth City, State, Country

Baltimore

HM ID

KAM02

Favorite Season

January, February

State

Maryland

Favorite Vacation Destination

Mexico

Favorite Quote

Follow Through.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

California

Birth Date

2/4/1973

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Los Angeles

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Tofu

Short Description

Music composer and music producer Camara Kambon (1973 - ) was nominated for both Grammy and Emmy Awards for his musical compositions. He worked with Dr. Dre, Mary J. Blige, and Nelly Furtado and won Emmy Awards for his musical work on the HBO film, "Sonny Liston: The Mysterious Life and Death of a Champion," and the HBO documentary, "Where Have You Gone Joe DiMaggio?"

Employment

Inflx Entertainment

Favorite Color

Red

Timing Pairs
0,0:246,3:574,8:1230,22:5084,89:5494,95:7544,124:10086,184:17074,240:17662,247:19260,254:27602,379:28666,396:31056,420:35796,458:41203,515:50580,645:62636,771:63133,780:65831,840:66186,846:111520,1232:111900,1237:116555,1302:117695,1318:122248,1348:122643,1354:123196,1362:123591,1369:125408,1401:127640,1416:128270,1424:133032,1467:133356,1481:133923,1490:134490,1499:135381,1508:136677,1530:140160,1584:140646,1591:141537,1604:146300,1618:148825,1631:149275,1639:150400,1662:150850,1669:151900,1686:160570,1780:165590,1813:167110,1839:168790,1869:169270,1876:171190,1906:171510,1911:172070,1920:172390,1925:173910,1952:174470,1960:175190,1990:179625,2014:180401,2025:185057,2114:185542,2139:193640,2199$0,0:2376,86:7704,224:23260,451:24052,463:24340,468:25564,489:26140,506:26572,513:28300,535:28876,543:29452,552:41690,618:41990,623:42290,628:42590,633:43115,641:45965,708:47690,733:50915,783:51440,792:52490,816:52790,821:57574,847:57890,852:58680,863:59312,872:60813,884:61524,894:62156,904:63690,910:64380,917:68977,974:69847,986:70978,1003:71413,1010:73501,1039:74284,1049:76807,1097:80700,1122:81190,1134:81540,1140:82100,1150:83780,1177:84200,1184:84550,1190:85390,1209:88680,1281:89100,1288:89450,1294:89730,1299:90010,1304:91550,1339:91830,1344:95610,1427:97850,1470:98480,1482:98760,1487:99950,1513:100580,1523:107700,1558:109260,1578:110664,1596:111756,1613:112614,1625:115500,1692:115968,1699:127968,1882:128280,1887:132258,1956:134832,2007:135768,2020:136158,2029:137094,2035:137874,2052:138576,2062:144760,2074:147130,2121:147525,2127:155490,2241:156843,2254:158690,2301:159140,2309:159815,2320:160640,2332:163040,2377:163490,2384:165065,2416:165440,2422:166490,2432:166790,2437:167690,2461:168140,2468:168590,2475:171215,2528:171590,2534:178666,2598:181491,2631:186011,2702:189627,2755:205554,2968:207490,2998:208018,3006:236870,3292
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Camara Kambon's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Camara Kambon lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Camara Kambon describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Camara Kambon talks about his maternal family's origin in Prince George's County, Maryland

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Camara Kambon describes his mother's upbringing

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Camara Kambon describes his mother's religious upbringing

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Camara Kambon talks about his mother's political activism

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Camara Kambon describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Camara Kambon describes his relationship with his father's family

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Camara Kambon talks about his parents' involvement in the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Camara Kambon describes how his parents met

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Camara Kambon describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Camara Kambon describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Camara Kambon remembers his neighborhood in Baltimore, Maryland

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Camara Kambon describes his early interest in music

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Camara Kambon recalls the music of his childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Camara Kambon remembers learning to read music

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Camara Kambon talks about studying the Agnihotra

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Camara Kambon remembers his music lessons

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Camara Kambon recalls his early musical performances

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Camara Kambon remembers meeting Alice Coltrane

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Camara Kambon talks about his influential male relatives

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Camara Kambon remembers his grade school experiences

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Camara Kambon recalls performing with Dizzy Gillespie, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Camara Kambon recalls performing with Dizzy Gillespie, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Camara Kambon talks about his musical influences

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Camara Kambon recalls his family's support of his musical endeavors

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Camara Kambon recalls studying classical and South American music

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Camara Kambon remembers St. Paul's School in Brooklandville, Maryland

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Camara Kambon describes his extracurricular activities

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Camara Kambon remembers his musical mentors

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Camara Kambon recalls performing in New York City

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$1

DAStory

4$7

DATitle
Camara Kambon recalls performing with Dizzy Gillespie, pt. 2
Camara Kambon talks about his mother's political activism
Transcript
At that time I didn't realize that you know jazz musicians you could go through you know three sets before--and that's your show. You usually do those three sets and then that's your show. You know so when we get to the second set or the second break, after I'm like oh he's not gonna call, he's not gonna--maybe he forgot all about me. He's not gonna ask me up. Well at the beginning of the third set, he says, "At this time I'd like to bring one of my friends up," and he mispronounces my name, but it didn't matter well because he called me up on the stage. He says, "He's gonna play 'St. Thomas' for us." And so I get up and hear, now this is a hardcore jazz crowd like I mean Dizzy [Dizzy Gillespie] has been swinging you know like the whole night you so here this kid comes up eleven years old and you can hear rumblings in the crowd like, "Oh we don't really wanna hear a kid, we're here to see Dizzy," you can hear. Nobody's really saying anything but you can hear the rumblings. And so he looks over to me and turns to his right, he give me a signal, "Go ahead." And I'm like but there's nobody playing, there's nobody playing. "Go ahead." So I start (humming) and the band comes in on the bridge, (humming) and then they put the little Afro Cuban thing klink, klink it was, it was magical, it was magical. And that was one of those moments that I think, when I think about it in retrospect was totally consistent with how I would manage to move from point to point to point to point in search of you know in reaching and excelling to achieve my goals you know. Taking advantage of opportunities that you may have an expectation or not but taking advantage of the opportunity puts you in the right frame of mind to, to, to reap benefits from it and being at that show the weekend before and going up to the owner and asking if I could perform and coming back and following through to come back the next time and having the strong support from my mother [Anana Kambon] also was invaluable and that was a story you know that when I told so many people this story you know but it's definitely a story that I would feel, that I feel defines the path that, that I've taken you know.$Well, are there any stories that your mother [Anana Kambon] shared with you about her life growing up or what it was like for her in the--$$As far as?$$Growing up in Baltimore [Maryland]? I mean did, you know, what did she like to do? Did she have any particular talents, gifts or, or what her friends were like or anything?$$Well I mean there was--her experience was, was pretty diverse. I mean I think that probably one of the things that's more significant than anything is the fact that there was a strong connection in, in the African American community and that's something that's we, we don't tend to see as much like that anymore where the support. I mean when you think of things like the Harlem Renaissance and you hear about the camaraderie and the kind of family unit that was established during that time between artists, a lot of that existed in families because the political climate I think really encouraged us to be that way you know. Encouraged us to support one another you know from a family unit you know and the political dynamics you know really encouraged that. So I think that when, when my mother ever talks about her experience growing up, she always talks about you know the kinds of you know interaction she had with her cousins you know and the family units that were always there, going here, going on this trip with the cousins and everybody was together and then, and then she would talk about how she would have that but then she would go to high school where it was a lot different because you know you had, it was a predominantly white school and so the dynamic was, was drastically different than you know being, being at home or being around your, around your cousins.$$Okay.$$Um-hm.$$Now she, she came of age during the time of the urban rebellions, death of Dr. King [Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.]--$$Um-hm.$$--you know did she talk about that kind of thing to you about you know did she?$$Yeah I mean there was no way that you couldn't be affected you know, by the time. I think that my mother's political involvement really happened in the '70s [1970s]. I mean I think that the '50s [1950s] and the '60s [1960s] it was her time when she was--well the '60s [1960s] she was a teen but that was her parents' [Yolanda Proctor and Leon J. Proctor] time to really get politically active. It was in the '70s [1970s] that she really started to hone in. I mean the early twenties, late teens you know when she really became active and really started to articulate you know her voice politically you know. And you know that was yeah that was just after you know Malcom X was, was assassinated and there were a lot of things that were happening in the late '60s [1960s] and that encouraged her to, to get involved.$$Yeah Malcom X in '65 [1965], Dr. King in '68 [1968].$$Yeah.$$I know there were riots in Baltimore right after Dr. King was killed. I just wondered what you know her impressions of some of those things were. But, tell us, tell now tell us about your--oh what year did your mother graduate from Mercy [Mercy High School, Baltimore, Maryland]? Was it about '71 [1971] or so?$$Maybe '70 [1970], maybe I couldn't tell you for sure. Yeah I couldn't tell you for sure.$$Fifty-three [1953] seems like it would be about '71 [1971].

