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Larry Ridley

Jazz musician and music professor Larry Ridley was born on September 3, 1937 in Indianapolis, Indiana to Lawrence and Nevolena Ridley. He was taught to play the violin at the age of five, but later became interested in jazz music and learned to play the bass. Ridley graduated from Shortridge High School in Indianapolis, Indiana. He went on to attend Indiana University in 1955, but completed his B.S. degree at New York University in 1971. He earned his M.A. degree in cultural policy from the State University of New York Empire State College in 1993, and his Ph.D. degree in performing arts from the University of Maryland, Eastern Shore in 2005.

After attending the Lenox School of Jazz summer program in 1959, Ridley moved to New York City to pursue a career as a professional jazz musician. In the 1960s, Ridley was active in the New York jazz music scene, playing on tours and in studio recordings with a wide range of notable jazz musicians, including Horace Silver, Sonny Rollins, Philly Joe Jones, John Coltrane, Duke Ellington, Lee Morgan, and Jackie McLean. In 1971, he was hired as a professor of music at Rutgers University’s Livingston College, where he developed the college’s jazz education program, creating both bachelor’s and master’s degree programs in jazz performance. From 1970 to 1973, he toured the world as the bassist for Thelonious Monk. Ridley released his own album, Sum of Parts, in 1975. From 1981 to 1985, he played as part of the tribute band Dameronia, in honor of the composer Tad Dameron. In 1985, Ridley formed his own group, the Jazz Legacy Ensemble, releasing two albums Live at Rutgers University and Other Voice. Ridley retired from Rutgers in 1999, but continued to teach at the Manhattan School of Music and Swing University at Jazz at the Lincoln Center. He chaired the National Endowment for the Arts’ Jazz Panel. He also served as the coordinator of the Jazz Artists in Schools program, executive director of the African American Jazz Caucus and northeast regional coordinator for the International Association for Jazz Educators.

Ridley received numerous awards and accolades for his work in jazz music and education. He was inducted into the International Association for Jazz Educators Hall of Fame, the Downbeat Magazine Jazz Education Hall of Fame, and the Indianapolis Jazz Foundation Hall of Fame. He was honored by a Juneteenth 2006 Proclamation Award from the New York City Council, and was the recipient of the Meade Legacy Jazz Griot Award, the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation Jazz Legacy Award, the MidAtlantic Arts Foundation’s Living Legacy Jazz Award, and the Benny Golson Jazz Award from Howard University.

Larry Ridley was interviewed by The Historymakers on November 30, 2016.

Accession Number

A2016.141

Sex

Male

Interview Date

11/30/2016

Last Name

Ridley

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Schools

George Washington Carver School 87

Shortridge High School

Jacobs School of Music of Indiana University

New York University

State University of New York / Empire State College

University of Maryland Eastern Shore

William D. McCoy Public School 24

First Name

Dr. Larry

Birth City, State, Country

Indianapolis

HM ID

RID01

Favorite Season

All Seasons

State

Indiana

Favorite Vacation Destination

None

Favorite Quote

To Thine Own Self Be True.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

9/3/1937

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

United States

Favorite Food

None

Short Description

Jazz musician and music professor Larry Ridley (1937 - ) taught at Rutgers University from 1971 to 1999, and played with jazz legends such as Horace Silver, Sonny Rollins, John Coltrane, Duke Ellington, and Thelonious Monk.

Employment

The Montgomery-Johnson Quintet

The Jazz Contemporaries

Slide Hampton's Octet

Horace Silver Quintet

Rutgers University

Jazz Legacy Ensemble

African American Jazz Caucus, Inc.

Duke Ellington Orchestra

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
0,0:375,7:825,15:2530,24:3041,32:3333,37:5158,62:5523,68:7564,85:7916,90:11876,160:14252,202:15044,217:15836,227:16804,242:17860,253:22065,270:22461,275:22956,281:23352,286:24045,294:24441,299:25035,306:25728,314:27807,341:28599,350:34120,395:45833,523:47991,557:48738,570:58140,708:59100,719:61212,743:61884,751:62556,762:70386,879:71052,896:72162,914:73346,941:73790,952:74086,957:74678,967:82480,1046:85600,1120:86240,1131:88160,1169:88640,1176:104714,1412:106120,1442:107822,1471:109524,1500:113579,1514:121830,1620:122467,1629:122831,1634:125604,1655:135910,1820$0,0:204,4:1360,29:1768,36:2924,57:3876,93:5032,119:8450,150:9050,159:19717,282:33171,397:37297,419:38359,446:38654,452:39303,469:43090,494:43550,501:45114,534:49070,603:49714,611:52877,636:55149,683:56143,700:56569,708:59738,739:60408,752:60810,759:66362,788:73960,873:80124,918:81582,930:99474,1084:100394,1096:113548,1273:113864,1278:114496,1287:115049,1300:115602,1308:115918,1313:131754,1475:137576,1514:147798,1581:150586,1632:152636,1666:153374,1676:158658,1738:159006,1743:161094,1785:178680,2034
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Larry Ridley's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Larry Ridley lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Larry Ridley describes his mother's background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Larry Ridley talks about how his parents met

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Larry Ridley describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Larry Ridley describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Larry Ridley describes his family's residence at Lockefield Gardens in Indianapolis, Indiana

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Larry Ridley remembers his elementary school teachers

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Larry Ridley recalls his maternal family's involvement with Madame C.J. Walker

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Larry Ridley describes his early friends

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Larry Ridley recalls his initial interest in learning an instrument

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Larry Ridley remembers his first violin

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Larry Ridley recalls his early musical influences

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Larry Ridley recalls playing music with James Spaulding and Virgil Jones

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Larry Ridley remembers his early interest in jazz

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Larry Ridley talks about his father's ice business

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Larry Ridley recalls his early experiences of religion

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Larry Ridley remember Ray Brown

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Larry Ridley remembers The Montgomery Brothers

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Larry Ridley describes his early education

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Larry Ridley recalls his encounters with racism, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Larry Ridley recalls his encounters with racism, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Larry Ridley describes his experiences at Shortridge School in Indianapolis, Indiana

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Larry Ridley remembers forming a jazz band in high school

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Larry Ridley recalls his early jazz influences

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Larry Ridley recalls his initial experiences at Indiana University

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Larry Ridley remembers his bass teacher at Indiana University

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Larry Ridley recalls attending a summer course at the Lenox School of Jazz

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Larry Ridley remembers playing with Max Roach in New York City

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Larry Ridley describes the roles of each instrument in a jazz band

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Larry Ridley talks about the importance of the bass line in a jazz composition

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Larry Ridley remembers his experiences at the Lenox School of Jazz in Lenox, Massachusetts

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Larry Ridley talks about the art of performing with a jazz band

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Larry Ridley remembers performing with Max Roach

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Larry Ridley reflects upon the Black Arts Movement

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Larry Ridley recalls his limited performances in the South

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Larry Ridley remembers the artists with whom he collaborated

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Larry Ridley describes his duo performances in New York City

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Larry Ridley talks about managing his professional engagements

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Larry Ridley talks about the importance of being flexible as a jazz artist

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Larry Ridley remembers completing his bachelor's degree at New York University

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Larry Ridley remembers performing with Thelonious Monk

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Larry Ridley describes Thelonious Monk's musical style

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Larry Ridley talks about the differences between bandleaders' styles

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Larry Ridley recalls heading the jazz program at Livingston College in Piscataway, New Jersey

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Larry Ridley remembers performing with the Duke Ellington Orchestra

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Larry Ridley talks about his role on the jazz panel for the National Endowment for the Arts

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Larry Ridley talks about the Jazz Artists in Schools program

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Larry Ridley recalls meeting his wife

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Larry Ridley recalls earning his master's degree and training music teachers

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Larry Ridley remembers Wynton Marsalis' family

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Larry Ridley recalls his professional and educational engagements in the 2000s

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Larry Ridley talks about the importance of music education

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Larry Ridley recalls the designation of jazz as a national treasure by the U.S. Congress

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Larry Ridley reflects upon the lack of government support for jazz programs

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Larry Ridley reflects upon his life and the future of jazz education

Tape: 6 Story: 11 - Larry Ridley shares his advice to future generations

Tape: 6 Story: 12 - Larry Ridley talks about the prevalence of jazz music

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$5

DAStory

10$3

DATitle
Larry Ridley describes the roles of each instrument in a jazz band
Larry Ridley describes Thelonious Monk's musical style
Transcript
And so when it comes to playing with these great drummers and other musicians in the jazz world, because much of it is improvisational--this kind of melding of talent--$$Yes.$$--which is very different from, say, the classical music that you learned in school. Can you talk about your process when you're working with different artists and creating music together?$$Well, apart from the blues, which anybody that's learning how to play knows, learns how to play the blues and you learn the twelve bar blues form. But the different compositions that are a part of what musicians use, you know. Like a song like 'Fine and Dandy,' (sings musical notes) or 'Cherokee,' (sings musical notes), you know, all of these song compositions have chord changes that are a part of it. So you know, whoever's playing the piano or the guitar in terms of chordal instruments, they're playing that. And every individual in the group has their particular role. The bass player is like the link between the harmonic instruments and the drums. So, that's what forms the rhythm section. And occasionally, there'll be a guitarist that might be a part of it, too, and that becomes the rhythm section. And we're accompanying the horn players that are on the front line, you know. And they will have songs that they're playing and there're chord sequence to all of the tunes, and you learn what the chord sequences are. And my role as the bass player is to improvise the bass line that becomes the link between the piano and the guitar as the chordal instruments, and the drums. So the bass is like in the center of making that link, which is very important. And it's important to know how to get a groove. Like Duke Ellington wrote that song, "It don't mean a thing if it ain't got that swing" ['It Don't Mean A Thing'] (laughter).$You also describe one of the things that you appreciated about Thelonious [Thelonious Monk], that he was the master of understatement.$$Yes.$$Can you describe that?$$Whereas a lot of musicians--and speaking of him as a pianist--and it applies to certain other instruments, too--the idea of understatement, and his use of dissonance. And he would achieve dissonance--like when you look at a piano keyboard, you got the white keys and you got the black keys. Well, you know, like when you play like a white key and a black key at the same time, that's called a minor second intervallically, in terms of musical language, and it gives a certain kind of sound of dissonance. He could incorporate that type of thing into his playing, and it gave him his unique approach to soloing. And he would always--the way he would construct--he had his own way of rhythmic patterns in terms of the lyricism. And if you listen to some of his songs, you know, he had like one song, (sings musical notes) and so forth. That's one of his tunes, you know. But just an interesting use of rhythm and using minor seconds. Like I say, like if you got a white key and a black key right next to it, and you hit both of them simultaneously, that gives you the sound of a minor second. It's a more strident tone, and it becomes more constant the wider you go with the intervals, the intervallic relationship of one note to the next. And he had a way of utilizing that to create a very singular approach to his soloing and his use of rhythm. He would say, (sings musical notes). And it was just very flexible in terms of how he could move the rhythms around, you know. And that was a signature part of his trademark as a pianist. He wasn't trying to play more lyrically or melodically, in the sense of like Red Garland or Oscar Peterson or anybody--Bud Powell, or anything. He loved Bud Powell, though, because Bud would do some things where he would use minor seconds on the piano, too. But Bud was--in fact, he wrote a song called 'In Walked Bud.'

