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Alfred Cain

Musical director and writer Alfred Earl Cain was born October 5, 1921, in Warrior, Alabama. Cain's mother was the former Helen Hazel Moore and his father, Louis Cain, was a graduate of Tuskegee Institute. Cain attended Trinity School in Alabama and Nathan Hale Junior High School in Brooklyn, New York; he graduated from Alexander Hamilton High School in 1939, where he was a member of the school chorus, the Frederick Douglass Society, and wrote for the Hamiltonian. Drafted in 1943, Cain was stationed at Wright Field in Dayton, Ohio. Cain earned a B.A. degree in 1949, and an M.A. degree from Columbia University in public law and government in 1951; while at Columbia, he became president of the local chapter of the NAACP and formed an NAACP chorus, which featured Doug Pugh, Deke Johnson, and future opera great, Leontyne Price. Cain served as a social investigator for the New York City Department of Welfare from 1951 to 1959, when he decided to serve as his church’s full time musical director.

Cain worked as the musical director for Vinette Carroll’s production of Dark of the Moon in 1950, and recorded with Fred Norman’s The Normanaires Quartet in 1953, featuring Brock Peters and Theresa Merritt. Cain was also musical director for Trumpets of God and James Baldwin’s Amen Corner in 1960. Some of the talent that Cain worked with included: Cicely Tyson, Roscoe Lee Brown, Clarence Williams III, James Earl Jones, Frank Silvera, Juanita Hall, and Isabel Sanford. A talented writer, Cain worked for Educational Heritage of Yonkers as editor of The Negro Heritage Reader for Young People and The Winding Road to Freedom: A Documentary History of Negro Experiences in America, both published in 1965. Cain also served as an editor of the syndicated insert Tuesday Magazine in the 1970s and as a staff writer at Prentice-Hall Publishers.

After moving to Chicago in 1981, Cain served as communications director and speechwriter for former Illinois Attorney General Roland Burris. He was an active member of Ingleside-Whitfield United Methodist Church where he served as a columnist for the United Methodist Northern Illinois Conference Reporter.

Cain passed away on December 30, 2011 at age 90.

Accession Number

A2004.263

Sex

Male

Interview Date

12/15/2004

1/4/2005

1/19/2007

Last Name

Cain

Maker Category
Middle Name

Earl

Occupation
Organizations
Schools

Alexander Hamilton High School

MS 293 Nathan Hale Junior High School

Columbia University

First Name

Alfred

Birth City, State, Country

Warrior

HM ID

CAI01

Favorite Season

Summer

State

Alabama

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Interview Description
Birth Date

10/5/1921

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Fish

Death Date

12/30/2011

Short Description

Choral director Alfred Cain (1921 - 2011 ) worked as a musical director with a range of talented actors, including Cicely Tyson, Roscoe Lee Brown, Clarence Williams III, James Earl Jones, Frank Silvera, Juanita Hall, and Isabel Sanford. In addition to his activities in the music industry, Cain worked as an editor, author and speechwriter for Roland Burris. Alfred Cain passed away on December 30, 2011.

Employment

New York City Department of Welfare

Tuesday Magazine

Educational Heritage, Inc.

Antioch Baptist Church

Prentice Hall

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Alfred Cain's interview, session 1

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Alfred Cain lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Alfred Cain talks about his mother's side of the family, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Alfred Cain talks about his mother's side of the family, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Alfred Cain describes his father's background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Alfred Cain describes his paternal grandfather

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Alfred Cain describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Alfred Cain recalls moving from Alabama to New York City with his mother

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Alfred Cain describes the sights, sounds and smells of growing up

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Alfred Cain describes his family's religious affiliations

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Alfred Cain describes his childhood activities

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Alfred Cain recalls his transition from Athens, Alabama to Brooklyn

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Alfred Cain recalls his expertise on New York City's public transit during the 1930s

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Alfred Cain recalls memorable teachers from his elementary and high school years

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Alfred Cain describes his writing experiences at Alexander Hamilton Vocational & Technical High School in Brooklyn, New York City

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Alfred Cain recalls passing the Regents Examinations in Brooklyn, New York City

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Alfred Cain describes African American figures from his youth

