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Verdine White

Musician, songwriter, composer, and producer Verdine White was born on July 25, 1951 in Chicago, Illinois to Edna and Dr. Verdine Adams. He attended and graduated from Crane High School in 1969.

White began his career performing as a bassist with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and later played electric bass at local jazz clubs. In 1970, he joined the band Earth, Wind & Fire, which was founded by his brother, Maurice White, in 1969. In 1971, the band released their self-titled debut album, the soundtrack for the film Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song, and the album The Need of Love. Their album, Open Our Eyes rose to the number one spot on the Billboard Top Soul Albums in 1974. A member of the band for more than four decades, White was bass guitarist, percussionist, songwriter, composer, vocalist and producer, contributing to all twenty-one albums released by the group. Earth, Wind & Fire toured internationally, with White helping to produce many of their performances. He also collaborated with musicians such as Ramsey Lewis, The Emotions, Jennifer Lopez, and Solange. In 2012, White co-authored the book, Playing the Bass Guitar Edition: A Beginner's Guide to the Electric Bass; and, in 1994, he was featured in the video, Rhythm of the Earth-Advanced Bass Techniques. He also co-founded the Verdine White Performing Arts Center, a non-profit organization providing music lessons, scholarships, and grants to underserved youth.

Earth, Wind & Fire was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2000, and the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 2003. They also received eight Grammy's, four American Music Awards, The NAACP Image Award, and NAACP and BET Lifetime Achievement Awards. The band received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1995 and has recorded more than fifty gold and platinum albums.

White won six Grammy Awards and received seventeen Grammy Award nominations. He also ranked number twenty-seven on Bass Player's list of The 100 Greatest Bass Players of All Time. White was inducted into the Boys and Girls Club's Alumni Hall of Fame in 2007 and the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2010.

White and his wife, Shelly Clark, reside in Los Angeles.

Verdine White was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on October 13, 2019.

Accession Number

A2019.108

Sex

Male

Interview Date

10/13/2019

Last Name

White

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Occupation
Schools

Richard T. Crane Medical Preparatory High School

First Name

Verdine

Birth City, State, Country

Chicago

HM ID

WHI28

Favorite Season

None

State

Illinois

Favorite Vacation Destination

None

Favorite Quote

You Know What I Mean

Speakers Bureau Region State

California

Birth Date

7/25/1951

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Los Angeles

Favorite Food

None

Short Description

Musician Verdine White (1951- ) was a founding member of the band Earth, Wind & Fire as bass guitarist, percussionist, songwriter, composer, vocalist and producer, contributing to all twenty-one albums released by Earth, Wind & Fire.

Employment

Earth, Wind & Fire

Favorite Color

None

Charles Connor

Musician Charles Connor was born on January 14, 1935 in New Orleans, Louisiana to Viola and William Connor. He began playing drums at age five. His first professional work as a drummer came in 1950 when he was hired by Roy Byrd (“Professor Longhair”) to play with him at a New Orleans Mardi Gras program.

He went on to perform with Smiley Lewis, Guitar Slim, Jack Dupree, and Shirley and Lee. At age eighteen, Connor became the drummer of Little Richard's road band, The Upsetters. Connor was a drummer for Little Richard throughout the 1950s, on records such as "The Girl Can't Help It", "Keep A-Knockin'", "Ooh! My Soul", and popular feature films as Don't Knock the Rock and Mr. Rock 'n' Roll. He was credited for creating the unique "Choo Choo Train" style of successive eighth notes with a loud back beat used by nearly all subsequent Rock 'n' Roll drummers. When Connor was not working with Little Richard, he worked with James Brown and The Famous Flames. In 1957, he toured with performer Sam Cooke. He also performed with other artists like Jackie Wilson, the original Coasters, and “Big” Joe Turner. He recorded with “Champion” Jack Dupree, Larry Williams, Don Covay, “Papa” George Lightfoot, Christine Kittrell, Larry Birdsong, and Dee Clark.

In 1994, Connor received a Certificate of Special Recognition from Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA). In 2010, Connor was inducted into the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame. Connor released his second album in 2013, “Still Knockin'”, which debuted an original song written and sung by him, "Beginning of Rock n' Roll," including new recordings featuring the voice of Kate Flannery. Connor was featured in the 2015 documentary miniseries for BBC Music TV’s Rock N Roll America “Episode 1: Sweet Little Sixteen," exploring the genesis, explosion and legacy of rock 'n' roll in America. He published his autobiography, Keep A Knockin the Story of a Legendary Drummer," in August 2015 with Waldorf Publishing. Connor is also featured in BBC Four's 2017 documentary Sharon Osbourne Presents Rock 'n' Roll's Dodgiest Deals. Connor’s drumsticks are on display at the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame Museum in Cleveland, Ohio.

Charles Connor was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on October 13, 2019.

