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Skip Cunningham

Entertainer Skip Cunningham was born on April 24, 1936 to Geneva Davis and William Henry Cunningham in Chicago, Illinois. He graduated from Morgan Park High School and attended the University of Illinois at Navy Pier, before transferring to Woodrow Wilson Junior College where he received his A.A. degree in 1956.

In 1941, at the age of five, Cunningham started tap lessons at the Sadie Bruce Dance School in the Bronzeville area of Chicago. Starting at the age of eight, he performed throughout the city and won several dance competitions. He visited California in 1956, where he won a talent contest that earned him a week-long engagement performing at the Moulin Rouge on the Sunset Strip in Los Angeles. In 1957, while still in Los Angeles, he was drafted into the U.S. Army and completed basic training at Fort Lewis in Tacoma, Washington. He was stationed at Fort Gordon in Georgia and Fort Banks in Winthrop, Massachusetts, where he found a talent agent and joined the American Guild of Variety Artists. In 1959, Cunningham completed his military service. He returned to Chicago, where he secured a role performing in the Billy Williams Revue. Over the next two years, the group toured Canada, New York, New Orleans and Las Vegas, where they established a six-month residency, before returning to New York City in 1961. Cunningham left the group and secured General Artist Corporation as his agent. During this period, he made appearances on television shows like On Broadway Tonight, The Merv Griffin Show, and The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. As an entertainer, he performed with Tony Bennett, Nat King Cole, Bob Hope, Jerry Lewis, Richard Pryor, and Frank Sinatra. He was also a recording artist for such labels as Kapp Records, Coral Records, and Motown.

In 1968, Cunningham moved to Los Angeles, where he began performing on cruise ship circuits and making various television and movie appearances. Cunningham was featured on episodes of Sanford and Son and The Richard Pryor Show. He also performed briefly in Eubie! on Broadway and in a production of Evolution of the Blues at the Drury Lane Theater at the Water Tower Place in Chicago in 1980. In 1984, Cunningham worked on the films, The Cotton Club and later Taps, in 1989. Cunningham also worked for the Los Angeles Unified School District to teach performance arts and African American history. In 2002, Cunningham was cast in the David Whitfield production of Forgotten Treasures with Marla Gibbs and Lou Myers. Cunningham was then selected to perform for the 2003 Jerry Lewis Muscular Dystrophy Telethon, along with Fayard Nicholas, Arlene Kennedy and Arthur Duncan. Cunningham appeared with Century Ballroom Presents The Masters of Lindy Hop & Tap, before retiring from the stage in 2009.

As a tap master, Cunningham was awarded the Chicago Human Rhythm Project Juba Award, Rhythm Tap Hall of Fame Master Tapper Award, and the Los Angeles Tap Festival Leonard Reed Longevity Award.

Skip Cunningham was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on February 7, 2019.

Accession Number

A2019.013

Sex

Male

Interview Date

2/7/2019

Last Name

Cunningham

Maker Category
Marital Status

Divorced

Occupation
Organizations
Schools

Morgan Park High School

University of Illinois at Navy Pier

Kennedy–King College

First Name

Skip

Birth City, State, Country

Chicago

HM ID

CUN03

Favorite Season

Chicago - Four Seasons, California - All Year

State

Illinois

Favorite Vacation Destination

United States

Favorite Quote

Got Dammit!

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

California

Birth Date

4/24/1936

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Los Angeles

Favorite Food

Steak

Short Description

Entertainer Skip Cunningham (1936 - ) toured with the Billy Williams Revue and made numerous appearances on The Merv Griffin Show and The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, and was featured in Eubie! on Broadway and in Evolution of the Blues.

Employment

U.S. Army

American Guild of Variety Artists

Billy Williams Revue

Genderal Artist Corporation

Los Angeles Unified School District

Favorite Color

Blue

Martha Jordan

Martha Jordan was born on January 22, 1927, in St. Louis, Missouri. Jordan was adopted as a baby by Dr. Chalmers Weaver, a local dentist and his wife, Eliza. Jordan attended Simmons Elementary School, and because of her love for music, Jordan took tap and ballet classes as well as piano lessons. Jordan then attended Charles H. Sumner High School where she danced in the Y Circus, a type of music revue that featured popular musicians of that time; she graduated in 1943, at age sixteen.

Jordan promised her parents that she would go to college if they allowed her to work at the Plantation Club in St. Louis as a dancer for one year. When that year ended, she did not attend college, and instead went to Chicago with show producer-dancer Hortense Allen Jordan to work at the Rhumboogie Club as a chorus girl. Jordan performed with the chorus line for shows that featured Cab Calloway, Nat King Cole, Duke Ellington, and Pearl Bailey, who was one of her good friends. Jordan appeared in one of the first all African American shows in Las Vegas at the Dunes Hotel: Smart Affairs , produced by Larry Steele.

In the early 1960s, Jordan moved to Los Angeles during the decline in popularity of chorus line shows; there she took a real estate course and received her broker’s license. At this time, Jordan became engaged to music great, Louis Jordan, and they married in 1966. Louis Jordan was famous for his recorded hits, Let the Good Times Roll and Is You Is or Is You Ain’t My Baby. Jordan traveled and sang with the Louis Jordan Band and took care of the finances. Jordan stopped touring in the early 1970s and began working as an office manager for a Santa Monica elementary school. Louis Jordan passed away in 1975, and in 1980, Jordan moved to Las Vegas where she worked for the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department as a records technician. She then retired in 1990.

Jordan served as president of the Las Vegas Chapter of Links, Inc.; a member of the Girl Friends, Inc.; and founder and CEO of the Louie Jordan Commemorative Scholarship Foundation.

Jordan passed away on May 28, 2016 at age 89.

Accession Number

A2007.126

Sex

Female

Interview Date

4/6/2007

Last Name

Jordan

Maker Category
Occupation
Schools

Charles H. Sumner High School

Simmons Elementary School

Saint Louis University

First Name

Martha

Birth City, State, Country

St. Louis

HM ID

JOR04

Favorite Season

Summer

State

Missouri

Favorite Vacation Destination

Greek Islands

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Nevada

Birth Date

1/22/1927

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Las Vegas

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Soul Food

Death Date

5/28/2016

Short Description

Entertainer and dancer Martha Jordan (1927 - 2016 ) appeared in one of the first all African American shows in Las Vegas, Smart Affairs, produced by Larry Steele, and was the founder and CEO of the Louie Jordan Commemorative Scholarship Fund. Jordan worked as a backup chorus dancer for music legends such as Cab Calloway, Nat King Cole, Duke Ellington, and Pearl Bailey, in addition to touring with her husband, Louis Jordan.

Employment

Plantation Club

Rhumboogie Cafe

Dunes Hotel

Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department

Favorite Color

Purple

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Martha Jordan's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Martha Jordan lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Martha Jordan describes her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Martha Jordan describes her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Martha Jordan describes her parents' personalities

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Martha Jordan describes her community in St. Louis, Missouri

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Martha Jordan remembers performing with the Y Circus in St. Louis, Missouri

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Martha Jordan recalls her early education

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Martha Jordan describes her early interest in music and dance

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Martha Jordan remembers her childhood friends

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Martha Jordan describes her extracurricular activities

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Martha Jordan talks about her adoption, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Martha Jordan talks about her adoption, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Martha Jordan recalls breaking the dress code at Charles H. Sumner High School in St. Louis, Missouri

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Martha Jordan remembers he popular musicians from her childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Martha Jordan talks about her family reunions

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Martha Jordan remembers performing for soldiers during World War II

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Martha Jordan describes her decision to pursue a career in show business

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Martha Jordan describes her early dancing career

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Martha Jordan describes the culture of show business

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Martha Jordan describes her experiences as a chorus girl, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Martha Jordan describes her experiences as a chorus girl, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Martha Jordan talks about African American owned clubs and theater productions

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Martha Jordan describes her dancing career in Las Vegas, Nevada

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Martha Jordan describes her dancing and real estate career in Los Angeles, California

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Martha Jordan describes the racial discrimination in the entertainment industry

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Martha Jordan describes her marriage to Louis Jordan

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Martha Jordan talks about Louis Jordan's singing career

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Martha Jordan describes her travel experiences

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Martha Jordan remembers her colleagues in show business, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Martha Jordan remembers her colleagues in show business, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Martha Jordan remembers her colleagues in show business, pt. 3

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Martha Jordan describes her career in Los Angeles, California and Las Vegas, Nevada

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Martha Jordan describes her organizational involvement

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Martha Jordan talks about her autobiography, 'The Debutante That Went Astray'

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Martha Jordan reflects upon her life

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Martha Jordan describes how she would like to be remembered

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Martha Jordan narrates her photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$4

