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Vincent Chancey

Musician Vincent Chancey was born on February 4, 1950 in Chicago, Illinois. In junior high school, Chancey played the cornet, trumpet and flugelhorn. However, after hearing the French horn during rehearsals, he switched to the French horn. While performing with his high school band, Chancey was active with local musical groups like the Giles Yellow Jackets, the St. Andrews Hornets and the Des Plaines Vanguard competitive drum and bugle corps. He went on to attend and receive his B.A. degree from the Southern Illinois University School of Music in 1973.

Upon graduation, Chancey was awarded a National Education Association grant to study under jazz musician Julius Watkins, a renowned French horn player. In 1976, he played professionally for Sun Ra Arkestra, where he worked to incorporate the French horn as a jazz instrument, which he would do throughout the remainder of his career. From 1978 until 1984, Chancey worked with the Carla Bley Band. Then, in 1984, he joined Lester Bowie’s Brass Fantasy, where he was featured on all of the group’s nine recordings. Chancey later worked with Dave Douglas in the 2000’s. He was also a member of the David Murray Big Band, which included him on five of its CDs. Chancey went on to perform with a number of other artists, including Ashford and Simpson, Melba Moore, Peggy Lee, Maxwell, Aretha Franklin, Cassandra Wilson, Freddy Jackson, The Winans, Elvis Costello, Brandy, Charlie Haden Liberation Orchestra, Dave Douglas, and Diana Krall. He also performed with classical groups such as the Brooklyn Philharmonic, the Pan American Symphony, the One World Symphony, the Zephyr Woodwind Quintet, and the Netherlands Opera. In all, Chancey recorded with various artists on more than 300 albums, CDs and soundtracks.

In 1993, Chancey released his first solo album, Welcome Mr. Chancey; and, in 1998, his second album, Next Mode. Later, Chancey released the album LEGenDES Imaginaires. In 2000, he was asked to play the French horn at Pope John Paul II’s eightieth birthday concert at the Vatican.

Vincent Chancey was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on October 22, 2013.

Accession Number

A2013.291

Sex

Male

Archival Photo 1
Interview Date

10/22/2013

Last Name

Chancey

Maker Category
Occupation
Schools

Southern Illinois University School of Music

Parker High School

Archival Photo 2
First Name

Vincent

Birth City, State, Country

Chicago

HM ID

CHA11

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Illinois

Favorite Vacation Destination

Italy

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Interview Description
Birth Date

2/4/1950

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

USA

Short Description

Musician Vincent Chancey (1950 - ) was a professional jazz French horn player. He played in the Sun Ra Arkestra, and later recorded albums like Welcome Mr. Chancey and Next Mode with his own band.