Accession Number

A2019.107

Sex

Male

Interview Date

10/13/2019

Last Name

Connor

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Occupation
Organizations
First Name

Charles

Birth City, State, Country

New Orleans

HM ID

CON09

Favorite Season

June

State

Louisiana

Favorite Vacation Destination

Hawaii, Philippines, and New Orleans

Favorite Quote

Don't Give Up Your Dream, You Can Be A Winner Too

Speakers Bureau Region State

California

Birth Date

1/14/1935

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Los Angeles

Favorite Food

Gumbo

Short Description

Musician Charles Connor (1935- ) was the original drummer for Little Richard's road band, The Upsetters. He performed with Sam Cooke, James Brown, Jackie Wilson, The Coasters, Big Joe Turner, Larry Williams, Don Covay, George Lightfoot, and Dee Clark.

Employment

The Upsetter

The Famous Flames

Favorite Color

Blue

Tage Larsen

Musician Tage Larsen was born on November 7, 1970 in Hartford, Connecticut and adopted by Rikk and Pamela Larsen. He graduated from The Peabody School in 1984 and from Cambridge Rindge School in 1988. Larsen went on to receive his B.M. degree in music performance from Michigan State University School of Music in 1992, and his M.M. degree in performance from the University of Rochester, The Eastman School of Music in 1994. While at The Eastman School, Larsen toured the country with the Dallas Brass quintet for nearly a year, making appearances, performing, and providing youth clinics to support young musicians.

Following completion of his masters program, from 1995 to 1999, Larsen served as solo cornet with the “President’s Own” U.S. Marine Band, in Washington, D.C. He then went on to join the Annapolis Symphony Orchestra, in Annapolis, Maryland, where he served as the principal trumpet from 1999 to 2000. Then, he joined the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra, where he served as second trumpet from 2000 to 2002. In July 2002, Larsen was the first African American hired in the history of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra where he has served as fourth/utility trumpet of the orchestra’s brass section. In 2008, Larsen was featured in the Dream Out Loud music education advocacy campaign, a collaboration between the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association and Yahama Corporation of America. He also served in the role of Yamaha Trumpet Artist, educator, and roster member. Larsen has performed with the CSO Trumpets, as the featured faculty soloist for the DePaul Festival Winds, and as a guest trumpet soloist with the Evanston Symphony Orchestra in Evanston, Illinois, under the direction of Lawrence Eckerling.

In 2004, Larsen received the first Michigan State University College of Music Distinguished Alumni Award. He joined the faculty at DePaul University School of Music, in Chicago, Illinois in 2007, as an instructor in applied and performance trumpet.

Larsen conducts master classes, has performed at conferences hosted by the International Trumpet Guild (ITG), and also served on the faculty at Roosevelt University’s Chicago College of Performing Arts.

Tage Larsen was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on July 12, 2019.

Accession Number

A2019.053

Sex

Male

Interview Date

7/12/2019

Last Name

Larsen

Maker Category
Marital Status

Single

Occupation
Schools

Andrew Peabody School

Cambridge Rindge and Latin School

Michigan State University

Eastman School of Music, University of Rochester

First Name

Tage

Birth City, State, Country

Hartford

HM ID

LAR03

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Connecticut

Favorite Vacation Destination

Hawaii

Favorite Quote

You Break It, You Buy It

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

11/7/1970

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Favorite Food

Thai

Short Description

Musician Tage Larsen (1970- ) was second trumpet for the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra before being hired as the first African American in the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in 2002.

Employment

U.S. Marine Band

St. Louis Symphony Orchestra

Chicago Symphony Orchestra

Annapolis Symphony Orchestra

Favorite Color

Blue

Benny Turner

Musician Benny Turner was born on October 27, 1939 in Gilmer, Texas to Ella Mae King and Ben Turner. He attended Lake Providence School, Bruce Junior High School, and Richard T. Crane Medical Preparatory High School.

Turner joined The Kindly Shepherds gospel music group and also played in his brother’s band, The Freddie King Band. During this period, he met Dee Clark and was invited to tour with his rhythm and blues band. Turner then became the bass player for the American gospel music group, The Soul Stirrers. He later rejoined The Freddie King Band and toured regularly with the group, performing with musicians like Eric Clapton, John Fogerty and Grand Funk Railroad. At The Montreux Jazz Festival in 1973, Turner played bass on the live recording of Memphis Slim’s Very Much Alive and in Montreux. After his brother’s death in 1976, Turner joined the band, Mighty Joe Young; and, in 1981, Turner appeared in the film Thief, while performing at the Wise Fools Pub in Chicago. In 1986, Turner moved to New Orleans, Louisiana and became the bandleader for Marva Wright. He also sang vocals and played bass on several of Otis Clay’s albums including, The Blues Is… in 1991, The Gospel Truth in 1993, and When the Gate Swings Open in 1994. Marva Wright later released, Born with the Blues in 1996, featuring Turner on bass. The following year, Mighty Joe Young released Mighty Man, featuring Turner on guitar. In 1999, Turner played bass on Marva Wight’s album, Bluesiana Mama, followed by Do Right Woman: The Soul of New Orleans in 2006, and After the Levees Broke in 2007, where Turner served as the producer, arranger, guitar player and background vocals on the album. Throughout his career, Turner was also featured on a number of his brother’s albums including, Gives You A Bonanza of Instrumentals, Larger Than Life, Freddie King (1934-1976), Takin’ Care of Business, Live in Antibes, 1974, Let the Good Times Roll.