Evelyn Freeman Roberts

Evelyn Freeman Roberts was born on February 13, 1919, to Gertrude Evelyn Richardson and Ernest Aaron Freeman. Roberts grew up in Cleveland, Ohio and performed music at local social events with "The Freeman Family," a group that included her brother, Ernie, and father. She also began performing locally in a classical ensemble. Roberts skipped school one day to watch Duke Ellington at Cleveland's Palace Theater and met Ellington after the performance. His music made a huge impact on Roberts, who decided at that moment that she wanted to be a bandleader. She was a bright student, and graduated ahead of her grade in 1936.

After auditioning for a scholarship at the Cleveland Institute of Music, Roberts decided to attend the Institute. Although she had less training than many of the students, Roberts had perfect pitch and was a talented sight-reader, and managed to work her way through school performing. Around 1938, she formed her own swing band, and their performances included a Cleveland Institute dance party. Roberts graduated from the Institute of Music in 1941, and as an African American, she saw no openings in classical music, so she began to focus more on her band's work.

Her group, now titled the Evelyn Freeman Swing Band, had begun performing locally, including broadcasts on Cleveland's WHK radio station and performances for the local NBC affiliate. When World War II arrived, a Navy recruiter convinced the group to join the Navy as a whole, which prevented the draft from splitting the ensemble. As a result, they had become the first all-African American Navy band, were stationed near Peru, Indiana and were nicknamed the "Gobs of Swing." Roberts herself was not recruited, although she would be later as an 'honorary member,' but in the meantime she continued performing but with a smaller ensemble, which included such future jazz stars as Ben "Bull Moose" Jackson.

In 1945, after the war ended, Roberts left Cleveland after meeting Thomas S. Roberts, her future husband. Roberts met her husband after he sought her for some musical arrangements, although it took some time before they would become romantically involved. The couple soon moved to New York City, where Roberts received significant critical accolades for her vocal arrangements for the Wings over Jordan gospel group. She also began working with Vaudeville acts, then began performing in upscale hotels in New York City. In the meantime, much of her band, now discharged from the military, went on to significant success, including members who would go on to perform with Dizzy Gillespie and Lionel Hampton.

The Evelyn Freeman Orchestra would reform in the late 1950s with new members, and released Let’s Make a Little Motion. In 1960, she released Sky High, a new album, and in 1962 released Didn’t It Rain. In the late 1960s, she moved to California and masterminded a group called The Young Saints, and in 1970, the Young Saints performed for Richard Nixon in the White House. Roberts continued to perform over the years, including a lengthy stint as a composer for television, although she would often remain in the background as an arranger, including work for Bing Crosby, Dean Martin and Louis Prima. She was the co-founder and chief administrator for the Young Saints Scholarship Foundation.

Roberts passed away on June 5, 2017 at age 98.

Accession Number

A2006.056

Sex

Female

Interview Date

3/31/2006

Last Name

Roberts

Maker Category
Middle Name

Freeman

Organizations
Schools

Central High School

Cleveland Institute of Music

John Burroughs Elementary School

First Name

Evelyn

Birth City, State, Country

Cleveland

HM ID

ROB12

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Ohio

Favorite Vacation Destination

None

Favorite Quote

Education Is The Key To Success.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

California

Birth Date

2/13/1919

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Los Angeles

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Shrimp

Death Date

6/5/2017

Short Description

Bandleader, music composer, and musician Evelyn Freeman Roberts (1919 - 2017 ) formed the Evelyn Freeman Orchestra and composed music for television shows.

Employment

Young Saints

Evelyn Freeman Swing Band

Karamu House

Wings Over Jordan

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
0,0:2976,59:4557,83:8896,183:10968,220:15774,279:16502,287:17022,298:32102,502:45935,665:46275,670:54520,827:57410,899:72284,1023:72572,1028:74012,1056:74444,1063:74948,1071:77252,1151:85796,1264:94160,1404:94970,1421:108798,1612:115974,1721:116526,1729:120690,1738:127375,1890:133660,1983:134260,1994:134660,1999:138160,2047:140746,2060:141114,2065:141942,2076:142678,2085:143506,2095:145465,2129:153746,2400:156385,2442:162470,2543$0,0:7680,190:21596,384:28775,466:29450,476:37145,574:38090,584:41470,620:41810,654:55461,784:71206,982:81623,1166:83854,1243:94455,1363:94795,1368:101626,1478:130480,2111
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Evelyn Freeman Roberts' interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Evelyn Freeman Roberts lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Evelyn Freeman Roberts lists her parents' birthdates and birthplaces

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Evelyn Freeman Roberts talks about her maternal great grandmother

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Evelyn Freeman Roberts describes her maternal grandmother

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Evelyn Freeman Roberts describes her maternal grandfather

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Evelyn Freeman Roberts describes her mother's family

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Evelyn Freeman Roberts recalls visiting her maternal grandparents

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Evelyn Freeman Roberts describes her maternal grandmother's country store

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Evelyn Freeman Roberts describes her mother's experience at boarding school

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Evelyn Freeman Roberts describes her mother's education

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Evelyn Freeman Roberts describes how her parents met

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Evelyn Freeman Roberts describes her paternal great grandfather

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Evelyn Freeman Roberts describes her paternal grandparents' courtship

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Evelyn Freeman Roberts describes her father's time at Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Evelyn Freeman Roberts describes her parents' married life

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Evelyn Freeman Roberts lists her siblings

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Evelyn Freeman Roberts describes her father's occupations

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Evelyn Freeman Roberts recalls her father's music career

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Evelyn Freeman Roberts remembers John Burroughs Elementary School

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Evelyn Freeman Roberts describes Cleveland, Ohio's Central High School

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Evelyn Freeman Roberts describes the demographics of Central High School

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Evelyn Freeman Roberts recalls her decision to attend Cleveland Institute of Music

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Evelyn Freeman Roberts recalls her experience at Cleveland Institute of Music

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Evelyn Freeman Roberts recalls her brothers' educations

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Evelyn Freeman Roberts talks about her brother, Ernest Freeman, Jr.

