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Mary Wilson

Motown recording artist Mary Wilson was born in Greenville, Mississippi to Sam Wilson, a butcher, and Johnnie Mae Wilson, a homemaker, on March 6, 1944. At age three, Wilson’s parents sent her to live in Detroit, Michigan with her aunt, I.V. Pippin, and uncle, John L. Pippin. In 1952, Wilson moved to Detroit’s Brewster-Douglass Housing Projects. She was bused from the projects to Algers elementary school in 1956 when integration of public schools began. Wilson went on to graduate from Northeastern high school in 1962.

In 1959, Wilson joined a local singing group, Primettes, which also included Florence Ballard, Diana Ross and Betty McGlown. The Primettes performed at the 1960 Detroit-Windsor Freedom Festival amateur talent contest and won first place. In 1961, the group, which now included Barbara Martin, signed with Motown Records and changed their name to the Supremes. After Martin left the group in 1962 the Supremes permanently became a trio and traveled that year with “The Motortown Revue,” a showcase of Motown artists including the Temptations, Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye.

In 1963, the Supremes teamed up with writer-producers Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier and Eddie Holland (HDH). A few of their records received national airplay. Having recorded the Supremes, who had shared the lead singing for three years without a hit record, Gordy rearranged the group with Wilson and Ballard as background singers. The Supremes scored their first hit in 1963 with the song, “When the Lovelight Starts Shining Through His Eyes.” The group reached #1 on U.S. pop charts for the first time in 1964 with the hit record and single, Where Did Our Love Go.

In 1964, the Supremes became one of the first Motown acts to perform outside of the United States when they played at the Clay House Inn in Bermuda. The Supremes also began European tours starting with Great Britain and later toured elsewhere, including the Far East. Where Did Our Love Go was followed by four consecutive singles that reached #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts: “Baby Love,” which was also a #1 hit in the UK; “Come See About Me”; “Stop! In the Name of Love”; and “Back in My Arms Again.” “Baby Love” was nominated for the 1965 Grammy Award for Best R&B Song.

The Supremes became the first black pop group of the sixties to play New York City’s Copacabana, and the first pop group to play New York’s Philharmonic Hall in Lincoln Center in 1965. Wilson began a solo career after the group disbanded in 1977. As a solo performer, Wilson toured the world, recorded, acted on stage and television, and participated in celebrity charity events. Wilson wrote about her career with Motown and the Supremes in Dreamgirls: My Life as a Supreme (1986) and Supreme Faith: Someday We’ll Be Together (1990).

The Supremes received the NAACP Image Award for Best Female Group in 1972, and they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988. Wilson was honored in 1973 with a Mary Wilson Day in Detroit.

Mary Wilson Was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on November 19, 2013.

Accession Number

A2013.323

Sex

Female

Interview Date

11/24/2013

Last Name

Wilson

Maker Category
Marital Status

Divorced

Occupation
Organizations
Schools

Northeastern High School

Bishop Elementary School

First Name

Mary

Birth City, State, Country

Greenville

HM ID

WIL69

Favorite Season

Spring, Chirstmas

State

Mississippi

Favorite Vacation Destination

Home

Favorite Quote

Love

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

California

Birth Date

3/6/1944

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Los Angeles

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Japanese

Short Description

Singer Mary Wilson (1944 - ) , an original member of The Supremes, was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988.

Employment

Motown Records

Favorite Color

Blues, Pastel, Red

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

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

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Mary Wilson lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Mary Wilson describes her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Mary Wilson describes her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Mary Wilson remembers learning that she was adopted

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Mary Wilson describes the sights, sounds and smells of her childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Mary Wilson talk about her adoptive parents

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Mary Wilson remembers moving into her birth mother's household

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Mary Wilson lists her siblings

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Mary Wilson describes her household

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Mary Wilson recalls her start as a choir singer

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Mary Wilson remembers Carolyn Franklin and the Franklin family

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Mary Wilson talks about the music scene in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Mary Wilson remembers the popularity of teenage doo wop groups

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Mary Wilson describes the formation of The Primettes

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Mary Wilson remembers The Primettes' early performances

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Mary Wilson talks about her role in The Primettes

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Mary Wilson remembers Milton Jenkins

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Mary Wilson talks about Northeastern High School in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Mary Wilson remembers auditioning for Motown Records

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Mary Wilson talks about signing with Lu Pine Records and Motown Records

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Mary Wilson remembers hanging out at Motown Records

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Mary Wilson talks about the distribution of The Primettes' first record

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Mary Wilson remembers Mary Wells

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Mary Wilson describes the structure of Motown Records

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Mary Wilson remembers the creativity and talent at Motown Records

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Mary Wilson explains the importance of recording contract negotiations

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Mary Wilson talks about her decision to speak out about Motown Records' unfair contracts

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Mary Wilson remembers her parents' emphasis on college education

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Mary Wilson remembers touring with the 'Motortown Revue'

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Mary Wilson remembers the chaperones for the 'Motortown Revue'

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Mary Wilson remembers touring with Dick Clark's Caravan of Stars, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Mary Wilson remembers touring with Dick Clark's Caravan of Stars, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Mary Wilson talks about her experiences of integration in Dick Clark's Caravan of Stars

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Mary Wilson remembers working with Holland-Dozier-Holland

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Mary Wilson talks about the songwriting process at Motown Records

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Mary Wilson describes the voices and personalities of The Supremes

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Mary Wilson describes the relationships with other Motown artists

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Mary Wilson remembers The Supremes' first tour of the United Kingdom

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Mary Wilson remembers Maxine Powell

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Mary Wilson talks about the early success of The Supremes

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Mary Wilson remembers Cholly Atkins

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Mary Wilson talks about The Supremes' responses to their success

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Mary Wilson remembers Florence Ballard

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Mary Wilson talks about the group dynamic of The Supremes

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Mary Wilson talks about the struggles of The Supremes

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Mary Wilson talks about Florence Ballard' departure from The Supremes

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Mary Wilson talks about her favorite songs in The Supremes' repertoire

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Mary Wilson remembers The Supremes' opening night at the Copacabana in New York City

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Mary Wilson remembers the addition of Cindy Birdsong to The Supremes

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Mary Wilson remembers the addition of Cindy Birdsong and Jean Terrell to The Supremes

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Mary Wilson talk about her work life balance during a transitional period with The Supremes

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Mary Wilson talks about losing friendships and support systems

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Mary Wilson recalls The Supremes' final performance

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Mary Wilson remembers the breakup of The Supremes, pt. 1

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Mary Wilson talks about her marriage

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Mary Wilson remembers the breakup of The Supremes, pt. 2

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Mary Wilson remembers Florence Ballard's funeral

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Mary Wilson talks about the aftermath of Florence Ballard's death

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Mary Wilson talks about the legal battle with Motown Records over ownership of The Supremes name

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Mary Wilson talks about focusing on her career after The Supremes disbanded

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Mary Wilson remembers her divorce

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Mary Wilson talks about 'Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, Forever'

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Mary Wilson talks about the release of her autobiographies

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Mary Wilson recalls the attempts to organize a reunion tour for The Supremes

Tape: 8 Story: 8 - Mary Wilson remembers her son's death

Tape: 8 Story: 9 - Mary Wilson reflects upon her life

Tape: 9 Story: 1 - Mary Wilson talks about her plans for the future

Tape: 9 Story: 2 - Mary Wilson reflects upon her life

Tape: 9 Story: 3 - Mary Wilson reflects upon the legacy of The Supremes

Tape: 9 Story: 4 - Mary Wilson describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 9 Story: 5 - Mary Wilson remembers the Christmas parties at Motown Records

Tape: 9 Story: 6 - Mary Wilson describes how she would like to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$6

DAStory

7$6

DATitle
Mary Wilson describes the formation of The Primettes
Mary Wilson remembers The Supremes' opening night at the Copacabana in New York City
Transcript
But wait, but let, let's go--so it's you and Carol- Carolyn and you, right? Carolyn suggests the group; let's, let--okay, before and then?$$Okay, well after we were no longer bused to the other school [Alger Elementary School, Detroit, Michigan], we went to the school, Bishop [Bishop Elementary School, Detroit, Michigan], and it was at that time when we had the--our school had a talent show and our school said, "If you wanna be a part of this talent show, sign up in the gymnasium wall and you know you'd be on the show." So, here I am loving Frankie Lymon and The Teenagers, I saw them on some show. Now this was the beginning of, of rock and roll and, and I fell in love with Frankie Lymon and The Teenagers. So, when I saw the sign on, on the gymnasium wall about being a part of a show, I said, "Oh, okay." And I dressed up in my brother's [Roosevelt Wilson] blue jeans and black leather jacket, and back then the colored boys, the black boys, Afro Americans we say now, wore processed hair. So, I had a du wet rag tied around my head, had a big a comb in my pocket, and I went up there and I pantomimed to Frankie Lymon and The Teenagers' song. This was very odd--I just wanna regress a minute here. Why I would do that? Because my only experience, and this was having sung with Carolyn Franklin for a little bit, and then we were bused back to Bishop and now I see on TV, these guys singing. Fell in love with Frankie Lymon and The Teenagers and now I'm signing up for this show. I'm like--I didn't think about this then, but as I think about it now, where did that come from? It wasn't like I said I wanna be a singer or whatever. I mean these things are just kind of coming into my lap and I'm just following 'em. So, I went up there, I never even thought I could sing, I never thought about it, and I pantomimed to that record. Well, the crowd in the gymnasium went wild, they were like, "Go Mary [HistoryMaker Mary Wilson], go Mary," da, da. And, and I mean I had the crowd just like going and I'm only twelve or twelve and a half, something like that. So, then Florence [Florence Ballard] was on the same--she had, I guess she had signed up. I didn't know her, but she lived in the projects [Brewster-Douglass Housing Projects; Frederick Douglass Homes, Detroit, Michigan] and in the projects, there were thousands of people. You may see them but you don't really know them all the time. So, she sang and she actually was singing, she said, (singing) "Ave Maria," ['Ave Maria,' Franz Schubert] and everybody was like, "Whoa!" So, as wild as they were about me, we all were like, "She's only twelve and a half too." And she's this--voice was huge. It was big and she sounded so great. Somehow or another I don't remember anybody else on the show at all, never have actually, and she and I kind of migrated that day after the show and we started just talking and, and I said why--I said, "Ooh, your voice, it's so big and it's so beautiful," da, da. And she said, "Girl, you had the crowd going." They were. Now, I'm a quiet, bashful type. For me to get up there and do that was so out of character, but yet, and still when I did that, you know it dawned on me that I totally enjoyed doing that and did it so naturally, so it was if I had been trained and I had not been. So, Florence and I became friends that day and she, we talked about you know everyone's got these little groups and this and that, I didn't think--I use to be with Carolyn and then, da, da, da, you know and then we started talking and said, "Well maybe we should start one or anyone talks--wants it, let's remember each other." So, we walked home that day and became friends, and sure enough a couple of months later Florence came up to me on the playground and she said, "Mary," she said, "this, this group called The Primes wanna put a girl group together, and my sister [Maxine Ballard Jenkins] is dating one of the guys, and their manager, Milton Jenkins, wanted to know if, you know, if I wanna be in it." She said, "I told them about you." And she said, "I heard they were gonna go across the street. You know this girl Diana [Diana Ross] that lives right across the street from you?" "Yeah, I've seen her out there. She's always playing with the boys," and da, da. "They've asked her so and they want to see us." And then we all, me, Diana and Flo walked down to the guy's apartment. Our parents would've killed us had they known we did that, but we went over to their house and that's when we met The Primes, Eddie Kendricks, Paul Williams and Kell Osborne and the manager, Milton Jenkins. And, so they asked us, "Well can you girls sing?" You know, and so we're like um, you know, and so Florence says, "I know this song." And she started singing 'You Know the Night Time is the Right Time,' the Ray Charles song, and so Diane and I--and then there was another girl there, Betty [Betty McGlown]. I guess she had been dating one of the guys and we all chimed in and sang the song. Not taught anything and it sounded beautiful, so Milton said, "All right, we've got the group. We're The Primes and you're The Primettes." And that's how we started singing.$What about--can you talk about the night of the Copacabana [New York, New York]? Can you talk?$$Which night? We were there for two weeks.$$Oh, the first night, the opening, I mean the--well, you don't wanna talk about that?$$Um.$$Okay.$$No, I mean I don't know what you mean?$$Well, I'm just saying can you talk about the whole--let's say--$$The experience?$$Let's talk about the experience, yes.$$Okay, sure. Gee, the experience. First of all, it was extremely exciting to, to know, to be rehearsing for a show that you know could go this way or go that way (gestures), and we had enough experience to know that we were, should be going there, and we rehearsed on all the songs. We knew the songs very well and I think there was one, only area where it could've been negative and that was I think Florence [Florence Ballard] was supposed to sing "People" and that song was--chose not to. She couldn't sing it. I think that was the only downer that I can remember of opening at the Copa. It was extremely exciting. It was a place where Mr. Jules Podell, supposedly this was all mafia and all kind of stuff, and you know you'd hear all the stories throughout the years, so it was very exciting to, to know that we were going to be in that environment 'cause in a way it kind of put back into the old mature, you know the, in the days when things were--it was a different generation so we're kind of catching the last part of a generation that's dying out and we're there. I remember seeing a contract or something of Sammy Davis [Sammy Davis, Jr.], who he was making five thousand dollars and I think we were making five thousand dollars too. So, it--things like that were, were happening and you're like just so excited that you're actually right now living your dream. So, all remember is that we were actually living our dream. We were there at the Copacabana. The place was packed. We heard that all kinds of people were there. I don't know if it was the first night we were there it was Flip Wilson, or I mean all kinds of who, who was, or who is, was there. So, yeah, it was, it was and then after the--during the show it was a very exciting. Everyone was sitting there and they were very excited. You could tell that they were totally into it. So, it was a success. It was--to talk about the experience we lived our dream at the Copacabana. They actually recorded it as well and, oh, I'll tell you the other downer was we had on these horrible outfits that we did not like and they had, someone had brought all these flowers and put 'em around here, fake flowers, right? We hated those gowns, I know I did and I remember we tore 'em off later, but, and, and then we had a hat--got straw hats with a cane and that was the album cover of the, of the album that they recorded there ['The Supremes at the Copa']. So, that was--it was very, very exciting. It was everything you would want a successful night opening to be.$$Who, who was responsible for that? Was that a whole group or team of people at, at Motown [Motown Records] and did [HistoryMakers] Berry Gordy sit down and talk to you about the significance of that as a--?$$I don't know if Berry had to sit and talk to us.$$Okay.$$Yeah, I don't think that, that was something that we--I say that to say we all knew that this was.$$A big deal.$$The big, the biggie. Well, that's that I think I'm saying it wasn't something that he would say, "Girl we gonna go to the Copa." I don't think that had to happen because we had been preparing for that, but there was a team of people, yes, working around us. As I mentioned earlier, the artist development people. But they also had the P, the PR [public relations] and I'm quite sure who they used for that and then you had the marketing, Barney Ales and the sales department. But I think they also had a, you know the new public relations team that was helping, 'cause this is New York [New York]. So, I think we had all kind of New York affiliations there that would help them in that. So, it was a, a full fledged, everybody was involved in it.$$Now, the line up, 'cause there were, you did a whole range of songs, you weren't just doing your, your, popu- you know your hits?$$Um-hm.$$So how were those decisions made?$$Well, as I mentioned earlier we, we actually had been doing loads of, of standard material. The kind of in our earlier days we, that's what we , we actually--that was our expertise and I think Berry in his you know knowing that we could go to this next level understood that they're already doing this kind of standard material. They call it today, 'American Songbook,' ['Great American Songbook'] they didn't say that back then, but that's what it was, and we were already doing that, so this kind of fit into a scheme of where they wanted to be as a company too because we were already, we were already singing some of those kind of songs, so it just made sense to continue on, and I, I that's one thing that Mrs. Powell [HistoryMaker Maxine Powell] always said, "You're diamonds in the rough and we're just here to polish you." So, I think that Berry and Motown, everyone kind of you know had said you know, "Supremes, they can do this. We, our dream is to go there, The Supremes can take us there." So, they gave us all the ammunition they had and we were able to do it.