Employment

Sun Ra Arkestra

Carla Bley Band

Lester Bowie's Brass Fantasy

David Murray Big Band

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/643752">Tape: 1 Slating of Vincent Chancey's interview</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/643753">Tape: 1 Vincent Chancey lists his favorites</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/643754">Tape: 1 Vincent Chancey describes his birth parents' background</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/643755">Tape: 1 Vincent Chancey remembers being placed in foster care</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/643756">Tape: 1 Vincent Chancey describes his foster household</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/643757">Tape: 1 Vincent Chancey talks about his experiences of abuse in foster care</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/643758">Tape: 1 Vincent Chancey recalls his household chores</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/643759">Tape: 1 Vincent Chancey describes his relationship with his foster parents</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/643760">Tape: 1 Vincent Chancey describes his foster mother's abuse</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/643761">Tape: 1 Vincent Chancey remembers the holidays with his foster family</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/643762">Tape: 1 Vincent Chancey recalls the last time he saw his foster mother</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/643763">Tape: 1 Vincent Chancey describes his early personality</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/643764">Tape: 1 Vincent Chancey talks about his early interest in music</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/643765">Tape: 2 Vincent Chancey remembers his hospitalization as an infant</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/643766">Tape: 2 Vincent Chancey recalls his piano lessons at the Chicago Musical College</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/643767">Tape: 2 Vincent Chancey talks about his attraction to music</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/643768">Tape: 2 Vincent Chancey recalls moving to the South Side of Chicago, Illinois</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/643769">Tape: 2 Vincent Chancey describes his home in the Englewood section of Chicago, Illinois</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/643770">Tape: 2 Vincent Chancey recalls his early education</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/643771">Tape: 2 Vincent Chancey remembers the drum and bugle corps</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/643772">Tape: 2 Vincent Chancey describes Parker High School in Chicago, Illinois</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/643773">Tape: 2 Vincent Chancey describes his success in the drum and bugle corps</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/643774">Tape: 2 Vincent Chancey remembers playing in the concert band at Parker High School</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/643775">Tape: 2 Vincent Chancey recalls his foster mother's opinion of his musical talent</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/643776">Tape: 2 Vincent Chancey talks about the popular songs of the 1950s</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/643777">Tape: 3 Vincent Chancey recalls joining the Des Plaines Vanguard</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/643778">Tape: 3 Vincent Chancey describes his experiences of discrimination on the North Side of Chicago, Illinois</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/643779">Tape: 3 Vincent Chancey remembers marching in drum and bugle corps competitions</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/643780">Tape: 3 Vincent Chancey recalls his decision to focus on the French horn</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/643781">Tape: 3 Vincent Chancey remembers his scholarship to Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, Illinois</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/643782">Tape: 3 Vincent Chancey talks about his siblings' education</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/643783">Tape: 3 Vincent Chancey describes his experiences at Southern Illinois University</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/643784">Tape: 3 Vincent Chancey remembers his audition for the music program at Southern Illinois University</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/643785">Tape: 3 Vincent Chancey describes his training in music department of Southern Illinois University</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/643786">Tape: 3 Vincent Chancey talks about his summer work experiences</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/643787">Tape: 3 Vincent Chancey remembers moving to New York City</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/643788">Tape: 3 Vincent Chancey recalls his mentor, Julius Watkins</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/643789">Tape: 4 Vincent Chancey talks about the development of his musical style</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/643790">Tape: 4 Vincent Chancey remembers touring with the Sun Ra Arkestra</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/643791">Tape: 4 Vincent Chancey remembers playing with Sun Ra</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/643792">Tape: 4 Vincent Chancey describes his reasons for leaving the Sun Ra Arkestra</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/643793">Tape: 4 Vincent Chancey reflects upon the development of his jazz technique</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/643794">Tape: 4 Vincent Chancey remembers playing with Carla Bley</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/643795">Tape: 4 Vincent Chancey remembers his musical collaborations</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/643796">Tape: 4 Vincent Chancey describes his income as a musician</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/643797">Tape: 4 Vincent Chancey remembers traveling in rural America with Sun Ra</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/643798">Tape: 4 Vincent Chancey talks about the culture of the Sun Ra Arkestra</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/643799">Tape: 4 Vincent Chancey describes the structure of a jazz band rehearsal</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/643800">Tape: 4 Vincent Chancey talks about the free jazz movement</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/643801">Tape: 5 Vincent Chancey talks about the changes in his musical style</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/643802">Tape: 5 Vincent Chancey describes his French horn technique</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/643803">Tape: 5 Vincent Chancey talks about Lester Bowie's Brass Fantasy</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/643804">Tape: 5 Vincent Chancey recalls playing in jazz festivals</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/643805">Tape: 5 Vincent Chancey remembers Lester Bowie's death</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/643806">Tape: 5 Vincent Chancey remembers Lester Bowie</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/643807">Tape: 5 Vincent Chancey recalls meeting his wife</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/643808">Tape: 5 Vincent Chancey talks about his master classes</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/643809">Tape: 5 Vincent Chancey recalls forming the Vincent Chancey quintet</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/643810">Tape: 5 Vincent Chancey talks about his record, 'Welcome Mr. Chancey'</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/643811">Tape: 5 Vincent Chancey describes the Julius Watkins French Horn Festival</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/643812">Tape: 5 Vincent Chancey reflects upon his compositions</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/643813">Tape: 5 Vincent Chancey talks about his music students</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/643814">Tape: 5 Vincent Chancey reflects upon his life</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/643815">Tape: 6 Vincent Chancey recalls his musical collaborations</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/643816">Tape: 6 Vincent Chancey reflects upon his career</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/643817">Tape: 6 Vincent Chancey talks about his favorite artists</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/643818">Tape: 6 Vincent Chancey plays an original composition on the French horn</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/643819">Tape: 6 Vincent Chancey talks about the spirituality behind his music</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/643820">Tape: 6 Vincent Chancey reflects upon his life</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/643821">Tape: 6 Vincent Chancey shares his advice for children from abusive homes</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/643822">Tape: 6 Vincent Chancey describes how he would like to be remembered and reflects upon his legacy</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/643823">Tape: 6 Vincent Chancey narrates his photographs</a>