Robert A. Harris

Music professor and conductor Robert A. Harris was born on January 9, 1938 in Detroit, Michigan. His father, Major Harris, was a factory worker; his mother, Rusha Harris, a homemaker. Harris attended Sherrill Elementary and graduated from Charles Chadsey High School in 1956. He studied at Wayne State University where he earned his B.A. degree in music education in 1960 and his M.A. degree in music on 1962. Harris briefly attended the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York and then received his Ph.D. degree in composition and theory from Michigan State University in 1971. He also completed post-doctoral work at Aspen Music School in 1973 and 1974.

In 1960, Harris was hired as a music teacher in the Detroit Public Schools. He was then appointed as an assistant professor of music at Wayne State University. Harris became Director of Choral Activities at Michigan State University in 1964, and then joined the faculty of Northwestern University’s Bienen School of Music as professor of conducting and director of choral organizations in 1977. He has also served as a visiting professor at Wayne State University, the University of Texas, and the University of South Africa in Pretoria. In 2012, Harris retired as professor emeritus at Northwestern University. Harris has appeared as a conductor, choral clinician and adjudicator throughout the United States and in the Republic of China where he served as one of two guest conductors/clinicians for the Taipei Philharmonic Choral and Conducting Workshop. His international performances also include South Korea as the guest conductor for the Inchon City Chorale, and Hong Kong as a guest conductor of a Choral Festival Youth Chorale. As an international music instructor, Harris has presented master classes, workshops, and lectures on conducting in South Africa, as well as presenting lectures and master classes on African American spirituals in Argentina.

Harris served as a member and co-chair of the Choral Panel of the National Endowment for the Arts. Harris is associated with a number of professional and honorary organizations, including the American Choral Directors Association, the American Society of Composers and Publishers (ASCAP), Chorus America, Pi Kappa Lambda National Honor Music Society and Phi Mu Alpha Professional Music Fraternity.

Harris has received several awards and honors, including the Wayne State University “Alumni Arts Achievement Award in Music,” the Northwestern University School of Music “Faculty Exemplar Teaching Award,” and the Northwestern University Alumni Association “Excellence in Teaching Award.” As a composer, Harris has been the recipient of over forty commissions from various schools, churches and musical organizations. His compositions, especially those of the choral genre, have been performed throughout the United States, Europe and South Africa. A number of his compositions have been published.

Robert A. Harris was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on August 25, 2013.

Accession Number

A2013.234

Sex

Male

Interview Date

8/25/2013

Last Name

Harris

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Allen

Schools

Sherrill Elementary School

Chadsey High School

Wayne State University

Eastman School of Music, University of Rochester

Michigan State University

Aspen Music School

First Name

Robert

Birth City, State, Country

Detroit

HM ID

HAR43

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Michigan

Favorite Vacation Destination

United Kingdom

Favorite Quote

It's Better to Have It and Not Need It Than to Need It and Not Have It.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

1/9/1938

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Evanston

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Seafood

Short Description

Conductor and music professor Robert A. Harris (1938 - ) , former Director of Choral Activities at Michigan State University, retired as professor emeritus of the Northwestern University Bienen School of Music in 2012.

Employment

Detroit Public Schools System

Wayne State University

Michigan State University

Northwestern University

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
0,0:82,17:3526,99:6642,175:8856,219:9184,224:23307,329:23703,334:28016,349:29456,380:29960,386:30248,395:31040,409:31400,415:32264,429:32552,434:33344,446:35432,481:35792,487:45544,619:53950,678:55306,687:56109,699:56474,705:67877,826:68161,831:71356,906:71924,916:80706,1029:81238,1045:81846,1084:82226,1090:86142,1133:88039,1144:90778,1212:91110,1217:111144,1412:112753,1422:129538,1580:130870,1665:147336,1904:152200,1953:152556,1958:153179,1967:158959,2034:164788,2182:169708,2250:170398,2332:172054,2365:172399,2371:173779,2396:174262,2405:175021,2418:175435,2425:180136,2485:181460,2493:184442,2634:193470,2737:193850,2743:202650,2868:203376,2882:221708,3134:222053,3140:222329,3145:232630,3586:259050,3871:264372,3931:270686,4054:273370,4123:273858,4132:275810,4172:276115,4178:276420,4184:277518,4206:277823,4211:278433,4222:295934,4463:299196,4520:301780,4583:302120,4590:302664,4599:310212,4831:310756,4840:311640,4861:311912,4866:312320,4873:321938,4890:322626,4900:331436,5063:332576,5088:334476,5128:336528,5168:337060,5177:339416,5209:349466,5335:371450,5645$0,0:5425,51:6025,60:13450,227:19900,337:36630,551:37000,557:37296,562:42455,600:44590,614:48830,679:49792,705:64230,909:65594,924:72970,995:81376,1094:81706,1103:82366,1115:85930,1221:91615,1300:109222,1556:109862,1567:110246,1574:121655,1769:122110,1784:123410,1808:129368,1895:131245,1917:131995,1930:132445,1938:132820,1944:133345,1954:133870,2014:137995,2090:140395,2141:141595,2158:141895,2163:146920,2238:147912,2257:148222,2263:150268,2309:150826,2321:152750,2332:156130,2405:159310,2482:161230,2526:164456,2563:171201,2700:172296,2724:176384,2806:176822,2813:177479,2857:188900,2979
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Robert A. Harris' interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Robert A. Harris lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Robert A. Harris describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Robert A. Harris talks about his adoptive father's, Major Lee Harris', first name

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Robert A. Harris talks about his adoptive parents

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Robert A. Harris talks about his biological father and being adopted by his aunt and uncle

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Robert A. Harris describes his early exposure to the Baptist and Methodist churches

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Robert A. Harris lists his siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Robert A. Harris describes his childhood neighborhood in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Robert A. Harris describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Robert A. Harris describes his exposure to jazz and bebop music as a child

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Robert A. Harris recalls attending shows at the Paradise Theater and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Robert A. Harris talks about his music education and instructors at Sherrill Elementary School in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Robert A. Harris talks about his extracurricular activities at Chadsey High School in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Robert A. Harris talks about his maternal uncle

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Robert A. Harris talks about black history organizations and clubs in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Robert A. Harris talks about his mentors at Chadsey High School in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Robert A. Harris remembers collecting classical music records and receiving a gift from a choir director as a child

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Robert A. Harris explains the history of African American spirituals

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Robert A. Harris talks about sacred anthems and oratorios

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Robert A. Harris talks about Leonard Bernstein's influence on his classical music interest

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Robert A. Harris recalls listening to jazz pianist, Alice Coltrane

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Robert A. Harris describes an experience of racial stereotyping by a teacher at Sherrill Elementary School in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Robert A. Harris talks about his college preparatory curriculum at Chadsey High School in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Robert A. Harris talks about his decision to study music in college and his first conducting experience

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Robert A. Harris talks about his decision to attend Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Robert A. Harris describes integrating a Detroit, Michigan restaurant and a Washington D.C. hotel pool

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Robert A. Harris talks about his mentors at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Robert A. Harris talks about his music education curriculum at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Robert A. Harris talks about teaching in the Detroit Public Schools while studying for his Master's degree at Wayne State University

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Robert A. Harris recalls his decision to join the faculty at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Robert A. Harris talks about his Master's thesis on 1920s African American classically trained musicians and hearing Paul Robeson sing in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Robert A. Harris talks about teaching at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Robert A. Harris talks about black music ensembles in Detroit, Michigan and Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Robert A. Harris recalls his decision to stop his doctorate studies at Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Robert A. Harris talks about earning his Ph.D. and teaching at Michigan State University in East Lansing, Michigan

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Robert A. Harris talks about composing choral music and meeting Eva Jessye

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Robert A. Harris talks about joining the faculty of Northwestern University's Bienen School of Music in 1977

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Robert A. Harris talks about the differences between Michigan State University and Northwestern University

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Robert A. Harris talks about the students at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Robert A. Harris talks about the music faculty at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Robert A. Harris talks about teaching conducting at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Robert A. Harris describes the role of the conductor

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Robert A. Harris describes his conducting philosophy and conducting 'Not In Our Time' by Richard Blackford

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Robert A. Harris talks about preparing for a performance and explains how a musical composition translates into a performance

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Robert A. Harris talks about Bach, Mozart, and Beethoven

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Robert A. Harris talks about black composers and conductors in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Robert A. Harris talks about his own compositions

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Robert A. Harris talks about writing for choral ensembles and solo vocalists

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Robert A. Harris talks about classical church music in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Robert A. Harris talks about former students

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Robert A. Harris talks about conducting internationally and in New York City

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Robert A. Harris talks about musical collaborations

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Robert A. Harris talks about the Winnetka Congregational Church in Winnetka, Illinois

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Robert A. Harris describes his dream choral ensemble

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Robert A. Harris talks about retirement

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Robert A. Harris reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Robert A. Harris talks about his satisfaction with his life and career

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Robert A. Harris describes his hopes for the African American community

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Robert A. Harris talks about his family

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Robert A. Harris describes how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Robert A. Harris narrates his photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$5