Col. Roosevelt J. Lewis

Colonel and federal government appointee Roosevelt Joseph Lewis, Jr. was born on August 25, 1943, in Greenville, Alabama to Clara Nell Mitchell Lewis and Roosevelt Joseph Lewis, Sr. Lewis and his family moved to Toulminville, Alabama when he was four years old; and he graduated as valedictorian from Heart of Mary High School in 1960. In 1964, Lewis received his B.S. degree in chemistry from Tuskegee University (formerly the Tuskegee Institute) in Tuskegee, Alabama. He earned his M.A. degree in transportation and business management from the University of Alabama in Tuscalossa, Alabama.

While attending Tuskegee University, Lewis enrolled in the United States Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps and met aviation pioneer Alfred “Chief” Anderson, who was the chief flight instructor and mentor to the Tuskegee Airmen of World War II. By 1968, Lewis gained recognition for his superior performance in the ROTC and was elected "Best Major in Command" by his unit in 1968, 1969, 1982 and 1988.

Lewis served the United States government's Department of Defense in five Pentagon positions, including the Office of the Secretary of Defense. As the chief of Vehicle Programs, he purchased the $3.4 billion vehicle fleet for the U.S. Air Force and managed a $34.8 billion budget as Executive Officer of the Logistics Engineering branch, Headquarters U.S. Air Force.

Lewis was a presidential scholar at the University of Alabama and served as a congressional intern with the Public Works & Transportation Committee for the U.S. House of Representatives. Lewis has also taught transportation courses for Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and the University of Maryland. In addition, he was previously former secretary of the Alabama Aeronautics Commission.

Since his retirement in 1991, Lewis has focused his efforts on aviation training for new pilots and has guided over 300 of them in obtaining their licenses. Lewis also serves as chairman and CEO of Air Tuskegee Ltd. and Global One Jets. He also owns historic Moton Field, where most of the Tuskegee Airmen, including his mentor, “Chief” Anderson, learned how to fly.
Roosevelt Joseph Lewis Jr., was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on September 6, 2007.

Accession Number

A2007.246

Sex

Male

Interview Date

9/6/2007

Last Name

Lewis

Schools

Heart of Mary High School

Toulminville Elementary School

St. James Major Catholic School

Tuskegee University

University of Alabama

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Roosevelt

Birth City, State, Country

Greenville

HM ID

LEW11

Favorite Season

Summer

State

Alabama

Favorite Vacation Destination

Beaches

Favorite Quote

There Are These Three: Faith, Hope And Love, And The Greatest Of These Is Love.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Alabama

Birth Date

8/25/1943

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Coden

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Blue Bell Ice Cream

Short Description

Colonel and federal government appointee Col. Roosevelt J. Lewis (1943 - ) served the United States in five Pentagon positions, including the Office of the Secretary of Defense. He is chairman and CEO of Air Tuskegee Ltd. and Global One Jets. He is also the owner of Moton Field, where most of the Tuskegee Airmen were trained as pilots.

Employment

United States Air Force

Tuskegee University

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Col. Roosevelt J. Lewis' interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Col. Roosevelt J. Lewis lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Col. Roosevelt J. Lewis talks about his maternal family history, pt.1

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Col. Roosevelt J. Lewis talks about his maternal family history, pt.2

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Col. Roosevelt J. Lewis describes his great-grandmother Lula Lewis

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Col. Roosevelt J. Lewis talks about his two maternal grandfathers

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Col. Roosevelt J. Lewis shares memories of his maternal grandparents and annual family reunions in Greenville, Alabama

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Col. Roosevelt J. Lewis recalls her mother's generosity in his childhood neighborhood in Mobile, Alabama

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Col. Roosevelt J. Lewis talks about his mother's childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Col. Roosevelt J. Lewis talks about his maternal ancestry

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Col. Roosevelt J. Lewis describes his father's childhood in Greenville, Alabama

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Col. Roosevelt J. Lewis describes his father, Roosevelt Lewis, Sr., pt.1

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Col. Roosevelt J. Lewis describes his father, Roosevelt Lewis, Sr., pt.2

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Col. Roosevelt J. Lewis talks about his father's career at the International Paper Company

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Col. Roosevelt J. Lewis talks about his father's death and his respect for his parents

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Col. Roosevelt J. Lewis talks about his father's training as a medic in the U.S. Army

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Col. Roosevelt J. Lewis describes how his paternal great-grandmother, Lula Lewis, lost her land

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Col. Roosevelt J. Lewis describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Col. Roosevelt J. Lewis recalls his experience of growing up on a farm

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Col. Roosevelt J. Lewis talks about how his parents met and their courtship

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Col. Roosevelt J. Lewis talks about his parents' move to Mobile, Alabama where his father worked at the International Paper Company

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Col. Roosevelt J. Lewis talks about his family's move back to Mobile, Alabama after his father returned from military service

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Col. Roosevelt J. Lewis describes his siblings, pt.1

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Col. Roosevelt J. Lewis describes his siblings, pt.2

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Col. Roosevelt J. Lewis describes his family's first home in Toulminville, at that time a suburb of Mobile, Alabama

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Col. Roosevelt J. Lewis remembers watching his neighbor, Hank Aaron, play broom ball

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Col. Roosevelt J. Lewis describes the sights, sounds, and smells of his childhood neighborhood in Toulminville, a suburb of Mobile, Alabama

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Col. Roosevelt J. Lewis talks about his childhood experience of segregation in Mobile, Alabama

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Col. Roosevelt J. Lewis describes the stores and schools in Toulminville, Alabama

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Col. Roosevelt J. Lewis remembers learning to play tennis

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Col. Roosevelt J. Lewis describes his elementary school years at Toulminville Elementary School, originally a Rosenwald one-room schoolhouse

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Col. Roosevelt J. Lewis talks about his father's work and education

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Col. Roosevelt J. Lewis talks about his family's conversion to Catholicism and his Catholic schooling

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Col. Roosevelt J. Lewis talks about his experience at Heart of Mary High School in Mobile, Alabama

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Col. Roosevelt J. Lewis recalls winning scholarships that enabled him to go to college

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Col. Roosevelt J. Lewis remembers a tragic fire in his childhood home

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Col. Roosevelt J. Lewis describes the aftermath of a tragic fire in his childhood home

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Col. Roosevelt J. Lewis describes his first days at Tuskegee Institute in Tuskegee, Alabama

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Col. Roosevelt J. Lewis describes his first flight with C. Alfred "Chief" Anderson

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Col. Roosevelt J. Lewis talks about C. Alfred "Chief" Anderson

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Col. Roosevelt J. Lewis talks about his experience at the Tuskegee Institute in Tuskegee, Alabama

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Col. Roosevelt J. Lewis talks about his early years in the U.S. Air Force

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Col. Roosevelt J. Lewis remembers being attacked by the Ku Klux Klan in Mobile, Alabama

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Col. Roosevelt J. Lewis describes another incident with the Ku Klux Klan, and why he did not participate in the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Col. Roosevelt J. Lewis remembers getting shot at while working for TISEP, The Tuskegee Institute Summer Education Program

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Col. Roosevelt J. Lewis talks about why he chose a behind-the-scenes role during the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Col. Roosevelt J. Lewis talks about being stationed at Scott Air Force Base in Illinois

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Col. Roosevelt J. Lewis talks about his decision to go to the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, Alabama

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Col. Roosevelt J. Lewis talks about his wife and his daughter

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Col. Roosevelt J. Lewis talks about C. Alfred "Chief" Anderson, who introduced him to many Tuskegee Airmen

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Col. Roosevelt J. Lewis talks about his involvement with the East Coast Chapter of Tuskegee Airmen, Inc. while interning in the U.S. House of Representatives

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Col. Roosevelt J. Lewis talks about the influence of the Tuskegee Airmen on him and his "P's of Success"

Tape: 7 Story: 9 - Col. Roosevelt J. Lewis talks about the importance of the Tuskegee Airmen's story and his role in telling it

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Col. Roosevelt J. Lewis talks about his early career and his two-year tour at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base in North Carolina while working for the Pentagon

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Col. Roosevelt J. Lewis talks about working at the Pentagon and his time with the U.S. Air Force in the Philippines

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Col. Roosevelt J. Lewis recalls his promotion to the rank of colonel

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Col. Roosevelt J. Lewis describes how the Tuskegee Airmen influenced him in his U.S. Air Force career

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Col. Roosevelt J. Lewis talks about his responsibilities in the Philippines as a U.S. Air Force Colonel, and in Operation Earnest Will

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Col. Roosevelt J. Lewis describes his decision to return to Tuskegee University to save Moton Field and to teach air science

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Col. Roosevelt J. Lewis talks about his aviation students at Tuskegee University in Tuskegee, Alabama

Tape: 8 Story: 8 - Col. Roosevelt J. Lewis talks about his goals at Tuskegee University and the establishment of the Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site

Tape: 9 Story: 1 - Col. Roosevelt J. Lewis talks about the importance of a flight training program at Tuskegee University in Tuskegee, Alabama