DAStory

1$3

DATitle
Martha Jordan describes her experiences as a chorus girl, pt. 1
Martha Jordan remembers her colleagues in show business, pt. 2
Transcript
Now, tell me what it's like to, to be a chorus girl.$$To be a chorus girl. Well, you know, at sixteen, it's altogether different than it would be now. But then, it was very, very exciting because you get the chance at the time--I got a chance to travel around the world. I got--well not actually around the world, around the United States. I got a chance--well, I'm a flighty sixteen and I got a chance to meet people, you know. You get to be flighty and, like I said, and I got to meet celebrities and that was my big thing. So when I first went, I went with Hortense [Hortense Allen Jordan] and she--and we worked the Plantation [Plantation Club; Palladium] in St. Louis [Missouri]. From there, we went to Chicago [Illinois]. Well, Charlie Glenn owned the Rhumboogie [Rhumboogie Cafe] in Chicago, which is a black owned club. The Plantation was really all white. Nat Cole [Nat King Cole] was one that we worked with at the Plantation in St. Louis. It was owned--really owned by the mafia 'cause all the guys, Tony [Tony Scarpelli] and all of them, all the bosses were mafia, but you knew this and nobody bothered you and you did not socialize at all, thank goodness. I mean, you were not--you know, you--it was not permitted and all this, which was good because we didn't want to anyhow because they were all Caucasians and we, you know, couldn't go out and--well, you couldn't go out and socialize for the simple reason you didn't have anybody because it was a white club. It was in St. Louis. But when I left there, we rehearsed--in the Plantation, we did three shows a night and, and when we left there and we went to the Rhumboogie which we only did two shows a night, so a much easier job. As a chorus girl, usually if you're in a club and if you're gonna stay in a club for a while just like, say the Rhumboogie and you're gonna be there for like--he hired the whole chorus line so that meant--the chorus line is the backbone of a show. Like, you have celebrities that come in, but you change your celebrities. Your chorus line, you usually do a show a good month without changing, so that means that we have, okay, we're doing three numbers. While we're doing those three numbers before the month is out, we will have to rehearse. And we were working at night, so we will rehearse during the day to learn the new show which you're doing three numbers in the new show, so it is not an easy--it's not--it's not all what it is cut out to be that you don't work. You're working very hard. You're working at night and you're tired and you're facing--you got to be on that stage and you have to be perppy [ph.] and looking good and frisky and smiling and all this. Now, we have nothing to do with the costumes. We have a costumer. Most of the shows have costumers that they get. Any show that you're on, they usually have a costume person. And they come in and they--the producer that you're working for does the show, they'll teach you the routines if--okay, say for instance, we had Larry Steele who was not a dancer, he had Hortense Allen who took us into the Plantation and also the Rhumboogie. Hortense was a dancer and a producer, but she worked with Larry and Ziggy [Joe "Ziggy" Johnson] in the Rhumboogie when we first went in the Rhumboogie. Ziggy was the producer and an emcee, but Hortense was a predominant dancer, but they worked together as a team to teach us the routines for the show. It might be Ziggy's idea that he wanted to do a Christmas show. Okay, Hortense might put some of the steps and things to the different numbers. He has a designer in Chicago at the Rhumboogie who does the costumes. They'll do costumes for these--we have three--a set of three costumes for this show. While we're rehearsing for the new show, she's making costumes for that new show. So when the new show comes in, we--we'll rehearse--okay, say for, for instance, to make it kind of easy, we rehearse about--all of us our professionals, so we rehearse about two weeks for the new show. So, we're learning three numbers in two weeks. That's just about it. So, you're rehearsing two weeks out of that month plus you're doing your show at night. That's the hardest time really is when you're working at night and rehearsing in the day. And we'll rehearse like about--usually you rehearse at least two to three hours a day. You do not rehearse on weekends. They finally said no weekends, thank goodness. But you do--so you have that, that free. But most of the shows, you do rehearse especially when you're in a club.$And what about--you worked with Louis Armstrong or Ethel Waters?$$I worked with Ethel in the Club Baron, one--a club I worked in New York [New York] when I first got in. And, boy, she was--she was--Ethel was--she was a singer, but you couldn't do too much around her to distract anything. That's--really, she would go off on you if you did. But we'd be in the line, if you're putting your feet, messing your feet too much, she would--we'd sway and, but if you mess your feet too much, Ethel would wanna come down and lay you out and all, but she was nice people to work with. She was okay, she really was.$$And what about Louis Armstrong?$$Oh, that was my bud. We had an affair and he was really great people, he really was. He's one of the nicest men in the world, really. Pops was just great. He was--he never changed. Now, he married women that changed and I used to say, "Pops, you got women that--you got some wives that they, they, they--your talent went to their heads," which they did 'cause he was very down to earth, very regular, and would treat everybody equal. But he had some--a couple of wives that though they were better than everybody, which was not true 'cause they were all ex-chorus girls and they were ridiculous. But, Pops was great. I know my mother [Jordan's adoptive mother, Eliza Stone Weaver] was very sick once and he sent her a, a dozen of the prettiest red roses I had ever seen in my life. And the pe- the women at the, at, at the hospital flipped because they knew it was from Louis Armstrong, you know. 'Cause they kept asking about, "Is that your son?" "No, hell no (laughter)," unh-uh.$$Well, you, you talked about Sammy Davis [Sammy Davis, Jr.], but did you know much about the, the Rat Pack, about--$$No (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) None, so you didn't know--$$No. I was around Sammy--$$--Jerry Lewis?$$I was around Sammy, but--I met Sinatra [Frank Sinatra] once, but I never--I never was around them, unh-uh.$$What about Jerry Lewis?$$Hm?$$Jerry Lewis.$$Jerry Lewis, I, I met him once.$$Okay.$$I just met him with Louis [Louis Jordan] once and I had a picture made with him, but that's it.$$Okay. So, I mean, you worked with so many wonderful talents, Sarah Vaughan?$$One of my greatest friends, one of my greatest friends. I adored her and we adored each other. Sassy was just--she's beautiful people. We met years ago before she got to be the great Miss Vaughan and we remained friends until she died, actually. I mean, she was just--she was a sweetheart. And so many people didn't realize, the woman had a heart of gold. And they used to say, "Oh, she's so ugly," but she wasn't. To me, she was beautiful 'cause she was just that sweet. But, you know, a lot of people--you'd be--you have to see through it and, well her voice. Let's not even discuss that (laughter). I won't even go into that, so, really 'cause she had a voice and a range that I don't think anybody can copy. But Sassy was so down, it was just something else.

William "Bob" Bailey

Dr. William H. “Bob” Bailey was born on February 14, 1927, in Detroit, Michigan, to a family with a strong musical tradition; vocal star Pearl Bailey was Bailey’s second cousin, and Pearl's brother, Bill, was a professional dancer and singer before her. When Bailey’s father lost his job during the Great Depression, the family moved to Cleveland, Ohio, where Bailey grew up and learned to sing in church choirs. Bailey finished high school at age sixteen with the intention to become an international lawyer; his grades and vocal talent had won him a scholarship to Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia.

Bailey worked his way through college by performing in a local night club; during one of these performances, he was approached by bandleader Benny Goodman, and John Hammond, a sponsor of Count Basie. After auditioning while on Christmas break, Bailey was hired by Basie himself. Bailey left Morehouse College while studying business law to be a featured singer in Count Basie’s band.

In 1950, Bailey enrolled in the School of Radio and Television in New York and attended specialized studies at the Columbia Theater Wing. Bailey was later offered a position at the Moulin Rouge Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas as a co-producer and Master of Ceremonies, eventually landing him a job as the host of a variety show called Talk of the Town on CBS affiliate, KLAS Channel 8. Talk of the Town was the first show in the nation to be entirely produced, starred in, and directed by black talent; he was the producer and director of the show. From 1965 to 1971, Bailey was a newscaster and variety show host for ABC affiliate, Channel 13 in Las Vegas.

Bailey became known as a civil rights pioneer in Las Vegas entertainment and broadcasting due to his role in the desegregation of the State of Nevadal his night club, Sugar Hill, and other businesses employed over 100 African Americans. Bailey later began Manpower Services, which trained 1,000 African Americans to work in gaming and related businesses.

In 1989, Bailey became national deputy director of the Minority Business Development Agency, U.S. Department of Commerce. Bailey was a member of the first graduating class of the Institute of Minority Business Education at Howard University School of Business; he was an outspoken advocate for minority small business and self-sufficiency for nearly a half century. In 2006, a middle school in Las Vegas was named after Bailey for his contributions to community building and education both in the state of Nevada, and nationwide.

Bailey passed away on May 24, 2014 at age 87.

Accession Number

A2007.124

Sex

Male

Interview Date

4/5/2007 |and| 11/2/2007

Last Name

Bailey

Middle Name

"Bob"

Schools

Central High School

Bolton Elementary School

Kinnard Junior High School

Morehouse College

School of Radio and Television

First Name

William

Birth City, State, Country

Detroit

HM ID

BAI05

Favorite Season

February

State

Michigan

Favorite Vacation Destination

San Diego, California

Favorite Quote

Education Is The Light That Blinds Ignorance.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Nevada

Birth Date

2/14/1927

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Las Vegas

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Seafood

Death Date

5/24/2014

Short Description

Civil rights activist and entertainer William "Bob" Bailey (1927 - 2014 ) hosted Talk of the Town, the first television program in Nevada entirely produced, directed and featuring African American talent. He also advocated for the desegregation of Nevada's gaming industry.