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$5

DAStory

9$5

DATitle
Vincent Chancey remembers traveling in rural America with Sun Ra
Vincent Chancey remembers Lester Bowie's death
Transcript
What other things--can you, are there other Sun Ra stories you'd like to sort of share?$$Travel stories?$$Travel stories or--$$(Makes sound) I have a million of them (laughter)--$$Well, let's just share a few of them.$$Well Sun Ra, he, he traveled all over America unlike any other band that I've ever worked with. He would play in every little town in you know, Missouri or Oklahoma or Tennessee you know, he'd go to all kinds of places. So this one trip, I was traveling, I don't know where we were going but we were traveling through Texas, I think we were going to Texas, going through New Mexico, driving in like two or three vans on, on the road, so as we're driving like one [o'clock] in the morning, like all, all the guys in the vans drove the vans, we didn't have drivers and everything was totally self contained, so this was the day of the CD radios, so you know, Sun Ra said, "I'm hungry," you know, and it's like one in the morning, so all the guys in the van started saying, "Sunny's hungry, Sunny's hungry." So I--all the three cars knew that, you know, so we had to find a restaurant so we saw this little sign that just said, "Restaurant," a neon sign in the middle of nowhere on the highway going through New Mexico. I remember we, we were going through Deming, New Mexico, so he said, "Get off there and let's find this restaurant." So you know, we get off the highway drive down a dirt road for like three miles and then we pull up to this area that's like kind of a shack with like maybe a Budweiser sign and you know lights and some pickup trucks parked there, so, you know, one in the morning, mind. So we get out, open the door. When Sun Ra, when he traveled he wore everything that he wore, wore on stage so he had like this, this big tunic with a Saturn on it and a cape and then he had a hat that had lights that spin around, so the door opens, Sun Ra's standing there with this cape blowing and the wind and hat spinning with the lights on his hat and these guys are sitting at the bar you know, like drinking Budweiser with cowboy hats and so, so everybody just stopped and they looked you know, Sun Ra is there with all these guys, you know, the guys you know were wearing turbans and all kinds of stuff, so they were like, "What the hell?" So you know we all walk in the place, so a lady comes up and she says, "Y'all ain't from around here are you?" That's one story I will always remember with Sun Ra.$$'Cause you know when I think of him, God, who do I also think of? You know for some reason, but it's a whole different thing, I think of George Clinton in some respects (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Well, yeah, I mean--$$--because--$$--George Clinton said he learned everything he knew from Sun Ra, I mean that they, and he even said in an interview, somebody mentioned Sun Ra to him, he said, "Yes, we eat at the same lunch counter," you know.$$That's what I think, his earlier version.$$Right, right, yeah because when I first saw him, when I was in college [Southern Illinois University], when I was in Carbondale [Illinois] I went to one of their concerts and, well that's before I was playing with Sun Ra, I was, I think I was nineteen years old, I said, "Wow this guy is weird," you know, what a weird, strange band [Parliament-Funkadelic], you know, almost scary (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Right, it was right--$$--I was kind of frightened by it.$$Do you know what--he also had like, they had a, that group thing had to have, you know, it was also--$$A cult kind of feeling, yeah (simultaneous).$$--(simultaneous) I don't want to--cult. Oh, well not a cult. But sort of like, you know, everyone had this sort of, it was, you had, it was all in the environment--$$Right.$$--you know.$$Everybody had their own strange appearance and dress and yeah (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) Right, that's right, that's right.$Okay, so you played with him how long, with Lester Bowie you said?$$I played with Lester until his death, so I played with him for fifteen years.$$Oh 'til his deat- 'cause that's what I was going to say, oh.$$In fact when he, when he, when he got sick, we were doing a concert in Portugal once and on the way back from the, from the concert he was on the plane and he said, "Oh god, I've got this feeling, this pain in my stomach. I don't know what it is, just, you know, it's really bothering me." I said, "You should go to the doctor Lester when we get home, when we get back." He went to the doctor, the doctor told him that he had cancer and had six months to live, right, just like that. So, you know, he had a tour planned like the fifth and sixth of those six months you know, so, so he said he was going to do the tour. I said, "Lester, why are you going to do that, you should, you should really take care of yourself." He said, "No, I mean I've spent my whole life playing music, music is what I love, what I do, so if I go out, I want to go out doing what I love." So when we did the rehearsals for the, for the tour he gave everybody in the band all these parts. He said, "If I'm not there on this song you play this part where I play and you play--," you know, and all, he did all of the songs like that. We get like three quarters of the way through the tour he was getting worse and worse and worse as it went on. We got to London [England] and he went in the hospital and the doctors said, "Get this man home." He went, came, he came back home and died in two days and we--he said but, before he left, he said, "Finish the tour." We still had two more weeks of touring, so we finished the tour and he was (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) In his honor--$$--he had died before we finished the tour, yeah.$$Wow. So no one was with--$$Yeah, so we weren't even there to play for his memorial or whatever, it was, it was sad.$$So he, he, he decided not to get any treatment?$$Well, he was doing some treatments, but you know, he had let it go so bad, I mean Lester was a big drinker, he had you know, some drug issues you know.$$You know, but he wasn't that old, he was fifty-eight, it might have been (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Fifty-eight--$$Fifty-eight when he died, he wasn't that old.$$I know, I know.$$So he--