DAStory

10$2

DATitle
Robert A. Harris talks about his Master's thesis on 1920s African American classically trained musicians and hearing Paul Robeson sing in Detroit, Michigan
Robert A. Harris describes his conducting philosophy and conducting 'Not In Our Time' by Richard Blackford
Transcript
Let me go back a little bit and ask you about your thesis, I guess, and--$$Okay.$$So you had to do something.$$I had to do a thesis for my master's degree.$$Right, right. So what, what did you do?$$It was a--it was an oral history, isn't this interesting, called 'Serious Music and the Negro Musician Between 1920 and 1924: An Oral History.' And what I wanted to do was to, to trace what had happened with black musicians who were classically trained rather than in jazz in the early days, and so what I did was with the help of a--of a librarian and a--and a--and a gentleman by the name of Kemper Harrell who also became an, an influence and mentor, was to--he gave me the names of many living black musicians who had, were performing during that time like Roland Hayes, Carl Diton, I mean there was--and so we earmarked five people. And what I did was I went with a tape recorder and I formulated a series of questions that I would ask everybody and then specific questions for that particular individual, and went to New York [City] and Boston [Massachusetts] and interviewed these people on tape, and then transcribed those tapes as a part of my--that was my master's thesis.$$Okay. So interviews with five people? And Roland Hayes was one?$$Roland Hayes was one.$$Okay. Who, who else? Roland Hayes--$$Carl Diton, D-I-T-O-N, who was a composer, Melville Charlton, C-H-A-R-L-T-O-N, who was a concert organist, Charlotte Wallace Murray who was a concert singer--who else was there? There's one more person I'm missing.$$Okay, so that's--$$I interviewed [Francis] Hall Johnson, too, but I couldn't--but he was--he had just had a stroke so I couldn't use that because he could hardly speak, but I did get a chance to meet him. There's somebody whose name--it'll come to me in a minute.$$Okay.$$But--and so what I did was transcribe these into a format with question, answer, question, answer, question, answer, and then at the end, summarize what were the findings of how black musicians--and the reason I--the reason I--I stopped at 1924 because that was the time when Roland Hayes made his Town Hall [Carnegie Hall, New York, New York] debut and he was the first black artist to make--to sing in, in, in Carnegie Hall--Town Hall, in New York [sic, Sissieretta Jones first performed at Carnegie Hall in 1892]. So I was interested in what--and, and the whole thing was, we just found that the churches had always been the, the, the venue where concert artists would, would perform because they were not allowed to perform in concert halls.$$Were the black universities or historically black colleges [HBCUs]--$$That, that would be different--yeah.$$--Producing most of the--$$Yeah, and, and they could perform at--in, in, in black colleges and churches, but not in, in traditional concert halls. And so Roland Hayes made his, his Town Hall debut in 1924, which was the first time that that had happened, and then after that, of course.$$Okay.$$And this predated Marian Anderson and this predated--Paul Robeson was, was, was along at that time, too, but he was a young man at that point, yeah. I didn't get a--he was--he would have been a part of that, that, that age group at that time, but he was not one of the people--persons I had the chance to interview.$$Right, I think he was--$$He was born somewhere around 1890 [sic, 1898], wasn't he? I think somewhere in that--around that time.$$Yeah, he was kind of in--this time was a--or by '62 [1962], he was almost in seclusion or something.$$Well, you know, he had gone through that thing about being a Communist and all that stuff, you know.$$Right, he passed away in '76 [1976] I remember now.$$Yeah, okay.$$But he was--he had been pretty much in seclusion almost for--$$Yeah, by that time--$$--For about ten years.$$--He, he was probably eighties. You know, he couldn't--you know, but he was--he was a force to be reckoned with as a musician, as an actor, as an activist, you know. I remembered in Detroit [Michigan] when I was the music--minister of music at Hartford Avenue Baptist Church [later, Hartford Memorial Baptist Church, Detroit, Michigan], Reverend Charles A. Hill who had been one of the first black people to run for the city council in Detroit used to bring Paul Robeson in to do concerts.$$And so did you see him live at--$$One time--yeah, I did.$$Oh, that's something, yeah. Yeah, one of the great musicians, singers, as well as an activist.$$Yeah.$$Did, did, did he give a message in his--$$I don't--I don't--I don't remember him speaking, I mean, except while he was singing, but, but he was such a powerful presence.$$The songs were like freedom songs--$$Freedom songs, spirituals.$$--They had themes--(simultaneous)--$$And he--but he also did a lot of, of German lieder [songs] and things along that line. He did a lot of stuff from the European tradition. He was a very highly trained singer.$$There's a history of blacks in classical music that goes way, way back and--who was that, Sissieretta Jones--$$Sissieretta Jones.$$--Yeah, and--$$Yeah, she was known as the Black Patti, Sissieretta Jones. And, and her name came up a lot when I was talking--doing my interviews with the people that I--comprised my, my thesis. And--I'm tryin' to think, there's another singer who, who also, in, in addition to Sissieretta Jones whose name kept coming up. I can't remember who it is now.$$Yeah, yeah there's a--there's a book--now was the book--we interviewed--we had a chance to interview him before he passed away, but we interviewed [HM] Raoul Abdul, the author of 'Blacks in Classical Music.'$$Right.$$Was that available when you were--$$Yes, it was.$Do you have like favorite conductors?$$I think for specific pieces, you know. It might be--but I mean I'm not one who has to--has to have [Georg] Solti or has to have [Arturo] Toscanini or something. I just--you know, I--I'm more about the music than I am about who's conducting it.$$Now, what's your own philosophy of conducting?$$My philosophy of conducting is that I must do the very best job I can of making what is on that paper come alive so that the listener will hear it and be pleased by what he or she hears and knowing the fact that it's being done with a--with thought, with integrity, with honesty, which is what I always try to, to get my students to understand, that the compos--that our purpose is to reveal the composer, and if we are going to do his or her music, we must do it to the very best of our ability with all the studying and insight that we can.$$Is there a--is there a certain composer whose work is the most challenging to conduct?$$It's all challenging. But I would think--it--it's, it's challenging in different ways, you know. I'm--I'm a strong--I mean, I think if there's one composer that--if you were to say to me you could--you're going to a desert island, you can only take one piece of music, what would you take? I'd take [Johann Sebastian] Bach, okay. Because I feel it--I--I'm drawn to the intellectuality of that--of his music, of the way he thought, of the--of the--of the way his concepts of structure, his concept of counterpoint. I mean, that's--that's just where my mind goes with that, you know. I often tell people that of all my conducting teachers, Bach was the best one, you know. But, but, but all composers--I mean, there's--all of it has its challenges. I mean, obviously music of, of later composers, which is very, very intricate and very involved may have a different kind of challenge. I mean, I've conducted some very new pieces, which took an awful lot of work to delve into them because you're, you're not only learning the new piece, but you're learning a new style. You're learning a new language of a--of a new composer, you know. A piece I did--we, we did the American premier last year as my swan song at Northwestern [University, Evanston, Illinois] of a British composer's piece called 'Not In Our Time' by Richard Blackford which was a piece that basically commemorated 9/11 [September 11th, 2001] even though it wasn't specific, but it did. And I had to learn--I went over and studied the piece with the composer in order to get--to delve into it. And I was in England when, when it--when it was given its premier performance, and I went to all those performances and rehearsals, trying to see how this piece is working. I had done my homework, but then to, to get a more insight, I spent time in England studying it before doing it here. And then, of course, he was here for the compose--for the performance, and that was even better.$$Was he satisfied with--$$He was very pleased.$$Okay.

Toni-Marie Montgomery

Pianist and music professor Toni-Marie Montgomery (1956- ) was born to Hattie Drayton in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She started piano lessons at the age of six, and began performing on the piano at age nine. In 1971, Montgomery’s mother used her hard-earned savings to buy her a Steinway grand piano. Montgomery attended the Philadelphia College of the Performing Arts, graduating with her B.Mus. degree in 1980. Only a year later, in 1981, she received her M.Mus. degree from the University of Michigan. Montgomery went on to earn her D.M.A. degree in piano chamber music within three years, becoming only the second person to receive that degree from the University of Michigan.

Montgomery became artistic director and assistant director of the School of Music at Western Michigan University. She then moved to Connecticut to serve as assistant dean for academic programs at the University of Connecticut’s School of Fine Arts. While teaching there, Montgomery participated in the founding of the Black Music Repertory Ensemble at Columbia College in Chicago. The Ensemble was founded in 1987 as an outgrowth of the Columbia College Center for Black Music Research. Montgomery left Connecticut in 1990 to become a professor at Arizona State University. During her ten year tenure, she served as associate dean in the College of Fine Arts and Director of the School of Music. In 2000, the University of Kansas School of the Fine Arts hired Montgomery as its first African American academic dean. When she left in 2003, the university inducted her into its Women’s Hall of Fame. Montgomery was then hired at Northwestern University, becoming the first African American and first female dean of the Bienen School of Music.

Montgomery is an active musical performer. She has travelled around the world to perform in countries such as Austria, Brazil, Poland, Lithuania, and Latvia. In 1994, Montgomery and the Black Music Repertory Ensemble recorded an NPR series entitled “African American Music Tree.” She has also appeared with the group on the “Today Show” and CNN. In 2003, Montgomery collaborated with cellist Anthony Elliott to release a CD entitled Music for Cello and Piano by African American Composers.

Toni-Marie Montgomery was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on August 26, 2010.

Accession Number

A2010.103

Sex

Female

Interview Date

8/26/2010

Last Name

Montgomery

Maker Category
Schools

University of Michigan

University of the Arts

Merion Mercy Academy

Most Precious Blood of Our Lord School

First Name

Toni-Marie

Birth City, State, Country

Philadelphia

HM ID

MON07

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Pennsylvania

Favorite Vacation Destination

San Diego, California

Favorite Quote

That's Ridiculous

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

6/25/1956

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Ice Cream (Chocolate)

Short Description

Music professor and pianist Toni-Marie Montgomery (1956 - ) was the first African American and first female dean of Northwestern University Henry and Leigh Bienen School of Music.

Employment

Western Michigan University Bullock Performance Institute

University of Connecticut School of Fine Arts

Arizona State University Katherine K. Herberger College of the Arts

University of Kansas School of Fine Arts

Northwestern University Henry and Leigh Bienen School of Music

Favorite Color

Pink

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Toni-Marie Montgomery's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Toni-Marie Montgomery lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Toni-Marie Montgomery describes her mother's background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Toni-Marie Montgomery talks about her father

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Toni-Marie Montgomery describes her mother's personality

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Toni-Marie Montgomery describes her earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Toni-Marie Montgomery remembers her early neighborhoods

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Toni-Marie Montgomery describes the sights, sounds and smells of her childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Toni-Marie Montgomery remembers her piano lessons

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Toni-Marie Montgomery recalls her early exposure to music

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Toni-Marie Montgomery remembers Amherst Summer Music Center in Raymond, Maine

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Toni-Marie Montgomery talks about Philadelphia music

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Toni-Marie Montgomery describes Most Precious Blood of Our Lord School in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Toni-Marie Montgomery describes the Main Line region of Pennsylvania

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Toni-Marie Montgomery remembers Merion Mercy Academy in Merion Station, Pennsylvania

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Toni-Marie Montgomery describes her early aspirations to become a concert pianist

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Toni-Marie Montgomery talks about piano competitions

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Toni-Marie Montgomery describes the differences between classical and jazz piano

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Toni-Marie Montgomery talks about her favorite classical music

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Toni-Marie Montgomery remembers the Philadelphia College of Performing Arts in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Toni-Marie Montgomery recalls studying music at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Toni-Marie Montgomery remembers a symposium on black composers at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Toni-Marie Montgomery talks about African Americans in classical music

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Toni-Marie Montgomery describes the state of professional musicianship

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Toni-Marie Montgomery talks about the black aesthetic in classical music

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Toni-Marie Montgomery describes the Black Music Repertory Ensemble

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Toni-Marie Montgomery recalls her early higher education positions

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Toni-Marie Montgomery talks about Arizona State University in Tempe, Arizone

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Toni-Marie Montgomery remembers performing with the Black Music Repertory Ensemble

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Toni-Marie Montgomery recalls moving to the University of Kansas in Lawrence, Kansas

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Toni-Marie Montgomery talks about Kansas City

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Toni-Marie Montgomery talks about the differences between visual artists and musicians

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Toni-Marie Montgomery describes her tenure at the University of Kansas in Lawrence, Kansas

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Toni-Marie Montgomery describes her Steinway and Sons piano

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Toni-Marie Montgomery recalls her decision to work at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Toni-Marie Montgomery talks about marching bands

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Toni-Marie Montgomery recalls eliminating Northwestern University's organ program

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Toni-Marie Montgomery remembers finding a new jazz program director

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Toni-Marie Montgomery describes her initiatives at the Henry and Leigh Bienen School of Music

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Toni-Marie Montgomery talks about minority enrollment in music schools

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Toni-Marie Montgomery talks about the emergence of hip hop education

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Toni-Marie Montgomery recalls her efforts in creating community interest in classical music

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Toni-Marie Montgomery describes her hopes for the Henry and Leigh Bienen School of Music

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Toni-Marie Montgomery talks about her musical interests

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Toni-Marie Montgomery describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Toni-Marie Montgomery reflects upon her life

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Toni-Marie Montgomery reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Toni-Marie Montgomery talks about her family

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Toni-Marie Montgomery describes how she would like to be remembered

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Toni-Marie Montgomery narrates her photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$4