Employment

B and C railway

Count Basie's band

'Sugar Hill'

Small's Paradise

Club 845

Moulin Rouge Hotel

'Talk of the Town'

Radio Show

Town Tavern

Sugar Hill

Minority Business Development Agency

Favorite Color

Beige

Timing Pairs
0,0:55944,575:65120,671:65743,680:67078,699:104050,1006:118372,1184:118728,1189:153114,1489:153502,1494:154084,1501:163460,1575:166364,1632:183076,1784:186212,1840:195015,1950:195315,1955:195990,1965:196290,1970:199515,2024:200340,2037:200640,2042:214362,2149:230396,2323:257831,2560:258454,2569:258810,2574:266066,2648:269020,2666:270910,2689:291662,2955:296610,2983:297523,2991:299970,3009:300565,3017:303030,3048:307535,3185:323090,3318:325066,3353:325750,3364:330272,3395:334210,3432$0,0:4720,101:8160,193:8560,265:39452,458:75795,875:78344,893:79134,904:101581,1124:107207,1262:121478,1409:122752,1424:129540,1453:133440,1513:139578,1586:156580,1776:156980,1788:171922,1975:172696,1985:222816,2608:235957,2721:267610,3028
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of William "Bob" Bailey's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - William "Bob" Bailey lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - William "Bob" Bailey describes his parents' family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - William "Bob" Bailey talks about his mother's childhood and profession

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - William "Bob" Bailey describes how his parents met

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - William "Bob" Bailey talks about his family's migration to the North

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - William "Bob" Bailey remembers his mother's personality

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - William "Bob" Bailey describes his relationship with his father

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - William "Bob" Bailey remembers the Outhwaite Homes in Cleveland, Ohio

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - William "Bob" Bailey recalls his experiences during the Great Depression

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - William "Bob" Bailey recalls the Portland Outhwaite Recreation Center in Cleveland, Ohio

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - William "Bob" Bailey talks about the black-owned businesses in Cleveland, Ohio

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - William "Bob" Bailey remembers his early education

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - William "Bob" Bailey describes his experiences at Kennard Junior High School in Cleveland, Ohio

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - William "Bob" Bailey describes his experiences at Central High School in Cleveland, Ohio

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - William "Bob" Bailey describes his family's interest in music

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - William "Bob" Bailey recalls his decision to attend Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - William "Bob" Bailey talks about his aspiration to become a lawyer

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - William "Bob" Bailey recalls his first year at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - William "Bob" Bailey remembers meeting Benny Goodman and John Hammond

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - William "Bob" Bailey recalls his audition for Count Basie's band

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - William "Bob" Bailey remembers his influences at Morehouse College

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - William "Bob" Bailey remembers travelling on segregated train cars

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - William "Bob" Bailey recalls his arrival in New York City

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - William "Bob" Bailey recalls touring the Chitlin' Circuit with Count Basie

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - William "Bob" Bailey remembers the mentorship of Count Basie

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - William "Bob" Bailey remembers Duke Ellington and his band

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - William "Bob" Bailey describes his experiences with Count Basie's band

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - William "Bob" Bailey remembers Dizzy Gillespie

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - William "Bob" Bailey describes Count Basie's perspective on bebop music

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - William "Bob" Bailey describes the dissolution of Count Basie's band

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - William "Bob" Bailey recalls singing at Small's Paradise in New York City

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - William "Bob" Bailey describes his role in 'Sugar Hill' at the Las Palmas Theatre in Los Angeles, California

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - William "Bob" Bailey remembers meeting his wife, Anna Bailey

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - William "Bob" Bailey talks about his performances in New York City

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - William "Bob" Bailey describes his decision to attend the School of Radio and Television in New York City

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - William "Bob" Bailey recalls the television industry's discriminatory practices

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - William "Bob" Bailey describes how he came to live in Las Vegas, Nevada

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - William "Bob" Bailey remembers his move to Las Vegas, Nevada

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - William "Bob" Bailey remembers segregation in Las Vegas, Nevada

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - William "Bob" Bailey remembers Las Vegas' African American performers

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - William "Bob" Bailey remembers the cast of the 'Tropi Can Can' revue

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - William "Bob" Bailey talks about the creation of 'Talk of the Town'

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - William "Bob" Bailey describes Alice Key's role on 'Talk of the Town'

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - William "Bob" Bailey recalls being offered a program on KENO Radio

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - William "Bob" Bailey talks about the closure of the Moulin Rouge Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - William "Bob" Bailey describes the sponsors of 'Talk of the Town'

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - William "Bob" Bailey describes his career in the entertainment industry of Las Vegas, Nevada

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - William "Bob" Bailey recalls his decision to remain in Las Vegas, Nevada

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - William "Bob" Bailey remembers Charles West and James B. McMillan

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - William "Bob" Bailey describes the Urban Renewal Advisory Commission

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - William "Bob" Bailey recalls his transition to KTNV-TV in Las Vegas, Nevada

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - William "Bob" Bailey talks about his political party affiliation

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - William "Bob" Bailey remembers managing Pearl Bailey's road show

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - William "Bob" Bailey describes the proposed march against segregation in Las Vegas, Illinois, pt. 1

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - William "Bob" Bailey describes the proposed march against segregation in Las Vegas, Illinois, pt. 2

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - William "Bob" Bailey recalls opening the Sugar Hill nightclub in Las Vegas, Nevada

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - William "Bob" Bailey talks about the Pan-Afro Auditorium in Las Vegas, Nevada

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - William "Bob" Bailey talks about the closure of the Pan-Afro Auditorium in Las Vegas, Nevada, pt. 1

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - William "Bob" Bailey talks about the closure of the Pan-Afro Auditorium in Las Vegas, Nevada, pt. 2

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - William "Bob" Bailey talks about his interest in real estate

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - William "Bob" Bailey recalls founding the Nevada Economic Development Company

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - William "Bob" Bailey talks about his minority business initiatives

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - William "Bob" Bailey remembers receiving an honorary doctorate from National University

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - William "Bob" Bailey reflects upon the decline of the jazz community

Tape: 8 Story: 8 - William "Bob" Bailey recalls his appointment to the Minority Business Development Agency

Tape: 9 Story: 1 - William "Bob" Bailey describes his experiences as director of the Minority Business Development Agency

Tape: 9 Story: 2 - William "Bob" Bailey talks about his trade mission to the Middle East

Tape: 9 Story: 3 - William "Bob" Bailey recalls his presidency of the National Association of Minority Businesses

Tape: 9 Story: 4 - William "Bob" Bailey talks about William H. Bailey Middle School in Las Vegas, Nevada

Tape: 9 Story: 5 - William "Bob" Bailey reflects upon his life, pt. 1

Tape: 9 Story: 6 - William "Bob" Bailey describes his hopes for the African American community

Tape: 9 Story: 7 - William "Bob" Bailey reflects upon his life, pt. 2

Tape: 9 Story: 8 - William "Bob" Bailey reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 9 Story: 9 - William "Bob" Bailey shares a message to future generations