Tape: 9 Story: 2 - Col. Roosevelt J. Lewis recalls outstanding students that he has trained

Tape: 9 Story: 3 - Col. Roosevelt J. Lewis describes his concerns for the African American community

Tape: 9 Story: 4 - Col. Roosevelt J. Lewis reflects upon the influence of his parents and C. Alfred "Chief" Anderson on his life

Tape: 9 Story: 5 - Col. Roosevelt J. Lewis reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 9 Story: 6 - Col. Roosevelt J. Lewis shares his advice for youth

Tape: 9 Story: 7 - Col. Roosevelt J. Lewis narrates his photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

6$8

DAStory

1$5

DATitle
Col. Roosevelt J. Lewis describes his first flight with C. Alfred "Chief" Anderson
Col. Roosevelt J. Lewis talks about his responsibilities in the Philippines as a U.S. Air Force Colonel, and in Operation Earnest Will
Transcript
So you're on the field [Moton Field, Tuskegee, Alabama] and you see Chief Anderson?$$Yes, C. Alfred Anderson, "Chief" Anderson to those who were in the Tuskegee Aviation experiment, America's first black military pilots got their first seventy hours of flight training at Moton Field, a field owned by Tuskegee Institute [now Tuskegee University in Tuskegee, Alabama]. This man had just landed in his airplane and totally ignored the three young men who had shown up, and he gassed the airplane up and we were standing there and we got closer and closer and closer and finally we're standing next to the airplane and we're looking never saying anything, but just looking. Chief Anderson turned around says, "Hi, I'm Chief Anderson," put his hand out, said "Would you like to go for a flight?" The other two guys just kinda almost fell down getting back out of the way, Chief nudged my elbow, helped me in the left seat, told me to put the seat belt on, put your heels on the floor, toes on the rudder pedals, left hand on the wheel, right hand on throttle, crank the airplane up, when he got in the other side and off I went in this airplane all over the place, it was like an anaconda snake or something but Chief Anderson was an individual who was just an absolutely incredible instructor. I know now as a pilot that he put his shoes on the outside of the rudder pedals and I could only do so much with the airplane, but he would have you think that you were actually flying the airplane and more and more he would turn over the airplane to you as you gain hand and eye coordination and skills and what have you, but I went for this first magical flight for thirty, forty minutes over Tuskegee, came back in and landed and it had truly broadened my horizons. I was truly struck by the fact that I no longer saw Tuskegee as this big place that I had to walk from one end down here all the way up to the Tompkins Hall and over to the Chapel and what have you. I found out that Tuskegee was a finite place, I saw the borders. I asked questions, I was totally fascinated with the idea of flying an airplane. He taught me how to turn the airplane, how to make the airplane climb gradually, how to make the airplane descend gradually, how to maneuver the airplane and told me about controls and speeds and what have you. You can only get so much in a short period, but in that flight I think the realization came over me that "I think I can do this," then "I know I can do this," and then "I have to do this," so from that point on flying became an absolute integral part of who I was.$So is that what happened with your next position?$$Yes, in the Pacific, I was sent out there--twofold reasons. Number one, I had all of this Pentagon experience; they needed a senior colonel on the ground in the Philippines to make sure that the [Corazon] Aquino Government was supported. I worked with the Embassy; they knew I knew logistics so the Pentagon needed somebody there very quickly to fix things in case that is what was needed. My "day-time job," not working with the Embassy, my day-time job was overseeing the DOD [Department of Defense] Air Lift Operation and the mobility program in the Pacific [theater]. So for half the world I was responsible for mobility, and I had the Eighth Mobile Aerial Port Squadron there and the 74th Strategic Airlift Squadron there, so I was a group commander, and I had all of the detachments out there in the Pacific responsible for air lift operations. I kept fresh fruits and vegetable parts all of that in front of the [U.S.] Navy task forces, I fed the [U.S.] Army any air lift things they needed to come in, the Navy, the [U.S.] Marines--I air lifted them for mobility, all of those kinds of things. And also in the Pacific, Operation Earnest Will, a one-baker-one [ph.] presidential directive, the first one I saw in my entire career, but I was responsible directly to the Pentagon for getting to Diego Garcia [Air Force Base] and running this operation. I don't know if you remember this but there was the mining of the Persian Gulf by Khomeyni in Iran. This was an international incident, the world was on pins and needles because nobody knew what anybody else was gonna do. Khomeini mined the Persian Gulf; the oil tankers could not come through there. President [Ronald] Reagan said, "this will not stand." President Reagan wanted France to let us have overflight rights. They wouldn't let us do it, so we had to airlift minesweeping helicopters that dragged boards we call them, in the water to get rid of the mines. We had to airlift them three quarters of the way around the world from the States, East Coast all the way around the world on a C-5, multiple C-5s we did that. I received them, they came through in the (unclear) received them, was there, we got the job done, but most of the world doesn't know that President Reagan had five cocked B-52s orbiting over the area during that operation, but the USS Guadalcanal, a carrier, a small carrier was on the way to the Persian Gulf, turned around and came back. This was supposed to be super-secret, nobody knew anything. And on CNN, right after I pulled the helicopters off of the C-5s and the Navy guys got the, got them airworthy and they flew them and put them on the Guadalcanal, it was on CNN that the USS Guadalcanal has just come into the lagoon at, oh my--Diego Garcia, so I was involved in this absolutely incredible thing, it worked out thank goodness, but I came back from the Philippines to a job after a bit of an epiphany.

Charlestine Fairley

Academic administrator and social activist Charlestine Romelle Dawson Hickson Fairley was born on July 24, 1938 in Greenville, Mississippi to Ida Harris Dawson and Kemp Dawson. She was educated in Gulfport, Mississippi, where she graduated from 33rd Avenue High School in 1956. She briefly attended Tougaloo College in Tougaloo, Mississippi before transferring to Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. During a summer break she met William F. Hickson, Jr. a dental student at Meharry Medical College. After a year of courtship, Fairley dropped out of college to move to Nashville, Tennessee to marry Hickson. After the birth of the couple's three children--Nina, Franklin, and Oneal-- Fairley returned to college, completing her B.A. degree in sociology at Delaware State College in 1963. Following her graduation, Fairley worked for the Burlington County, New Jersey Welfare Department as a case worker. Fairley returned to school, earning her M.Ed. degree in counseling from South Carolina State College in 1969 and her Ph.D. degree in education from the University of South Carolina in 1990.

Fairley taught and worked as a special services counselor at Claflin College from 1968 to 1973, when she became coordinator of its Upward Bound and Special Services program. Fairley then directed Claflin's Special Programs for Disadvantaged Students until leaving in 1986 to direct the Upward Bound program at the University of South Carolina. Because Fairley shared the same disadvantaged background as her students, she was especially effective in connecting with them. Her programmatic innovations with Upward Bound's TRIO Achievers were incorporated into the program at the national level. Fairley married Richard L. Fairley in 1989, the same year that she was appointed as a consultant for the U.S. Department of Education Fund for the Improvement of Post-Secondary Education (FIPSE). Fairley then shifted her career focus to the administration of government substance abuse prevention services, joining the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in 1990 as a program officer in the Office of Substance Abuse Prevention. Two years later, Fairley and her husband moved to Annapolis, Maryland, where she directed Prevention Services for the Anne Arundel County Department of Health until 1997. She coordinated the Anne Arundel County Executive's Criminal Justice Drug Intervention Program from 1998 to 1999. She worked concurrently as a trainer for Maryland's Office of Education and Training for Addiction Services. During this time, she was also an adjunct professor at Nova University and Bowie State University's College of Business, and part-time coordinator of the Annapolis campus of Sojourner-Douglass College. Fairley has served as the full-time director of the Sojourner-Douglass College, Annapolis Campus since 1993.

Fairley is a life member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, the National Council of Negro Women, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and the American Association of University Women. She is also a member of The Links, Inc., Annapolis Chapter and the 21st Century Club of Annapolis. Fairley belongs to the First Presbyterian Church of Annapolis.

Charlestine Fairley was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on April 25, 2007.

Accession Number

A2007.162

Sex

Female

Interview Date

4/25/2007

Last Name

Fairley

Maker Category
Marital Status

Widow

Schools

Gaston Point Elementary School

33rd Avenue High School

Tougaloo College

Southern University and Agricultural and Mechanical College

Delaware State University

South Carolina State University

University of South Carolina

First Name

Charlestine

Birth City, State, Country

Greenville

HM ID

FAI03

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Mississippi

Favorite Vacation Destination

Hilton Head, South Carolina

Favorite Quote

Everybody Can Be Great Because Everybody Can Serve.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Maryland

Birth Date

7/24/1938

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Baltimore

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Seafood, Vegetables

Short Description

Academic administrator Charlestine Fairley (1938 - ) dedicated her career to improving education, substance abuse prevention, and counseling services to the disadvantaged.

Employment

Sojourner Douglass College

Bowie State University

Anne Arundel County (Md.)

Maryland. Addiction Services Administration

Nova University

United States Department of Health and Human Services

United States Department of Education

Upward Bound Program (U.S.)

Claflin College (Orangeburg, S.C.)

Burlington County Welfare Department

Favorite Color

Green

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Charlestine Fairley's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Charlestine Fairley lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Charlestine Fairley describes her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Charlestine Fairley describes her mother's personality and how she takes after her

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Charlestine Fairley recalls her family's slave history

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Charlestine Fairley describes her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Charlestine Fairley talks about her father's education and occupation

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Charlestine Fairley recalls being raised by her paternal grandparents

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Charlestine Fairley describes the sights, sounds and smells of her childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Charlestine Fairley describes her earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Charlestine Fairley remembers her paternal grandmother, Rosie Farmer Dawson

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Charlestine Fairley recalls moving to Gulfport, Mississippi with her paternal grandparents

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Charlestine Fairley describes her community in Gulfport, Mississippi

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Charlestine Fairley recalls the influence of Little Rock Baptist Church in Gulfport, Mississippi

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Charlestine Fairley talks about her early education

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Charlestine Fairley recalls attending 33rd Avenue High School in Gulfport, Mississippi

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Charlestine Fairley describes holiday celebrations with her family

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Charlestine Fairley remembers her childhood friends

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Charlestine Fairley recalls her early influences

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Charlestine Fairley remembers the librarian at 33rd Avenue High School

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Charlestine Fairley describes her college aspirations

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Charlestine Fairley recalls attending Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Charlestine Fairley recalls segregation in Gulfport, Mississippi

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Charlestine Fairley describes segregation in Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Charlestine Fairley remembers meeting her first husband, William F. Hickson, Jr.

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Charlestine Fairley recalls attending Delaware State College in Dover, Delaware

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Charlestine Fairley remembers her position with the welfare department in Burlington County, New Jersey

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Charlestine Fairley describes her teaching position at Claflin University in Orangeburg, South Carolina

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Charlestine Fairley talks about the TRiO programs

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Charlestine Fairley recalls her experiences at Claflin University in Orangeburg, South Carolina

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Charlestine Fairly recalls working at Claflin University in Orangeburg, South Carolina

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Charlestine Fairly describes her role with the Special Services for Disadvantaged Students program

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Charlestine Fairly talks about the TRiO Achievers program

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Charlestine Fairly recalls working at the University of South Carolina in Orangeburg, South Carolina

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Charlestine Fairly describes the TRiO programs at the University of South Carolina

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Charlestine Fairly recalls meeting her second husband, Richard Fairley

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Charlestine Fairly describes her educational consultant work at FIPSE

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Charlestine Fairly recalls her work with the substance abuse prevention program in Anne Arundel County, Maryland

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Charlestine Fairley describes Sojourner-Douglass College in Edgewater, Maryland, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Charlestine Fairley describes Sojourner-Douglass College in Edgewater, Maryland, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Charlestine Fairley remembers the challenges she faced at Sojourner-Douglass College

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Charlestine Fairley describes her civic involvement

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Charlestine Fairley talks about her family

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Charlestine Fairley reflects upon her trip to Africa

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Charlestine Fairley describes her consulting firm, CRF and Associates, Inc.