DAStory

7$7

DATitle
Toni-Marie Montgomery talks about Arizona State University in Tempe, Arizone
Toni-Marie Montgomery remembers finding a new jazz program director
Transcript
Moved to Arizona State University in Tempe [Arizona], T-E-M-P-E, right outside of Phoenix [Arizona]. And I was hired as an assistant dean in the college of fine arts [Katherine K. Herberger College of the Arts; Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts], was quickly promoted within weeks, because the associate dean was moved up. So, I was promoted to associate dean. And so, I stayed in the role for six years. I was also an untenured faculty member, and got tenure at the end of the sixth year, as is custom. And then, the last four years that I was there I was director, School of Music.$$Okay, now what--well any--well, what, what are the highlights, I guess, of what, you know, of this position at, at Arizona State, it's seems like a real--?$$Well, it's longest that I stayed anywhere 'cause to, up 'til that time I was moving every two years. It was because Arizona State was such a great, I mean, a big school. There were at that time, I think close to forty thousand students; there're more now. So, because of the size of university I was able to just get experience in general education, for instance, the math, science classes that every student takes. I learned a lot just about being an administrator. I had--I think of mentors in positive and negative ways, and the mentor that I had there was a negative one, the one who was dean and so I learned a lot of things about what not to do as dean and things that really should be encouraged. I made connections with other associate deans on campus, and in fact we formed an associate dean and assistant deans group. So, all of the assistant and associate deans on campus and we were then recognized by central administration, the provost and president [Lattie F. Coor], received funding and training. I kept in contact with many of those people, you know, and one is actually a college university president, now. So, I think just I garnered a lot of administrative experience from being at a large research university like that. The last four years as being director school of music, I gained budgetary experience, supervisory experience because we had sixty-three full time faculty members. I don't know the number of staff we had. There were seven hundred students enrolled. And the school, for a state assisted program, I mean, it's considered say one of the top twenty music programs in the United States. So, got a lot of experience that way, became known among--there's a fine arts deans group, but there's also National Association of Schools of Music. That's an accrediting body, there's over six hundred members of that. So, I've been known and recognized, you know, and in those two fields.$$Okay, any outstanding students that, that you, you can remember or, or other faculty members that--?$$As far as students, no. No one that again that I would say, "Oh they've made it big time," or even, you know, part time. People who then have gone on to jobs in higher ed [higher education] who are, you know, professors. As far as faculty members, many of them were still there at ASU, have moved on to other institutions.$Another difficult decision which, you know, I landed on top was with our jazz program. So, the director of our jazz program [Don Owens] decided--he told me in December that he was gonna retire at the end of the year. And I was just amazed, because in order to have a faculty search the person announces the year before that they're going to leave, and then, you put together a search committee in the fall. And so, it usually takes from, say if they start working in October then it will be the winter, March or so, when you have finally have candidates on campus. So, there was not enough time to have a, a search for his position. We had an interim person. I brought in consultants whom I know from good music programs, jazz programs, to look at our program saying what was necessary, and then we did search. I turned down recommendations from the search committee of people who, whom they would like to have as director. I didn't see that any of those people were gonna change the direction of our program. It was just okay; it wasn't great. We weren't known for jazz. And so, I wasn't willing to make an appointment of someone who then was just, we were gonna have an average program. Why would we invest, you know, hundreds, thousands, millions of dollars, into a program that was just gonna be average? So, there had been an outcry because we're so close to Chicago [Illinois], that people were saying that they didn't believe that--they thought I was ending the program. I wasn't ending the program; I just was waiting. And so they were saying that there are tons of jazz musician in Chicago and certainly she could find someone. That's true. There are tons of jazz musicians, but jazz musicians who have the credibility and experience of working in a music school where pri- predominantly you're gonna have classical musicians. So, you had to have your own respect, level of respect and recognition that then was gonna compare with some of these other faculty who are members of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. You can't come in, 'cause jazz for the most part has been a second class citizen in our music schools. I remember being at KU, University of Kansas [Lawrence, Kansas], and graduates saying to me, "We weren't allowed to play jazz in our school." Well, that wasn't unique to the University of Kansas. Every music school if you were caught playing jazz you could be suspended. It just, you know, was considered low brow, and, you know, was certainly wasn't a elitist like classical music is. So, I wouldn't want anybody to come in with one arm tied behind them, because they didn't have the reputation or performance ability as some of these other faculty. So, we were able after several years of hiring Victor Goines who had been the first director of the jazz program at Juilliard [The Juilliard School, New York, New York], G-O-I-N-E-S. And he plays with Wynton Marsalis in the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra. And people who had no interest in jazz are coming to jazz concerts. He's spoken to alumni groups, he's just really, he's just a wonderful ambassador. So, the program is strong. We got a major gift from a family foundation for his jazz program, so we're doing well.$$Okay, yeah, yeah, I've--I constantly read good things about the jazz program.$$Yeah.

Michael White

Music professor and jazz musician Michael White was born on November 29, 1954 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Descended from early jazz notables such as bassist Papa John Joseph and clarinetist Willie “Kaiser” Joseph, White did not know of his background, but saw his aunt, who played classical clarinet, as his influence. White too played clarinet in the noted St. Augustine’s High School Marching Band and took private lessons from the band’s esteemed director, Lionel Hampton, for three years.

White balanced school with his interest in the clarinet. He went on to obtain his B.A. degree from Xavier University in 1976 and his M.A. degree in Spanish from Tulane University in 1979. That same year, White joined the Young Tuxedo Brass Band, and two years later, White founded The Original Liberty Jazz Band with the aim of preserving the musical heritage of New Orleans. In 1984, White earned his Ph.D. degree in Spanish from Tulane University and began teaching Spanish and African American music at Xavier University. Around this time, White started collaborating with jazz great Wynton Marsalis; in 1989, White was featured on Wynton Marsalis’ seminal recording, Majesty of the Blues, and that same year, the two worked together on “A Tribute to Jelly Roll Morton,” performed at New York’s Lincoln Center, in which White served as musical director.

In 2005, Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans. White was living in a one-story home in the Gentilly district of New Orleans, near the London Avenue Canal, and his home was destroyed by the flooding. White was a collector of jazz artifacts and history, but lost all thirty years of jazz memorabilia in the flooding, including interviews of early jazzmen, a clarinet mouthpiece that once belonged to Sidney Bechet, approximately 9000 records and CDs, and a collection of over five dozen vintage clarinets. Still, White embraced jazz’s spirit of improvisation and released his most recent album, Blue Cresent, in 2008, which consists of mainly original compositions and was met with critical acclaim.

The recipient of a 2008 National Heritage Fellowship Award from the National Endowment of the Arts, White has performed at Carnegie Hall and the Newport Jazz Festival. In 1987, the French Government bestowed upon White the rank of Chevalier of Arts and Letters. As a resident artist at the Lincoln Center, White has served as musical director for several of their concerts, including 1992’s Blue Clarinet Stomp and 1994’s Cornet Kings Before Armstrong. White serves as Commissioner of the New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park, sponsored by the U.S. Department of the Interior, and in 2002 he was appointed as the first incumbent of the Rosa and Charles Keller Endowed Chair in the Humanities at Xavier University. Most recently, in 2010, White was named Humanist of the Year by the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities.

Michael White was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on June 7, 2010.

Accession Number

A2010.041

Sex

Male

Interview Date

6/7/2010

Last Name

White

Maker Category
Marital Status

Divorced

Schools

St. Augustine High School

Xavier University of Louisiana

Tulane University

Holy Ghost School

St. Joan of Arc Catholic School

St. David School

First Name

Michael

Birth City, State, Country

New Orleans

HM ID

WHI16

Favorite Season

Summer

State

Louisiana

Favorite Vacation Destination

Southern France, Coastal Japan, Norwegian Fjords

Favorite Quote

A Friend In Need Is A Friend Indeed.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Louisiana

Birth Date

11/29/1954

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New Orleans

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Hamburgers

Short Description

Jazz musician and music professor Michael White (1954 - ) was professor of Spanish and African American music at Xavier University of Louisiana, and bandleader of the Original Liberty Jazz Band in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Employment

Xavier University

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Michael White's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Michael White lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Michael White describes his mother's upbringing in New Orleans, Louisiana

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Michael White talks about his mother's education and career

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Michael White recalls his relationship with his mother

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Michael White talks about Papa John Joseph

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Michael White talks about the early recordings of New Orleans jazz music

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Michael White talks about his maternal family's musical background

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Michael White describes his maternal grandparents

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Michael White recalls his maternal grandmother's candy making business, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Michael White recalls his maternal grandmother's candy making business, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Michael White describes his maternal aunt's musicianship

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Michael White recalls his early musical experiences in New Orleans, Louisiana

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Michael White talks about his father's background

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Michael White remembers his father's organizational activities

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Michael White recalls his parents' involvement in the Knights of Peter Claver

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Michael White talks about how his parents met

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Michael White describes his earliest childhood memories

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Michael White describes his community in the 9th Ward of New Orleans, Louisiana, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Michael White describes his community in the 9th Ward of New Orleans, Louisiana, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Michael White describes the sights and smells of his childhood

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Michael White remembers Morgus the Magnificent

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Michael White desvribes his early education

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Michael White describes his early personality

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Michael White remembers his early awareness of race, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Michael White remembers his early awareness of race, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Michael White talks about the Creole identity, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Michael White describes the placage system

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Michael White talks about the Creole identity, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Michael White describes his experiences of discrimination in the majority-white Carrollton neighborhood of New Orleans, Louisiana, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Michael White describes his experiences of discrimination in the majority-white Carrollton neighborhood of New Orleans, Louisiana, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Michael White talks about his sister

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Michael White remembers his paternal grandfather

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Michael White describes his Catholic schooling in New Orleans, Louisiana, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Michael White describes his Catholic schooling in New Orleans, Louisiana, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Michael White remembers Hurricane Betsy

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Michael White remembers learning to play the clarinet

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Michael White describes St. Augustine High School in New Orleans, Louisiana

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Michael White describes his early musical instruction

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Michael White recalls playing with the St. Augustine High School Marching 100, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Michael White recalls playing with the St. Augustine High School Marching 100, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Michael White remembers his early interest in jazz

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Michael White remembers his high school instruction in Spanish

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Michael White recalls his decision to study Spanish

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Michael White recalls his start at Xavier University of Louisiana in New Orleans, Louisiana

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Michael White remembers Xavier University of Louisiana

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Michael White recalls his professors at Xavier University of Louisiana

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Michael White talks about his exposure to New Orleans jazz

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Michael White remembers joining Ernest "Doc" Paulin's brass band

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Michael White remembers meeting Danny Barker

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Michael White talks about the social aid and pleasure clubs of New Orleans, Louisiana

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Michael White describes the jazz funeral tradition

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Michael White demonstrates the clarinet's role in a jazz funeral

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Michael White describes the conclusion of a jazz funeral

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Michael White remembers his early gigs with Ernest "Doc" Paulin's band

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Michael White recalls the musicians in Ernest "Doc" Paulin's band

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Michael White reflects upon the evolution of the New Orleans jazz community

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Michael White talks about the significance of social aid and pleasure club parades

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Michael White describes the structure of a social aid and pleasure club parade, pt. 1

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Michael White describes the structure of a social aid and pleasure club parade, pt. 2

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Michael White talks about the origin of jazz in New Orleans, Louisiana, pt. 1

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Michael White talks about the history of jazz, pt. 1

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Michael White characterizes the jazz style of New Orleans, Louisiana

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Michael White talks about the history of jazz, pt. 2

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Michael White differentiates New Orleans jazz from Dixieland music

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Michael White recalls his decision to leave Ernest "Doc" Paulin's band

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Michael White remembers playing with smaller jazz bands

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Michael White talks about jazz musicians of New Orleans, Louisiana

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Michael White remembers his rendition of 'Burgundy Street Blues'

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Michael White remembers his introduction to New Orleans' jazz scene

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Michael White describes his membership in the American Federation of Musicians Local 174-496

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Michael White describes the generations of New Orleans jazz musicians, pt. 1

Tape: 8 Story: 8 - Michael White describes the generations of New Orleans jazz musicians, pt. 2

Tape: 9 Story: 1 - Michael White talks about jazz trumpeter Wynton Marsalis' early popularity

Tape: 9 Story: 2 - Michael White recalls Wynton Marsalis' resistance to playing New Orleans jazz