Tape: 9 Story: 10 - William "Bob" Bailey narrates his photographs

DASession

2$2

DATape

4$6

DAStory

3$2

DATitle
William "Bob" Bailey describes his experiences with Count Basie's band
William "Bob" Bailey talks about the creation of 'Talk of the Town'
Transcript
What was life like on the road at that point for, for the band [Count Basie's band]--for you and the band? What was a daily, daily life, rehearsals and travelling what was it like?$$Well, we travelled pretty good. We travelled both by train and by bus depending on the distance that we had to travel and the amount of time between engagements. It was fun on the road. All the guys were very entertaining and I think we looked out for each other. It was a brotherly relationship as well as a professional relationship in the band. The bus was the primary transport vehicle at that particular time and it was difficult because it was very discriminatory nationally at that time. So sometimes we would have to go quite a distance between locations and we'd have to stop and have our road manager, who was white, get the food for us and bring it on the bus, sandwiches and short orders so to speak. So there were inconveniences as far as housing was concerned in some towns where there were not accommodations that were set up for African Americans or sufficient homes who offered rooms to the travelling musicians at the time. But all in all we made out, and I think the love we had for each other made up for the inequities that we were subject to. But it was a tiring thing. Sometimes you'd go out on a thirty day month, you might play twenty-three, twenty-four engagements so you play a town and leave that night and head to the next town, perform leave that night and it might be four or five nights before you had a day off to sort of relax and get your game together. But that was the life and that was a part of what you had to deal with to be in the business. You made the best of it and we had a lot of fun together and in most towns where we played people were very nice, very good to you because they were glad to have you in their town and that made it a lot easier to absorb the negatives that you were exposed to.$$I was going to ask you, were audiences more receptive to musicians--was there a climate where the musician was more respected back in those days you think, being a musician?$$Well musicians--(cough) pardon me, musicians of different bands were treated with different levels of respect. Fortunately Basie [Count Basie] was considered high strata in the music business and he attracted personally a different clientele than say Dizzy did. No disrespect to Dizzy Gillespie, but they drew different type crowds both personally and from an audience point of view. I think that the music of the day was something that simulated a community when you came into it. You don't have that same thing going on today. Everything now is concerts, then we played theaters and we played nightclubs. Well there are no nightclubs and there are no theaters, so the whole industry shifted when the theaters started closing and the nightclubs started closing and it started graduating into the concert philosophy and it changed the whole tenor of the industry. You find yourself doing a different type of musical presentation than what we knew working the theaters--the RKO [RKO Pictures, Inc.] and the Loews Theatres [Loews Cineplex Entertainment Corporation] across the country. That was a big market for the band. I know that out of a year's time we may play two months of one nighters, the other times we were playing in theaters and nightclubs across the country. So it was a different situation then than what it is today.$So now this show ['Tropi Can Can'] is running and you're doing things at the hotel, you're being the producer of the show, but at the same time you're developing your other profession, tell us about that.$$Well, a young lady by the name of [HistoryMaker] Alice Key that was here at the hotel, we got together one evening talking about what we could do to stimulate more local business to come to the hotel. Most of the business the hotel was getting was the same as the Strip hotels [Las Vegas Strip, Las Vegas, Nevada] were getting as tourists were coming into town, especially on the weekends. So we wanted to build midweek days up, and we got to talking about various marketing ideas and Alice mentioned a television show. She had talked to Hank Greenspun, who was the owner of the, Channel 8 [KLAS-TV, Las Vegas, Nevada] at the time, and discussed the possibility in the future of a black television show and what he thought about it. Anyway it was kind of, according to Alice, it was kind of a throw away conversation she wanted to try him out, and he responded so they both forgot it until we started talking then she remembered the conversation and indicated maybe we should go to Hank and talk about the television show. I said, "I just happen to have a television show all prepared, written, shot list and the whole bit," and she said, "You do?" And then I started telling her about my background in television and radio and my inability to be able to get it on in any of the towns that I had approached television stations. She said, "You've gotten it written up?" So I had a professional package that was first class and I showed it to her. Anyway long story short, made an appointment with Hank Greenspun to talk about the show. The hotel was going to sponsor the show for so many weeks and--if we could get in on. Hank read the first part of the narrative of the show bought it hook, line and sinker. He said, "I like it let's do it." So finally and at last I'm getting a television show ['Talk of the Town'].$$And it's sponsored by the Moulin Rouge [Moulin Rouge Hotel, Las Vegas, Nevada].$$Initially sponsored by the Moulin Rouge.$$Who was behind the Moulin Rouge, who were some of the benefactors or the owners of this hotel, 'cause they had to be pretty forward thinking people also?$$Rubin [Louis Rubin] and Bisno [Alexander Bisno], one was a restaurateur, Rubin, construction man was Bisno. They were the owners--the initial owners of the property. The PR [public relations] man at that time was Martin Black, and he sold the advertising sponsorship to Bisno, who was running the business area of the hotel and thought it was a great marketing idea to encourage a midweek attendance. So that's how the sponsorship came about. The entourage that went to talk with Hank was Martin Black representing the hotel, Alice and myself. Alice took the lead as far as explaining the narrative of the show and I took the technical end, explaining what we do and how we would do it. We looked up and we were on television.

Maurice Hines, Jr.

Choreographer, dancer, actor and director Maurice Robert Hines, Jr. was born on December 13, 1943 in New York City. His parents were Alma Hines and Maurice Hines, Sr. He is the brother of the late jazz tap dancer and actor, Gregory Hines. A graduate of Jose Quintanos School for Young Professionals, Hines began studying tap dancing in New York City at age five at the Henry LeTang Dance Studio in 1948. LeTang realized his pupil’s gift for dance and began choreographing numbers tailored for Hines and his younger brother Gregory.

In 1954, when Hines was 10 years old, he and Gregory appeared in the Broadway musical comedy The Girl in Pink Tights. Following in the footsteps of the famed Nicholas brothers, they soon began appearing on stage throughout the country. They toured as the opening act for such headliners as Lionel Hampton and Gypsy Rose Lee. Their father joined the act as a drummer, and the threesome became known as Hines, Hines & Dad, performing to rave reviews in New York, Las Vegas and Europe. They made television appearances on The Pearl Bailey Show, Hollywood Palace and appeared 35 times on The Tonight Show.

In 1973, Hines began his solo career singing and dancing as Nathan Detroit in the hit musical National Touring Company of Guys and Dolls with Debbie Allen and Richard Roundtree. After his performance, Hines created a sensation in the hit Broadway musical Eubie, which opened at the Ambassador Theatre in New York on September 20, 1978 and closed October 7, 1979. The show also starred his brother Gregory and was choreographed by Henry LeTang. In 1981, Hines returned to Broadway with his performance in Bring Back Birdie with Chita Rivera. That same year, he also appeared in Sophisticated Ladies.

Turning his talents to the big screen, Hines made his film debut in 1984, in Francis Ford Coppola’s Cotton Club and during that same time with Mercedes Ellington formed Ballet Tap USA, a dance company. In 1986, he conceived, directed, choreographed, and starred in the musical Uptown…It’s Hot!. The show played for seventeen sold-out weeks in Atlantic City before moving to Broadway where Hines received a Tony Award nomination as Best Actor in a Musical. He went on to direct several theater productions including the National Tour of the musical Harlem Suite with leading ladies Jennifer Holiday, Stephanie Mills and Melba Moore and internationally the musical Havana Night in Cuba.

In 2006, Hines collaborated on a new Broadway dance musical, Hot Feet, with Maurice White, the creator of the renown R&B group Earth, Wind and Fire and also released a jazz album, To Nat King Cole with Love.

Hines resides in New York City.

Hines was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on January 9, 2007.

Accession Number

A2006.154

Sex

Male

Interview Date

12/8/2006 |and| 1/9/2007

Last Name

Hines

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Maurice

Birth City, State, Country

New York

HM ID

HIN02

Favorite Season

Christmas

Sponsor

Carol H. Williams Advertising

State

New York

Favorite Vacation Destination

None

Favorite Quote

Gotcha!

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

12/13/1943

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Chicken, Fish

Short Description

Choreographer, entertainer, and stage director Maurice Hines, Jr. (1943 - ) received a Tony Award for his performance in 'Uptown...It's Hot!'

Main Sponsor
Favorite Color

Black

Timing Pairs
0,0:2805,65:16505,257:23728,397:27904,824:29488,1013:29992,1021:33500,1323:57244,1519:76482,1777:80900,1797:82928,1894:118746,2281:119116,2287:123334,2393:127848,2479:131252,2542:134890,2547$0,0:2475,54:9450,220:24266,487:24646,493:41780,744:45224,832:46148,845:46736,853:50684,1032:51272,1041:51692,1048:61024,1257:62520,1302:64968,1349:70000,1460:76662,1717:85714,1982:91840,2051
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Maurice Hines, Jr. interview, session 1

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Maurice Hines, Jr. lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Maurice Hines, Jr. describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Maurice Hines, Jr. recalls walking with his brother on Harlem's Lenox Avenue

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Maurice Hines, Jr. recalls his and his brother's first dance lessons

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Maurice Hines, Jr. describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Maurice Hines, Jr. recalls the start of his father's drumming career

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Maurice Hines, Jr. recalls his early performances at New York City's Apollo Theater

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Maurice Hines, Jr. describes his childhood in New York City's Harlem neighborhood

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Maurice Hines, Jr. describes the role of religion in his childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Maurice Hines, Jr. describes his family

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Maurice Hines, Jr. recalls his maternal uncle paying for his dance lessons

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Maurice Hines, Jr. recalls seeing the Nicholas brothers for the first time

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Maurice Hines, Jr. recalls Bill "Bojangles" Robinson's performances with Shirley Temple

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Maurice Hines, Jr. remembers African American tap dancers

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Maurice Hines, Jr. remembers Harlem's dance culture in the 1950s

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Maurice Hines, Jr. remembers his early dance training

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Maurice Hines, Jr. recalls his first Broadway role

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Maurice Hines, Jr. recalls his mother acting as his business manager

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Maurice Hines, Jr. describes his experiences of discrimination in Miami, Florida

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Maurice Hines, Jr. how African American artists were received in Europe

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Maurice Hines, Jr. recalls the formation of Hines, Hines and Dad

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Maurice Hines, Jr. remembers Johnny Carson's support

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Maurice Hines, Jr. describes the changes in the entertainment industry

Tape: 2 Story: 12 - Maurice Hines, Jr. remembers working with Ella Fitzgerald

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Maurice Hines, Jr. recalls opening for Ella Fitzgerald in Las Vegas, Nevada

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Maurice Hines, Jr. remembers meeting Tallulah Bankhead in Las Vegas, Nevada

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Maurice Hines, Jr. recalls portraying Nathan Detroit in 'Guys and Dolls'

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Maurice Hines, Jr. recalls his and his brother's career changes

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Maurice Hines, Jr. recalls the end of his act with his brother, Gregory Hines

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Maurice Hines, Jr. remembers performing in 'Sophisticated Ladies'

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Maurice Hines, Jr. talks about the importance of respect

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Maurice Hines, Jr. recalls his early choreography

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Maurice Hines, Jr. recalls performing with his brother in 'Eubie!'