In 2011, Turner released his solo album, A Tribute to My Brother Freddie King. In 2014, Turner released an original solo album entitled, Journey. Two years later, he released, When She’s Gone dedicated to his mother. In 2017, Turner published his autobiography, Survivor: The Benny Turner Story. That same year, he released the album, My Brother’s Blues. In 2019, he released, Going Back Home.

Turner has also received a number of awards, including the 2017 Best Blues Song Award at the fifteenth annual Independent Music Awards and the Little Milton Lifetime Bluesman award from Jus’ Blues Awards. Turner was inducted into the Chicago Blues Hall of Fame in 2017 and October 27th was proclaimed Benny Turner Day in Turner’s hometown of Gilmer, Texas. In 2018, he was voted Most Outstanding Musician (Bass) by Living Blues magazine, and received the Silver Medal at the Global Music Awards and the Bronze Medal by the Reader’s Favorite Book Awards.

Benny Turner was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on April 27, 2019.

Accession Number

A2019.035

Sex

Male

Interview Date

4/27/2019

Last Name

Turner

Maker Category
Marital Status

Single

Occupation
Organizations
Schools

Richard T. Crane Medical Preparatory High School

Lake Providence School

Bruce Junior High School

First Name

Benny

Birth City, State, Country

Gilmer

HM ID

TUR08

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Texas

Favorite Vacation Destination

Chicago

Favorite Quote

Right On Top

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Louisiana

Birth Date

10/27/1939

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New Orleans

Favorite Food

Cornbread

Short Description

Musician Benny Turner (1939- ) played bass with The Soul Stirrers, The Freddie King Band, and Mighty Joe Young. He performed with Eric Clapton, John Fogerty and Grand Funk Railroad and was featured on albums of Otis Clay’s and Marva Wright’s.

Employment

Marva Wright

Mighty Joe Young

Kindly Shepards

Freddie King

Soul Stirrers

Favorite Color

Red

Carol Maillard

Musician Carol Maillard was born on March 4, 1951 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to Elizabeth and Thomas Maillard. After graduating from John W. Hallahan Catholic Girls’ High School in 1969, she received her B.A. degree in theatre from Catholic University of America in Washington D.C. in 1973.

In 1973, Maillard was hired at the newly formed D.C. Black Repertory Theatre Company as an assistant to vocal director Bernice Johnson Reagon. During a singing ensemble rehearsal featuring Reagon, Maillard, Louise Robinson, and Mie Fredericks, the group Sweet Honey in the Rock was created. On November 17, 1973, Sweet Honey in the Rock performed for the first time at Howard University’s W.C. Handy Blues Festival. In 1982, Maillard starred in her first television appearance in For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow Is Enuf. In 1988, Sweet Honey in the Rock received their first of three Grammy nominations, and the following year, they won their first for their contribution to A Vision Shared: A Tribute to Woody Guthrie and Leadbelly. Maillard was featured in the television show Hallelujah in 1993. In 2000, she worked with James Horner to produce the soundtrack for TNT’s film, Freedom Song. Maillard also served as creative director for the documentary Sweet Honey in the Rock: Raise Your Voice in 2005. The Alvin Ailey American Dance Company commissioned Sweet Honey in the Rock to compose a score for its 50th anniversary celebrations in 2008. The group performed at the White House in 2009 for First Lady Michelle and President Barack Obama. In 2013, Sweet Honey in the Rock performed at the National Memorial Service for Nelson Mandela at the National Cathedral in Washington, DC. In 2015, they toured and performed at four U.S. Embassy’s located in Ethiopia, Peru, Jamaica and Swaziland. The group has produced over fifteen albums.

Maillard has also performed in numerous plays, including productions of The Great MacDaddy, A Photograph: Lovers in Motion, Home, Zooman and the Sign, Under Fire, Colored People’s Time, The Caucasian Chalk Circle, and Spunk.

Maillard resides in New York City and has one adult child, Jordan Maillard Ware, who is also a musician.

Carol Maillard was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on June 21, 2019.

Accession Number

A2019.044

Sex

Female

Interview Date

6/21/2019

Last Name

Maillard

Maker Category
Marital Status

Divorced

Occupation
Schools

Gesu School

John W. Hallahan Catholic Girls' High School

Catholic University of America

First Name

Carol

Birth City, State, Country

Philadelphia

HM ID

MAI01

Favorite Season

Summer

State

Pennsylvania

Favorite Vacation Destination

Bali

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

3/4/1951

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Favorite Food

Ice Cream

Short Description

Musician Carol Maillard (1951- ) is a co-founding member of the singing group, Sweet Honey in the Rock, and has performed in numerous plays and several television shows.

Employment

Duke Ellington School for Performing Arts

Two Rivers Theater

D.C. Black Repertory Theatre Company

Sweet Honey in the Rock

Favorite Color

White, Black, Red

Willie L. Hill, Jr.

Professor and musician Willie L. Hill, Jr. was born on July 29, 1946 in Mobile, Alabama to Rennetta and Willie Hill, Sr. After graduating from Williamson High School in Mobile, Alabama, Hill received his B.S. degree in music education from Grambling State College in Grambling, Louisiana in 1968. He went on to receive both his M.M. Ph.D. degrees in music education from the University of Colorado, Boulder in 1972 and 1987.