Tape: 9 Story: 3 - Michael White talks about the influence of New Orleans jazz on Duke Ellington

Tape: 9 Story: 4 - Michael White remembers recording 'The Majesty of the Blues'

Tape: 9 Story: 5 - Michael White talks about playing at jazz festivals with Wynton Marsalis

Tape: 9 Story: 6 - Michael White recalls his work as a musical director

Tape: 9 Story: 7 - Michael White talks about his careers in academia and music

Tape: 9 Story: 8 - Michael White remembers his first record, 'Shake It and Break It'

Tape: 9 Story: 9 - Michael White talks about forming the Original Liberty Jazz Band

DASession

1$1

DATape

6$6

DAStory

2$6

DATitle
Michael White remembers joining Ernest "Doc" Paulin's brass band
Michael White demonstrates the clarinet's role in a jazz funeral
Transcript
One day at Xavier [Xavier University of Louisiana, New Orleans, Louisiana] I, I was hanging around the jazz band at Xavier, but the jazz band at Xavier was like a, like a big band. And the director, like most band directors, didn't really know much about New Orleans jazz and really didn't like, didn't like it, and you know, kind of basically ignored me, for the most part. But I would hang around the jazz band, trying to learn some things about music. And one day there was this guy who played tuba in, in the jazz--in the--at Xavier in the music department. And I'm trying to remember exactly what he played in the jazz band. I don't think he played tuba in the jazz band. I don't remember exactly what he played. But anyway, his name is Big Al Carson [Alton "Big Al" Carson]. He turned out to be a great rhythm and blues singer, which he is today. But I remember talking to him. There used to be this old oak tree outside of the music building, and I remember we used to gather outside of there before band rehearsal and sometimes after. And we'd sit down on the bench and talk about what was going on in life. And I remember him saying, "Oh, I've been--." "How's it going, Al?" "Oh, I've been playing in these parades out here with this brass band." I said, "Brass band?" I said, "You play in one of those bands?" He said, "Yeah, I play with this guy named Doc Paulin," I said--he said, "but it's, it's, it's a non-union band," he said, "that's the only non-union band; everybody else had to be in the musicians union." So, I never thought, you know, I could play enough to even think about anything like a musicians union. And, but I said maybe I'll give this non-union thing a try. I said, "Well, look, if y'all ever need a clarinet, let me know, tell him about--." He said, "Yeah, I'll tell him about you." So, a few weeks later, I went to the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. This was my junior year at Xavier, 1975. And there was this band that Big Al Carson was in, Doc Paulin's brass band, Doc Paulin. So I met Doc Paulin. Doc Paulin was a Creole trumpet player. He had a very thick French accent. He was very, very dark skinned. He had a strange, I thought at the time strange something about him. I didn't find out until just a couple of years ago after his death that he was actually of Haitian descent. I thought he was--I knew he was from Wallace, in the country in Louisiana, and I thought that's what, the way people sounded in Wallace, 'cause he sounded the way Creoles sound from other parts of Louisiana. But at any rate, Ernest "Doc" Paulin was his name. He was a trumpet player that was born in the early first decade of, of 19--1900. He led a brass band for many years. He played with a lot of legendary jazz musicians. He made a few, a couple of recordings. And I met him at Jazz Fest. He looked at me, and you know, I'm say, I say, "Oh, hey, Doc. You know, I'm the guy that Big A told you about, the clarinet." And Big Al told him about me. And he looked at me and he frowned, and he said, "All y'all young people ain't no good." And it's like, I was kind of insulted. So he said, "And if I call you for a job, you gonna show up on time?" I said, "Yeah." "You gonna wear the right uniform? You know we wear black pants, your shoes gotta be shined and clean, you wear white shirt, clean black tie--solid black tie, not no stripes and not them polka dots." He had a thick French accent. "You know what I mean?" "Yeah." "We wear a white band cap." "Okay." So I gave him my phone number and figured I'd never hear from him. Couple of weeks later I got a call. "White [HistoryMaker Michael White], this is Doc Paulin. I got a job for you. Be at my house at such and such a time, and don't forget we wear black pants, white shirt, short sleeve white shirt, solid black tie, band cap. You got a band cap?" "No, but I'll get one." And that was the beginning of, of my career playing with Doc Paulin.$We were talking about the jazz parades, and you were going to show us what you meant, so.$$Yeah, in a jazz funeral, we mentioned the slow music, which represents and highlights the sadness of the event: the passing of a person, the fact that they are no longer going to be with us. The good times that we shared with them were going, finished. So that's very sad, and the slow sad music reflects that. You know, we would play dirges. And as I mentioned, the, the, the, the s- the somber mood of the band was highlighted by the fact that all of the instruments had a kind of different sound, but they all sounded like people moaning, different voices, male, female voices. The clarinet would, would moan with a lot of vibrato, sort of like a weeping widow, up high. And you know, if, if the clarinet would play like, for example, a melody of the song, clarinet normally doesn't play medo- melody, but if, if a clarinet played the melody of a song like 'Just a Closer Walk with Thee,' it would sound sort of like this: (playing clarinet). But in reality, the clarinet would actually play around the melody, and so, around that sort of preaching like voice. And would play things like this: (playing clarinet). So, that's kind of what the clarinet would do in a jazz funeral. And you could hear that blocks away, just kind of wailing and screeching and crying but very effective in the ceremony. And that part of the jazz funeral, was, was usually very solemn.

Huel D. Perkins

Retired educator Huel Davis Perkins was born on December 27, 1924 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Between 1943 and 1946, Perkins served in the U.S. Navy as a musician first class. He graduated from Southern University with highest honors in 1947.

From 1948 to 1950, Perkins worked as a music instructor at Lincoln University in Jefferson City, Missouri. Perkins then served as an associate professor of music at Southern University from 1951 through 1960. During this time, Perkins also completed his M.A. degree in music from Northwestern University in 1951 and his Ph.D. from Northwestern University in 1958. From 1968 to 1978, Perkins served as the Dean of the College of Arts and Humanities at Southern University. In addition, Perkins was appointed as the deputy director of education programming at the National Endowment for the Humanities in Washington, D.C. in 1978. Perkins then commenced a long tenure at Louisiana State University where he served as Assistant Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs from 1979 through 1990 and as Executive Assistant to the Chancellor and Special Assistant to the Chancellor from 1990 through 1998. In 1996, President Bill Clinton appointed Perkins to the Board of Advisors of the J.W. Fulbright foreign scholarship program. He served in this capacity until 2002. Perkins then founded Huel D. Perkins & Associates, Inc., a consulting firm and speakers bureau. He serves as its president. Perkins has also served as Chairman on the Education Foundation of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity and has served as Grand Sire Archon of Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity. In 2005, Louisiana State University acknowledged Perkins’ years of service by awarding him the honorary Doctor of Humane Letters and naming a doctoral fellowship program after him.

Perkins has also been honored by the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities (Humanist of the Year); the National Conference of Christians and Jews (Brotherhood Award); the LSU Chapter of Phi Delta Kappa (Outstanding educator); the Baton Rouge Human Relations Council (Brotherhood Award); the Istrouma Area Council of Boy Scouts of America (Citizen of the Year); the Louisiana Chapter of NAACP (A. P. Turead Award); the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity (Award of Merit) and received the Centennial Award given by Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity. He has served as a member of the President’s Board of Advisors on Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Perkins has critiqued and published numerous books and articles on the African American experience in America. He has served on several dozen boards dealing with social and educational issues including the Baton Rouge Symphony, Louisiana Public Broadcasting, Corp., and the New Orleans Museum of Art. Perkins is the recipient of many public service awards for his achievements both in the civic and academic communities.

Perkins is married to Thelma O. Smith. 2008 marks the couple’s sixtieth wedding anniversary. They have one child, Huel Alfred Perkins.

Perkins was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on March 26, 2008.

Dr. Huel Perkins passed away on April 15, 2013.

Accession Number

A2008.063

Sex

Male

Interview Date

3/26/2008

Last Name

Perkins

Maker Category
Middle Name

D.

Schools

Southern University Laboratory School

Southern University and Agricultural and Mechanical College

Northwestern University

First Name

Huel

Birth City, State, Country

Baton Rouge

HM ID

PER04

Favorite Season

Spring

Sponsor

Boule Foundation

State

Louisiana

Favorite Vacation Destination

Bahamas

Favorite Quote

Man Comes To Earth Unarmed Except For His Mind; His Brain Is His Only Weapon.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Louisiana

Birth Date

12/27/1924

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Baton Rouge

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Spaghetti, Meatballs

Death Date

4/15/2013

Short Description

Academic administrator and music professor Huel D. Perkins (1924 - 2013 ) was an instructor at Lincoln University and Southern University, where he also served as dean of the College of Arts and Humanities. At Louisiana State University, he served as Assistant Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs. In 2002, Perkins founded Huel D. Perkins & Associates, Inc.

Employment

Southern University and A&M

Louisiana State University

National Endowment for the Humanities

Main Sponsor
Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Huel D. Perkins' interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Huel D. Perkins lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Huel D. Perkins describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Huel D. Perkins talks about the significance of his first name

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Huel D. Perkins describes his mother's upbringing

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Huel D. Perkins describes his mother

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Huel D. Perkins describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Huel D. Perkins describes his father's law career

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Huel D. Perkins describes how his parents met

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Huel D. Perkins describes how he takes after his parents

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Huel D. Perkins describes his childhood in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Huel D. Perkins describes his childhood in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Huel D. Perkins recalls Mount Zion First Baptist Church in Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Huel D. Perkins talks about Reverend Gardner Taylor

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Huel D. Perkins recalls his early musicianship

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Huel D. Perkins recalls the musicians who served at Naval Station Great Lakes

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Huel D. Perkins recalls his decision to return to Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Huel D. Perkins remembers his influential teachers

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Huel D. Perkins recalls meeting his wife

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Huel D. Perkins remembers his fiftieth wedding anniversary

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Huel D. Perkins describes his interdisciplinary teaching style

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Huel D. Perkins remembers his graduate studies in the humanities

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Huel D. Perkins recalls student demonstrations at Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Huel D. Perkins reflects upon Felton Grandison Clark's legacy

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Huel D. Perkins talks about Valerian Smith's family

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Huel D. Perkins remembers his students at Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Huel D. Perkins describes his transition to academic administration

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Huel D. Perkins remembers joining the National Endowment for the Humanities

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Huel D. Perkins describes his career at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Huel D. Perkins talks about the National Endowment for the Humanities

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Huel D. Perkins describes his research on the Harlem Renaissance

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Huel D. Perkins talks about his published works

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Huel D. Perkins reflects upon the importance of the humanities

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Huel D. Perkins describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Huel D. Perkins talks about his favorite figures in the humanities

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Huel D. Perkins remembers influencing his students' interest in opera

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Huel D. Perkins talks about 'Cyrano de Bergerac' by Edmond Rostand

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Huel D. Perkins talks about 'The Fountainhead' by Ayn Rand

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Huel D. Perkins describes his civic activities in Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Huel D. Perkins reflects upon his health

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Huel D. Perkins reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Huel D. Perkins describes how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Huel D. Perkins narrates his photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$4