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Maurice Hines, Jr. remembers acting with his brother in 'The Cotton Club'

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Maurice Hines, Jr. remembers collaborating with Maurice White on 'Hot Feet'

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Maurice Hines, Jr. describes the reviews of his musical, 'Hot Feet'

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Maurice Hines, Jr. shares his perspective on Broadway critics

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Maurice Hines, Jr. describes the challenges of choreography

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Maurice Hines, Jr. talks about the success of 'Hot Feet'

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Maurice Hines, Jr. describes his and his brother's styles of tap dance

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Maurice Hines, Jr. recalls choreographing the music video for Quincy Jones' 'I'll Be Good to You'

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Slating Maurice Hines, Jr.'s interview, session 2

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Maurice Hines, Jr. talks about choreographer Michael Peters

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Maurice Hines, Jr. recalls working with his brother on 'The Cotton Club'

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Maurice Hines, Jr. recalls his nightclub circuit in the Catskill Mountains

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Maurice Hines, Jr. recalls his return to the entertainment business

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Maurice Hines, Jr. remembers New York City's cabaret nightclubs

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Maurice Hines, Jr. recalls replacing his brother in 'Sophisticated Ladies'

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Maurice Hines, Jr. describes his style of tap choreography

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Maurice Hines, Jr. talks about his show, 'Uptown... It's Hot'

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Maurice Hines, Jr. talks about racial discrimination on Broadway

Tape: 5 Story: 11 - Maurice Hines, Jr. remembers marketing his musical, 'Hot Feet'

Tape: 5 Story: 12 - Maurice Hines, Jr. recalls the impact of his Tony Award nomination

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Maurice Hines, Jr. talks about African American performers in Broadway shows

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Maurice Hines, Jr. remembers working with the stars of 'Dreamgirls'

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Maurice Hines, Jr. describes his choreographic work in Cuba and the Dominican Republic

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Maurice Hines, Jr. remembers choreographing for the Rockettes

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Maurice Hines, Jr. recalls musicals featuring Savion Glover and Gregory Hines

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Maurice Hines, Jr. reflects upon the changes in dance training

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Maurice Hines, Jr. reflects upon his experiences as an actor

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Maurice Hines, Jr. remembers his transition to Los Angeles, California

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Maurice Hines, Jr. talks about African American dance company directors

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Maurice Hines, Jr. describes his project, 'Yo Alice'

Tape: 6 Story: 11 - Maurice Hines, Jr. talks about his style of choreography

Tape: 6 Story: 12 - Maurice Hines, Jr. remembers 'Jelly's Last Jam' and 'Pippin'

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Maurice Hines, Jr. talks about his mentor, Joe Layton, pt. 1

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Maurice Hines, Jr. talks about his mentor, Joe Layton, pt. 2

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Maurice Hines, Jr. describes the history of African American dancers

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Maurice Hines, Jr. talks about his collaboration with Maurice White

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Maurice Hines, Jr. remember his brother, Gregory Hines' death

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Maurice Hines, Jr. reflects upon the changes in show business

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Maurice Hines, Jr. talks about his daughter

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Maurice Hines, Jr. talks about the development of his spirituality

Tape: 7 Story: 9 - Maurice Hines, Jr. reflects upon his career

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Maurice Hines, Jr. describes his early challenges as an entertainer

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Maurice Hines, Jr. reflects upon his mother's support for his career

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Maurice Hines, Jr. describes his recent projects

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Maurice Hines, Jr. describes the importance of stage presence

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Maurice Hines, Jr. describes how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Maurice Hines, Jr. narrates his photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

1$4

DAStory

8$4

DATitle
Maurice Hines, Jr. recalls his early performances at New York City's Apollo Theater
Maurice Hines, Jr. talks about the success of 'Hot Feet'
Transcript
How old were you when you--?$$When we started traveling? Oh, we were eight and ten when all of a sudden we hit it big. Because we got with this great teacher, Henry LeTang. And Henry took us to see--I'll tell you the punch line of the story--to see this lady at the Apollo Theater [New York, New York] because he wanted us to get on the 'Amateur Night' ['Amateur Night at the Apollo']. So, we went to--upstairs, and she looked at us and she said, "Yeah, they're cute. So--but don't put them on the show, because they're cute, they'll win because they're cute." And she didn't know we really could dance. And Henry said, "Okay, do whatever you want." And I asked her, I said, "Well, what do you do?" And she said, "Well, I'm a comedian on the regular show." So, she said, "Well you go out and see the regular show" because the 'Amateur Night' was after the regular show, in between the two shows in the evening. So, we go out there and we sit in the front. She, obviously she was the, she was the star because they made seats for us. And at the end of the show when the star comes out, it was Dinah Washington. And I--she came on singing 'Blue Gardenia.' And I said, "Oh," and I remember saying--because she said she was a comedian. And of course, the place went crazy, it was Dinah Washington singing. So, then she said--we went on the show, and she stood in the wings. She said, "Henry LeTang, they really can dance." She said, "They should have been on." He said, "Well, I didn't want to tell you that, because you just thought they were cute." So, we were doing flips and dips, like the Nicholas brothers [HistoryMaker Fayard Nicholas and Harold Nicholas]. She said, "Okay, I'll tell you what. Put 'em on next week with Ruth," meaning Ruth Brown. So, that was 1955. And that was the first time we ever worked the Apollo Theater, and we worked it fifteen times. They would have us every other week. And, and we worked, oh, we worked with (unclear)--the Spaniels, (unclear) there was Lar- Larry Williams, 'Bony Maronie.' We worked it with everybody. And we did one great show. It was a wonderful show with the Four Aces, Gregory [Gregory Hines] and I, The Hines Kids, [HistoryMaker] Diahann Carroll, and Nipsey Russell. It was a great show, it was a great show. And I'm still friends with Diahann to this day.$$Are any of those shows on tape?$$No, they did not tape them. The only thing are pictures--that great photographer, he did this kind of picture with pictures around it, with one in a circle, which I have.$So, they forced me. And when I was looking--and, oh, this wonderful story. When I was doing the end, the end of the ballet "Faces"--it's called "Faces" when all the dancers dance. I look over, and I see Maurice White like wiping his face. I thought, you know, he'd been there all day and he was tired. I thought he was just wiping his eyes. And he was crying. I asked his manager, I said, "Herb [Herb Powell], what's--is Maurice okay?" He said, "Yeah. He never thought that his music would inspire dancing like this." See, that's the humbleness of the man. And I, I got choked up, I did. Because I wanted him to be happy. He was, he was the one I really wanted to please. I mean, I want Maurice White to say, "It's okay." But he said more than that. He can't wait to do it again, he can't wait, you know.$$Well, you exceeded the Joffrey Ballet. Remember when they did their little Prince thing ['Billboards'], and they did all that stuff to Prince music (simultaneous)?$$(Simultaneous) Oh, yes, yes.$$And I thought that was great, until I saw 'Hot Feet' [Heru Ptah]. And I'm like, this is how it should be done.$$Well, that's an honor, that's an honor.$$This is how it should be done.$$Because I adore Joffrey Ballet. So, that's an honor that you said that, and I'm very pleased you said it. Because I di- thought that they--but this is--that's me up there. Everyone that saw it--all the dancers, all the dancers that came--all my buddies that know me from 'Jelly's Last Jam' [George C. Wolfe], and 'Guys and Dolls,' Debbie Allen said, "Maurice [HistoryMaker Maurice Hines, Jr.], that's you up there. That's how you dance, you know." That's it. So, now, with me getting in it, now there'll be some tap in it. Because [HistoryMaker] Louis Johnson said, "You cannot get in this show and not tap. Now, they're going to want you to tap. You can do all that other jazz stuff. But you--." I'll be part of the ballet. I'm going to do, I'm going to change the ballet, and I'm going to dance more in it with Vivian [Vivian Nixon].

Dee Dee Warwick

One of the most powerful soul singers of all time, Dee Dee Warwick was born Delia Warwick on September 25, 1945, in Newark Heights, New Jersey, into a musical family with its roots steeped in gospel music. Her mother, Arthur Lee Drinkard Warrick, was a founding member of the acclaimed Drinkard Singers, whose line-up included her aunt Cissy Houston. The Drinkard Singers sang regularly at the New Hope Baptist Church in Newark, New Jersey.