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Evelyn Freeman Roberts recalls playing concerts with her family in Cleveland

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Evelyn Freeman Roberts remembers meeting Duke Ellington

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Evelyn Freeman Roberts recalls forming the Evelyn Freeman Swing Band

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Evelyn Freeman Roberts recalls how her swing band was recruited to the U.S. Army

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Evelyn Freeman Roberts recalls her career after her swing band's military recruitment

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Evelyn Freeman Roberts recalls meeting her husband

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Evelyn Freeman Roberts recalls arranging for the Wings Over Jordan Choir

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Evelyn Freeman Roberts recalls her work arranging music in New York

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Evelyn Freeman Roberts recalls her marriage to Lloyd Gentry

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Evelyn Freeman Roberts explains her relation to Minnie Gentry and Terrence Howard

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Evelyn Freeman Roberts remembers buying a house in New York City

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Evelyn Freeman Roberts remembers touring with her children, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Evelyn Freeman Roberts recalls touring with her children, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Evelyn Freeman Roberts remembers moving to Los Angeles, California

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Evelyn Freeman Roberts recalls challenges in Los Angeles, California

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Evelyn Freeman Roberts remembers working with Peggy Lee

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Evelyn Freeman Roberts recalls performing on 'The Jonathan Winters Show'

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Evelyn Freeman Roberts recalls the Young Saints' performance on 'The Andy Griffith Show'

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Evelyn Freeman Roberts recalls working with Frankie Laine

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Evelyn Freeman Roberts recalls working with Louis Prima

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Evelyn Freeman Roberts remembers forming the Young Saints

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Evelyn Freeman Roberts recalls the Young Saints' contract with Ashley-Famous talent agency

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Evelyn Freeman Roberts recalls the Young Saints' performance on 'The Danny Kaye Show'

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Evelyn Freeman Roberts recalls her classes for the Model Cities program

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Evelyn Freeman Roberts describes the Young Saints program at Second Baptist Church

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Evelyn Freeman Roberts talks about the success of the Young Saints

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Evelyn Freeman Roberts describes her family's involvement in the Young Saints

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Evelyn Freeman Roberts recalls the Young Saints' performance at the White House, pt. 1

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Evelyn Freeman Roberts recalls the Young Saints' performance at the White House, pt. 2

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Evelyn Freeman Roberts describes how she would like to be remembered

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Evelyn Freeman Roberts reflects upon her career

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Evelyn Freeman Roberts narrates her photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$4

DAStory

2$3

DATitle
Evelyn Freeman Roberts remembers meeting Duke Ellington
Evelyn Freeman Roberts recalls forming the Evelyn Freeman Swing Band
Transcript
Now we're coming up to the place, back up to the place now where you're graduating from the institute [Cleveland Institute of Music, Cleveland, Ohio].$$But before that, let's back up again--$$All right.$$--to 1936. I'm graduating, and I'm so far ahead I could have graduated in January when I was sixteen. But I didn't want to graduate in January. That's a bad time to graduate. So I wanted to wait until June to graduate. And so, in the meantime, I have this very light class load. And kids are always going down, going onto the Palace Theatre in Cleveland [Ohio], and that's where all the big bands came to play.$$Right.$$I had never been. And they always come back on Monday, you know, and give a detailed description of everything that went on. So I was curious, and just happened the, the one day that, one Friday that I decided to skip school, Duke Ellington was playing.$$All right.$$That completely changed my life, completely. I was so enthralled when I heard that band. And so after I heard the band, I went backstage and, and a lot of people milling around back there. And you know, when you graduate they, you have these little calling cards, you know, with your name on it.$$Right.$$I sent it up by the elevator boy, and Duke invited me to come up and see him. So I did; I went up to see Duke. Duke had his son with him, Mercer [Mercer Ellington].$$Right.$$And I, I didn't have anything to talk about (laughter), you know.$$Right.$$But I just--and I remember asking Mercer if he was gonna be a musician, and he said, "Oh no, I'm gonna be an engineer," (laughter). And so I met Da- Duke many times after that, and I never did tell him but how he changed my life.$$Now why did Duke Ellington make such an impact? What--$$It was just (simultaneous)--$$--(simultaneous) was it that impacted--$$--the music--$$Just his music.$$--and the way it sounded.$$Okay.$$And I, that was when I decided right then and there I wanna be a bandleader.$$All right, okay.$$And that was a very important turning point in my life.$$Okay. And this was how long before you actually graduated from the institute.$$Oh, this is, this is when I was graduating from high school [Central High School, Cleveland, Ohio]--$$Okay.$$--nineteen thirty-six [1936].$$Okay.$$So I didn't graduate (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) So we're talking about five years--$$Oh yeah.$$--more--$$Well--$$--okay.$$--all my contemporaries, and there were some great musicians that came out of Cleveland [Ohio], you know.$$Right.$$Nobody wanted to be bothered with me.$All right (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) But what happened was, and one of the things that kind of hurried it along, my brother Ernie [Ernest Freeman, Jr.], the violin player, found an old saxophone way back in the closet that belonged to my father [Ernest Freeman, Sr.]. It was an E-flat alto Buescher. I don't even, I don't think they even me--make those kind of, that--he found that in, back in the saxophone and taught himself to play it.$$Right.$$Loved that saxophone because it gave him the freedom of expression he didn't have with the violin. And in playing the classical music, all of the brass players, in fact, everybody, had to play cues that for instruments we didn't have; like the clarinet players would have to play the oboe cues, and the brass would have to play French horn or whatever of the cues. So therefore, I had a bunch of kids who could read music. So I had, so I taken the brass section, and my burdit- my brother Ernie on first sax and a couple of more sax, and we had the bass player, got a drummer. We had a swing band--$$Okay.$$--Evelyn Freeman Swing Band. And in two years' time (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) But when did, when did you form the Evelyn Freeman Swing Band?$$That was formed out of the Freeman Ensemble.$$Okay.$$So we still had, we had two organizations going at the same time.$$Okay, so you were still in high school [Central High School, Cleveland, Ohio] you're saying?$$Nope, I was in, at the institute--$$Okay.$$--by that time.$$Okay, when you formed the swing band.$$Well, when we actually got started, I guess it would be about, about 1938.$$Okay, okay, so we are, you're just in the first year or two--$$Second year (simultaneous).$$--(simultaneous) at the institute?$$Yeah.$$Okay, all right.$$And we even played, we even played for a dance at the institute.$$I'm sorry?$$We even played for a dance at the Cleveland Institute [Cleveland Institute of Music, Cleveland, Ohio].$$At the Cle- at the institute, okay. I'm just trying to get us in the right chronology, right (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) Yeah, you looked at it chronologically, yeah.