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Charlestine Fairley reflects upon her life

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Charlestine Fairley shares her advice for future generations

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Charlestine Fairley describes how she would like to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$5

DAStory

1$3

DATitle
Charlestine Fairley recalls segregation in Gulfport, Mississippi
Charlestine Fairley remembers the challenges she faced at Sojourner-Douglass College
Transcript
Growing up in a segregated society had to be a little difficult. Did you--would you speak to that?$$At the time, it didn't seem all that difficult because there were boundaries and parameters in there in order to protect us, us meaning children, that our parents had us to know what we could and could not do, and they set, although the state had these restrictions, our parents also set boundaries so as to protect us from these restrictions. We knew, for instance, if after going to the movies that we would go separately, that Negroes or colored people went upstairs. You bought your ticket, you went upstairs. White people bought their tickets, they went downstairs. Now, I will say, and that was just one, that was just one movie house where, where black people went. There was the Paramount Theatre [Gulfport, Mississippi] on another street that seemed to have all of the best movies that just didn't allow black people to, to, to buy a ticket to go in. So, it was kind of you knew that you weren't supposed to do that, first of all, you weren't supposed to do what your parents told you not to do. There were, we were aware of slights, when you went to the shops to shop, there were some shops where we could go and try on clothes, and then there were some of the most exclusive shops that you couldn't. You just stood out and you could see what they had. I'm not even sure that they sold merchandise to black people. I can remember, it was, if you were going to the movie, you made sure that you went to the bathroom, going downtown to shop, you did all of those things because you knew that there was nowhere that you could go except maybe to the train station, to the rest room in the colored side, and of course that was not--the station was not always clean, so you tried to not have to go but if you had to go, that was the place during the time, and I left home around, I guess, after high school graduation [from 33rd Avenue High School, Gulfport, Mississippi]. During that time, we were just accepting. Leading up to '56 [1956], we were just accepting things the way they were and we were not questioning our parents' instruction about how we should behave and what we should or should not do, and living in the segregated community, we didn't have that much contact with white people. I will say that it's almost like in the back of where we live that it was not a street, but almost like an alley. There were some little houses there where some white people lived, but, of course, they were poor white folk. But although they were poor, we still did not mix. We would sometimes look over the fence and we'd see them there, but it never occurred to me to walk over there or to even to try to play with those children. It was just a kind of understanding that you had and your parents and community people went out of the way to protect you, to instruct you in terms of what you could and could not do.$Now you mentioned some people did not want you to be here. Was, was this the people in the community? What people didn't want to have a higher education, institution (simultaneous)?$$(Simultaneous) Well, this is the--that's hard to imagine, isn't it? But, South River Colony [Edgewater, Maryland] is a planned community with multimillion dollar houses on one side of us and then some other very expensive places on the other side. Now, one of the property owners in South River Colony decided that it wasn't a good idea. He attempted to get his community association to join in a suit against us. They refused, so what he did, he went across the community, across Mayo Road, and he was able to solicit the London Towne Association [London Towne Property Owners Association, Edgewater, Maryland] to file suit against us, and their position was that we had not fulfilled the covenant for this property. Our position was that we had, and it's my thinking that they really did underestimate us to think that we would embark upon such a project without understanding what our rights were; but, nevertheless, it did cause trouble for us and I think that they thought perhaps we would give up. Many people in the community on both sides believe that it was racial. Now, many reporters have attempted to get me to say that it was. I refused, and I refused on the basis of these things. People, both black and white, had helped us acquire this land and to build this building. Tom Schubert is white. We are an African American institution [Sojourner-Douglass College, Edgewater, Maryland]. I did not want to say racism, because the moment you say that then you divide the community. You just divide it, that's, and you know. And then the other thing is that I'd say to them, well you know I'm from Mississippi, and I am accustomed to working in racist situations, and it never stopped me and I don't intend this to stop me and I don't intend to spend the time to address whether or not it's racism. We know that we did the right thing. We know that there's no reason for us not being here, and so we continued to work. We continued to do what we needed to do. We continued to recruit and have classes. They even, at one point, wanted to have us torn down. That was to be the remedy. And, of course, all of this was a distraction and, but we continued and we prevailed and we feel good about being here.

Benjamin Wright

Music director, arranger, and conductor Benjamin Franklin Wright, Jr. was born on July 11, 1946 in Greenville, Mississippi. Wright started his music career while in high school, performing as a drum major in the marching band and singing Doo Wop in a group he and his friends started. Wright attended the Chicago Conservatory of Music and received his Ph.D. from the Pentecostal Bible College in Tuskegee, Alabama.

After high school, Wright embarked on his first major musical tour with rhythm and blues icon Ted Taylor. During the tour, Wright played piano and sang back-up for the band. The Ted Taylor Tour allowed Wright to experience music arrangement for the first time, and his subsequent success within the industry took him on the road with James Brown, Otis Redding, Billy Stewart and Gladys Knight and The Pips. Shortly after Wright’s touring period, he was drafted into the United States Air Force. While there, Wright met “Fats” Ford, a trumpet player who played with Duke Ellington. Ford eventually introduced Wright to Duke Ellington, an experience that changed his life forever. After Wright’s honorable discharge from the military in Alabama, he worked for several years with Bobby Moore and The Rhythm Aces, before working on the hotel circuit and jazz trios throughout the country. In 1969, Wright worked as a copyist for notable musical arrangers such as Charles Stepney, Gene Barge, Donny Hathaway and Richard Evans. Concurrently, Wright performed with Pieces of Peace, a group of musicians who recorded music sessions for Jackie Wilson, The Chi-Lites, Jerry Butler, Curtis Mayfield and The Impressions. After traveling overseas with Pieces of Peace at the end of 1971, Wright enrolled in the Chicago Conservatory of Music, and shortly thereafter formed the Benjamin Wright Orchestra. In 1975, Wright moved to Los Angeles, California and became the musical director for The Temptations, Gladys Knight and The Pips, Aretha Franklin, and Barry White and The Love Unlimited Orchestra. In 1979, Wright acted as the string arranger for Michael Jackson’s first solo album, Off the Wall, where he met producer Quincy Jones. Between 1982 and 1983, Wright opened the Ritesonian Recording Studio, and in 1987, he went back on the road as the musical director for Gladys Knight and The Pips to do a year of one-night-only performances. In 2003, Wright and long time friend and former singer with The Temptations, Louis Price, formed the Price/Wright Orchestra. Then, in 2004, Wright wrote five new arrangements for singer Brandy and produced three songs with Otis Williams for The Temptations. Wright has also done arrangements on Outkast and Justin Timberlake’s Grammy-winning albums Speakerboxxx/The Love Below, and Justified respectively. In 2005, Wright was honored by being invited to write and conduct the Norwegian Radio Symphony Orchestra for the Patty LaBelle segment of the Nobel Peace Prize celebration in Oslo, Norway.

Wright was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on April 18, 2007 and March 9, 2017.

Accession Number

A2007.146

Sex

Male

Interview Date

4/18/2007 |and| 07/22/2017

Last Name

Wright

Maker Category
Organizations
Schools

Julia Armstrong Elementary School

Coleman High School

American Conservatory of Music

Berklee College of Music

First Name

Benjamin

Birth City, State, Country

Greenville

HM ID

WRI03

Favorite Season

Summer

State

Mississippi

Favorite Vacation Destination

Saint Martin

Favorite Quote

Straight Ahead.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

California

Birth Date

7/11/1946

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Los Angeles

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Lobster

Short Description

Music arranger, music director, and conductor Benjamin Wright (1946 - ) became the musical director for The Temptations, Gladys Knight and The Pips, Aretha Franklin, Barry White and The Love Unlimited Orchestra. He has arranged music on the albums by Michael Jackson, Outkast, and Justin Timberlake.

Favorite Color

Green

Timing Pairs
0,0:9662,127:52780,450:72134,510:72629,516:74807,546:75500,554:76292,565:161340,1162:169169,1196:201094,1580:220770,1758:221485,1773:221745,1778:243144,1966:297722,2419:305653,2550:318000,2613$0,0:10274,75:15782,106:27464,201:31154,230:31659,236:34038,253:52120,453:55251,506:64516,544:72076,647:80798,740:81226,745:88554,815:93395,842:97412,875:97676,880:98666,908:105905,1001:110890,1014:112530,1044:112858,1049:130604,1204:131172,1213:131740,1224:132024,1229:140884,1286:144970,1308:146026,1339:154947,1453:158930,1483:159278,1488:159626,1521:187026,1743:199886,1793:219780,1934:225390,2006:238956,2096:272373,2498:281030,2550:284190,2556
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Benjamin Wright's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Benjamin Wright lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Benjamin Wright describes his maternal and paternal family histories

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Benjamin Wright talks about his siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Benjamin Wright talks about his parents return to Greenville, Mississippi from Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Benjamin Wright talks about his experience at Julia L. Armstrong Elementary School

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Benjamin Wright talks about being inspired to play piano by his church and his sister

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Benjamin Wright talks about playing his sister's piano

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Benjamin Wright talks about his choir at Coleman High School

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Benjamin Wright talks about his high school doo-wop group, The Soothers

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Benjamin Wright talks about his choir at Coleman High School in Greenville, Mississippi, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Benjamin Wright talks about his choir at Coleman High School in Greenville, Mississippi, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Benjamin Wright talks about singing in the choir at St. John Missionary Baptist Church in Greenville, Mississippi

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Benjamin Wright talks about playing in his high school band director's swing group

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Benjamin Wright describes chopping cotton and avoiding snakes with his father

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Benjamin Wright talks about his father's independent contractor business

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Benjamin Wright talks about his early awareness of racism in Greenville, Mississippi

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Benjamin Wright talks about Emmett Till and meeting the Freedom Riders

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Benjamin Wright describes the difference between his parents' attitudes about the Civil Rights Movement and his own

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Benjamin Wright describes his growing consciousness of the Civil Rights Movement during high school

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Benjamin Wright describes his maturation in high school

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Benjamin Wright describes his first experience writing music

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Benjamin Wright describes how a performance of Handel's "Messiah" encouraged him to write music

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Benjamin Wright describes honing his ear as an arranger at Coleman High School

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Benjamin Wright describes being expelled from Coleman High School in Greenville, Mississippi

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Benjamin Wright talks about receiving his diploma from Coleman High School in Greenville, Mississippi

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Benjamin Wright recalls his introduction to Down Beat magazine and HistoryMaker B.B. King

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Benjamin Wright talks about working for his father and meeting with his high school counselor

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Benjamin Wright describes auditioning for Ted Taylor's band

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Benjamin Wright recalls beginning to tour with singer Ted Taylor

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Benjamin Wright describes his experience touring with singer Ted Taylor

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Benjamin Wright talks about why he has never done drugs

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Benjamin Wright describes meeting Peggy Lee and his decision to remain on the road with Ted Taylor

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Benjamin Wright talks about a Civil Rights march and concert with James Brown and Mitty Collier in Birmingham, Alabama in 1965

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Benjamin Wright describes trying to avoid the Vietnam War draft by enrolling at Jackson State College in Jackson, Mississippi

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Benjamin Wright describes a racist experience on the first night he was in the U.S. Air Force

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Benjamin Wright talks about studying music while in the U.S. Air Force

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Benjamin Wright talks about his job in the communications center at Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, Alabama

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Benjamin Wright describes the last time he saw his mother and getting an Humanitarian Deferment during the Vietnam War

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Benjamin Wright talks about touring as an organist with Bobby Moore and The Rhythm Aces and Skip McQueen

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Benjamin Wright describes playing with Skip McQueen's trio

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Benjamin Wright talks about moving to Chicago, Illinois to play with Jerry Wilson's band, the Pieces of Peace

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Benjamin Wright recalls meeting Duke Ellington while in the U.S. Air Force, pt. 1

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Benjamin Wright recalls meeting Duke Ellington while in the U.S. Air Force, pt. 2

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Benjamin Wright talks about joining the Pieces of Peace in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Benjamin Wright talks about his family

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Benjamin Wright describes enrolling at the Chicago Conservatory in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Benjamin Wright describes his experience in Singapore

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Benjamin Wright talks about his experience at the Chicago Conservatory in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Benjamin Wright talks about the difference between music education and practical musicianship

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Benjamin Wright describes the growth of his career as an arranger

Tape: 7 Story: 9 - Benjamin Wright describes moving to Los Angeles, California

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Slating of Benjamin Wright's interview, session 2

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Benjamin Wright remembers his return to civilian life

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Benjamin Wright recalls being drafted

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Benjamin Wright talks about going back on tour with Bobby Moore and the Rhythm Aces after his military discharge

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Benjamin Wright recalls the racism in the South during his early tours

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Benjamin Wright remembers President Bill Clinton

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Benjamin Wright remembers meeting Skip McQuinn

Tape: 9 Story: 1 - Benjamin Wright remembers playing music for the mob

Tape: 9 Story: 2 - Benjamin Wright talks about his decision to move to Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 9 Story: 3 - Benjamin Wright talks about abstaining from drug use

Tape: 9 Story: 4 - Benjamin Wright talks about composing music

Tape: 9 Story: 5 - Benjamin Wright remembers his work as a copyist

Tape: 9 Story: 6 - Benjamin Wright talks about his business and marketing philosophy