In 1968, Hill began teaching instrumental music in the Denver Public Schools, where he remained for sixteen years and was an instrumental music supervisor for four years. In 1984, Hill was a member of The Colorado Clarinet Choir touring organization, which represented the United States in London, England at the International Clarinet Symposium. He then joined the faculty at the University of Colorado, Boulder College of Music, where he served as assistant dean and professor of music from 1988 to 1999. During that period, he also served as the director of education for the Thelonious Monk Institute in Los Angeles, California. In 1999, Hill was named professor of music education and director of the Fine Arts Center at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. As a woodwind specialist, he was also a faculty member of the Clark Terry Great Plains Jazz Camp. He founded and served as co-director of the Rich Matteson-Telluride Jazz Academy, and later founded the Mile High Jazz Camp in Boulder, Colorado. He also worked as musical director at The Schwayder and Bonfils Theaters. Hill was a member of the Denver Broncos Jazz Ensemble and a regular performer at the Denver Auditorium Theater, Paramount Theater, and Boettcher Concert Hall. Hill performed with George Burns, Liza Minnelli, Lena Horne, Lou Rawls, Ben Vereen, Lola Falana, Johnny Mathis, Sammy Davis, Jr., Dizzy Gillespie, James Moody, Jon Faddis, and many others.

Hill served as president of The National Association for Music Education (MENC) and the International Association for Jazz Education (IAJE). He was also a member of the writing team for MENC's Vision 2020 program and a member of the national board of directors for Young Audiences, Inc. Hill later served as president of the Colorado Music Educators Association and Pi Kappa Lambda National Music Honor Society.

In 1998, he was inducted into the Colorado Music Educators Hall of Fame. In 2001, Hill was the recipient of the Lawrence Berk Leadership Award presented by the IAJE. Hill co-authored Learning to Sight-Read Jazz, Rock, Latin, and Classical Styles, and was the author of The Instrumental History of Jazz, Approaching the Standards, and Jazz Pedagogy: The Jazz Educator's Handbook and Resource Guide. Hill is listed in the first edition of Who's Who among Black Americans, Who's Who among International Musicians and was a 2003 Lowell Mason Fellow.

Willie L. Hill, Jr. was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on December 5, 2018.

Accession Number

A2018.221

Sex

Male

Interview Date

12/5/2018

Last Name

Hill

Maker Category
Occupation
Organizations
First Name

Willie

Birth City, State, Country

Mobile

HM ID

HIL19

Favorite Season

October

State

Alabama

Favorite Vacation Destination

Carribean

Favorite Quote

Never Put Off for Tomorrow What You Can Do Today

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Massachusetts

Birth Date

7/29/1946

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Northampton

Favorite Food

Fried Fish

Short Description

Professor and musician Willie L. Hill, Jr. (1946- ) served as assistant dean and professor of music at the University of Colorado, Boulder and was named professor in music education and director of the Fine Arts Center at University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Favorite Color

Purple

Kevin Eubanks

Jazz musician Kevin Eubanks was born on November 15, 1957 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to Vera Bryant Eubanks, a gospel and classical pianist and music teacher, and William Eubanks, a police officer and security manager for AT&T. As a young child, Eubanks was trained in piano and violin at the Settlement Music School in Philadelphia. He also studied jazz guitar with Ted Dunbar at Rutgers University. After graduating from Germantown High School in 1976, Eubanks earned his B.A. degree in composition from the Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts in 1979.

Upon moving to New York City to pursue a career in music, Eubanks joined Art Blakey’s band, the Jazz Messengers, and started his own group, the Kevin Eubanks Quartet. In 1983, Eubanks released his first record, Guitarist, with Elektra Records, and the following year, he released his second album, Sundance, with GRP Records. Eubanks went on to release several albums with the label, including Opening Night in 1985, Face to Face in 1986, The Heat of Heat in 1987, Show Prophets in 1988, The Searcher in 1989, and Promise of Tomorrow in 1990. In 1992, Eubanks moved to Los Angeles to play as the guitarist on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. He released several additional albums with Blue Note Records, including Spirit Talk in 1993 and Live at Bradley in 1994. From 1995 to 2010, Eubanks was the band director of The Tonight Show’s band. He also signed with Insoul Records and released the albums Shine in 2002 and Slow Freight in 2003. After leaving The Tonight Show in 2010, Eubanks became the artistic director for the Thelonious Monk Institute's Jazz in the Classroom Program. With Mack Avenue Records, he recorded and released the albums Zen Food in 2010, The Messenger in 2012, and East West Time Line in 2017. Eubanks has recorded with jazz singers like Dianne Reeves, Terri Lyne Carrington, and Carmen Lundy.

Eubanks was an active member of the Artistic Advisory Panel of the BMI Foundation since 1999. He received an honorary doctorate degree from Berklee College of Music in 2006. In 2010, Eubanks was inducted into the Philadelphia Music Alliance’s Walk of Fame; and in 2014, he was awarded the Mark Twain Prize from PBS for his work on The Tonight Show.

Kevin Eubanks was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on March 19, 2018.