DAStory

4$5

DATitle
Huel D. Perkins remembers joining the National Endowment for the Humanities
Huel D. Perkins describes his career at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge
Transcript
I spoke there [Dallas, Texas] on the importance of the humanities. The fellow was there, who was the chairman of the endowment for, for the humanities. And he came to me right after that and said, "Would you like to come to Washington [D.C.], would you like to come to the National Endowment for the Humanities [NEH]?" I said, "No sir, no sir, I would not like to." I said, "Besides, I've only, I've recently signed a contract to go to LSU [Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, Louisiana]." He said, "Oh, what's his name, I'll talk with your chancellor down there. I, I think I can get you released from them." I said, "Well, I, I'm not certain I want to do that." He twisted my arm and said, "You come up and you look at our operation. I think you will want to be a part of it." I went to Washington on a kind of a look-see. I decided that's what I wanted to do. They offered me a contract to, to join them in September. I'm supposed to report to LSU. What do I do? Now, I have, I've signed a contract. I have that commit- commitment. I go down--I'll never forget this. I go down to the chancellor, Paul Murrill [Paul W. Murrill], the same fellow who had enticed me to come to LSU. I said, "I agree, I will sign, I will sign my contract." I said, "I'm supposed to report September 1st." I said, "But in the meantime, I have gotten an offer to join the National Endowment for the Humanities in Washington." You know what he said? I'll never forget this because he made, he made me feel so relieved about it all. He said, "Take the job in Washington." He said, "It will be both beneficial to you and to LSU. Drop me a note, and request a year's leave of absence, and go to Washington." That's what I did, that's what I did, and I am very happy that I did it, I am very happy that I did it.$Well, I--in Washington [D.C.], I was reading proposals, making speeches, interpreting the endowment [National Endowment for the Humanities] to, to the various publics and whatnot. At the end of that year, I didn't want to come to LSU [Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, Louisiana] (laughter). They sent a dean up to Washington. He came up for another meeting. When he came by to see me, he said, "I'm told--we hear that you, you might want to stay in Washington a little longer than this year." He said, "I'm up here to tell you that we want you back, that we're expecting you back, and we have increased your salary just to make you, make sure you come back." So, I'm in another quandary--look, look, the qua- the quandary I gave to you earlier was when I wanted to go to--come back to Southern [Southern University; Southern University and Agricultural and Mechanical College, Baton Rouge, Louisiana], and finish my, my senior year, you remember. And I said, my mother [Velma Davis Perkins] and the fraternity [Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity]--. Here I am, another quandary in my life: do I want to negate the contract down there, and stay on in Washington? 'Cause I was, I was really doing nicely in Washington, I really was--traveling all over the country and making speeches. And they liked me at the endowment, and that sort of thing, so I had to come and make some hard decisions there. My decision then was to come back to LSU. I talked with somebody, and they said, Washington is temporary. It changes administration every four years (laughter). You, you put your, your eggs in that basket, you don't know how long you're going to be there, you know, it could change. Well, I had some good counseling, so I came on back to LSU, came back to LSU, and stayed twenty-three years. I did twenty-seven at Southern, and I came back to LSU and did twenty-three, including two retirements. I retired once--they asked me to come back. I retired again, they asked me to come back. Then, this last time, which was in 2005, I think it was, I said I'm not going back this time. It became a joke: you're back (laughter) you're back down here. Every chancellor would ask me to come, come, come back there, mainly because I, I, I did a lot of letter writing, a lot of speech writing. And they would let me represent the university and I could represent it well, and people would see they have a black now at LSU, I mean, you know, who, who represents the university. Each chancellor would ask me, ask me to come back, and I, I'd stay here two or three months and, oh, come on, I'd go back down there.

Matthew Kennedy

Retired director of the historic Fisk Jubilee Singers, Matthew Washington Kennedy was born on March 10, 1921 in Americus, Georgia. His parents were educator, Mary Dowdell Kennedy and mail carrier, Royal C. Kennedy, who died when Kennedy was fifteen months old. Kennedy attended McCoy Hill Elementary School between 1926 and 1934. A prodigy of piano and choral music, Kennedy was inspired by a Rachmaninoff concert in Macon, Georgia when he was eleven years old. Moving with his mother to New York City in 1934, Kennedy enrolled in DeWitt Clinton High School. With help from his music teacher, Lois Adler, Kennedy entered the Juilliard Institute of Music. Graduating from high school in 1939, he also earned a diploma in piano from Juilliard in 1940. Kennedy went on to attend Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee. While attending Fisk University, Kennedy became piano accompanist to the historic Fisk Jubilee Singers under the direction of Ms. J.A. Myers on their tour of Europe, North Africa and Israel. Drafted into the U.S. Army in 1943, he served in Southern Europe and North Africa before returning to graduate cum laude with his B.A. degree from Fisk University in 1947. Kennedy went on to earn his M.A. degree from Juilliard in 1950 and completed course work toward his Ph.D. from George Peabody College in Nashville.

Employed by Fisk University as an instructor in 1947, Kennedy became a member of its music faculty in 1954 as an associate professor. In 1956, he married piano soloist, Anne Gamble. Kennedy was appointed director of the Fisk Jubilee Singers in 1957, and he mentored hundreds of young students for the next twenty-three years. In 1958, Kennedy made his own solo piano debut at Carnegie Recital Hall. Over the years, Kennedy toured the world as a soloist and as director of the Jubilee Singers. He was appointed acting chairman of the Fisk University Music Department from 1975 to 1978. Kennedy retired from Fisk University in 1986.

Kennedy has served on resource panels for the Tennessee Arts Commission and on boards of the Nashville Symphony Association and the John W. Work, III Memorial Foundation. He received the Achievement Award from the National Black Music Caucus of the Music Educators’ National Conference, distinguished service awards from the National Association of Negro Musicians, Fisk University Alumni Association, and Omega Psi Phi Fraternity. Kennedy holds lifetime memberships with the NAACP and the Fisk University General Alumni Association. He is a member of the Nashville Fine Arts Club where he serves as President. He is also a member of the Nashville Symphony Guild, Gamma Phi Chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc., First Baptist Church, Capitol Hill and a recent inductee into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame in Macon, Georgia.

In 2003, Kennedy released his first album, Familiar Favorites. It is dedicated to the memory of his late wife, Anne, and to their daughter, Nina who is also a concert pianist. In 2006, Kennedy received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters, from Fisk University. In 2007, Kennedy’s daughter made a film entitled, Matthew Kennedy: One Man’s Journey, which won the Rosetta Miller-Perry Award for Black Filmmakers.

Kennedy was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on March 13, 2007. Kennedy passed away on June 5, 2014.

Accession Number

A2007.086

Sex

Male

Interview Date

3/13/2007

Last Name

Kennedy

Maker Category
Schools

DeWitt Clinton High School

McKay Hill School

The Juilliard School

Fisk University

First Name

Matthew

Birth City, State, Country

Americus

HM ID

KEN03

Favorite Season

Spring

Sponsor

Charles and Anne Roos

State

Georgia

Favorite Vacation Destination

None

Favorite Quote

I'm Blessed.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Tennessee

Birth Date

3/10/1921

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Nashville

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Chicken

Death Date

6/5/2014

Short Description

Music professor, choral director, and pianist Matthew Kennedy (1921 - 2014 ) was the former director of the Fisk Jubilee Singers at Fisk University.

Employment

Fisk University

Interlochen Center for the Arts

U.S. Army

Main Sponsor
Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
0,0:2910,37:4660,67:8060,85:10500,100:14212,123:15820,132:20937,165:26330,182:26805,188:27850,197:29370,216:40156,391:43094,407:43499,413:51430,548:51994,556:52370,561:52934,568:53404,574:56694,617:67415,719:68010,730:78720,780:83616,837:96798,985:97114,990:97667,998:111701,1175:122406,1291:122738,1296:126381,1330:132398,1398:142920,1461:146040,1490:146444,1495:147555,1509:148767,1534:152990,1566:156190,1591:163450,1638:170830,1729$0,0:14890,204:23096,255:34358,350:37326,412:44340,430:44620,435:48570,473:49214,481:55287,532:62162,561:62828,571:63420,580:63790,587:64382,597:66306,631:72366,689:74382,711:75054,720:75810,730:76398,738:77322,756:77742,761:78666,775:91680,801:92240,807:98672,837:103444,898:104812,967:122894,1120:125178,1126:125736,1138:129674,1178:135730,1210:142618,1286:145958,1312:146854,1321:150307,1330:162720,1415:163294,1423:163950,1434:165344,1451:166164,1462:168910,1474:169438,1481:182794,1589:188230,1652:190260,1664:192861,1682:195742,1706:200694,1804:201474,1816:207180,1839:207460,1844:208370,1864:209840,1889:210120,1894:216340,2007
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Matthew Kennedy's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Matthew Kennedy lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Matthew Kennedy describes his mother's upbringing and career

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Matthew Kennedy describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Matthew Kennedy describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Matthew Kennedy describes how his parents met

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Matthew Kennedy describes his parents' careers and personalities

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Matthew Kennedy describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Matthew Kennedy remembers his neighborhood in Americus, Georgia

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Matthew Kennedy describes his early music lessons

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Matthew Kennedy talks about his early musical talent

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Matthew Kennedy remembers his academic ability

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Matthew Kennedy recalls his early exposure to music

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Matthew Kennedy remembers his first musical performances

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Matthew Kennedy remembers singing at the Bethesda Baptist Church in Americus, Georgia

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Matthew Kennedy talks about the difference between hymns and spirituals

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Matthew Kennedy remembers the influence of Eva Jessye and Hall Johnson

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Matthew Kennedy talks about gospel music

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Matthew Kennedy recalls performing on WENC Radio in Americus, Georgia

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Matthew Kennedy remembers playing the organ at the Rylander Theatre in Americus, Georgia

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Matthew Kennedy remembers a concert by Sergei Rachmaninoff, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Matthew Kennedy remembers a concert by Sergei Rachmaninoff, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Matthew Kennedy remembers his isolation from other children

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Matthew Kennedy talks about his awareness of black classical musicians

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Matthew Kennedy remembers his mother's decision to move to New York City

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Matthew Kennedy recalls his family's move to New York City

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Matthew Kennedy remembers his enrollment at the Juilliard School of Music

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Matthew Kennedy recalls the students at the Juilliard School of Music in New York City

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Matthew Kennedy remembers receiving a piano from his teacher

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Matthew Kennedy describes completing Dewitt Clinton High School in New York City

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Matthew Kennedy describes his admission to Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Matthew Kennedy talks about being drafted into World War II

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Matthew Kennedy recalls playing piano for the Fisk Jubilee Singers

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Matthew Kennedy remembers meeting and marrying his wife

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Matthew Kennedy remembers John Wesley Work III

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Matthew Kennedy recalls his time in the U.S. Army

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Matthew Kennedy describes his assignments in the U.S. Army

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Matthew Kennedy recalls earning a master's degree at the Juilliard School of Music

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Matthew Kennedy remembers the formation of the Famous Jubilee Singers

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Matthew Kennedy talks about the Famous Jubilee Singers

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Matthew Kennedy remembers John Wesley Work III's directorship of the Fisk Jubilee Singers

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Matthew Kennedy recalls his appointment as director of the Fisk Jubilee Singers

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Matthew Kennedy describes the Fisk Jubilee Singers' concerts

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Matthew Kennedy talks about the history of the Fisk Jubilee Singers

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Matthew Kennedy talks about the role of spiritual music in the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Matthew Kennedy remembers the Civil Rights Movement in Nashville, Tennessee

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Matthew Kennedy reflects upon the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Matthew Kennedy remembers his debut at Carnegie Hall in New York City

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Matthew Kennedy describes his tenure as director of the Fisk Jubilee Singers

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Matthew Kennedy describes his work in the music department of Fisk University

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Matthew Kennedy talks about his first album

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Matthew Kennedy reflects upon his life

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Matthew Kennedy talks about the John W. Work III Memorial Foundation

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Matthew Kennedy remembers his students