Tape: 9 Story: 7 - Benjamin Wright recalls the artists he's work with

Tape: 10 Story: 1 - Benjamin Wright remembers passing the entrance exam to the American Conservatory of Music in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 10 Story: 2 - Benjamin Wright talks about his experience at the American Conservatory of Music in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 10 Story: 3 - Benjamin Wright talks about the European tour with Pieces of Peace

Tape: 10 Story: 4 - Benjamin Wright describes why Pieces of Peace dissolved after their European tour

Tape: 10 Story: 5 - Benjamin Wright remembers playing popular nightclubs in Chicago, Illinois with The Benjamin Wright Orchestra

Tape: 10 Story: 6 - Benjamin Wright recalls his reasons for moving to Los Angeles, California

Tape: 10 Story: 7 - Benjamin Wright remembers his early success in Los Angeles, California

Tape: 11 Story: 1 - Benjamin Wright talks about becoming the music director for The Temptations

Tape: 11 Story: 2 - Benjamin Wright reflects upon his work with The Temptations

Tape: 11 Story: 3 - Benjamin Wright recalls his biggest hits as a composer

Tape: 11 Story: 4 - Benjamin Wright talks about negotiating his rate as an arranger and composer

Tape: 11 Story: 5 - Benjamin Wright recalls meeting Quincy Jones

Tape: 11 Story: 6 - Benjamin Wright remembers writing music for Quincy Jones

Tape: 11 Story: 7 - Benjamin Wright talks about his biggest hit singles

Tape: 12 Story: 1 - Benjamin Wright remembers working with Michael Jackson

Tape: 12 Story: 2 - Benjamin Wright describes Quincy Jones

Tape: 12 Story: 3 - Benjamin Wright remembers opening Ritesonian Recording Studio in Los Angeles, California

Tape: 12 Story: 4 - Benjamin Wright talks about his role as musical director and conductor for the 'Night of the Living Divas'

Tape: 12 Story: 5 - Benjamin Wright talks about touring with Gladys Knight and the Pips

Tape: 12 Story: 6 - Benjamin Wright talks about arranging music for major artists

Tape: 12 Story: 7 - Benjamin Wright remembers the Easter program at the L.A. Forum for Faithful Central Church, pt. 1

Tape: 12 Story: 8 - Benjamin Wright remembers the Easter program at the L.A. Forum for Faithful Central Church, pt. 1

Tape: 13 Story: 1 - Benjamin Wright describes his work arranging and composing music for churches

Tape: 13 Story: 2 - Benjamin Wright talks about his faith

Tape: 13 Story: 3 - Benjamin Wright talks about his family

Tape: 13 Story: 4 - Benjamin Wright describes his musical philosophy

Tape: 13 Story: 5 - Benjamin Wright shares his work philosophy

Tape: 13 Story: 6 - Benjamin Wright talks about his plans for the future

Tape: 13 Story: 7 - Benjamin Wright reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 13 Story: 8 - Benjamin Wright reflects upon his life

Tape: 13 Story: 9 - Benjamin Wright describes how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 13 Story: 10 - Benjamin Wright shares his advice for aspiring musicians

Tape: 14 Story: 1 - Benjamin Wright narrates his photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$5

DAStory

2$4

DATitle
Benjamin Wright talks about Emmett Till and meeting the Freedom Riders
Benjamin Wright talks about a Civil Rights march and concert with James Brown and Mitty Collier in Birmingham, Alabama in 1965
Transcript
The Emmett Till thing--you know, we didn't have television, my family, okay, but the when the Emmett Till thing happened, wow, that was heavy duty.$$What are the details that you remember about Emmett Till affair?$$Well, you know, the word was Emmett Till came from Chicago [Illinois], visiting his cousin or whatever and supposedly he whistled at a white woman, and now then (unclear) killed him, identifiable. Shot him, beat him, threw him in the river. You didn't--in Greenville, you didn't see that on a daily basis because you didn't have contact with white people. But as you begin to go to school and whatever--I lived in what is called the "south end." The south end had a big white school called, E.E. Bass [School], by the railroad tracks. Now, I had to--E.E. Bass was maybe 10 or 12 blocks from my house, but I had to go approximately five miles to get to my school [Coleman High School] and you had a choice. You could take the streets or you could take the railroad tracks. The railroad track was a shorter route but you had two dangers, the train--(simultaneous)--$$--Right.--(simultaneous)--$$--there wasn't much room on either side if the train came, and white kids at the school that you had to pass, so nobody knew the other one. There was a fight every day, rock throwing or whatever. And it was like-- I never understood that.$$Was there retaliatory rock throwing, in other words, when the white kids threw at you, you would throw back at them?$$Yeah, yeah, you know. I mean it was on every day, and, you know, you didn't want to--you didn't want to take the track by yourself, generally there was four or five guys, you know. But the racial thing was bad. And like I said, nobody knew each other. White kids didn't know the black kids and vice versa. What the hell are we fighting for, you know? Now, my--my parents [Benjamin F. Wright, Sr. and Colonus Miller], love, love, love, love, love and I have a problem with that because that ain't what's happening outside of this door. Okay? My dad was the Sunday school superintendent, you know. All my dad know is God and carpentry. Never heard him curse, good man. But I don't like what's happening with this, I can't go here, I can't do this. I never knew nothing else, but there is something is wrong here, instinctively something is wrong.$$Okay.$$When the Freedom Riders came, information, information. Well, I'm hanging out down there because all this pent up stuff for me to feel that something is wrong. Now somebody else show up and showed that it is wrong because we didn't get that basically from home, you know.$I-- There's a James Brown date. [Austin] Ted Taylor used to headline over James Brown.$$Okay.$$Now, it's about August. August 1965, 'Papa's Got a Brand New Bag' hit. Nobody head lined over James no more. So we're going to big James Brown date. I'm excited because a couple of cats in our band knew cats in James' band. They had gone to school together, or something, or whatever, so I'm excited. This gig is in Birmingham, Alabama. I think it's called Ridgeway Field [sic. Rickwood Field]. It's a stadium. James is big. But it's two things happening in town that day, the James Brown gig, which I'm excited to get to, but that morning, there was a march, [Reverend] Dr. [Martin Luther] King [Jr.] was in Birmingham.$$Okay.$$Now, I've been so Civil Rights conscious and the whole bit. I'm going to be in that march.$$Okay.$$I made that march.$$You're at the march that morning.$$That morning, and that evening--(simultaneous)--$$---you played with James Brown?$$Yes. Now, this was another experience. There was a young lady on the show called, Mitty Collier. Mitty Collier had a big record at that time called 'I had a Talk with My Man Last Night.' Mitty didn't have a band. [Austin] Ted Taylor's band is to play behind Mitty Collier. Well, now, we're set up at around second base. They're calling Mitty Collier. "Mitty Collier!" The stadium is full and people are calling. People are screaming. And this guy is running out toward second base where the band is with some charts. I'd never seen any charts other than in the high school band. The band starts playing (singing) with everybody's come on song. The guy is running out, Mitty Collier. She appears and she is strolling. The guy came out and staring passing music. What am I going to do with this? I can't read this. I can read drum stuff. I'm the piano player. Guess what? In Mitty Collier's record, there is a piano solo--two bar piano solo that is big in the song. (Singing) "I said I had a talk with my man." This is a big part in the song, so they do two songs while I sat silently. And the third song was her hit record. Now, I've been looking through this chart. Throughout these two songs, nobody had heard me, but I could figure out based on my choir experience and my notation in terms of beats and whatever, I was able to figure out that part. So when it got to that part, I'm ready man. I turn up, and I kill it.$$All right.$$I became the hit of the tour. I was so embarrassed. I was so embarrassed.$$About?$$Because I couldn't handle the music.

Reverend Jesse L. Jackson

Prominent civil rights activist and political leader Reverend Jesse Louis Jackson, Sr. was born Jesse Louis Burns on October 8, 1941 in Greenville, South Carolina to Helen Jackson and Noah Robinson. His mother later remarried Charles Henry Jackson, who formally adopted Jackson and his brother Charles. Jackson received his high school diploma from Sterling High School in Greenville, and in 1959, he received an athletic scholarship to attend the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. After his first year, Jackson then transferred to North Carolina A&T University in Greensboro, North Carolina.

At North Carolina A&T, Jackson continued to excel in sports. He was an honor student and president of his student body. On December 31, 1962, Jackson married college classmate, Jacqueline Lavinia Brown, in Greenville. Returning to North Carolina A&T, he became involved in the Civil Rights Movement joining the Greensboro chapter of the Council on Racial Equality (CORE). In 1963, Jackson helped to organize several sit-ins, desegregating local restaurants and theaters in Greensboro. Jackson was chosen as field director of CORE's southeastern operations, and president of the North Carolina Intercollegiate Council on Human Rights. In 1964, he also served as a delegate at the Young Democrats National Convention. In the same year, Jackson graduated from North Carolina A&T with a B.S. degree in sociology. He then received a Rockefeller grant to begin his postgraduate studies at the Chicago Theological Seminary in Chicago, Illinois.

In 1965, Jackson left the seminary to join Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) to march in Selma, Alabama. At this time, Jackson became an ordained minister, although he had not returned to the seminary. In 1966, Dr. King appointed Jackson to SCLC's Chicago economic program, Operation Breadbasket. The goal of Operation Breadbasket was to foster the economy of African American business owners and provide employment growth for African American workers. On December 25, 1971, Operation Breadbasket was renamed Operation PUSH - People United to Serve Humanity.

Over the next decade, Jackson continued his involvement with local, national, and international politics. In 1983, Jackson negotiated the release of war prisoner, U.S. pilot Robert Goodman, in Syria. In 1984 and 1988, Jackson ran for President of the United States. As a Democratic candidate, he garnered massive support and exceeded expectations for the number of delegates received. Jackson’s electoral run also helped to register two million new voters.

Jackson moved to Washington, D.C. in 1989. At that time, the Washington City Council created two positions of shadow senator to lobby for the statehood of Washington, D.C. in the U.S. Congress. Jackson won one of the Senate seats, his first elected position.

In 1991, Jackson gained international acclaim again when he negotiated for the release of hundreds of foreign nationals in Kuwait under the regime of Saddam Hussein. In that same year, his likeness was put on a United States Post Office pictorial postal cancellation. Jackson is the second living person to ever receive such an honor. President Bill Clinton then appointed Jackson in 1997 as a special envoy for democracy in Kenya, later awarding him the Presidential Medal of Freedom in March 2000. Jackson hosted the CNN television program Both Sides With Jesse Jackson from 1992 to 2000. He has written numerous columns and authored/co-authored several books including Keep Hope Alive (1989) and It’s About The Money (1999).

Jackson and the Rainbow PUSH Coalition have organized numerous events over the years that bring attention to problems facing all Americans including economic advancement, workers rights, labor conditions, voter registration, education, and racial profiling. He has been awarded over forty honorary degrees, received the NAACP Springarn Award, and been listed as one of the top ten most respected Americans. In 2000, Jackson received an honorary Masters degree from his former school, Chicago Theological Seminary. The seminary recognized Jackson’s countless years of civic service to the American community.

In 2003, Jackson created the Wall Street Project. This project aims to build economic opportunities and advancements of African Americans influencing corporate America companies to increase economic growth and opportunity with minority communities and businesses. In 2004, Jackson became a radio host for the nationally syndicated radio talk show entitled, Keep Hope Alive.

Jackson and his wife, Jacqueline, currently divide their residency between Chicago, Illinois and Washington, D.C. They have five children, Santita Jackson, U.S. Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr., Jonathan Jackson, Yusef Jackson, and Jacqueline L. Jackson.

Accession Number

A2006.031

Sex

Male

Interview Date

2/28/2006 |and| 3/1/2006 |and| 3/2/2006 |and| 3/9/2006 |and| 3/11/2006

3/9/2006 |and| 3/11/2006

Last Name

Jackson

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

L.

Organizations
Schools

Sterling High School

First Name

Jesse

Birth City, State, Country

Greenville

HM ID

JAC18

Favorite Season

Fall, Spring

State

South Carolina

Favorite Vacation Destination

None

Favorite Quote

I Am Somebody.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

10/8/1941

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Cornbread, Greens

Short Description

Civil rights leader and minister Reverend Jesse L. Jackson (1941 - ) worked with SCLC's Operation Breadbasket before leading and merging Operation PUSH with the National Rainbow Coalition. Jackson founded both organizations that have become the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition which advocate for economic opportunity and social justice. He has also been an active political leader, running for the U.S. presidency in 1984 and 1988.