Accession Number

A2018.050

Sex

Male

Interview Date

3/19/2018

Last Name

Eubanks

Maker Category
Occupation
Organizations
First Name

Kevin

Birth City, State, Country

Philadelphia

HM ID

EUB01

Favorite Season

Summer

State

Pennsylvania

Favorite Vacation Destination

Anywhere Tropical

Favorite Quote

You're Beautiful All You Have To Do Is Stop Trying To Be.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

California

Birth Date

11/15/1957

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Los Angeles

Favorite Food

Any plant-based food

Short Description

Jazz musician Kevin Eubanks (1957-) was the band leader of The Tonight Show house band, and released over twenty albums.

Favorite Color

Blue and Sunset

Paul Riser, Sr.

Musician and music arranger Paul Riser, Sr. was born on September 11, 1943 in Detroit, Michigan. Riser attended Keating Elementary School in Detroit, where he began to develop an interest in music. Riser later enrolled at Cass Technical High School in Detroit, where he studied classical and jazz trombone, as well as musical theory. At Cass Technical High School, he was mentored and encouraged by people such as Dr. Harold Arnoldi and Dr. Harry Begian. He graduated from Cass Technical High School in 1961.

After graduation, Riser began working as a session musician playing trombonist with The Funk Brothers at Motown Records. By 1963, Berry Gordy, the founder of Motown Records, chose Riser to work as a music arranger at Motown Records. He worked on a number of Motown hits during his tenure, including “ I Heard It Through the Grapevine” by Marvin Gaye, ”My Girl” by The Temptations, “My Cherie Amour” by Stevie Wonder, “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” by Diana Ross, "If I Were Your Woman" by Gladys Knight & The Pips, "Reach Out and Touch (Somebody's Hand)” written by Ashford and Simpson as performed by Diana Ross, and “The Tears of a Clown” by Smokey Robinson & The Miracles. Following his departure from Motown Records in 1973, Paul Riser continued to arrange songs for popular artists. He has worked with artists such as Quincy Jones, The Carpenters, Carly Simon, Aretha Franklin, Patti LaBelle, and Phil Collins. In 2003, Riser arranged music for R. Kelly’s fifth studio album, Chocolate Factory. The album debuted at number one on the U.S. Billboard 200 chart and sold over three million copies worldwide.

In 1972, Riser won a Grammy Award for “Best R&B Instrumental Performance” for the song “Papa Was A Rollin’ Stone” by The Temptations. He was nominated for another Grammy Award in 1982, for “Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocals” for the song “Do I Do”, which was performed by Stevie Wonder. In 2009, Riser was inducted into the Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum.

Riser and his wife have a son, Paul Riser, Jr.

Paul Riser, Sr. was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on October 16, 2017.

Accession Number

A2017.187

Sex

Male

Interview Date

10/18/2017

Last Name

Riser

Maker Category
Organizations
First Name

Paul

Birth City, State, Country

Detroit

HM ID

RIS01

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Michigan

Favorite Vacation Destination

Bahamas

Favorite Quote

Nice Job, But Let’s Do It Again

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Michigan

Birth Date

9/11/1943

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Detroit

Country

United States of America

Favorite Food

Banana Pudding

Short Description

Musician and music arranger Paul Riser, Sr. (1943 - ) worked as a session musician and music arranger for Motown Records from 1961 until 1973. He arranged music for many artists since his departure from Motown and has won two Grammy Awards.

Favorite Color

Aqua

Jimmy Heath

Musician and jazz composer Jimmy Heath was born on October 25, 1926 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to Arlethia and Percy Heath Sr. He attended Walter George Smith School in South Philadelphia and graduated from Williston Industrial School in Wilmington North Carolina in 1943.

As a teenager, Heath took music lessons and played the alto saxophone in the high school marching band. He also played in a jazz band called the Melody Barons and toured with the Calvin Todd Band in 1945, before joining a dance band in Omaha, Nebraska led by Nat Towles. Heath later formed his own big band, including John Coltrane, Specs Wright and Nelson Boyd. He also recorded with trumpeter Howard McGhee, who called him “Little Bird” because of his affinity to Charlie Parker. In 1948, McGhee took Heath and his older brother Percy to Paris, France for the First International Jazz Festival headlined by Coleman Hawkins and including Erroll Garner.

In 1949, he recorded his first big band arrangement on Gil Fuller Orchestra’s Bebop Boys. Dizzy Gillespie then hired Heath to play in his band with Coltrane and Specs Wright. In 1952, Heath switched to Tenor sax and played with the Symphony Sid All Stars, featuring Miles Davis, J.J. Johnson, Milt Jackson, Kenny Clarke and his brother Percy. In 1953, Heath recorded his composition C.T.A with Miles Davis and another with J.J. Johnson which included Clifford Brown.

In 1959, Heath rejoined Miles Davis and made his debut album for Riverside Records called The Thumper followed by Really Big in 1960, The Quota in 1962, and Triple Threat in 1963. Heath recorded eight more albums as a leader. In 1975, he formed the Heath Brothers, with his two brothers, Percy and Albert “Tootie” Heath and Stanley Cowell, and recorded albums Live At The Public Theater on CBS for which they received a Grammy nomination, As We Were Saying and Endurance released in 2010.