Robert Winfrey

Robert Winfrey, musician, composer, music teacher, musical arts director and choral director, has revolutionized the musical scene and music education in Boston, Massachusetts over a twenty-eight year period. A builder of a multi-cultural school music program in Boston, Winfrey made music education available to all students at the high school level. In addition to his work in the city of Boston, Winfrey served as the director of the world-renown Kuumba Singers of Harvard University for twenty-five years. His signature composition, Let’s Build A City, is known and has been sung across the United States.

Winfrey was born in Atlanta, Georgia in June 1933. His parents, Pete and Ethel Winfrey, and two sisters, Frances and Betty lived in the Grady Holmes Housing Project during Winfrey’s growing up. He was a neighbor of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s.

Winfrey graduated from David T. Howard High School in 1950 and from Morehouse College in 1955 with a degree in music composition. During his youth, he played piano and organ at Liberty Baptist Church, two blocks from Ebenezer Baptist Church.

From 1955 to 1957, Winfrey served in the U.S. Army as a minister of music to the chaplains of all faiths – Catholic, Protestant and Jewish. During his military service, he decided to become a music teacher.

In the summer of 1957, Winfrey studied music composition at Columbia University in New York City. Then, in the fall, he became the choral and band director at Hubbard elementary and high schools in Forsyth, Georgia. He returned to Columbia University in 1960 and earned his M.A. degree in music composition. For the next eleven years, he taught and directed the music program at Dunbar High School in Lynchburg, Virginia. In Lynchburg, Winfrey met Reverend Virgil Wood, pastor of Diamond Hill Baptist Church, and became Diamond’s organist and minister of music. In 1970, he received a Tangley Oaks Fellowship for graduate studies in music education at Columbia University where he developed an arts program for inner-city youth. Reverend Wood moved to Boston in 1963 and influenced Winfrey to join him in 1971. Winfrey reluctantly left Georgia with his wife Johnie (Evans) Winfrey and their two sons, Robert, born in 1968, and Peter, born in 1970.

In Boston, Winfrey taught music at Jeremiah Burke High School and directed Boston’s Model Cities’ “Teen Town” community arts program. At Burke, he established for the first time a choral ensemble and a band. Quickly his reputation and talent for developing singing groups spread across greater Boston. In 1975, the Boston Public Schools established a citywide music program, which became the Roland Hayes School of Music at Boston’s Madison Park Campus High School. Winfrey was appointed to plan and develop the Hayes School of Music and he served as its director from 1977 to 1999.

In 1972, Reverend Wood asked Winfrey to compose an original song for a Black Expo sponsored by the Boston chapter of Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). The result was Let’s Build A City, in which he changed ‘City’ to ‘Nation’. The theme of this Winfrey composition was so impressive and important, that it was used in the inaugural ceremonies of three former big city mayors, Maynard Jackson of Atlanta, Thomas Bradley of Los Angeles and Coleman Young of Detroit. In 2005, Winfrey shared the message of this composition with the cities of Mobile, Alabama; Biloxi, Mississippi; and New Orleans, Louisiana after the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina. The mayors of Mobile and Biloxi sent letters of appreciation to Winfrey for his thoughtful composition.

In 1973, Harvard University asked Winfrey to serve as the director of the Kuumba Singers. Under Winfrey’s direction, the Kuumba Singers performed in cities and towns across America – including public and private schools, colleges, churches, cathedrals, concert halls, hospitals, nursing homes and prisons. In 1981-1982, the highlight of that tour season for Winfrey was their performance in King Chapel at Morehouse College -- Winfrey’s alma mater.

In 1983, Winfey was chosen as one of Greater Boston’s Black Achievers. At the awards ceremony, the Kuumba Singers performed in his honor. Winfrey’s greatest awards are the legions of students who are now achievers in both musical and non-musical endeavors.

Accession Number

A2005.254

Sex

Male

Interview Date

12/7/2005

Last Name

Winfrey

Maker Category
Schools

David T. Howard High School

Yonge Street Elementary School

Morehouse College

Columbia University

First Name

Robert

Birth City, State, Country

Atlanta

HM ID

WIN04

Favorite Season

Summer

State

Georgia

Favorite Vacation Destination

Atlanta, Georgia

Favorite Quote

See How The Masses Of Men Worry Themselves Into Nameless Graves While Here A Faithful Servant Loses Himself Into Immortality.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Massachusetts

Birth Date

6/14/1933

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Boston

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Fish, Vegetables

Short Description

Education administrator, music composer, and music director Robert Winfrey (1933 - ) served as the director of the world renowned Kuumba Singers of Harvard University, and is responsible for building a multicultural school music program in Boston, making music education available to all students at the high school level.

Employment

Hubbard Elementary and High School

Paul Laurence Dunbar High School

Jeremiah E. Burke High School

Roland Hayes School of Music

The Kuumba Singers of Harvard College

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
0,0:1840,43:8240,179:8640,185:12000,257:16401,267:16816,273:18144,305:21132,367:33500,496:35580,519:38076,532:39249,557:39939,572:45942,740:46425,749:49944,825:51531,864:52290,881:52635,887:53808,903:55326,938:55878,947:56154,952:67190,1040:71220,1126:71805,1142:73300,1179:73690,1186:77135,1285:77720,1297:79475,1346:80060,1357:80840,1371:81165,1377:85645,1398:86035,1405:87920,1438:88245,1444:89350,1468:90000,1482:90780,1498:93185,1559:93640,1572:97800,1672:98060,1677:98320,1682:108754,1836:116272,1942:118846,1994:119110,1999:120496,2035:134708,2248:135676,2261:137436,2294:138492,2308:142276,2365:142892,2376:143508,2384:144124,2393:144476,2398:149070,2420:149425,2427:152833,2480:159410,2575$0,0:6514,59:6818,64:9250,107:9554,112:10010,119:13010,136:18236,216:18764,223:22082,261:27116,476:27456,482:30244,653:34868,756:36228,794:36908,805:37996,821:38336,827:42520,841:44040,867:44360,872:44760,878:46680,910:47400,920:47720,925:48200,932:48520,937:53318,993:53846,1000:57102,1070:57894,1083:58686,1093:60710,1126:65389,1156:65601,1161:66131,1178:70256,1249:75176,1306:90363,1606:91053,1617:91329,1622:94230,1631:96300,1650
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Robert Winfrey's interview, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Slating of Robert Winfrey's interview, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Robert Winfrey lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Robert Winfrey describes his mother's background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Robert Winfrey describes his mother's upbringing in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Robert Winfrey describes his father's background

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Robert Winfrey describes his father's family background and occupation

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Robert Winfrey describes his family life

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Robert Winfrey describes his music lessons