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Alfred Cain describes his employment after high school

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Alfred Cain remembers being drafted by the U.S. military in 1943

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Alfred Cain remembers visiting Dayton, Ohio while stationed at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base during World War II

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Alfred Cain remembers being stationed at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Alfred Cain remembers hearing Charles H. Wesley speak at a conference at Bordentown School in Bordentown, New Jersey

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Alfred Cain remembers Orson Wells' American Negro Theater production of 'Macbeth' at New York's Lafayette Theatre

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Alfred Cain describes his experiences at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Alfred Cain remembers hearing Charles H. Wesley speak

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Alfred Cain recalls reconnecting with his future wife at Columbia University

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Alfred Cain shares his impression of President Dwight David "Ike" Eisenhower

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Alfred Cain recalls establishing a NAACP choir at Columbia University

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Alfred Cain remembers his choral experiences at New York's International House and at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Alfred Cain recalls his involvement with The Normanaires and Vinnette Justine Carroll's 'Dark of the Moon' in the 1950s

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Alfred Cain describes becoming choir director for New York's Antioch Baptist Church

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Alfred Cain describes his musical direction during the 1950s and 1960s

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Alfred Cain reflects upon the response to 'Dark of the Moon'

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Alfred Cain describes Juanita Hall's reaction to 'Dark of the Moon'

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Alfred Cain describes his work at New York's Department of Welfare and on the play 'Trumpets of the Lord'

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Alfred Cain considers Theresa Merritt's acting career

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Alfred Cain remembers the cast of James Baldwin's 'The Amen Corner'

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Alfred Cain describes his experience as choral director of New York's Antioch Baptist Church

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Alfred Cain remembers joining Educational Heritage, Inc. in 1963

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Alfred Cain remembers running a program in 1963 for Educational Heritage, Inc.

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Alfred Cain describes his editorial work on The Negro Heritage Library series, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 11 - Alfred Cain describes his editorial work on The Negro Heritage Library series, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Slating of Alfred Cain's interview, session 2

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Alfred Cain remembers hearing Carter G. Woodson and Mary McCleod Bethune speak in New York City

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Alfred Cain describes the book, 'The Winding Road to Freedom: A Documentary Survey of Negro Experiences in America'

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Alfred Cain describes Noel N. Marder, president of Educational Heritage, Inc., pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Alfred Cain describes Noel N. Marder, president of Educational Heritage, Inc., pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Alfred Cain describes using Tom Feelings' comic strip in his book, 'Negro Heritage Reader for Young People'

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Alfred Cain remembers his interactions with Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. while working as an editor for the Negro Heritage Library

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Alfred Cain remembers the reception to Educational Heritage, Inc.'s The Negro Heritage Library

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Alfred Cain describes the relationship between Educational Heritage, Inc. and the ASALH

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Alfred Cain describes Tuesday magazine

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Alfred Cain explains Tuesday magazine's name

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Alfred Cain recalls founding Living Together, a Chicago Sun-Times supplement

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Alfred Cain describes his editorial work at Prentice Hall

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Alfred Cain remembers works published by Prentice Hall during his tenure as senior editor

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Alfred Cain reflects on the book 'Divided We Stand'

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Alfred Cain describes his work for Kraft Foods' publication, 'The Heritage of Cooking'

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Alfred Cain describes his decision to relocate to Chicago, Illinois in the early 1970s

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Alfred Cain remembers joining HistoryMaker Roland Burris' campaign staff

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Alfred Cain describes his experience writing for Tuesday At Home

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Alfred Cain shares his impression of HistoryMaker Roland Burris

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Alfred Cain describes HistoryMaker Roland Burris' run for U.S. Senate in 1984

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Alfred Cain remembers his work for HistoryMaker Roland Burris

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Alfred Cain remembers HistoryMaker Roland Burris' reputation in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Alfred Cain reflects upon HistoryMaker Roland Burris' political career

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Alfred Cain describes his volunteer work with Ingleside-Whitfield United Methodist Church and Black Methodists for Church Renewal

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Alfred Cain describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Alfred Cain reflects upon his life