Favorite Color

Blue

Angela Jackson

Angela Jackson, poet, playwright and fictionist, was born July 25, 1951, in Greenville, Mississippi. Her father, George Jackson, Sr. and mother, Angeline Robinson Jackson moved to Chicago where Jackson attended St. Anne’s Catholic School. Fascinated with books, Jackson frequented the Kelly Branch Library and admired Chicago’s Gwendolyn Brooks. She graduated from Loretto Academy in 1968 with a pre-med scholarship to Northwestern University. In 1977, Jackson received her B.A. degree from Northwestern University and went on to earn her M.A. degree from the University of Chicago.

At Northwestern University, Jackson joined FMO, the black student union. Influenced by artist Jeff Donaldson and visiting poet Margaret Walker, she was invited by Johnson Publishing’s Black World magazine editor, Hoyt W. Fuller, to join the Organization for Black American Culture (OBAC), where she stayed as a member for twenty years. At OBAC, Fuller mentored young black writers like Haki Madhubuti (Don L. Lee), Carolyn Rodgers, Sterling Plumpp and others. Jackson was praised as a reader and performer on Chicago’s burgeoning black literary scene. First published nationally in Black World in 1971, Jackson’s first book of poetry, Voodoo Love Magic was published by Third World Press in 1974. She won the eighth Conrad Kent Rivers Memorial Award in 1973; the Academy of American Poets Award from Northwestern University in 1974; the Illinois Art Council Creative Writing Fellowship in Fiction in 1979; a National Endowment For the Arts Creative Writing Fellowship in Fiction in 1980; the Hoyt W. Fuller Award for Literary Excellence in 1984; the American Book Award in 1985; the DuSable Museum Writers Seminar Poetry Prize in 1984; Pushcart Prize for Poetry in 1989; ETA Gala Award in 1994; Illinois Authors Literary Heritage Award in 1996; six Illinois Arts Council Literary Awards; five for fiction and one for poetry; The Carl Sandburg Award; Chicago Sun-Times Friends of Literature Book of the Year Award; an Illinois Art Council Creative Writing Fellowship in Playwriting in 2000; and in 2002, the Shelley Memorial Award of the Poetry Society of America.

Jackson’s published poetic works include: The Greenville Club, 1977 (chapbook); Solo in the Boxcar Third Floor E, 1985; The Man with the White Liver, 1987; Dark Legs and Silk Kisses: The Beatitudes of the Spinners, 1993; and All These Roads Be Luminous: Poems New and Selected, 1997, which was nominated for the National Book Award. Her plays include Witness!, 1970; Shango Diaspora: An African American Myth of Womanhood and Love, 1980; and When the Wind Blows, 1984 (better known as the eta production entitled, Comfort Stew). Jackson is working on Treemont Stone, a novel; Lightfoot: The Crystal Stair, a play; her memoir, Apprenticeship in the House of Cowrie Shells; and more poems.

Jackson lives and works in Chicago, Illinois.

Accession Number

A2005.247

Sex

Female

Interview Date

11/22/2005

Last Name

Jackson

Maker Category
Occupation
Organizations
Schools

Loretto Academy Catholic High School

St. Ann Catholic School

Northwestern University

University of Chicago

Search Occupation Category
Speakers Bureau

Yes

First Name

Angela

Birth City, State, Country

Greenville

HM ID

JAC16

Favorite Season

Spring, Summer

State

Mississippi

Favorite Vacation Destination

Africa, Brazil

Favorite Quote

Usikate Tamaa (Do Not Despair In Swahili)

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

7/25/1951

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Grits, Eggs

Short Description

Playwright and poet Angela Jackson (1951 - ) has won numerous awards for her work. Jackson is actively involved in Chicago's Organization of Black American Culture, where she has mentored young black writers.

Favorite Color

Orange, Hot Pink

Timing Pairs
0,0:36435,369:111372,1051:156105,1509:156885,1525:157145,1530:157925,1549:179873,1895:188380,1977:194440,2032:203195,2189:203790,2199:204215,2205:206085,2259:219180,2362$0,0:3496,55:10309,135:10820,143:19580,369:20091,378:31160,522:31560,531:74056,1043:74644,1050:105742,1259:106260,1268:106630,1274:110034,1331:111440,1353:113438,1392:125360,1521:133040,1672:133440,1678:170854,2059:196560,2374:203532,2448:204036,2455:213133,2520:223845,2629:224610,2640:229285,2710:230900,2736:235490,2798:249326,2930:254968,3014:258062,3085:271236,3162:271740,3169:274210,3175
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Angela Jackson's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Angela Jackson lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Angela Jackson talks about her mother's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Angela Jackson talks about her mother's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Angela Jackson talks about her father's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Angela Jackson talks about her father's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Angela Jackson talks about her father

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Angela Jackson describes how her parents met

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Angela Jackson describes her parents' marriage and her siblings

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Angela Jackson describes her father's experience in the U.S. military and the family's move to Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Angela Jackson describes her earliest childhood memory

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Angela Jackson describes the sights, sounds, and smells of her childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Angela Jackson recalls her childhood neighborhood

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Angela Jackson describes her childhood personality and interests

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Angela Jackson describes encountering overt racism in the South

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Angela Jackson describes the ethnic makeup of Greenville, Mississippi

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Angela Jackson talks about her love of school

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Angela Jackson talks about writers that influenced her, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Angela Jackson talks about writers that influenced her, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Angela Jackson talks about her experience at Loretto Academy High School

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Angela Jackson talks about her writing

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Angela Jackson talks about her extracurricular interests at her experience at Loretto Academy High School

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Angela Jackson talks about her childhood mentors and memories

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Angela Jackson talks about her changing political views in the 1960s

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Angela Jackson talks about her parents' reading habits

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Angela Jackson talks about reactions to Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s assassination in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Angela Jackson talks about Loretto Academy High School in Chicago, Illinois and her decision to attend Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Angela Jackson talks about the politics of black hair

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Angela Jackson reflects on her changing attitude toward Malcolm X

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Angela Jackson talks about her mentors at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Angela Jackson talks about her introduction to the Organization of Black American Culture

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Angela Jackson describes the Organization of Black American Culture (OBAC) and related organizations

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Angela Jackson reflects on cultural changes in the late '60s and early '70s and OBAC

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Angela Jackson describes her experience in the Organization of Black American Culture (OBAC), pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Angela Jackson describes her experience in the Organization of Black American Culture (OBAC), pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Angela Jackson talks about her time at Northwestern University, the burning of OBAC's storefront, and the Communiversity

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Angela Jackson talks about her first published writings and various jobs

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Angela Jackson recalls events in her life which occurred in 1977

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Angela Jackson describes the history and demise of Black World magazine

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Angela Jackson describes Festac 77 in Lagos, Nigeria

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Angela Jackson describes her play "Shango Diaspora," pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Angela Jackson describes her play "Shango Diaspora," pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Angela Jackson discusses her published poetry

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Angela Jackson discusses her book "Dark Legs and Silk Kisses" and other writings

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Angela Jackson describes her novel "Treemont Stone" and other writings

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Angela Jackson describes an article she wrote on her use of popular culture in her writing

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Angela Jackson talks about her teaching career

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Angela Jackson talks about her future plans and present writing

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Angela Jackson talks about the difference between light and serious fiction

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Angela Jackson talks about the subject matter of her current work

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Angela Jackson describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Angela Jackson reflects on her life

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Angela Jackson reflects on her legacy

Tape: 7 Story: 9 - Angela Jackson talks about Ida B. Wells

Tape: 7 Story: 10 - Angela Jackson reflects on how she would like to be remembered

Tape: 7 Story: 11 - Angela Jackson reads her poem "Faith"

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Angela Jackson narrates her photographs, pt. 1

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Angela Jackson narrates her photographs, pt. 2

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$4

DAStory

5$8

DATitle
Angela Jackson talks about her writing
Angela Jackson talks about her introduction to the Organization of Black American Culture
Transcript
Okay, so were you writing in high school? Were you writing creative?$$Yes, yes, I was. In, in, in--when I was twelve, this wasn't creative writing this was, I kept a diary and they were letters to Jesus and they were very personal letters, intense letters to Jesus that I kept a little note book, but they weren't poems and they weren't meant to be published, but my sister found my diary and they laughed at it, my younger sisters, Betty and Sharon. And my sister Rose salvaged it from them and hid it. But--$$Do you have still have it?$$No I don't. I wish I knew where it was. I wish I knew what had happened to it. I wish I still had it, but I do remember one thing about it. I do remember one thing about it that I know about myself based upon it is that I am intensely competitive, but I learn over the course of time and experience to try to compete with myself, you know, not to worry about what anybody else has or does, but just compete with my own work, you know, with what I have done in the past to try to make it better to do, to create something different and better with each turn, with each, embrace of a work as a writer. So, that's what I do.$$Okay.$$Because if you compete with other people, it will just make you, make you nuts. I was talking to Sterling [D.] Plumpp last night, and he was upset that [HM] Haki [Madhubuti] and I are not included in the Oxford, in the Oxford collection of African American poetry edited by Arnold Rampersad, and I wasn't that upset about, and he said but that's like writing you out of history and I know it is, but I'm in other anthologies. I'm in the, I'm lucky and glad to be in the Penguin anthology edited by Keith Gilyard and you can't, you can't make people put you in them, you can't--they have all kinds of reasons why they don't include you and some of them is, is, might be as simple as they don't know about your work, which means they haven't done their homework and just you know, just all kinds of peculiar reasons and rationales, so, and, and my other feeling about is who decided that Arnold Rampersad was the authority on African American poetry (laughter). When did he come along? I never remembered his name from Black World [magazine]. How long has he been here out here working in the vineyards, so that's why I compete with myself because you can't depend on other people.$Were you aware at the time that she has, I think she's from, she's from Louisiana or--$$No, she was born in Alabama, but she taught at Jackson State [University] in [Jackson] Mississippi--$$Right.$$--and she was a visiting professor at Northwestern [University in Evanston, Illinois] and she had attended Northwestern in the '40s [1940s]--$$Yeah, she was a part of the writers' group in the '40s [1940s]--$$Yes she was, yeah.$$--with Richard Wright--(unclear)--$$Yes, and Gwendolyn Brooks, exactly.$$--(Unclear)--were you aware at that time that she knew Gwendolyn Brooks?$$No, all I knew was that she had written "For My People" and I loved it, and I wanted to study with her. So, the following year in my sophomore year came another African American literature class, which I definitely could not take, but wound up auditing. It was taught by Hoyt [W.] Fuller and my roommate, Roella Christine Henderson, later Davis, kept urging me to go and show him my poems since he was an edi--editor. She said, "He's an editor, you're a writer, you should take him your work, so I did. Christine, by the way is a cousin of [HM] Jeff Donaldson and I and Christine worked for Jeff in sophomore year. I was his slide assistant, and I filed his slides and during his class in those days they didn't have electric slides, so I had to show, change each slide and show the slides in, in his class while class was going on and I had to take notes at the same time because I was taking the class and Jeff, as you know, was one of the founders of OBAC [Organization of Black American Culture]. Hoyt Fuller was a founder of OBAC and when I gave my poems to Hoyt Fuller he kept them for three weeks and I asked him about them and asked him about them, the man was busy, but he was kind enough to read my poems. When he gave them back to me, he said very kindly, "You have a way with words. You should come to OBAC where you might be judged by your peers." Now I knew about, I don't know how I knew about Don L. Lee [HM Haki Madhubuti] and Carolyn Rodgers, but I did know about them because he said your peers and I was thinking my peers they're older than me, they're not my peers, but I did go to OBAC on the third Wednesday of October, 1969. I took the El from Evanston to 35th Street, I got off and walked the three blocks over. And the workshop was at 77 East 35th Street and the door was opened by Walter Bradford, the poet who had done the Black Stone Ranger workshop, organized that workshop with Gwendolyn Brooks and also present was another poet named Evan (ph.) Higgs, and they were very warm and kind to me. Later on the place started to fill up. It was a lovely fall evening, the place started to fill up, people floated in and sat down in the chairs and on the couches of that store front and after a while Don L. Lee came in and he slid through the room. [Dr.] Ann Smith came in and she walked through the room. Then Hoyt Fuller came in and he strolled through the room, and he sat at the front, and I was sitting on a couch and he looked up and looked at me and he smiled and that was how my OBAC experience began and I was a member of OBAC for roughly twenty years.