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Matthew Kennedy reflects upon his legacy and hopes for the African American community

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Matthew Kennedy talks about his daughter's documentary project, 'Matthew Kennedy: One Man's Journey'

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Matthew Kennedy describes his doctoral studies

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Matthew Kennedy describes how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Matthew Kennedy narrates his photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$6

DAStory

2$5

DATitle
Matthew Kennedy remembers receiving a piano from his teacher
Matthew Kennedy remembers his debut at Carnegie Hall in New York City
Transcript
When we went to New York [New York], Depression [Great Depression] days, there was a movement where schools were set up to actually help artists and performers, all part of the WPA, Works Projects Administration, or something like that [sic. Works Progress Administration; Work Projects Administration], but anyway, it was the WPA, and I entered the school that was established there on 7th Avenue, and the piano teacher that I worked with there had attended Juilliard [Juilliard School of Music; The Juilliard School, New York, New York], and she gave us some advice about actually applying for the audition and the scholarship; I had left that out before.$$Okay.$$Um-hm.$$Okay. So, how did you like Juilliard?$$Very much, very much, and there were problems there. I look back sometimes and say I probably could have made much better progress if I'd had a piano in the apartment where I was staying with the Wilsons [ph.], but when I first started, I had no piano. I would have to walk several blocks to another acquaintance who had come originally from Americus [Georgia] years ago; they had a piano and that's where I went to do my practicing, and of course I could do lots of practicing at school, at Juilliard, but it would have been so nice. And Miss Adler [Lois Adler] knew about that hardship; she brought that to the attention of one of her students, as she knew this student had, had some means--from Albany, Georgia. Her parents were into pecan plantations, and anyway, she told this student, this student arranged to have a piano, an upright piano, brought to the apartment where I was living, and that, that was a great help.$$That certainly sounds like it was, so, yes (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) Yes, yes.$You, in 1958, experienced a sort of a personal triumph of your own by getting this--a solo--your solo piano debut at Carnegie Hall--$$Right.$$--in New York City [New York, New York].$$Um-hm.$$Now how did this come about?$$Well, Ms. Adler [Lois Adler] was still encouraging me, and she was so encouraged at the experience I was having in giving these solo selections on the Jubilee Singers [Fisk Jubilee Singers] concerts, and she just wanted to see how far I might go as a concert pianist I believe, so she encouraged me to get the services of an agent, and of course he told her that I needed to have a New York debut, and so one thing led to the other and I was so, so, so happy the way things turned out. I received favorable reviews from both The New York Times and the Tribune, and so--but, but even, even so, things didn't really open up suddenly or quickly enough for me because see, I was already at Fisk [Fisk University, Nashville, Tennessee], on the Fisk faculty, when I made the debut there in '58 [1958], so if it had been an overwhelming success, I guess I would have had big headlines and all that. And that, that didn't happen, and I, I couldn't even think of giving up my teaching to pursue just the concert career, but it was nice to have, it was nice to give a few more concerts and use the comments from the critics that I had earned.$$Were your students proud of you?$$Very much so. And the faculty would give faculty recitals also, as a part of the year's activities; those were very well received. But I was finding it difficult as, as, as involved I was now as director of the Jubilee Singers, to keep up my repertoire as a pianist, so that, that had to suffer as a great--as a consequence.$$Now, did your mother [Mary Dowdell Kennedy] get a chance to hear you?$$Yes, she was present for that debut, yes, very, very happy. I think she felt that her dreams had been fulfilled.$$That must have been wonderful to have her there (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) Right.$$Yeah.$$Um-hm.

Julian White

Julian E. White is a distinguished English Professor of Music, Chairman of the Department of Music and Director of the famous “Marching 100” Band at Florida A&M University (FAMU) in Tallahassee, Florida.

White was born in Jacksonville, Florida on March 3, 1941. His parents were Victoria (Richo) White and George White. Raised and educated in Jacksonville, White graduated from Stanton High School in 1959. He earned his B.A. degree in music education from FAMU, his M.A. degree from the University of Illinois and a Ph.D. from Florida State University.

White is a product of the “Marching 100” family, having played in the band as a student, before going on to a career as a high school band director and music teacher. He returned to FAMU to join the band staff in the 1970s as the band’s Associate Director before ascending to the top position in 1998.

Prior to joining the FAMU faculty in 1972, White was a Band Director at Northwestern Junior/Senior High from 1963 to 1965 and was the first director of the William Raines High School Band in 1965, both in Jacksonville.

For a period of ten years, White served as drill designer for the McDonald’s All-America High School Band with appearances at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City, the Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, California and the Fiesta Bowl of Phoenix, Arizona. His drills have been featured in performances on all major television networks and the Bastille Day Ceremony in Paris, France.

White assists with half time shows for Bowl Games of America and is on the adjudication staff for Musical Festivals USA, International Music Festivals and Heritage Festivals, in addition to writing drill shows for high school and college bands.

White is the father of Tonja, born in 1969, and Phaedra, born in 1971, from his first marriage. In 2000, he married Dennine (Mathis), and they are parents of Julian E. White II, born in 2005.

White was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on October 18, 2006.

Accession Number

A2006.124

Sex

Male

Interview Date

10/18/2006

Last Name

White

Maker Category
Schools

New Stanton High School

First Name

Julian

Birth City, State, Country

Jacksonville

HM ID

WHI09

Favorite Season

Summer

State

Florida

Favorite Vacation Destination

Panama City, Florida

Favorite Quote

There Are Consequences To Every Action You Engage In.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Florida

Birth Date

3/3/1941

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Tallahassee

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Fish (Fried), Steak

Short Description

Music professor and music director Julian White (1941 - ) was a distinguished Professor of Music and Chairman of the Department of Music at Florida A&M University. He also served as the director of the famed FAMU “Marching 100” Band.

Employment

Northwestern Junior-Senior High School

William Marion Raines Senior High School

Florida A & M University

Favorite Color

Red

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Julian White's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Julian White lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Julian White describes his occupations

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Julian White remembers the beginnings of his interest in music

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Julian White describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Julian White describes his father's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Julian White describes his father's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Julian White describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Julian White remembers celebrating holidays with his family

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Julian White describes his family's musical abilities

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Julian White remembers growing up before electric appliances were common

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Julian White describes his siblings' professions

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Julian White describes the community of Durkeeville in Jacksonville, Florida

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

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Julian White remembers Jacksonville's College Park Elementary School

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Julian White describes his personality as a student

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Julian White describes his junior high school and high school experiences

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Julian White recalls his first year at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Julian White recalls his first performances with the Marching 100

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Julian White describes his early years in the Marching 100

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Julian White describes his role in the Marching 100 as an undergraduate

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Julian White describes his career upon graduating from college

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Julian White reflects upon his work as a high school band director

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Julian White remembers segregation in Jacksonville, Florida

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Julian White recalls becoming associate band director of the Marching 100

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Julian White explains the topic of his dissertation

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Julian White describes the recruitment process for the Marching 100

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Julian White describes the influence of African dance on the Marching 100

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Julian White describes the instruments played by the Marching 100

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Julian White reflects upon the Marching 100's diverse audience and music

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Julian White describes the popularity of marching bands at historically black colleges

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Julian White remembers working alongside William Foster

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Julian White describes how the Marching 100's performances are created

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Julian White describes the Marching 100's performances outside of football games

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Julian White describes the McDonald's All American High School Band

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Julian White describes the history behind the name of the Florida A&M Rattlers

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Julian White describes his involvement in musical organizations

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Julian White describes the Marching 100's competition

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Julian White describes the staff and facilities at Florida A&M University

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Julian White describes his family

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Julian White reflects upon his life

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Julian White shares his advice for future band directors

Tape: 4 Story: 11 - Julian White describes his clinics for band directors and student musicians

Tape: 4 Story: 12 - Julian White reflects upon the importance of preserving history

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Julian White describes how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Julian White narrates his photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

1$3

DAStory

10$10

DATitle
Julian White describes his family's musical abilities
Julian White remembers working alongside William Foster
Transcript
You said your mother [Victoria Richo White] played the piano?$$Yes, she did.$$Yeah. Tell me about her piano playing and what are your memories of her, her musical interests?$$She was a--she took piano lessons, but she was not a virtuoso pianist. She could play hymns and she could play favorite songs and, you know, she could sit, sit at the piano and just play anything by ear even though she had, I would say primary piano lessons, and she would sing. She didn't sing as well as my grandmother [Florence Richo] and sometimes when we would be bad or she would get disgusted, or she may be feeling not well because of her illness and she would sing. And especially when we were bad, and that singing would sometime penetrate. She'd sing 'Jesus, Keep Me Near The Cross,' and 'Pass Me Not, O Gentle Savior,' and she would sing those songs and they were just like they were just gnaw at me and I'd take the pillow and put it over my head, and my bedroom was right next to the kitchen where she'd be working. And she'd say, "You know, you're gonna, one day you're gonna wish you could hear this voice," and she knew what she was saying because if today now if I could hear that voice again, oh, it would be so glorious. But, but she was--she was a good musician and I think the musicality, her musicality rubbed off on my sister [Willoughby White (ph.)] because my sister was a virtuoso pianist. She was a virtuoso musician and she played the flute. She played the piano and she inspired--she taught me music. Taught me to play the flute which I, I played before I started on the other instruments, and so that the background I think extended from my grandmother who was a great vocalist to my mother who played piano. Not a virtuoso pianist, but nevertheless did play piano, and then my sister picked up the music and she was just a fantastic musician (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) What was the first instrument that you picked up?$$The first instrument I picked up was the trombone. I sounded horrible on it.$$How old were you?$$I was about nine years old. My brother played the trombone and he sounded horrible, too. So, I imitated the sound then I put it down and didn't, didn't try it anymore because I was really keenly interested in playing sports. I did--I was captain of the swimming team, so I did do sports some. I was a very good swimmer and, I still swim. I, I do a mile a day in the family's pool and, and in my pool in the summertime. But--so, I, I--that side of, of the--of being an athlete did materialize, but that's basically it.$What was it like working under Dr. Foster [HistoryMaker William Foster]? You came and you accepted that position. That's why you're where you are today?$$Um-hm.$$But what was it like working under Dr. Foster?$$It was quite an honor, a distinction and a definite learning period. Dr. Foster is a tremendous musician, administrator and organizer. And to further (cough) my education with him, I think prepared me for everything that I do now. He was--he was and is meticulous in his organization of the administrative aspects of the band program [at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University, Tallahassee, Florida]. His rehearsal techniques and the development of the marching band [Marching 100] and the concert band employs concepts that ensure success as far as fundamentals are concerned. Marching fundamentals, musical fundamentals, tonal quality, intonation, articulation, phrase and balance, all the performance fundamentals. He was meticulous in that. And then his interpersonal relationships in dealing with his staff--in dealing with the students. He served as an inspiration in terms of the music, the marching, the academics, the character building, the integrity. All were just personified by him, so that was truly an awesome experience. I worked with him. I worked as his associate for twenty-five years and he retired and as far as I'm concerned, he could have sti-, he could still be here and I could still be associate because it was just a pleasure working with him. And I also had the freedom to develop myself and to develop the band along with. So, it was just a great experience.$$Well, the transition from his tenure to your present position took place in what year?$$Nineteen ninety-eight [1998].$$Nineteen ninety-eight [1998].