As a young teen, Warwick and her older sister Dionne formed their own group called the Gospelaires; the group often appeared with the Drinkard Singers. In 1959, the Warwick sisters got their first big break in the music industry at the famed Apollo Theater in Harlem when they were asked to sing background vocals in a studio session for Sam Taylor. During this session with Savoy Records, the song “Won’t You Deliver Me” was recorded; this was the Warwick sisters’ recording debut. Warwick would go on to be featured in hundreds of recordings that were made in New York between 1960 and 1965.

In 1963, Warwick launched her prolific solo recording career, in which she would become one of the most respected voices in Soul music. Warwick’s discography includes such hits as “I Want To Be With You” and “Foolish Fool;” both of which were recorded for Mercury Records. During the 1970s, Warwick continued to record, adding “She Didn’t Know, She Kept On Talking,” recorded for Atco Records, to her long list of hits. During the 1980s, Warwick recorded albums for Sutra Records and Heritage Records; both of which have become collectors’ items.

After living in Los Angeles and Georgia for a number of years, Warwick moved back to New Jersey, where she started making soul music and appearing in Gospel musicals. Warwick passed away on October 18, 2008, at the age of 63.

Accession Number

A2005.213

Sex

Female

Interview Date

9/12/2005

Last Name

Warwick

Maker Category
Occupation
Organizations
Schools

Lincoln Grammar School

Cicely Tyson Sch-Per Arts

East Orange Campus High School

First Name

Delia

Birth City, State, Country

Newark Heights

HM ID

WAR10

Favorite Season

Fall

State

New Jersey

Favorite Vacation Destination

Chicago, Illinois

Favorite Quote

Eighty-Six, Get It Out Of Here.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New Jersey

Birth Date

9/25/1945

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Orange

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Chitterlings

Death Date

10/18/2008

Short Description

Entertainer and singer Dee Dee Warwick (1945 - 2008 ) had a prolific recording career as one of the most respected voices in Soul and Gospel music.

Employment

Savoy Records

Jubilee Records

Motown Records

Favorite Color

Blue, Yellow

Timing Pairs
0,0:2575,30:4158,46:15710,175:16265,182:35165,387:44206,497:53486,594:65424,768:70570,887$0,0:730,10:15416,267:27146,468:27522,473:27898,478:30530,516:51486,750:52881,777:54540,790:56682,849:60558,910:61578,921:75908,1118:76572,1157:77651,1176:86105,1261:103800,1455:105500,1477:107100,1507:107700,1514:119027,1691:137838,1921:138630,1951:139158,1958:149618,2074:156466,2161:157206,2172:158242,2203:161588,2233:162600,2245:164840,2262:165320,2270:167800,2311:182294,2493:183372,2510:183862,2516:190654,2591:191342,2601:191772,2671:204428,2789:217040,2930
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Dee Dee Warwick's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Dee Dee Warwick lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Dee Dee Warwick describes her mother's birthplace

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Dee Dee Warwick describes her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Dee Dee Warwick describes The Drinkard Singers

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Dee Dee Warick describes St. Luke Methodist Church in Newark, New Jersey

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Dee Dee Warwick talks about meter singing

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Dee Dee Warwick talks about The Drinkard Singers' performance at the Newport Jazz Festival

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Dee Dee Warick describes her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Dee Dee Warwick talks about her parents and siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Dee Dee Warwick recalls attending church as a child

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Dee Dee Warwick describes the sights, sounds, and smells of her childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Dee Dee Warwick describes the schools she attended in East Orange, New Jersey

Tape: 1 Story: 14 - Dee Dee Warwick recalls singing and playing the violin as a child

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Dee Dee Warwick describes her parents' appearances

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Dee Dee Warwick recalls her father's experiences as a Pullman Porter

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Dee Dee Warwick describes her father's Native American ancestry

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Dee Dee Warwick describes her childhood neighborhood in Newark, New Jersey

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Dee Dee Warwick describes her favorite teacher from East Orange High School in East Orange, New Jersey

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Dee Dee Warwick recalls the public outrage over the murder of Emmett Till

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Dee Dee Warwick recalls the Gospelaires' performance at the Apollo Theater in New York City

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Dee Dee Warwick recalls singing backup with the Gospelaires

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Dee Dee Warwick explains why she moved away from singing gospel music professionally

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Dee Dee Warwick describes the beginning of her solo career

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Dee Dee Warwick recalls working for Motown Records in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 2 Story: 12 - Dee Dee Warwick describes the night life of New York City in the 1960s

Tape: 2 Story: 13 - Dee Dee Warwick talks about listening to Della Reese and meeting Billy Eckstine

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Dee Dee Warwick recalls performing at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, Nevada

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Dee Dee Warwick talks about her hit songs and collaborations

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Dee Dee Warwick recalls avoiding the unsavory aspects of the music industry

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Dee Dee Warwick describes her mother's influence on her

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Dee Dee Warwick recalls her R&B Hall of Fame induction and Grammy Award nominations

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Dee Dee Warwick recalls performing in the Broadway play 'Your Arms Are Too Short to Box with God'

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Dee Dee Warwick describes her family's connection to New Hope Baptist Church in Newark, New Jersey

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Dee Dee Warwick describes her experience of racial discrimination in Seattle, Washington in 1979

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Dee Dee Warwick talks about her favorite contemporary music artists

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Dee Dee Warwick talks about Hurricane Katrina

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Dee Dee Warwick talks about future endeavors in the music industry

Tape: 3 Story: 12 - Dee Dee Warwick describes lessons from her family

Tape: 3 Story: 13 - Dee Dee Warwick describes her hopes for the African American community

Tape: 3 Story: 14 - Dee Dee Warwick describes how she would like to be remembered

Tape: 3 Story: 15 - Dee Dee Warwick reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 3 Story: 16 - Dee Dee Warwick narrates her photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$2

DAStory

5$8

DATitle
Dee Dee Warwick describes her favorite teacher from East Orange High School in East Orange, New Jersey
Dee Dee Warwick recalls singing backup with the Gospelaires
Transcript
Can you remember any teachers that made a big impression on you?$$Yes, that's a good question. My health education teacher, Miss Gentis, G-E-N-T-I-S, she had an impact on me that I have carried with me to this day. Miss Gentis, she taught me well, and she made me a punctual person. I'm pretty much on time anywhere I go, because she insisted on that. I had to do detention with her sometimes, and she told me to come to class at 8:00 instead of 8:15. And sometimes I'd get there a minute to eight. She says, "You'll have to come tomorrow" (laughter). I'd get there at two minutes after eight, and she'd say, "You have to come tomorrow." And she kept doing it until it sunk into my head. She said, "And don't walk through my door, the door of my class, until it's eight o'clock. And walk in here at eight o'clock." And I did it (laughter). She learned me (unclear) (laughter).$So you go backstage and you meet someone. Who did you meet?$$Well, actually the man who came to see the Drinkard Singers, to do a background for Nappy Brown, the blues singer.$$Who is Nappy Brown?$$Nappy Brown was a big-time blues singer, like Muddy Waters, or like that. He was really a very popular man. And the Drinkards couldn't come, of course, because they were on the stage doing the show at the Apollo [Theater, New York, New York]. So, they sent us. And from that point we met Ozzie Cadena, who was an engineer at Savoy Records [Newark, New Jersey], which was where Nappy did his recordings. And they kept hiring us. We did Sam the Man Taylor, we did Dave Brubeck, we did--oh my Lord, so many--Herbie Mann, a lot of things, yeah.$$So that was the start of your professional career? You were being paid?$$It was the beginning of our background singing professionally, yeah.$$So who was all the background singers at that time? It was you--$$Well, it was me, Dionne [HistoryMaker Dionne Warwick], Myrna [Smith], Estelle--I forgot to mention her, Estelle Brown--and Sylvia [Shemwell] again. Basically, that was the group.$$And singing--what sort of--what is a background singer?$$Background singers supply a feel or a lick, you know. A lick is like (singing), you know, we support the lead singer. And the lead singer can respond off of us. So, we fill in where the gaps are, backing them up (laughter).$$So you're at Savoy, and you're doing a lot of backup work. About what year did it really take off for you?$$Sixty-one [1961], '61 [1961] or '62 [1962], somewhere in there.$$Now, what happened in '61 [1961] that made it take off?$$Well, they had heard of us, and New York [New York] called. Who was that who called us? I can't remember who exactly that was. Maybe Atlantic Records [New York, New York]--Jerry Wexler, Bert Berns, or [Steve] Greenberg at Mercury Records. And he wanted us to do something with [HistoryMaker] Quincy Jones at Mercury Records with what's that girl's name? Connie Francis, and Elvis [Presley]. So it just snowballed from there, and we made a lot of money, you know.$$Now, when you were--when you were a background singer and you started to make money, who were, who were the influential players, and the type of music you were singing? Who were people that made a difference?$$Well, I say again, Jerry Wexler, Bert Berns.$$Now, who was Jerry Wexler?$$Jerry Wexler was the owner of Atlantic Records.$$So you started off right away not just singing for black singers?$$No, I sang for everybody.$$You sang for everybody?$$Uh-huh.$$So, there was never really any real discrimination?$$No, there really wasn't, there really wasn't. They treated us wonderfully, you know. They looked out for us and they paid us very well, as I say.$$What happened when you went on the, did you go on the road touring with anyone?$$No, we stayed right here and commuted, commuted in New York.