In 1987, Heath became a professor of music at the Aaron Copland School Of Music at Queens College. There, he premiered his first symphonic work, Three Ears with Maurice Peress. In 2010, Heath’s autobiography was published by Temple University Press, I Walked With Giants, and it was voted “Best Book of The Year” by the Jazz Journalist Association. Heath recorded three big band records, Little Man Big Band produced by Bill Cosby, Turn Up The Heath and Togetherness live at the Blue Note. Vocalist Roberta Gambarini recorded twelve Heath songs for the album, Connecting Spirits.

Heath received a Life Achievement Award from the Jazz Foundation of America and the 2003 American Jazz Master Award from the National Endowment for the Arts. He was nominated for three Grammy Awards and has received three honorary doctorate degrees. He was also the first jazz musician to receive an honorary doctorate in music from the Juilliard School in New York.

Heath has one son, James Mtume, from a previous relationship and two children with his wife, Mona Heath; their daughter, Roslyn Heath and their son, Jeffrey Heath.

Jimmy Heath was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on November 9, 2016 and January 17, 2017.

Accession Number

A2017.002

Sex

Male

Interview Date

01/17/2017

Last Name

Heath

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Edward

Occupation
Organizations
Schools

Walter George Smith School

Williston Middle School of Math, Science & Technology

First Name

Jimmy

Birth City, State, Country

Philadelphia

HM ID

HEA01

Favorite Season

Birthday

State

Pennsylvania

Favorite Vacation Destination

Bahamas

Favorite Quote

Life Is Music And Music Is Life.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

10/25/1926

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Favorite Food

Salmon

Short Description

Musician and jazz composer Jimmy Heath (1926 - ) was known for his jazz and bebop contributions, notably his pieces “C.T.A.” and “Gingerbread Boy,” and as a member of the Heath Brothers. He was the first jazz musician to receive an honorary doctorate in music from the Juilliard School in New York.

Favorite Color

Blue

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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Jimmy Heath's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Jimmy Heath lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Jimmy Heath describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Jimmy Heath describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Jimmy Heath talks about his paternal uncle Willie Johnson

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Jimmy Heath remembers his father, Percy Heath, Sr.

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Jimmy Heath talks about his step grandfather's business in Wilmington, North Carolina

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Jimmy Heath recalls his family's church involvement

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Jimmy Heath talks about his sister, Elizabeth Heath Reid

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Jimmy Heath describes his brother, Percy Heath, Jr.

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Jimmy Heath recalls the musical career of his brother Albert "Tootie" Heath

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Jimmy Heath talks about other popular musical families

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Jimmy Heath describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Jimmy Heath talks about his brother Percy Heath, Jr.'s musical education

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Jimmy Heath describes his family's involvement in music

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Jimmy Heath remembers living between Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Wilmington, North Carolina

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Jimmy Heath recalls his decision to play the saxophone

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Jimmy Heath remembers his early musical experiences

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Jimmy Heath recalls attending Williston High School in Wilmington, North Carolina

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Jimmy Heath describes the differences between swing and bebop music, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Jimmy Heath describes the differences between swing and bebop music, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Jimmy Heath remembers hearing Charlie Parker's and Dizzy Gillespie's music for the first time

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Jimmy Heath talks about playing with John Coltrane and Charlie Parker

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Jimmy Heath recalls organizing a benefit concert for Mary Etta Jordan

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Jimmy Heath talks about his son James Mtume

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Jimmy Heath remembers playing in Dizzy Gillespie's band

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Jimmy Heath recalls the jazz community in his early career

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Jimmy Heath describes Dizzy Gillespie's personality

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Jimmy Heath remembers saxophonist John Coltrane

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Jimmy Heath talks about John Coltrane's music and the spirituality of jazz

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Jimmy Heath remembers composer Sun Ra

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Jimmy Heath talks about drummer Specs Wright

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Jimmy Heath talks about the reaction to bebop music in the South

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Jimmy Heath reflects upon the lack of institutional support for jazz in the United States, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Jimmy Heath reflects upon the lack of institutional support for jazz in the United States, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Jimmy Heath recalls the start of his heroin addiction

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Jimmy Heath remembers being convicted of selling heroin

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Jimmy Heath talks about the impacts of heroin on the jazz community, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Jimmy Heath talks about the impacts of heroin on the jazz community, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Jimmy Heath talks about recovering from heroin addiction while incarcerated

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Jimmy Heath remembers recording with Columbia Records

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Jimmy Heath talks about his marriage to Mona Brown Heath

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Jimmy Heath recalls recording with Riverside Records

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Jimmy Heath remembers Miles Davis

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Jimmy Heath talks about playing modal jazz with Miles Davis

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Jimmy Heath describes his album 'Really Big!'