Olly Wilson

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

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

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

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

Accession Number

A2005.243

Sex

Male

Interview Date

10/14/2005

Last Name

Wilson

Maker Category
Organizations
Schools

Washington University in St Louis

Charles H. Sumner High School

University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign

University of Iowa

First Name

Olly

Birth City, State, Country

St. Louis

HM ID

WIL30

Favorite Season

Fall, Spring

State

Missouri

Favorite Vacation Destination

Italy

Favorite Quote

This Too Shall Pass.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

California

Birth Date

9/7/1937

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Bay Area/Berkeley

Country

United States

Favorite Food

None

Death Date

3/12/2018

Short Description

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

Employment

Florida A & M University

Oberlin Conservatory of Music

University of California Berkeley

Favorite Color

Blue, Red, Yellow

Timing Pairs
0,0:189,5:819,16:1134,23:2268,64:4788,119:6426,158:7308,178:9450,269:13230,367:17325,478:29012,638:30188,660:33212,720:37496,835:43450,879:49655,986:50385,998:53889,1071:54181,1076:54473,1081:55568,1101:56225,1117:61043,1235:76672,1417:81996,1495:82686,1506:83238,1516:88275,1614:88896,1626:91173,1682:93312,1736:94071,1752:102102,1836:104034,1868:104874,1884:105546,1894:109578,1977:112938,2027:114770,2036:115571,2047:117796,2073:118508,2082:119398,2098:120110,2107:120555,2113:128230,2181:129154,2232:133774,2295:138933,2382:139549,2391:141012,2422:147605,2500:148655,2514:149255,2524:150680,2554:151580,2573:153830,2630:154880,2646:155405,2655:158480,2725:160130,2757:161255,2779:161705,2790:166280,2864:176957,2992:193845,3249:194328,3257:194880,3266:203091,3480:214200,3743:214683,3751:225670,3857:225950,3862:226720,3876:227140,3883:242588,4171:245980,4239:252150,4328$0,0:4740,103:8769,207:10112,233:16195,346:17301,370:17775,378:34598,651:34962,656:55619,1044:61920,1134:68000,1284:72560,1393:72940,1399:76664,1486:80084,1546:86022,1577:86367,1583:87057,1594:87609,1602:88299,1617:94578,1796:95130,1805:102651,1994:112828,2125:113124,2130:113568,2166:115566,2302:133220,2546
DAStories

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$4

DAStory

2$7

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

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.

Wendell Logan

Composer, jazz musician, and music educator Wendell Morris Logan, Ph.D., was born on November 24, 1940, one of three sons born to Dorothy Mae Horton and Simuel Morris Logan. Logan completed his elementary and secondary school education at the McDuffie County Training School and the R.L. Norris High School. Logan earned his bachelor’s of science degree in music from Florida A & M University in 1962, his master’s of music degree from Southern Illinois University in 1964, and his Ph.D. from the University of Iowa in 1968. In 1994, Logan was a fellow at the Rockefeller Study Center in Bellagio, Italy.

Logan taught public school in 1963 and worked as a teaching assistant while completing the requirements for his Ph.D. in Iowa. Logan served on the faculties of Ball State University from 1967 to 1969; Florida A & M University from 1969 to 1970; and Western Illinois University from 1970 to 1973. Logan accepted the invitation to develop a program in African American music in the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, where he went on to serve as the Chair of Jazz Studies and professor of African American music.

As a musician, Logan performed throughout the United States and in Europe, Africa, and the Caribbean. Logan’s music was recorded on several labels, including Orion, Golden Crest, University of Michigan Press, Morehouse College Press, and RPM Records. Logan received numerous prizes and awards, including grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Ohio Arts Council, ASCAP Awards, a Guggenheim Award, the Cleveland Arts Prize, and the Lakond Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Later compositions of Logan’s included “Doxology Opera: The Doxy Canticles” and “Ask Your Mama.”

Logan and his wife Betty raised two children, Wendell Jr. and Philecia; they also had one granddaughter, Karen.

Logan passed away on June 15, 2010.

Accession Number

A2005.136

Sex

Male

Interview Date

6/13/2005

Last Name

Logan

Maker Category
Middle Name

Morris

Organizations
Schools

R .L. Norris High School

McDuffie County Training School

Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University

Southern Illinois University

American Conservatory of Music

University of Iowa

First Name

Wendell

Birth City, State, Country

Thomson

HM ID

LOG01

Favorite Season

Summer

State

Georgia

Favorite Vacation Destination

Kingston, Jamaica, Brazil

Favorite Quote

Be Prepared.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Ohio

Birth Date

11/24/1940

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Cleveland

Favorite Food

Seafood

Death Date

6/15/2010

Short Description

Music professor, jazz saxophonist, and music composer Wendell Logan (1940 - 2010 ) developed a program in African American music at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, in addition to serving on the faculty at Ball State University, Florida A & M University, and Western Illinois University. Logan also had an accomplished career composing and performing.

Employment

Oberlin Conservatory of Music, Oberlin College

Western Illinois University

Florida A & M University

Ball State University

Favorite Color

Sky Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Wendell Logan's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Wendell Logan lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Wendell Logan describes his parents' family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Wendell Logan describes his paternal grandparents

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Wendell Logan describes his maternal family's migration to Kanas City, Kansas

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Wendell Logan remembers the Asian population of Greenville, Mississippi

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Wendell Logan describes how his parents met in Mississippi

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Wendell Logan talks about his father's education and career

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Wendell Logan describes his parents' move to Georgia and his mother's education and career

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Wendell Logan recalls his brothers and jazz music in Kansas City, Missouri

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Wendell Logan remembers attending school in Thomson, Georgia

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Wendell Logan recalls the civil rights era

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Wendell Logan describes the sights and sounds of growing up in Thomson, Georgia

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Wendell Logan describes his introduction to music

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Wendell Logan recalls his early musical influences

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Wendell Logan describes his experience as a music major at Florida A&M University

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Wendell Logan describes the sights and smells of growing up

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Wendell Logan describes his experiences at Florida A&M University

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Wendell Logan recalls teaching near Kincheloe Air Force Base in Michigan

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Wendell Logan talks about his family

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Wendell Logan describes pursuing his Ph.D. degree in music at the University of Iowa

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Wendell Logan describes transitioning from performing to composing music

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Wendell Logan describes his doctoral project at the University of Iowa

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Wendell Logan describes his mentors and the development of his musical style

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Wendell Logan reflects upon developing his style as a composer

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Wendell Logan describes establishing a jazz department at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Wendell Logan describes Oberlin Conservatory of Music's African American studies program in music

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Wendell Logan reflects upon African American music

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Wendell Logan describes his composition 'Ask Your Mama'

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Wendell Logan reflects upon the reception to his musical compositions

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Wendell Logan describes his experience on tour in Nigeria and Brazil

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Wendell Logan reflects upon his career goals and the absence of black students at Oberlin College

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Wendell Logan reflects upon the lack of musical education for African American youth

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Wendell Logan describes outreach efforts at Oberlin Conservatory of Music

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Wendell Logan describes his work with the Gullah people of Georgia and South Carolina

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Wendell Logan describes the Gullah tradition of ring shouts

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Wendell Logan describes the inspiration for his composition 'Gullah Island Suite'

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Wendell Logan describes his mentor, Professor Richard Hervig

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Wendell Logan reflects upon his achievements

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Wendell Logan reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Wendell Logan reflects upon challenges for aspiring young musicians

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Wendell Logan describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Wendell Logan names his musical compositions available on CD

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Wendell Logan provides a bibliography of materials about African American musicians

DASession

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DATape

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DAStory

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DATitle
Wendell Logan describes his introduction to music
Wendell Logan reflects upon developing his style as a composer
Transcript
Professor Logan [HistoryMaker Wendell Logan], at the end of the last segment you had just started to tell us about some of the sounds and smells and sights that reminded you of growing up in Georgia, and you talked about your introduction to the trumpet around the age eleven.$$Um-hm.$$So would you like to tell us a little bit more about this? You said your father [Simuel Logan] had instruments all over the house.$$Well yeah that's what I can remember. Earlier if I said something you asked what did my dad teach and I said that's very difficult to say what he taught. Anyway my dad started the first music program in the schools there. We had a music program before the white schools did and he started the first music program there. Don't ask me how he got all of these instruments but somehow he had some arrangements with a guy, [A.J.] Schneider Music Company in Augusta, Georgia, and my dad had all of these instruments (laughter) that I guess he had, he had put himself in hock for. But the school [McDuffie County Training School, Thomson, Georgia] had a, had a music program and that's the beginning of of my music training there. He was not a musician by, by training but certainly he was a pretty good you know musician, self-taught yeah. But that was the beginning of my music training. And this is what I meant when I said there were a lot of instruments around the house, various ones you know. You could just pick something and if you wanted to play it and it was there. So that was, that was the beginning of it. And therefore when these musicians would come like Little Richard, James Brown and all of that I would go out and you know talk with the musicians and all and try to sit and those guys let me sit in with them, the Willie Liggins band [sic. Joe Liggins and the Honeydrippers] who had the arrangement of, of 'Stardust.' I told him that I knew, I knew that tune started out as, "Doo, da, bah, bah, boo bah bah bah boo, bee, bee, bee" and so yeah I was there and they had you know they had another arrangement and all that and I said well this is for me. This is what I want to do and I was eleven years old and I decided then that's what I always wanted to do and I knew that when I was eleven years old I knew that I would be a musician yeah.$Professor Logan [HistoryMaker Wendell Logan] you mentioned just a little while ago that Richard Hervig was someone who suggested to you that you draw on your rich musical background as inspiration for your new compositions. Okay and can you tell me how you went about combining the various musical influences and what the product was in those early days.$$I don't even know how I go about combining but you know it sometimes it's sometimes its quoting; it's, it's a quotational kind of thing where you quote the rhythmic outline or the melodic outline of of a pre-existing kind of melody. It would be on a spiritual or the blues you know. Sometimes it's about that. Sometimes it's not that, but you write something and in the, in the style of you know in the style of something that is pre-existing. So you know it takes on very (unclear) it's done in various ways. And then sometimes you look at various kinds of texts and look at what those things suggest to you. A favorite quote of mine is Robert Hayden and I'm always, I read a lot of poetry but Robert Hayden, Robert Hayden's poetry says a lot to me because it's, it's so well-crafted and he says a lot of things that are not so obvious. And he was a man who would really criticize during his time for not being black enough. And if you read that poetry yeah and you'll say hey man you know this guy was talking about man he chronicles the black experience you know. But it's just not obvious and it's not angry in many, in many ways you know but it's very, very well-crafted. And another person that whose poetry turns me on is a guy by the name of M.B. Tolson [Melvin B. Tolson], T-O-L-S-O-N and I look at a lot of stuff that he was writing prior to E.E. Cummings. There were a lot of things that he was doing you know but sometimes you look at the things that people like that have written and has a lot of information there as to--they suggest a lot of things. There's a lot of musical stuff there in terms of pacing, in terms of imagery, in terms of suggestions for sounds and all that yeah so these are some of the ways that I, I've been able to you know combine some things and then there's some things that's just out and out jazz you know, just the blues you just blow them out and hey I'm not afraid to go there at all either you know and so you, you go there you know there's some of the things that they're about the dance, dance steps and all of that you know and I'm not afraid to go there in terms of in terms of doing things yeah. You know the year before during my real younger days there were some of the things you know so I know that's too obvious to go there and all of that. You know you're writing all this erudite music and nobody was listening you know except your friends you know. Oh yeah, that's real I know. And I said well you know the things that I don't have anything to prove to anybody. I know I can write music and I know I can write at a high level and the only thing that I can do is to just try to express myself the best way I know how and have some fun doing this. So, that's what I try to do you know. However it comes out you know it's, it's about me you know that's what it's about and the black experience, something from experience.