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Robert Winfrey describes his sisters' interest in piano

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Robert Winfrey describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Robert Winfrey describes his childhood neighborhood in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Robert Winfrey remembers learning to play the piano

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Robert Winfrey recalls growing up with Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Robert Winfrey describes the sights, sounds, and smells of his childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Robert Winfrey remembers segregation in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Robert Winfrey describes his elementary and high school experiences

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Robert Winfrey describes his high school activities

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Robert Winfrey describes his high school history teacher

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Robert Winfrey describes his employment during high school

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Robert Winfrey recalls studying African American history

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Robert Winfrey recalls influential African American singers and speakers

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Robert Winfrey talks about concert singer Roland Hayes

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Robert Winfrey describes his organ lessons at Cable Piano Company

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Robert Winfrey describes his experiences at Morehouse College in Atlanta

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Robert Winfrey recalls his fellow classmates at Morehouse College

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Robert Winfrey recalls studying music at Morehouse College

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Robert Winfrey recalls being drafted upon graduation from Morehouse College

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Robert Winfrey describes his experiences in the U.S. army

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Robert Winfrey recalls his plan to teach and compose music

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Robert Winfrey recalls his decision to attend graduate school

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Robert Winfrey recalls working as a band director in Forsyth, Georgia

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Robert Winfrey recalls attending Columbia University in New York City

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Robert Winfrey recalls attempting to publish his music compositions

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Robert Winfrey describes the churches of Harlem in New York City

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Robert Winfrey describes his experiences in Harlem

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Robert Winfrey recalls deciding to teach in Lynchburg, Virginia

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Robert Winfrey describes Reverend Dr. Virgil A. Wood and Clarence W. Seay

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Robert Winfrey recalls meeting and marrying his wife

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Robert Winfrey describes the Tangley Oaks Fellowship and his return to Columbia University

Tape: 4 Story: 11 - Robert Winfrey recalls accepting a teaching position in Boston, Massachusetts

Tape: 4 Story: 12 - Robert Winfrey explains why he left Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Robert Winfrey describes Reverend Dr. Virgil A. Woods

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Robert Winfrey describes his two sons

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Robert Winfrey remembers Rollins Griffith

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Robert Winfrey describes the culture shock he experienced in Boston

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Robert Winfrey explains why he stayed in Boston

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Robert Winfrey recalls adjusting to life in Boston

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Robert Winfrey talks about teaching and developing music programs in Boston

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Robert Winfrey remembers the popularity of his song 'Let's Build A City'

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Robert Winfrey remembers school desegregation in Boston, Massachusetts

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Robert Winfrey recalls the proposal for Boston's Roland Hayes Division of Music

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Robert Winfrey recalls designing the Roland Hayes Division of Music facility

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Robert Winfrey recalls the naming of Roland Hayes Division of Music

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Robert Winfrey describes famous students from Roland Hayes Division of Music

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Robert Winfrey talks about actor and singer Carl Anderson

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Robert Winfrey recalls becoming director of the Kuumba Singers of Harvard College

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Robert Winfrey remembers directing the Kuumba Singers of Harvard College

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Robert Winfrey talks about his retirement

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Robert Winfrey describes the founder of Berklee College of Music, Lawrence Berk

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Robert Winfrey describes how he wants his leadership remembered

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Robert Winfrey describes his post retirement activities

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Robert Winfrey remembers the Carl Anderson tribute in Lynchburg, Virginia

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Robert Winfrey reflects upon his life

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Robert Winfrey describes his hopes for the African American community

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Robert Winfrey describes how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Robert Winfrey narrates his photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

5$6

DAStory

6$5

DATitle
Robert Winfrey recalls adjusting to life in Boston
Robert Winfrey talks about actor and singer Carl Anderson
Transcript
And there were opportunities that began to open up for me to do things.$$For example?$$Well one of the things that I wanted to do is I've always wanted to be I was turned on with young people young minds and I did this in Lynchburg [Virginia] when I worked with some young people who went on to greatness like Carl Anderson and some of the others in fact they're now teaching in the colleges. I've always found that fascinating to motivate achievers, youngsters to achieve and to rise high. So that I, I found myself limited here until I got to know more people. I was introduced by some parents to a METCO [Metropolitan Council for Educational Opportunity, Boston, Massachusetts] program and they said those youngsters could benefit to what you bring so I was interested in developing some kind of music program, maybe a choir or something like that with that program and then other things began to open up, Model Cities. I became a creative arts director for Paul--the executive director by the name of Paul Parks or so the executive director of Model Cities or so and one of the divisions so I became a creative arts. That brought me closer to young minds there over and beyond school.$$This is outside the schools?$$Outside the schools. You see one of the discouragements in schools and this was the thing that really frightened me was when I was accustomed to after school you had after school programs you know rehearsals and other activities. School was just a way of life and in the South. I was accustomed to that and the first thing that my first day of school they told me among and all the new teachers, "Look when the bell sounds for your last class, pack your bags and get out of here." And I said what? I was not accustomed to that. I was accustomed to saying okay young people we'll get together we'll plan a program, we'll plan some activity, we'll do some rehearsing or so for an hour or two. I didn't find that here. And I found that very, very discouraging but this town, this city was going through a transition or so and I guess for safety sake and I still didn't understand that, nobody's gonna bother me or so I wanna stay here. But they told me I couldn't do it, that fifteen minutes I have to get out of the building and that was one of the discouraging aspects of my teaching school here. That changed also. So I began to make other changes began to take place and I felt more like I could contribute to the, to the cultural life of the community, the educational life, motivate youngsters and that bit. And that's why I, I stayed.$Who is Carl Anderson?$$Carl Anderson was perhaps one of my most gifted students, maybe one of the nation's most gifted students, actor, vocalist in 'Color Purple' ['The Color Purple'] you name it. Starred in 'Jesus Christ Superstar' so the movie and the stage production so. I used to get Carl Anderson, Carl Anderson was not with Roland Hayes [Roland Hayes Division of Music at Madison Park High School; Roland Hayes School of Music, Boston, Massachusetts], he was with my first position in Virginia at Dunbar [Paul Laurence Dunbar High School; Paul Laurence Dunbar Middle School for Innovation, Lynchburg, Virginia]. I used to work at the kinds of programs I disappointed in when I first came to Boston [Massachusetts]; I used to work with Carl after school. This when I could get to the individual attention or so after school and in addition to the classroom work after school. Carl went on to he was graduated from Dunbar High School and then he went to Washington, D.C. He went to Howard University [Washington, D.C.] and then he discontinued and he started singing at a church in Washington, D.C. and he formed a group and they were heard and then from there on he went to he auditioned for Broadway, big jump. And he made it. He was selected. Then he auditioned for the movie. He went to Israel and that's where they made the movie. And he went from there to sky's the limit. I'll be sitting in my living room and sometimes I'd be watching 'The Johnny Carson Show' ['The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson'] or some other culture program and there was Carl performing on that program, perhaps my most prolific student or so yeah.