Billy Taylor

Pianist, composer, and recording artist Billy Taylor was born in Greenville, North Carolina, on July 24, 1921, to a dentist father and schoolteacher mother. As a youth, Taylor and his family moved to Washington, D.C.; it was there that he began to study music. During his teenaged years, Taylor was heavily influenced by the sounds of the Big Bands that were popular. Young Taylor experimenting with many instruments, including drums, guitar and the saxophone, before he found his niche with the study of classical piano. Aside from actively pursing his musical education through independent means, Taylor also remained active in academia, graduating from Virginia State College in 1942 with his B.A. degree in Music.

Taylor moved to New York City in 1944, where he began his professional music career playing piano with Ben Webster's Quartet on 52nd Street. Taylor eventually became the house pianist at the legendary Birdland jazz club, where played alongside musical greats such as Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, and Miles Davis. Taylor continued on in the New York circuits, until the 1950s, when he began to lead and record with his own trio.

Taylor entered the realm of television in the 1970s, when he took on the role of musical director for The David Frost Show, which broadcast on the U.S. Westinghouse Corporation television stations. In addition to his activities with The David Frost Show, Taylor also acted as the musical director for Tony Brown’s Black Journal Tonight, a weekly show on PBS. Later in his television career, Taylor hosted his own jazz piano show on the Bravo network called Jazz Counterpoint. Despite his forays into visual media, Taylor remained closely tied to the world of audio by hosting a variety of radio both locally in New York, and syndicated nationally by National Public Radio. Perhaps his widest radio audience was reached when Taylor became the arts correspondent for CBS Sunday Morning in the early 1980s.

In addition to becoming a well respected musician of international fame, Taylor also went on to become a successful music educator. Taylor received his Masters and Doctorate degrees in Music Education from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and went on to serve as the Duke Ellington Fellow at Yale University. Subsequent to these academic achievements, Taylor received several honorary doctoral degrees over the course of his career.

Recipient of numerous awards and appointments throughout his career, Taylor became one of only three jazz musicians at the time to be appointed to the National Council of the Arts. In addition to serving on the National Council of the Arts, Taylor was also appointed the artistic advisor on jazz for the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, where he developed a run of widely acclaimed series, including the Louis Armstrong Legacy series, and the annual Mary Lou Williams Women in Jazz Festival.

For his performances and professional activities, Taylor received two Peabody Awards; an Emmy; a Grammy; and a place in the Hall of Fame for the International Association of Jazz Educators. At the time of his interview in 2005, Taylor was still professionally active; touring and recording with his Trio, playing concert dates, appearing in television and radio engagements, writing music, and lecturing.

Taylor passed away on December 28, 2010.

Accession Number

A2005.210

Sex

Male

Interview Date

8/29/2005

Last Name

Taylor

Maker Category
Organizations
Schools

Lucretia Mott Elementary School

Shaw Middle School at Garnet-Patterson

Paul Laurence Dunbar High School

Virginia State University

First Name

Billy

Birth City, State, Country

Greenville

HM ID

TAY08

Favorite Season

Fall, Winter

State

North Carolina

Favorite Vacation Destination

Africa, South America

Favorite Quote

Jazz Is America's Classical Music.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

7/24/1921

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

United States

Favorite Food

None

Death Date

12/28/2010

Short Description

Music professor, jazz pianist, and music composer Billy Taylor (1921 - 2010 ) has enjoyed a long and prolific career as an educator, recording artist, and touring musician. Taylor played with such musicians as Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, and Miles Davis, in addition to becoming a national and international name for his performances, television musical directing, and television and radio hosting activities.

Employment

Birdland

CBS

Favorite Color

None

Timing Pairs
0,0:511,12:803,17:1095,22:1825,32:2336,57:2774,64:3066,69:7360,171:8725,189:9180,195:10090,203:11091,219:11728,227:12274,234:13002,244:18098,311:30584,429:32256,442:35130,447:36422,472:36802,478:37486,489:37866,495:38702,511:45922,615:51850,725:55726,786:63440,805:71525,973:71833,978:73373,1016:73912,1024:77993,1114:83614,1218:87310,1301:98482,1385:98810,1390:99138,1395:99466,1407:102070,1425:102595,1434:105490,1471$0,0:4248,86:5184,101:5904,116:21205,341:24880,419:28855,504:38605,706:39430,736:46226,764:46596,770:55624,971:63024,1123:68908,1160:71872,1201:77098,1288:78268,1300:81232,1358:81622,1364:84430,1422:85132,1439:85912,1450:101810,1638:105250,1689:106454,1708:108518,1750:109808,1769:119870,1940:121070,1970:122430,2117:144423,2356:148730,2430
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Billy Taylor's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Billy Taylor lists his favorites, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Billy Taylor lists his favorites, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Billy Taylor describes his mother's background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Billy Taylor describes his father and his siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Billy Taylor lists his mother's siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Billy Taylor describes his father's background

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Billy Taylor remembers his Sunday routine

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Billy Taylor describes his paternal grandfather

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Billy Taylor describes his maternal grandfather's storytelling

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Billy Taylor describes his father and paternal uncle's relationship

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Billy Taylor describes the importance of community building, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Billy Taylor recounts switching majors at Virginia State College in Petersburg, Virginia

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Billy Taylor describes moving from Greenville, North Carolina to Washington, D.C.

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Billy Taylor describes his early musical interests

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Billy Taylor describes his first piano teacher, Elmira Street

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Billy Taylor remembers listening to new music on the radio

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Billy Taylor describes his educational experiences in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Billy Taylor describes his mentors at Paul Laurence Dunbar High School in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Billy Taylor remembers playing in the orchestra at Paul Laurence Dunbar High School in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Billy Taylor describes the sights, sounds and smells of growing up in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Billy Taylor describes his early jazz gigs in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 2 Story: 12 - Billy Taylor remembers the African American professional community in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 2 Story: 13 - Billy Taylor describes his father's athletic involvement

Tape: 2 Story: 14 - Billy Taylor describes Virginia State College in Petersburg, Virginia

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Billy Taylor recalls different responses from white and black audiences in the 1930s

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Billy Taylor recalls segregated train travel

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Billy Taylor remembers jamming with white musicians in the 1930s

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Billy Taylor describes Mary Lou Williams

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Billy Taylor recounts his musical experiences at Virginia State College in Petersburg, Virginia

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Billy Taylor recalls playing with local bands in Petersburg, Virginia

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Billy Taylor describes his friends' career paths after college

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Billy Taylor remembers meeting Count Basie and Jo Jones in Petersburg, Virginia

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Billy Taylor remembers meeting Ben Webster at Minton's Playhouse in Harlem

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Billy Taylor remembers meeting Art Tatum at the Three Deuces in New York City

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Billy Taylor recalls meeting Coleman Hawkins at the White Rose Bar in New York City

Tape: 3 Story: 12 - Billy Taylor remembers meeting Dizzy Gillespie

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Billy Taylor describes his interest in playing melodies

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Billy Taylor remembers playing with Dizzy Gillespie in New York City

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Billy Taylor remembers influential musicians he performed with

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Billy Taylor describes segregation in the music business

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Billy Taylor describes Erroll Garner

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Billy Taylor describes the transition from big band to bebop, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Billy Taylor describes the transition from big band to bebop, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Billy Taylor remembers performing with Billie Holiday in Baltimore, Maryland

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Billy Taylor describes recording with Savoy Records

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Billy Taylor recalls playing on Broadway's 'Seven Lively Arts'

Tape: 4 Story: 11 - Billy Taylor describes the Afro-Cuban influences on his music

Tape: 4 Story: 12 - Billy Taylor recounts becoming house pianist at Birdland in New York City

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Billy Taylor describes his early writings about jazz

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Billy Taylor differentiates between jazz styles

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Billy Taylor remembers playing for Duke Ellington's opening night at Birdland in New York City

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Billy Taylor remembers musicians he performed with at New York City's Birdland

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Billy Taylor recalls the premiere of his 'Suite for Jazz Piano and Orchestra' at Salt Lake City's Mormon Tabernacle

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Billy Taylor describes teaching and studying composition

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Billy Taylor recalls his time as the band leader on 'The David Frost Show'

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Billy Taylor remembers his CBS segment on HistoryMaker Quincy Jones

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Billy Taylor describes being jazz correspondent for 'CBS Sunday Morning'

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Billy Taylor remembers performing with HistoryMaker Ramsey Lewis

Tape: 5 Story: 11 - Billy Taylor describes his NEA and Grammy awards

Tape: 5 Story: 12 - Billy Taylor describes his piano student, Eldar Djangirov

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Billy Taylor recalls lessons from his international travels

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Billy Taylor describes his songs inspired by Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Billy Taylor describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Billy Taylor describes opportunities for young black musicians

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Billy Taylor reflects upon changes to jazz music and jazz instruction

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Billy Taylor describes the importance of community building, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Billy Taylor describes the limitations of Ken Burns' 'Jazz' series

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Billy Taylor reflects upon media representations of jazz musicians

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Billy Taylor shares an anecdote about Art Tatum

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$4

DAStory

9$2

DATitle
Billy Taylor remembers playing in the orchestra at Paul Laurence Dunbar High School in Washington, D.C.
Billy Taylor remembers playing with Dizzy Gillespie in New York City
Transcript
So when you look back over your years at [Paul Laurence] Dunbar High School [Paul Laurence Dunbar Senior High School, Washington, D.C.], what sort of stands out for you?$$Well Dunbar was a place where I really began to realize that I wanted to play jazz and I wanted to--we had--I played in the orchestra and I played saxophone in the orc- very badly. I fooled around with cello and a couple of other instruments and--but I was fortunate in that because of the nature of black schools in those days, we had in addition to the traditional--we had saxophone. We had other instruments in the orchestra you know and, because they were available and people had them and it was all inclusive so you got to play what you could on that instrument. One of the reasons I didn't play piano was because one of the great classical pianists and I'm embarrassed right now. I'm trying desperately to remember his name. I can see his face right in front of me. But he was--we were in high school together. He was about a year younger than I and this guy was playing [Sergei] Rachmaninoff. He was playing all, I mean he was playing it. He was beautiful, you know. I said well (laughter)--.$$(Laughter).$$--okay. Let me try a little more Teddy Wilson and--but I really, I didn't chalk that up as a loss maybe because I always wanted to play both. I always wanted to play jazz but I wanted to play with some of the things that I had begun to listen to and learn from Henry Grant.$Just going back to where we left off with Dizzy [Gillespie], and take--you having the opportunity to play. So that night he was missing a piano player?$$When Dizzy Gillespie opened at the Onyx Club [New York, New York] at this time he just didn't have a piano player. So there was--he had hoped to have Bud Powell who was supposed--he was billed as the person who would be there. He, for whatever reason he couldn't make it and didn't make it. And so as soon as we found that there was no, the piano seat was vacant, somebody--everybody jumped, I jumped up there, other guys jumped up there and said, "Hey let me"--because we all wanted to learn how to play bebop. And bebop was the new music, and we wanted to see what, you know, what are these guys doing? Dizzy Gillespie was a wonderful teacher. I mean he would reach over me like this and say, "Billy [HistoryMaker Billy Taylor], it go"--and he'd play what the chords were and so forth. And I mean he was not only a good teacher, but he taught by example. I mean he could not only play all those things but he could show you why he was doing it and how he did this thing. And it was just a great opportunity, one that I really cherish. Because two, it did two things for me: it showed me what a great teacher Dizzy was and what he was like as a person. I mean, because, you know, many of the older guys and he was just a couple of years older than I. But many of the guys would take that and say, "Well man, you know, let me--where's Bud? Find somebody. Find somebody," you know. And he would just take the time and say, "No, no, this is what we need," you know. And that went on from that time 'til he died I mean we always had a great relationship. I mean I would, I remember being, coming to a club over by Columbia University [New York, New York], and I went in just to see Dizzy. And so I--the place was jammed I mean you know because he didn't play uptown very much and here he was right on campus. And so I went in to say, "Hey," you know, "how's it going?" He said, "Come on, come on, come on." Said, "What do you mean come on?" He said, "Come on up here." So I went up front and I said, "There's no seat up here." He said, "Yes there is. Piano," (laughter) so I sat in for him, with him for the rest of the night. So on a couple of occasions he had many years later that happened where I got to sit in because he didn't have a piano player.

Walter J. Turnbull

Founder and director of the Boys Choir of Harlem, Walter J. Turnbull was born in Greenville, Mississippi on July 19, 1944. He has traveled a long road from the fields of the South where he chopped cotton as a child to attend Coleman High School where he joined the choir directed by Herticene Jones. Jones, a demanding teacher, encouraged Turnbull to attend Tougaloo College where he graduated with honors in classical music and vocal performance.