Albert Stiles

Al Stiles was born on August 13, 1922, and raised in Tampa, Florida. He began performing at an early age with a five-member jug band. At approximately age twelve, he took a bus to New York City with a nine-year old jug band partner, Nathaniel Reese. Without their parents' knowledge, they auditioned and played on CBS Radio's Major Bowes Amateur Hour. They won the show's contest and Stiles became a professional entertainer.

Stiles performed with a vaudeville novelty and comedy act before touring with a song and dance team. In 1939, he and Reese played New York's Apollo Theater. The same year, Stiles performed at the New York World's Fair. He also performed with such stars as Josephine Baker, Duke Ellington, Charlie Parker, Ella Fitzgerald and Sammy Davis, Jr. and in such venues as the Cotton Club and the Blue Note. Stiles served in the U.S. Army and was stationed outside Ft. Wayne, Indiana..

Stiles moved to Fort Wayne and in 1971 opened Al Stiles World's Best Shoe Shine which is still the "in" place to have your shoes shined. In the 1980s, he started a program called the Talent Factory, teaching inner city youth the theater arts. Although the non-profit organization went on hiatus in the late 1990s, Stiles was planning its revival. In 2002, he released the compact disc We Can Fly, which he produced with his jazz drummer son, Ronald Stiles. The nine track compact disc features blues, jazz and 1950s-era rock sung by Al Stiles, Ronald Stiles and Herb Banks. Two songs are Stiles' original compositions. The Apollo Theater honored the contributions of Stiles by declaring him a living legend. Stiles passed away on January 2, 2014 in Carmel, Indiana

Accession Number

A2002.126

Sex

Male

Archival Photo 1
Interview Date

7/31/2002

Last Name

Stiles

Maker Category
Marital Status

Divorced

Occupation
Organizations
Schools

Dobyville Elementary School

Archival Photo 2
First Name

Albert

Birth City, State, Country

Florence

HM ID

STI02

Favorite Season

Fall

Sponsor

Knight Foundation

State

South Carolina

Favorite Vacation Destination

Las Vegas, Nevada

Favorite Quote

Live according to your means.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Indiana

Birth Date

8/13/1922

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Fort Wayne

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Beans (Red), Rice

Death Date

1/2/2014

Short Description

Entertainer Albert Stiles (1922 - 2014 ) started a program called the Talent Factory, teaching inner city youth the theater arts. In 2002 he released the compact disc, "We Can Fly," which he produced with his son, jazz drummer Ronald Stiles. He has also performed with such stars as Josephine Baker, Duke Ellington and Charlie Parker.

Employment

World's Best Shoe Shine

Main Sponsor
Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Al Stiles interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Al Stiles's favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Al Stiles talks about his parents' backgrounds

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Al Stiles describes his childhood personality

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Al Stiles remembers his father's influence

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Al Stiles describes his business endeavors

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Al Stiles details his family's economic hardships

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Al Stiles discusses his parents' avocations

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Al Stiles describes his childhood avocations

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Al Stiles continues to describe his childhood avocations

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Al Stiles discusses his early successes as an entertainer

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Al Stiles names his siblings

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Al Stiles discusses his childhood reputation

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Al Stiles remembers influential schoolteachers

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Al Stiles discusses his childhood hobby, baseball

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Al Stiles wants to be on 'Major Bowes' Amateur Hour'

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Al Stiles describes his childhood journey to New York, New York

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Al Stiles describes his arrival to New York, New York as a child

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Al Stiles remembers his travels to New York and Washington, D.C.

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Al Stiles recalls his experiences at the Apollo Theater, New York, New York

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Al Stiles details his musical act at the Apollo Theatre

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Al Stiles details his childhood travels through the South

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Al Stiles remembers the famous performers he worked with in his career

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Al Stiles details how he parted ways with his music partner

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Al Stiles recalls the death of his music partner, Nathaniel Reese

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Al Stiles recalls being drafted into the Army

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Al Stiles describes his experiences in the military and how he met his wife

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Al Stiles details a chronic foot ailment and its effect on his life

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Al Stiles starts a business after leaving the Army

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Al Stiles details financial struggles after his business failed

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Al Stiles reconnects with Lionel Hampton and returns to show business

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Al Stiles recalls an accusation of theft while performing in Canada

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Al Stiles discusses his inspiration for the Talent Factory

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Al Stiles shares tales of the early origins of the Talent Factory

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Al Stiles talks about the performers that appeared at the Talent Factory early in their careers

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Al Stiles recalls more performers that appeared at the Talent Factory

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Al Stiles details a racist interaction at work

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Al Stiles details his role as vice president of the International Printing Pressmen Union's Local 19

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Al Stiles talks about his leadership in the International Printing Pressmen Union

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Al Stiles details how Flashfold Box Corporation retaliated against his participation in the International Printing and Pressmen Union

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Al Stiles recalls the events leading up to his lawsuit against Flashfold Carton, Inc.

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Al Stiles discusses his future plans for the Talent Factory

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Al Stiles considers his legacy

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Al Stiles considers how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Photo - Al Stiles's act, 'Note and Toe', performing with Josephine Baker at the Rancho Don Carlos, Winnipeg, Canada, 1963

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Photo - Newspaper clipping showing Richard Hale and Al Stiles performing as 'Note and Toe' at the Rainbow Theater in Winnipeg, Canada, ca. early 1960s

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Photo - Al Stiles with Nat Reese performing at the Apollo Theater, New York, New York, 1939

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Photo - Al Stiles's act, 'Note and Toe', performing with Lionel Hampton and his band at the Blue Note nightclub, Chicago, Illinois, ca. late 1950s

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Photo - Newspaper clipping about Al Stiles at his CD release party for 'We Can Fly', Fort Wayne, Indiana, July 28, 2002

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Photo - Al Stiles is presented a lawsuit settlement check by representatives of the International Printing Pressmen Union, Fort Wayne, Indiana, 1971

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Photo - Former employee from Al Stiles's record shop, jazz pianist Jack Wilson

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Photo - Publicity photo of Al Stiles's son, Ronald B. Stiles, leader of the E-Waw Blue Band, Fort Wayne, Indiana

Tape: 7 Story: 9 - Photos - A montage of photos from Al Stile's Talent Factory, Fort Wayne, Indiana, ca. 1980s

Tape: 7 Story: 10 - Photo - Publicity photo of Al Stiles's friend, Clayton 'Peg-Leg' Bates, a dancer at the Apollo Theater in Harlem, New York, ca. 1960s

Tape: 7 Story: 11 - Photo - Al Stiles with dancer, 'Little Perry' at the Talent Factory, Fort Wayne, Indiana, 1990

Tape: 7 Story: 12 - Photo - Al Stiles with Fort Wayne, Indiana Mayor Winfield Moses, Indianapolis, Indiana, ca. 1979-1987

Tape: 7 Story: 13 - Photo - Publicity photo of the musical group, 'The Checkmates'

Tape: 7 Story: 14 - Photo - Al Stiles with tap dancer Gregory Hines at the Embassy Theatre, Fort Wayne, Indiana, ca. 1990s

Tape: 7 Story: 15 - Photo - Al Stiles in a newspaper article about the reopening of the Talent Factory in Fort Wayne, Indiana, ca. 1999

Tape: 7 Story: 16 - Photo - Publicity photo of Al Stiles, August 10, 1949

Tape: 7 Story: 17 - Photo - Newspaper article on Al Stiles's son and granddaughter, Dr. Reginald B. Stiles and Dr. Sherri A. Stiles-Walker, Fort Wayne, Indiana, ca. 2000

Tape: 7 Story: 18 - Photo - Additional copy of Al Stiles's act, 'Note and Toe', performing with Lionel Hampton and his band at the Blue Note nightclub, Chicago, Illinois, ca. late 1950s

Tape: 7 Story: 19 - Photo - Al Stiles's act, 'Note and Toe', performing with Josephine Baker and Vern and Verdie at the Rancho Don Carlos, Winnipeg, Canada, mid-1960s