Olly Wilson

Retired music professor and composer Olly Woodrow Wilson, Jr., was born on September 7, 1937, in St. Louis, Missouri, to Alma Grace Peoples Wilson, a seamstress, and Olly Woodrow Wilson, Sr., an insurance salesman and butler. Wilson’s father had the reputation for having the best speaking voice and being the best singer in the family’s church choir. Wilson’s father insisted that all of his children learn to play the piano. As a result, Wilson learned to play the piano at the age of seven. Wilson attended and graduated from Sumner High School in 1955. He participated in a summer music theory program at Washington University the summer after graduation. Wilson applied and was accepted into Washington University in the fall of 1955. He was one of approximately ten African Americans enrolled at the university. Wilson graduated in 1959, earning his B.M. degree in music. He went on to earn his M.M. degree in music composition in 1960 from the University of Illinois.

In 1960, after receiving his master’s degree, Wilson started to look for employment and was offered a teaching position at Florida A&M University. Wilson remained there for two years and returned to school and earned his PhD from the University of Iowa in 1964. Wilson then returned to teach at Florida A&M University for one year before being offered and accepting a position at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music in 1965. He taught at Oberlin for five years, and in 1970, he joined the faculty at the University of California, Berkeley. In 1971, Wilson received a Guggenheim Fellowship and moved to West Africa to study African language and music firsthand. In 1972, he returned to the University of California, Berkeley, and continued to teach while setting up a program for music students to pursue their doctorate and other musical opportunities at the university. Wilson served as chairman of the music department between 1993 and 1997. He held the Jerry and Evelyn Hemmings Chambers Professorship in Music between 1995 and 1998. Wilson retired as professor emeritus at the University of California, Berkeley, in 2002.

Throughout his career, Wilson wrote articles for scholarly journals and recorded albums. Some of his recordings or compositions include Cetus, Piano Piece, Sinfonia, and In Memoriam Martin Luther King, Jr. Wilson won several awards including the Elise Stoeger Prize from the Chamber Music Society of New York’s Lincoln Center in 1992 and election to the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1995.

Wilson passed away on March 12, 2018 at age 80.

Accession Number

A2005.243

Sex

Male

Interview Date

10/14/2005

Last Name

Wilson

Maker Category
Organizations
Schools

Washington University in St Louis

Charles H. Sumner High School

University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign

University of Iowa

First Name

Olly

Birth City, State, Country

St. Louis

HM ID

WIL30

Favorite Season

Fall, Spring

State

Missouri

Favorite Vacation Destination

Italy

Favorite Quote

This Too Shall Pass.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

California

Birth Date

9/7/1937

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Bay Area/Berkeley

Country

United States

Favorite Food

None

Death Date

3/12/2018

Short Description

Music professor and music composer Olly Wilson (1937 - 2018 ) was professor emeritus of music at the University of California, Berkeley. His recordings and compositions include, "Cetus," "Piano Piece," "Sinfonia," and, "In Memoriam Martin Luther King, Jr."

Employment

Florida A & M University

Oberlin Conservatory of Music

University of California Berkeley

Favorite Color

Blue, Red, Yellow

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Olly Wilson's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Olly Wilson lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Olly Wilson describes his mother, Alma Peoples Wilson

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Olly Wilson describes his mother's education

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Olly Wilson describes his parents' marriage and his mother's occupations

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Olly Wilson describes his mother's childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Olly Wilson describes his father, Olly Wilson, Sr.

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Olly Wilson recalls visiting his stepmother in the South

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Olly Wilson describes how his parents met

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Olly Wilson describes his biological paternal grandmother

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Olly Wilson describes his father's occupation

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Olly Wilson describes his mother's family background

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Olly Wilson describes his father's family background

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Olly Wilson describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Olly Wilson describes his siblings

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Olly Wilson describes his neighborhood in St. Louis, Missouri

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Olly Wilson remembers World War II

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Olly Wilson describes his father's job as a railway mail clerk

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Olly Wilson recalls moving to an integrated neighborhood

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Olly Wilson describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Olly Wilson remembers his neighbors preparing chickens for dinner

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Olly Wilson describes the churches in St. Louis, Missouri

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Olly Wilson describes the congregation at First Baptist Church in St. Louis, Missouri

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Olly Wilson recalls his musical education

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Olly Wilson remembers playing piano at St. Louis' First Baptist Church

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Olly Wilson describes his relationship to music and his father

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Olly Wilson remembers visiting his aunt in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Olly Wilson remembers his uncle

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Olly Wilson recalls performing music as a teenager

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Olly Wilson describes St. Louis, Missouri's musical history

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Olly Wilson describes his experience in segregated schools

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Olly Wilson recalls applying to Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Olly Wilson remembers racism at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Olly Wilson remembers the difficulty of getting a job at a white university

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Olly Wilson reflects upon black academia in the 1950s and 1960s

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Olly Wilson describes the political climate at Oberlin Conservatory of Music

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Olly Wilson remembers teaching at the University of California, Berkeley

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Olly Wilson remembers traveling to Ghana on a Guggenheim Fellowship

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Olly Wilson remembers establishing affirmative action initiatives at the University of California, Berkeley, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Olly Wilson remembers establishing affirmative action initiatives at the University of California, Berkeley, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 11 - Olly Wilson talks about his retirement

Tape: 4 Story: 12 - Olly Wilson describes his musical influences, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Olly Wilson describes his musical influences, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Olly Wilson explains how he uses electronic music in his compositions

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Olly Wilson describes collaborating with Mary Lovelace O'Neal for his piece 'Call and Response'

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Olly Wilson describes his composition 'Hold On'

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Olly Wilson describes some of his most notable compositions and commissions

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Olly Wilson explains the appeal of popular music

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Olly Wilson describes his plans for the future

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Olly Wilson talks about his family

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Olly Wilson describes his core values

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Olly Wilson describes how he would like to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$4