Turnbull eventually settled in New York City where he aspired to have a career as an operatic tenor. He continued his musical training at Manhattan School of Music and began performing with the New York Philharmonic. His professional career was sidetracked after taking a job teaching music in the basement of the Ephesus Church in Harlem. The choir quickly moved from being a performing ensemble for the church services to one presenting concerts and recitals in public venues with its repertoire of Bach chorales, Mozart, spirituals and hymns. The choir was eventually named the Boys Choir of Harlem. In 1986, Turnbull created the Choir Academy of Harlem as a school serving fourth through eighth grades. The program has expanded over the years to become a college preparatory school serving over five hundred students in grades four through twelve.

In 1997, Turnbull was awarded the National Medal of Arts. In 1998, he received the Heinz Award in the Arts and Humanities and the Readers Digest American Heroes in Education Award. He was also named to the New York Black 100 by the Schomburg Center. In 2003, Turnbull received an honorary doctorate of music degree for his lifelong commitment to music, both as an accomplished performer and as the founder of the Boys Choir of Harlem.

Turnbull passed away on March 23, 2007 at the age of 62.

Turnbull was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on July 31, 2005.

Accession Number

A2005.175

Sex

Male

Interview Date

7/31/2005

Last Name

Turnbull

Maker Category
Occupation
Organizations
Schools

Lizzie Coleman Middle School

Melissa Manning Elementary School

Ephesus Seventh Day Adventist School

Tougaloo College

Manhattan School of Music

First Name

Walter

Birth City, State, Country

Greenville

HM ID

TUR04

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Mississippi

Favorite Vacation Destination

Anywhere

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

7/19/1944

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Cornbread

Death Date

3/23/2007

Short Description

Choral director Walter J. Turnbull (1944 - 2007 ) is the founder and director of the Boys Choir of Harlem.

Employment

Boys Choir of Harlem

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
0,0:1328,35:1660,40:2158,117:3320,142:3735,148:17588,384:18506,394:22880,413:23654,423:24256,431:27352,490:28814,512:29158,517:34748,590:36554,619:44274,670:44678,676:47607,727:61472,867:70446,1047:70758,1052:71382,1062:71772,1068:73410,1093:74190,1106:80508,1197:81476,1234:82708,1251:84732,1283:93515,1361:93839,1366:94730,1387:95135,1393:104010,1503$0,0:7020,156:9900,198:10710,219:13140,255:13500,260:14580,275:15390,286:26442,424:27234,442:54980,739:62776,901:100568,1248:101780,1263:103194,1279:105113,1306:115022,1410:115550,1418:116078,1425:117750,1458:125360,1607:143660,1792:150830,1824:151802,1838:161420,1938:161756,1943:162176,1949:163688,1968:164276,1977:164696,1983:175674,2072:181991,2143:183201,2155:184900,2165
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Walter J. Turnbull's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Walter J. Turnbull lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Walter J. Turnbull describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Walter J. Turnbull describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Walter J. Turnbull remembers attending Julia Armstrong Elementary School

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Walter J. Turnbull describes attending Ephesus Seventh-day Adventist School

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Walter J. Turnbull describes his personality as a child

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Walter J. Turnbull recalls his early interest in singing

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Walter J. Turnbull remembers the influence of Herticene Jones at Coleman High School

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Walter J. Turnbull remembers choosing to attend Tougaloo College

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Walter J. Turnbull remembers listening to classical music as a teenager

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Walter J. Turnbull describes the importance of spirituals

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Walter J. Turnbull recalls attending Tougaloo College in the 1960s

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Walter J. Turnbull remembers the impact of Emmett Till's murder

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Walter J. Turnbull reflects upon the impact of the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Walter J. Turnbull recalls James Meredith's activism

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Walter J. Turnbull remembers his time at Tougaloo College

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Walter J. Turnbull describes the Chautauqua Institution in western New York

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Walter J. Turnbull remembers the effects of racism on his career

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Walter J. Turnbull describes his teaching method

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Walter J. Turnbull remembers applying to the Manhattan School of Music

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Walter J. Turnbull remembers moving to Harlem, New York

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Walter J. Turnbull remembers founding the Boys Choir of Harlem

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Walter J. Turnbull remembers studying opera in New York City

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Walter J. Turnbull describes the value of his opera training

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Walter J. Turnbull recounts developing the Boys Choir of Harlem

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Walter J. Turnbull describes the Boys Choir of Harlem's distinct sound

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Walter J. Turnbull remembers the Boys Choir of Harlem's critical acclaim

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Walter J. Turnbull remembers receiving the Heinz Award

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Walter J. Turnbull describes the Boys Choir of Harlem's financial setbacks

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Walter J. Turnbull describes the partnership between the Boys Choir of Harlem and the New York City Department of Education

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Walter J. Turnbull describes the Boys Choir of Harlem facing controversy

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Walter J. Turnbull describes his autobiography

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Walter J. Turnbull remembers the Boys Choir of Harlem's international performances

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Walter J. Turnbull reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Walter J. Turnbull reflects upon the importance of history

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Walter J. Turnbull reflects upon being interviewed by The HistoryMakers

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Walter J. Turnbull narrates his photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

1$4

DAStory

11$5

DATitle
Walter J. Turnbull remembers listening to classical music as a teenager
Walter J. Turnbull remembers the Boys Choir of Harlem's international performances
Transcript
During those years, like your late high school [Coleman High School; Coleman Middle School, Greenville, Mississippi] years and just say, your first year at Tougaloo [College, Tougaloo, Mississippi], who inspired you musically? What type of music were you listening to as a teen and in young adult (simultaneous)?$$(Simultaneous) Oh, interesting, yeah. I remember listening a lot to classical music. Now, why? Basically because trying to be the good Christian, and not listening to that radio stuff. I mean, they were, you know, the, the church had a big influence on, on us because we were totally involved in the church with our mother [Lena Green Turnbull]. So, well, then the best thing would be--I guess to go to, to listen to classical music. So, all of those classical records that some of the teachers, who lived with us--some roomed in our home--young teachers. They might have belonged to the record club, Columbia [House], or whatever those record clubs are, RCA [Record Club; BMG Direct Marketing, Inc.], blah, blah, blah. And they would get these records as a part of the package, and some of them would be classical, and they would give them to me. So, I began to listen to that a lot. I remember the [George] Gershwin and how much I enjoyed the 'Rhapsody in Blue,' and all of that kind of stuff, so I began to acquire a taste. By that time also, I was studying piano with Ms. [Herticene] Jones and so, you know, the classical repertory was, was something that I began to enjoy.$So, at one point, you took the choir to the Guggenheim Museum [Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, New York] to perform?$$Yes, we went, went to the--we performed a lot, the Guggenheim, and, and just all over in the major venues in, in this city. But more importantly, I think, our first big trip to Europe, Haarlem to Haarlem, we went to Haarlem, Holland [Haarlem, the Netherlands], which is the namesake of our Harlem because there, of course, the Dutch owned everything in New York [New York] (laughter). And it was great. And to go to Breukelen in Holland and understand, or Bronx, you know, you were going up to the Bronc, B-R-O-N-C [sic. James Bronck], you know, and it became the Bronx. All Dutch settlers are--it's all very interesting. And so, we performed in the cathedral, the Grote Kerk, in Haarlem, Holland. And that was the beginning. I remember (laughter) a kid who wrote his home to his mother that there were thousands of people in a line around the cathedral to get in to, just to hear us. There simply wasn't, but when we went to Notre Dame [de Paris, Paris, France] on that same trip, we were singing Notre Dame. The kid wrote home and told his mom--it was so wonderful, but he didn't see the hunchback (laughter). Those kinds of experiences for children, and for me, were wonderful. So, where did I travel that was my favorite place? It could have been anywhere--Europe, we went to Europe five times. We've been to Japan three times.$$What was the experience in Japan like?$$Oh, wonderful. The Jap-, the Japanese really loved the Boys Choir of Harlem. And the--it--at which brings me to a point that all of our audiences respond exactly the same way, no matter what country, what continent, to the Boys Choir of Harlem, as the people here. Mothers see children, and they adore them. Educators see children that are disciplined and purposeful, and they adore them and respect them. They don't see what makes their face and the color of their skin important is that--oh, wow, this is not what we've heard that they do. Everywhere, people respond to the Boys Choir of Harlem the same way--with a lot of respect for hard work.

Tyrone Davis

Born in Greenville, Mississippi, on May 4, 1938, Tyrone Davis left his hometown at age fourteen. Eager to leave the Jim Crow South, he enlisted the help of his father, who sent him a bus ticket to Michigan. By age nineteen, Davis had settled in Chicago, where he became immersed in the city's flourishing blues scene. He was inspired by the music of blues greats Bobby "Blue" Bland and Little Milton. He visited blues clubs regularly and eventually befriended rhythm & blues legends Freddie King, Otis Rush and Mighty Joe Young. These musicians spotted Davis' talent and persuaded him to audition at local clubs. Throughout the 1950s, he performed in the small clubs that dotted the South Side of Chicago.

In the late 1960s, Davis began recording original blues tracks for the Four Brothers label. These early recordings received little notice until a disc jockey at a Texas radio station played the B-side of one of his singles on the air. "Can I Change My Mind?" catapulted Davis into the ranks of the Billboard charts, where it crossed over from the R& B charts to the pop charts. The song eventually sold more than 1 million copies and thrust Davis firmly into the limelight.

Since that first success, Davis has enjoyed a long and successful career as a musician. His phenomenal body of recordings includes more than fifty hit songs. These include "Turn Back the Hands of Time," "Turning Point" and the 1970s disco hit "Give It Up (Turn It Loose)." In 1976, Davis left Dakar Records, where he had recorded since "Can I Change My Mind?" and joined industry behemoth Columbia Records. While with Columbia, Davis made some of his most inspired recordings, which include ballads such as "In the Mood," "Close to You" and "Heart Failure." Some of his major albums have been Without You In My Life and It's All In The Game.

Davis has performed for thirty years and remains a vital force on the recording and touring circuit. His backup group, the Platinum Band, is among Chicago's most-respected ensembles. Together they scored yet another hit in 1991 with the song "Mom's Apple Pie."

A Billboard survey taken in the late 1980s placed Davis thirtieth on the All-Time Top R& B Charts. In 1998, Tyrone Davis was awarded the R& B Foundation's prestigious Pioneer Award for his lifetime of work.

Accession Number

A2000.018

Sex

Male

Archival Photo 1
Interview Date

6/15/2000

Last Name

Davis

Maker Category
Occupation
Organizations
First Name

Tyrone

Birth City, State, Country

Greenville

HM ID

DAV02

Favorite Season

Summer

State

Mississippi

Favorite Vacation Destination

Home

Favorite Quote

God bless you.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

5/4/1938

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Pork

Death Date

2/9/2005

Short Description

R & B singer Tyrone Davis (1938 - 2005 ) was a musician based out of Chicago. His initial success came with the song "Can I Change My Mind?" in 1968 and Davis continued to top the charts for the next few decades. A Billboard survey taken in the late 1980s placed Tyrone Davis as number 30 on the All-Time Top R&B Charts. Davis passed away on February 9, 2005.

Employment

Four Brothers Records

Barney's Record Shop

Favorite Color

Black

DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Tyrone Davis interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Tyrone Davis discusses being a valet for Freddie King

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Tyrone Davis leaves Greenville, Mississippi

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Tyrone Davis moves to Saginaw, Michigan

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Tyrone Davis visits family in Greenville, Mississippi

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Tyrone Davis moves to Chicago, Illinois to sing

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Tyrone Davis discusses Barney's Records and Harold Burrage

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Tyrone Davis discusses his mentor's death

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Tyrone Davis discusses the death of his mentor

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Tyrone Davis records with Monk Higgins

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Tyrone Davis meets his manager, Wally Roker

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Tyrone Davis records "Baby, Can I Change My Mind?"

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Tyrone Davis receives encouragement from mother and Brunswick Records

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Tyrone Davis discusses first meeting with Brunswick Records

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Tyrone Davis discusses his treatment by Brunswick Records

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Tyrone Davis records "A Woman Needs to Be Loved"

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Tyrone Davis discusses recording without a contract

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Tyrone Davis discusses his recording contract

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Tyrone Davis remembers his first tour

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Tyrone Davis records 'You Can't Keep a Good Man Down' and 'Turn Back the Hands of Time'

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Tyrone Davis discusses his favorite song and radio stations

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Tyrone Davis describes radio stations as unfair

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Tyrone Davis discusses self-publishing

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Tyrone Davis discusses his admiration for Luther Vandross

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Tyrone Davis discusses influential songwriters

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Tyrone Davis decribes his legacy

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Tyrone Davis reflects on his life

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Tyrone Davis's favorites

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Photo -- Tyrone Davis Headshot for Malaco Records