DASession

1$1

DATape

1$3

DAStory

11$2

DATitle
Al Stiles discusses his early successes as an entertainer
Al Stiles details his musical act at the Apollo Theatre
Transcript
All of these things, man, is part of what made me have this desire to do things and to get things done, you know, because I was a leader, you know. I could--I could do things, and, and, and get peoples to follow me and lead so that's what made me--I was excited about my accomplishments, see. And we [with childhood friend, Nathaniel Reese] used to go--then we started going over to St. Petersburg [Florida] and playing, and we'd go out on the beach, and we had a board we'd put down, and my partner would dance and I'd play the music and we'd pass our hat around. Sometime we'd come home with two and three hundred dollars over the weekend, man. That was a lot of money back then. 'Cause see, people didn't realize how that was going to accumulate because if you gave a quarter or fifty cents, you didn't have no idea how many other peoples was going to do that, you just gave it. But when we counted all that stuff up, man, we'd come home, we'd have two or three hundred dollars. And I remember one time we was playing out in West Palm Beach [Florida] and this guy hired us to do a party he was having. He was a--he had a, a--a, an estate. It took you five minutes to get up to the house so he hired us to entertain. Man, they started drinking--and I could tell they was getting drunk because the guys started pulling the women's dresses up and all, doing all kind of rowdy things, you know. And I got a little scared. I told my partner, I said, "Man, let's go out here on the porch and get some air." We went out there and after we got out on the porch, we realized that they weren't even missing us because they was--all of them was getting high, you know, so I told him I said, man, "Let's go on and get out of here." And so we walked all the way out to the--it took us five minutes to get out to the highway, man. That's how far--what kind a estate he had. And we got out there and flagged a cab down and went back cross the lake 'cause we was over in Palm Beach. We went back over into West Palm Beach and at twelve o'clock then when the new year came in, we was sitting on the steps of this church counting our money, man. We counted out $365. And we'd only been out there about a hour, you know. That was a lot of money, man (laughs). And you know how they gave us the money? Everybody--every time somebody would give us a ten, they'd tear half in two and give me five and my partner. If they'd give us a twenty, they'd just--and we had all this tore up money but we sit down there and counted it, and on the first of that, the week when we could go to the bank, we took all that money to the bank and cashed it in.$$Now, now, did you, did, did, did you ever give some of it to you family when you got back home?$$Oh, yeah. We, we, we did--that was part of it. You know, we helped to support our families like that, you know, 'cause my daddy [Daniel Stiles] was--sometime he'd get laid off from work, and we, we--you know, we had--it was up and down, you know, like that. But, now, my partner, his mother had eleven children. And lot of them was like a stair, you know. Some of them was real small and young. But, he, they--well, when he'd come home with that kind of money, they'd just take it and use it for the family, you know.$Sir, what, what did you call yourselves [he and childhood friend/entertainment partner, Nathaniel Reese]?$$Well, it was a funny thing, man. We call ourselves 'Nat and Albert,' but you know what, the public named us 'The Tampa Boys'. Everywhere we go to do a show the people say, "Well, what's y'all name?" We say, 'Nat and Al.' They say, "We gonna call you 'The Tampa Boys'." And that's what they'd call us. So we just accept that. We said, "Well, we gonna be 'The Tampa Boys', if this is what they want." And that's what we was, 'The Tampa Boys'. So anyway, Nat Nazarro [manager], he started buying costumes, you know, wardrobe for us and everything. So we, we just go down there and we write a check, you know, whatever we want. So, it started getting up in the money. It got up to around twenty thousand dollars, you know. And so, I didn't know what he had in mind but a lot of people had told me, "You better watch him," said, "'cause he'll get you." And so because I was listening to what these people was saying, I started watching him. And so one day we went up there and we was just about ready. He had our--we had our act down, had music and pictures and all this stuff. And I knew we was ready for something, but I didn't know when. We went down there that day and Miss Quentin handed me this I.O.U. And it didn't have no, no amount of money or nothing on it. And I say, "Miss Quentin," I said, "what is this for say?" "Mr. Nazarro wants you to sign." And I say, "Oh no. I ain't signing nothin'." I said, "We, we don't owe no money." And so she said," Well, you better talk to him." I say, "Where is he?" "He's in his office." I said, "Well, I want to see him." So she, she said, "The Tampa Boys want to see you." "Send them in!" So when we went in I said, "Mr. Nazarro, what the hell you mean by asking us to," I was mad, man. "What the hell you mean by asking us to sign an I.O.U.? We don't owe you nothin'. " And boy, he started talking about how he'd been like a father to us, you know this shit, you know. "I did this for you, and I did that for you." I said, "Wait a minute now." I said, I said, "Remember", I said, "we didn't ask you to do none of this. You never talked to us about you wanted to manage us or nothin'. You never made no agreement with us on nothin'. You just started doing stuff." I said, "As far as we concerned you just another good guy that came along." Boy, when I said that he start pulling his suspenders and carrying on, you know. And I said, "Wait a minute now, Mr. Nazarro." I said, "You better be careful now," I said, "because, you wouldn't want to lose that twenty thousand dollar bond you got down at the courthouse." He didn't know I heard him say that. And when I said that, I say, "''Cause you know we are minors." And, man, when I said that everything changed. He just changed, just like that, man. Like--and I didn't realize that I had done hit upon something right away. I say, "But I tell you what we'll do now." Now, man, just think of me being that smart at eleven years old. And I said, "I'll tell you what we'll do," I said, "since you did all these things for us, and we appreciate them," I said that, "we'll work out a deal with you." I said that, "If you'll promise that you'll book us and push us behind some of your top-notch acts, and get us some good bookin', every time we get a good booking, we'll give you some of the money that you say we owe you." And he fell for that, man. And from then on, shit, we was his top-notch act, man. I don't care who came in that office, if 'The Tampa Boys' came in, he saw us. That's what that money he had done spent a lot of money on us, man. And he, he knew with me thinking the way I was thinking, that he didn't have a chance of recovering it unless he did what we wanted him to do. And that, that's the way it worked out.$$That's something at the age of eleven!$$Yeah, eleven, man. I was thinking that way at the age eleven.

Oscar Brown, Jr.

Born October 10, 1926, in Chicago, Oscar Brown, Jr. defied narrow definition. Throughout his forty-year career, he was part jazz singer, part poet, part entertainer and part songwriter. As an aspiring young playwright in 1960, Brown made an unprecedented two-hour appearance on NBC soon after writing "Kicks & Company". Though the play never made it to Broadway, Brown had arrived. He began sharing the stage with such greats as Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie, John Coltrane, Nancy Wilson and Julius "Cannonball" Adderley. His London-based, two-hour, one-man show, "Oscar Brown, Jr. Entertains," led him to be hailed as a musical genius. He also made headlines with a project that worked effectively with local gang members, done in conjunction with his performance partner and wife, Jean Pace. Among their many discoveries were the Jackson Five. A composer of several hundred songs and more than a dozen full-length feature pieces, Brown lived in Chicago with his family.

He passed away on May 29, 2005 at age 78.

Accession Number

A2000.010

Sex

Male

Interview Date

9/19/2000

Last Name

Brown

Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Cicero

Schools

Frances E. Willard Elementary School

Englewood High School

Lincoln University

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Oscar

Birth City, State, Country

Chicago

HM ID

BRO03

Favorite Season

Fall

Sponsor

McCormick Tribune Foundation

State

Illinois

Favorite Vacation Destination

None

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

10/10/1926

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Soul Food

Death Date

5/29/2005

Short Description

Poet, entertainer, and music composer Oscar Brown, Jr. (1926 - 2005 ) was a black music theorist whose compositions included the song “Afro Blue” which was performed by Dianne Reeves, Dee Dee Bridgewater and Liz Wright.

Main Sponsor
Favorite Color

Brown

DAStories

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Oscar Brown, Jr. narrates his photographs, pt. 1

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Oscar Brown, Jr. narrates his photographs, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Oscar Brown Jr.'s favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Oscar Brown Jr. describes his parents' backgrounds

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Oscar Brown Jr. remembers his sister

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Oscar Brown Jr. shares memories from his childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Oscar Brown Jr. describes his childhood personality

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Oscar Brown Jr. remembers his parents

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Oscar Brown Jr. recalls his childhood environs in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Oscar Brown Jr. details his interests as a youth

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Oscar Brown Jr. lists the schools he attended

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Oscar Brown Jr. details his early radio career

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Oscar Brown Jr. discusses his early activism

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Oscar Brown Jr. recalls his early endeavors in the arts

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Oscar Brown Jr. details his experiences during the 1950s

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Oscar Brown Jr. recalls his dismissal from the Communist Party

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Oscar Brown Jr. recalls writing his play 'Kicks and Company'

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Oscar Brown Jr. recounts the production of his play 'Kicks and Company'

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Oscar Brown Jr. discusses his career pursuits after 'Kicks and Company'

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Oscar Brown Jr. recalls his Chicago performances

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Oscar Brown Jr. discusses race and power in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Oscar Brown Jr. describes his study of black bodies in motion

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Oscar Brown Jr. shares his personal philosophy on modern society

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Oscar Brown Jr. expresses his hopes for the black community

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Oscar Brown Jr. reflects on his life's work

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Oscar Brown Jr. recalls his time in various cities

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Oscar Brown Jr. discusses his relationship with entertainer Jean Pace, part 1

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Oscar Brown Jr. discusses race, citizenship and taxation in the U.S.

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Oscar Brown Jr. discusses his relationship with entertainer Jean Pace, part 2

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Oscar Brown Jr. discusses the role of hats in his personal style

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Oscar Brown Jr. considers his legacy

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Oscar Brown Jr. sings 'Brown Baby'