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Jimmy Heath talks about the range of wind instruments used in jazz

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Jimmy Heath talks about moving to New York City in 1964

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$3

DAStory

4$8

DATitle
Jimmy Heath talks about playing with John Coltrane and Charlie Parker
Jimmy Heath recalls the jazz community in his early career
Transcript
Now did you form a big band yourself at some point (simultaneous)?$$(Simultaneous) Yes.$$Okay.$$When I came home, back home from Nat Towles, I had copied a couple of arrangements from their book; and I had, I wanted to start a big band of my own in Philadelphia [Pennsylvania] and I did that around 1947.$$Okay.$$And I was fortunate enough, Coltrane [John Coltrane] had just come out of the [U.S.] Navy with a friend, another friend of mine, they were in the Navy together, named Bill Massey, a trumpeter. And Bill introduced me to Coltrane and I asked John, I said, "Man, I got a big band, man, would you play, would you consider playing?" He said, "Yeah." So he played in my big band and that's what this picture is about from 1947 with me conducting the band and Trane is between me and Charlie Parker. Charlie Parker is sitting in with my band. And he had used my horn the whole week, Charlie Parker used my horn in the Downbeat club with Miles Davis, Max Roach, and his band, the quintet. And I asked him would he play this concert with my big band and Bird said yes, he would do it. And he did it. And between myself and Coltrane is, I mean, between Bird and myself is Coltrane with a cigarette looking at Charlie Parker like this (gesture). And I was very honored to have Bird playing my horn for a week, his was in the pawnshop. And to, to, I used to give it when I was teaching at Queens College [Queens, New York], I would give a copy of it, this same photo that shows that Trane is in complete awe of Charlie Parker--$$Now, this is (simultaneous)--$$--(simultaneous) as we all were. 'Cause a lot of young kids they come up in the college and say, "Oh, Coltrane, Coltrane, Coltrane." I say well, why is he looking at Bird like that (gesture)? 'Cause he's, (laughter) 'cause Charlie Parker was doing some of that stuff he learned to do before he did it.$$Yeah, so this is, I mean, anyway, just thinking about this is (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) And that's why I wrote the book, 'I Walked With Giants' ['I Walked With Giants: The Autobiography of Jimmy Heath,' Jimmy Heath and Joseph McLaren].$$Yeah.$$'Cause I'm around Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie, man.$$Well--$$I met Duke [Duke Ellington] once, but Pops [Pops Foster], Louis Armstrong, and all these people, I walked with giants.$$So you're twenty years old but, you know, Coltrane is just kind of starting out.$$No, he was twenty, we're the same--$$Okay. Yeah.$$He's a month older than me. September the 23rd, I'm October the 25th of '26 [1926].$$Yeah, but, okay. You're twenty years old and you got a group that includes John Coltrane who you're the same age but you got like, you--$$Benny Golson.$$--Charlie Parker is sitting in your, in your group--$$Sitting in with my band.$$And he's playing gigs with Miles Davis and--?$$His band.$$His--$$He's playing at the Downbeat club in Philadelphia.$One thing I didn't ask you about, and there's reference in the research here, that a lot of the musicians, when they would come to town [Philadelphia, Pennsylvania] they, you would bring them to your house?$$Yes.$$Okay.$$Yeah. My mother [Arlethia Wall Heath] would, well, well, my mother and father [Percy Heath, Sr.] were so in love with music, they would allow us to bring any, you know, we'd bring a whole band down there and mom would fix some food. So we brought Dizzy's band, that's when he first told me, he said, "Man," I say, "Dizzy [Dizzy Gillespie], I want to write." He said, "Man, if you want to learn how to write you gotta get to the keyboard, you know." And I, that was about four or five members of his band and they came to the house. I had the whole Horace Silver band, I had the whole Yusef Lateef band. I would invite everybody. Charlie Parker, (unclear) invited him down to my house, you know, my mother was in tune with that.$$It, it seems, and while I know it's true that, that, that there's a, like being a creative musician puts you in a, almost like a fraternity; right?$$Well, you know, it was different in those days because the professionals were not snobs and they weren't ego maniacs. I call them Ego Stravinskys.$$(Laughter).$$They weren't Ego Stravinskys. They would tell you anything that they knew so they were the teachers, mentors. We didn't have it in all the colleges and universities so we learned from our predecessors and that's the way we did. And they were, were humble and they gave us whatever they had learned, they'd give it to us. You know, they didn't charge us nothing, you ain't gotta go to no classroom and all, if they knew something they'd show you. It was a, a brotherhood thing, fraternity, or whatever you want to call it.

James Poyser

Songwriter, producer and musician James Jason Poyser was born in Sheffield, England in 1967 to Jamaican parents Reverend Felix and Lilith Poyser. Poyser’s family moved to West Philadelphia, Pennsylvania when he was nine years old and he discovered his musical talents in the church. Poyser attended Philadelphia Public Schools and graduated from Temple University with his B.S. degree in finance.

Upon graduation, Poyser apprenticed with the songwriting/producing duo Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff. Poyser then established the Axis Music Group with his partners, Vikter Duplaix and Chauncey Childs. He became a founding member of the musical collective Soulquarians and went on to write and produce songs for various legendary and award-winning artists including Erykah Badu, Mariah Carey, John Legend, Lauryn Hill, Common, Anthony Hamilton, D'Angelo, The Roots, and Keyshia Cole. He was credited as writer/producer for multiple songs on Erykah Badu’s debut album, Baduizm; has writer, producer and musician credits on Lauryn Hill’s multiple Grammy-winning album, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill; was a musician on Adele’s acclaimed album, 21; and served as executive co-producer and writer on Al Green’s Lay it Down. He was also the executive producer on Badu's highly celebrated albums, Mama's Gun and Worldwide Underground.