DAStory

2$7

DATitle
Olly Wilson recalls his musical education
Olly Wilson remembers teaching at the University of California, Berkeley
Transcript
Now, because of music, because my father [Olly Wilson, Sr.] was active in the choir, then we were active. There was a children's choir. There were actually three choirs in the church [First Baptist Church, St. Louis, Missouri]. There was a big, you know, behind the pulpit, there were a choir loft, which sort of went up in the ceiling and the church was probably forty, fifty feet high. Well, it was a little higher than, it was really high, you know, the steeples and all that kind of stuff but then there were, there was a gosp- there was a senior choir which sat in the middle which sang primarily anthems and hymns. There was a young person's choir, which sat on the right side and they sang maybe, they had a special Sunday they sang and they sang anthems, hymns and maybe some other songs. Then there was the gospel choir that sang gospel music but that was a choir that was gospel, it wasn't particularly good but they were trying to sing gospel, okay, so, and gospel was relatively, people knew gospel but this was sort of the beginning of it. Gospel had only been around as a regular church thing in about twenty-something years, you know, within that time. There were other things around the turn of the century but gospel, as we tend to think of it as being separate and distinct from what everybody else sang, wasn't really true until the '20s [1920s] and then in the, in the '40s [1940s] and it also had a strong social aspect to it, that is, gospel, you associate it with storefront churches, churches and evangelical kinds of ministers and so forth and they would come and go. You'd see a church that store or a barbershop was out and then the next day the windows would be painted and then somebody's MB [ph.] church, Baptist church or, or some kind of sanctified or AM- you know, something like that. And so that wouldn't last. This was a church that had rooted in history and so forth so you got a lot of people there who's large and a well-known institution but the gospel choir was there. Now, because, because my father was a musician, he insisted that all of his children learn music very early. And so we all at, before we were ten, certainly, most of us around eight, you know, seven, eight, I think I was about seven or eight when we started, he, and then also about that time, his personal economic situation was, was reasonably good. So he insisted that we all take piano lessons from, what he thought was the best teacher, teachers he could and there was a school there, school of music in St. Louis [Missouri] called the Krieger School of Music [ph.] and this was a predominantly white institution but they did accept anybody that could pay the monies for the lessons. And he had heard because he, he knew other musicians and he knew people who were educated musicians and so forth and, and because, though he sang, he didn't, he never learned how to play the piano well and he wanted his kids to be able to play the piano. I often joke and say, well, he insisted that all of his children learned to play the piano because he wanted to raise accompanists, you know, and so forth. So, at age seven, eight, we were taken over to this school and we were, you know, we'd learned piano and we were learning Western European music, you know, started out straight, straight to learned kind of music and so that's what we were doing. And my oldest sister [Gloria Wilson], the one who was the, who was five years older than me, and then the second one [Jean Wilson] who was just a year and a half older than me and myself, we all, we were taking it all at the same time. We studied with the same teacher, Mrs. Bergfeld [ph.], or something like that, and it was, you know, so it was a, it was, and so we learned quickly. I guess we just, all of us seemed to have some natural musical talent and, you know, and it was also pleasing your father because he wanted you to do it, you wanted to do it and besides, if he said do something, you'd do it, you know, and so forth. So, we got involved in that and after a while, we all liked it, you know. So, I didn't have to be told you got to practice, I wanted to practice. I wanted to please my father. I wanted to please the teachers. I wanted to do that and I happened to be reasonably adept at doing it. So, you know, that's what I did.$After you left Oberlin [Oberlin Conservatory of Music, Oberlin, Ohio], you came to--?$$After Oberlin I came to the University of California, Berkeley [Berkeley, California] and I came there in 1970 and, and came here as an assistant professor. I had just been appointed associate professor. I was going to be appointed associate professor with tenure at Oberlin but I came to Berkeley because it was, I came out and saw this beautiful place and California was marvelous. Oberlin's a nice place and very, but, it was small--$$It snowed.$$--it was small, you know. It's a different thing. So, I went, I came to Berkeley and I was really happy that this worked out for me and then, and some of the same issues were happening out here. The Third World Strike had happened in '68 [1968]. I came out--actually, my appointment was in '69 [1969]. I didn't, I deferred that 'cause I didn't want to come out until '70 [1970] so I didn't come out until '70 [1970] but I came out in '69 [1969] when the Third World Strike was going on, I talked to people and I saw, some of the craziness that was going on in the African American studies department because I was one of the creators of the African American studies program at Oberlin and then I said, wait a minute, you know, I said, my, that, since I was invited by the music department, I got the department of music, but I said look, I want to teach courses, and I had started a course in African American music at Oberlin and all I was teaching everything else, to composition, to theory and all that stuff, but I, I wanted to teach courses in African American music because here was something that was important that historically hadn't been covered here and so I wanted to do that. And so the question was, do you want a department in African American studies? I said, well let me find out, you know, 'cause I have a joint appointment. I said, let me find out what's going over in Africa. So at that point I went over and talked to a few people. I said, no, this is a mess. This is a zoo. There are too many crazy people with, with different things so I said, no, I will teach a course, I'll cross list the course if the African American studies are permitted, wants me to, wants me to do that but I'm not going to get involved in that zoo at that point. So--$$Yeah, there was a lot of infighting there.$$So, that's right, and by the time you guys got there, it was very smooth by comparison but in the, in the middle of the '70s [1970s], early '70s [1970s], it was still kind of crazy.

Harold Wheeler

Producer and score composer for stage and film, Harold Wheeler, was born William Harold Wheeler, Jr., on July 14, 1943, in St. Louis, Missouri. Wheeler’s parents, William Harold Wheeler, Sr., and Roxetta McGee Wheeler, raised their child prodigy son in a three-room home. At Antioch Baptist Church, where the members included Chuck Berry and Ike and Tina Turner, Wheeler played the piano for Sunday school at age five. Wheeler attended Turner Branch Elementary School and graduated from Sumner High School in 1960. At Howard University, Wheeler met Roberta Flack, Stokeley Carmichael, Charles Johnson, Donny Hathaway, and his future wife, Hattie Winston. Graduating from Howard University in 1964, Wheeler earned his Master of Music degree from Manhattan School of Music in 1968.

From 1968 to 1971, Wheeler worked as an assistant program director for CBS-FM Radio in New York. In 1971, Wheeler left CBS in order to compose his own music and coach other performers. That same year, composer Burt Bacharach hired Wheeler for his new musical Promises, Promises, making him the youngest conductor on Broadway. Wheeler was soon working with Michael Bennett composing dance music for A Chorus Line; he went on to work with Bennett on Dreamgirls, Coco and SCANDAL. In 1971, Wheeler worked as musical director for Melvin Van Peeble’s groundbreaking musical Ain’t Supposed to Die a Natural Death, and for Don’t Play Us Cheap in 1972.

Nominated for six Tony Awards for his work on the musicals, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Hairspray, The Full Monty, Swing!, Little Me and The Life, Wheeler won the Drama Desk Award for Hairspray for Best Orchestrations. From 1971 to 1979, Wheeler composed jingles for Pepsi, Coca-Cola, TWA, United Airlines, McDonald’s and Folgers (The best part of waking up…). Wheeler’s motion picture credits include: Straight Out of Brooklyn; Love! Valour! Compassion!; Spanish Judges; Cotton Comes to Harlem; Fortune and Men’s Eyes; Hercules; City Slickers; Keeping the Faith; and The Kid. Wheeler was arranger and/or music director for special events such as the 1995 and 1996 People’s Choice Awards; Motown 30 “What’s Goin On?”; the 1996 Olympics; the 1996 and 2000 Democratic National Conventions; 2002 American Film Institute Awards; and the 2003 Academy Awards.

Wheeler has arranged and produced for Debbie Allen, Anita Baker, Peabo Bryson, Aretha Franklin, Della Reese, Nina Simone, B.B. King, Smokey Robinson, Diana Ross, Freda Payne, Kathleen Battle, Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder, Al Green, Englebert Humperdinck, Irene Cara, Joe Cocker, Dizzy Gillespie, Gloria Gaynor, Chita Rivera, Whitney Houston, and Stephanie Mills, among scores of other performers. Considered one of the premier arrangers in the music business, Wheeler resides in Los Angeles with his wife, actress and musical star Hattie Winston.