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Alfred Cain reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 7 Story: 9 - Alfred Cain remembers participating in Chicago Society of Writers and Editors in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 7 Story: 10 - Alfred Cain describes memorable personalities from Chicago Society of Writers and Editors in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 7 Story: 11 - Alfred Cain recalls teaching HistoryMaker Carole Simpson's writing class at Northwestern University

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Alfred Cain remembers the meetings of Chicago Society of Writers and Editors in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Alfred Cain talks about his family's response to his success

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Alfred Cain describes how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Alfred Cain narrates his photographs, pt. 1

Tape: 9 Story: 1 - Alfred Cain narrates his photographs, pt. 2

Tape: 9 Story: 2 - Alfred Cain narrates his photographs, pt. 3

DASession

1$2

DATape

3$6

DAStory

8$9

DATitle
Alfred Cain remembers his choral experiences at New York's International House and at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base
Alfred Cain describes his experience writing for Tuesday At Home
Transcript
Living near the campus [Columbia University, New York, New York] at that point at International House [(I-House), New York, New York], Leontyne Price was there at that point. And a man from Dayton [Ohio], Johnson, Deke Johnson, was living there. And I recall going over to I-House when, when a group gathered around Leontyne, and somebody suggested at that point that we, we sing a couple of hot courses of 'Lift Ev'ry Voice [and Sing']. But she was on her way to becoming the, the grand diva that she became. But just on that musical thing, it was something I had, I loved music most of my life. And one, wasn't terribly trained; as a matter of fact, I could almost be called untrained, but it was something I enjoyed doing. We had a chorus on, on the [Wright-Patterson Air Force] Base [Ohio] at, at [Wilbur] Wright Field [Ohio], and we even did a few of the broadcasts from, from the field. And that led to one of the interesting little episodes out there. We did the first broadcast from there, and they were so pleased with the sound they asked us to perform more than we had, had planned to do and invited us to come back. And when we came back, we thought we had a jam-up program for them, but they didn't particularly like the idea that we were not doing a spiritual. And so it was one of those times when we stalked out; we weren't going to let them force us to do spirituals, you know.$$What kind of music did you do? I mean what, what, what were some of the songs sang?$$Oh, we did, it was rather a full gamut of things. We did some, a good number of the classical things, ranging from [Henry] Purcell thing up to some of the pop songs that were being done at that point. So it was just a matter that, you know, we did--and we did spirituals and hymns. We just weren't going to let them, you know, force us to, to do, do something. I realize now that that was on radio. What better way to let it be known that this is an all-black chorus than to have us sing spirituals (laughter). And if I'd been program director, probably would have asked for it, too. But I would have explained to the guys what was happening.$I enjoyed the fact about that cooking series ['The Heritage of Cooking'] with Kraft [Foods]. And that came, again, from I, I had an experience with Tuesday At Home. And we were having a problem with us, some people who were supposed to be supplying the material for the food section. And since food and cooking is sort of a hobby with me, I, on a couple of occasions, filled in, and ultimately it was just decided, "Well, you go ahead and do it." And so I wrote that column or that feature under my mother's first name and her maiden name, so Hazel Moore (laughter) was my, what do you call 'em, nom de plume (laughter). And I said I enjoyed that, and I did, because in one of the things I had created a sort of fictional family. Mind you, I'm writing this as a woman (laughter). And so, in that situation you had a husband and children. The husband was an old hotshot. And (laughter), and the, one of the letters that had us all cracking up was this woman who wrote and said (laughter): "Dear Hazel Moore, your husband, old hotshot, sure reminds me of mine," (laughter). So it was a validation of, of what we were trying to do. But that was enjoyable. I think I was able to do a couple of things there that were important. I recall that at one point in food publishing everything looked so artificial, and I had made a, a decision at Tuesday [Magazine] that what we showed as food was going to be food that had been prepared. And as a result, every now and then you'd see a, a piece of chicken with a little bit of a burn on it. But that's what would have happened at, in anybody's kitchen, and that's the truth of the matter rather than just putting a, you know, a raw chicken on, on the platter and, and painting it with a gravy master.$$Okay, so you were going for truth I guess, huh?$$Yeah, truth in, truth in eating (laughter).