He is an active session musician and has contributed to the works of other artists such as Norah Jones, Eric Clapton, Joss Stone, Ziggy Marley, Macy Gray and Femi Kuti. In addition, Poyser has toured, and played live as a keyboardist with Jay-Z, The Roots, Erykah Badu, and Aretha Franklin, among others. He is a regular member of The Roots, and has joined them on stage as the houseband for NBC's Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, and subsequently The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.

Poyser’s awards include a Grammy for Best R&B Song in 2003 for co-writing Erykah Badu and Common's hit “Love Of My Life.”

He resides in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

James Poyser was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on May 6, 2014.

Accession Number

A2014.143

Sex

Male

Interview Date

5/6/2014

Last Name

Poyser

Maker Category
Organizations
Schools

Temple University

Add B. Anderson Elementary School

John P. Turner Middle School

West Philadelphia Catholic High School

George Washington Carver High School for Engineering and Science

Drexel University

First Name

James

Birth City, State, Country

Sheffield

HM ID

POY01

Favorite Season

Fall

Favorite Vacation Destination

The Beach

Favorite Quote

God Bless You.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Pennsylvania

Birth Date

1/30/1967

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Philadelphia

Country

England

Favorite Food

Seafood

Short Description

Songwriter, producer, and musician James Poyser (1967 - ) was co-founder of the Axis Music Group and founding member of the musical collective Soulquarians. He was a Grammy award-winning songwriter, musician and multi-platinum producer. Poyser was also a regular member of The Roots, and joined them as the houseband for NBC's The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.

Employment

Axis Music Group

Soulquarians

The Roots / The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon

Favorite Color

Blue

DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of James Poyser's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - James Poyser lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - James Poyser describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - James Poyser talks about his parents' early relationship

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - James Poyser describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - James Poyser describes his parents' personalities

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - James Poyser lists his siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - James Poyser recalls his family's immigration to England and the United States, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - James Poyser describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - James Poyser describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - James Poyser recalls his family's immigration to England and the United States, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - James Poyser talks about his father's church in Sheffield, England

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - James Poyser recalls his education in Great Britain

Tape: 1 Story: 14 - James Poyser describes his early personality

Tape: 1 Story: 15 - James Poyser remembers moving to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Tape: 1 Story: 16 - James Poyser recalls his father founding New Testament Church of God in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Tape: 1 Story: 17 - James Poyser talks about adjusting to life in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - James Poyser describes his exposure to American television

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - James Poyser talks about his parents' decision to move to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - James Poyser recalls his time at Add B. Anderson Elementary School in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - James Poyser remembers family holidays during his childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - James Poyser describes his early education in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - James Poyser talks about his early exposure to playing music

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - James Poyser recalls his responsibilities during his childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - James Poyser talks about his parents' careers

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - James Poyser describes his high school experiences

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - James Poyser talks about the Philadelphia based organization MOVE

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - James Poyser recalls the violence in his childhood community

Tape: 2 Story: 12 - James Poyser remembers studying chemical engineering at Drexel University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Tape: 2 Story: 13 - James Poyser recalls learning to play the piano

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - James Poyser describes the differences between playing drums and piano

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - James Poyser talks about his first exposure to secular music

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - James Poyser recalls transferring to Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - James Poyser remembers the music scene at Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - James Poyser recalls meeting DJ Jazzy Jeff

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - James Poyser talks about touring with CeCe Peniston

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - James Poyser recalls co-founding Axis Music Group in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - James Poyser remembers learning music production from Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - James Poyser remembers learning music production from Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - James Poyser describes his breakthrough work on the 'Baduizm' album

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - James Poyser talks about his creative process

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - James Poyser recalls co-writing songs with Erykah Badu

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - James Poyser remembers his first paycheck after producing the 'Baduizm' album

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - James Poyser describes his relationship with The Roots

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - James Poyser talks about the Soulquarians

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - James Poyser recalls producing music with D'Angelo

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - James Poyser remembers Common's relationship with Erykah Badu

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - James Poyser describes J Dilla's influence on contemporary music

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - James Poyser describes Frankie Knuckles' music

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - James Poyser talks about the evolution of Questlove's stage name

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - James Poyser recalls performing on The Voodoo World Tour

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - James Poyser remembers his major projects in 2000

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - James Poyser recalls producing the 'Mama's Gun' album

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - James Poyser talks about Common's and Erykah Badu's break up

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - James Poyser recalls producing the song 'Love of My Life (An Ode to Hip-Hop)'

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - James Poyser remembers Jill Scott's involvement with A Touch of Jazz in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - James Poyser recalls producing music with Lauryn Hill

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - James Poyser remembers working with Mary J. Blige

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - James Poyser recalls difficult recording sessions

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - James Poyser talks about changes in the music industry

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - James Poyser remembers the birth of his son, Jadyn Poyser

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - James Poyser recalls joining The Roots on the 'Late Show with David Letterman'

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - James Poyser describes the challenges of playing in a house band

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - James Poyser talks about his future plans

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - James Poyser describes his musical influences

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - James Poyser talks about the appropriation of neo soul music by foreign artists

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - James Poyser reflects upon his life

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - James Poyser reflects upon the legacies of the artists he's known

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - James Poyser reflects upon his legacy