Accession Number

A2005.224

Sex

Male

Interview Date

10/3/2005

10/3/2005 |and| 10/16/2019

Last Name

Wheeler

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Organizations
Schools

Turner Branch Elementary School

Charles H. Sumner High School

Turner Branch Big Picture Middle School

Manhattan School of Music

Howard University

First Name

Harold

Birth City, State, Country

St. Louis

HM ID

WHE03

Favorite Season

Holiday Season

State

Missouri

Favorite Vacation Destination

Caribbean, Bahamas

Favorite Quote

The Best Way To Gain Self Confidence Is To Try And Do Something That You Are Afraid To Do.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

California

Birth Date

7/14/1943

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Los Angeles

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Fried Chicken

Short Description

Music composer and music producer Harold Wheeler (1943 - ) has been nominated for six Tony Awards. His film credits include, "Straight Out of Brooklyn," and "Cotton Comes To Harlem."

Employment

Self Employed

CBS-FM Radio

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Harold Wheeler's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Harold Wheeler lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Harold Wheeler describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Harold Wheeler describes his mother's childhood and move to St. Louis

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Harold Wheeler describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Harold Wheeler describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Harold Wheeler describes how his parents met

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Harold Wheeler describes his childhood homes in St. Louis, Missouri

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Harold Wheeler describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Harold Wheeler describes his parents' personalities and who he takes after

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Harold Wheeler describes his personality as a child

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Harold Wheeler describes his education in St. Louis, Missouri

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Harold Wheeler describes his musical activities during high school

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Harold Wheeler recalls notable musicians from St. Louis, Missouri

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Harold Wheeler recalls his aspirations and gifts as a musician

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Harold Wheeler remembers his classical music education

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Harold Wheeler recalls his decision to attend Howard University

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Harold Wheeler recalls fellow classmates at Howard University in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Harold Wheeler recalls his time at Howard University in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Harold Wheeler recalls his jobs during college and his musical interests

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Harold Wheeler recalls living in Washington, D.C. during the mid-1960s

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Harold Wheeler recalls the Manhattan School of Music and working for CBS

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Harold Wheeler remembers his initial experience on Broadway

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Harold Wheeler remembers working with HistoryMaker Melvin Van Peebles

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Harold Wheeler recalls business lessons from HistoryMaker Melvin Van Peebles

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Harold Wheeler describes HistoryMaker Melvin Van Peebles' personality

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Harold Wheeler describes his disco music and his jingle writing company

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Harold Wheeler describes his work on 'The Wiz'

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Harold Wheeler describes his work on 'Dreamgirls' and other Broadway shows

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Harold Wheeler recalls his work for the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Harold Wheeler reflects upon African Americans' presence in the entertainment industry

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Harold Wheeler reflects upon the importance of role models

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Harold Wheeler describes his work as a record producer

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Harold Wheeler describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Harold Wheeler reflects upon his life, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Harold Wheeler reflects upon his legacy, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Harold Wheeler reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Harold Wheeler narrates his photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$4

DAStory

4$6

DATitle
Harold Wheeler describes his work on 'The Wiz'
Harold Wheeler recalls his work for the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia
Transcript
We passed by 'The Wiz' for some reason. But, tell us about 'The Wiz.'$$During the, the, I guess the era when, I mean because all of these things are happening simultaneously. I mean, I'm doing jingles at the same time I'm doing disco at the same time I'm doing theater. You know, 'The Wiz' was a wonderful opportunity because it's a black composer, black producer for the show, all black show, you know, and since Melvin [HistoryMaker Melvin Van Peebles] shows, you know, there hadn't been--I had done music on 'Chorus Line' ['A Chorus Line'] and here comes 'The Wiz' and it's like it was wonderful. Stephanie Mills was fifteen years old, and Stephanie is still a good friend to this day, and it's, it was a pleasure working on it. It got bad reviews and partially because, I think, the white press was saying, "How dare you mess with 'The Wonderful Wizard of Oz' ['The Wizard of Oz'] with Judy Garland and the whole thing." But we went on a campaign, which is something that the producers learned from Melvin Van Peebles, how to get the black audience into the theater, so we went into the churches. We started bussing them from Baltimore [Maryland], Washington, D.C., Philly [Philadelphia, Pennsylvania], everywhere, and giving the impression that this show was the biggest thing since you could name it. It took six months before we built up to the point where you couldn't get a seat, but the people that read the reviews first said, "I'm not gonna come out," they're white audiences. They're not really supporting the show, until the word was out that you can't get a seat. It's a hit. And we started to get the white audience in there, and then one of the critics from The New York Times agreed to come back and re-review it and one year later on the anniversary date of when he hated it, and he gave it a rave review. He gave it a rave review, realizing he--I, and he printed his old review at the top half of the entertainment section and it's a new one underneath, so you could even compare, you know, and then it was history.$$[HistoryMaker] Geoffrey Holder won a Tony [Antoinette Perry Award for Excellence in Theatre; Tony Award] for director.$$Geoffrey won, yeah. So, you know, it was my first theater experience with an all-black show on that level. You know, Melvin's show was a smaller show, you know, intimate, twelve people in the cast, but this was considered a big Broadway musical.$Tell us about the Olympics [1996 Summer Olympics, Atlanta, Georgia], too. That was '96 [1996] when you did the orchestrations for the Olympics (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) Yeah. The Olympics--$$It took you three, we were talking about this before we started. It took you three years (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) The process of preparing for the Olympics, and it's for every Olympics too, not just '96 [1996] is, when the Olympics in '92 [1992] started, all the work began then for what we were going to do for '96 [1996]. My call came in '93 [1993]. They said we want you to be musical director for the opening ceremonies, and it's a huge job so I split it with one other person. There's just too much, you know, for one person to do, but we worked for three years deciding what it is we were going to do, what kind of music we were going to do, the kind of things we were going to hire. The talent pool, we used about twenty thousand people from Atlanta [Georgia] and surrounding areas to be a part of this pageantry; dancers, marching bands, and you know, the whole thing, and of course the orchestra was the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. And again, I come from a classical background, so this was something that I was not afraid of, and there were a couple of black members of the orchestra when I conducted my first big piece for them, and so forth, they were looking around and the rest of the orchestra was sounding fine and I looked back at one of the sections and I see a brother back there and he says, (gesture) he gives me the thumbs up and he's just so proud to see a brother, doing this, but it was a lot of work and it's very hot in Atlanta but I did a Martin Luther King [Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.] tribute, and we, a tremendous amount of the music that was, that was used, but it's a four-hour ceremony and I have a video tape of the whole thing and it's probably one of the highlights of my career, just because it's the Olympics. I mean, I've done a lot of things but this is a very special and the producers of the show who asked me to be a part of it had worked with me on other shows, Kennedy Center Honors, and lots of other shows, so they were calling me simply because, he's good at what he does and this is the Olympics and we only want the best, and they're not looking at black and white at all, the people that hire me in the industry, and I'm happy about that. They do not say, "We're fulfilling a quota." They say, "This guy is good." Now, I believe if there was somebody white that was better or just as good, that might get them, but they know what they get when they hire me. They know it's gonna be quality work and I feel the pressure always to give them quality work. I cannot slip. I cannot slip at all.