Aja Graydon

Singer Aja Graydon was born on September 25, 1978 in Los Angeles, California. At the age of fifteen, Graydon secured a recording contract with Delicious Vinyl. After the dissolution of her deal with the Los Angeles-based independent label, Dantzler migrated to Philadelphia, recording music with the burgeoning hip-hop group "The Roots." In 1997, Graydon met Fatin Dantzler, her future husband and primary musical collaborator and two years later, they married. The couple formed "Kindred the Family Soul," a classic soul and R&B music group. After being discovered by R&B legend Jill Scott at a Philadelphia music showcase, Kindred signed a recording contract with Hidden Beach Recordings (HBR) in 2001. In March 2003, the group released its first studio album titled, Surrender to Love, which peaked to seven and twenty nine on the Billboard Heatseekers and R&B albums’ charts, respectively. Two years later, the duo released their second studio album, In This Life Together, which climbed to number fifteen on the Billboard R&B chart. In 2006, Kindred’s song "My Time" was named the official song of the National Education Association’s Read Across America campaign. Kindred then released The Arrival, its third album on Hidden Beach, in 2008. The album rose to number seven on the Billboard R&B albums’ chart. The duo released its fourth album Love Has No Recession in 2011, which rose to number nineteen and fifteen on the R&B and Independent Albums’ charts, respectively. The group also launched a web-based reality television show in 2010.

Graydon and her husband have garnered critical acclaim for their work as "Kindred the Family Soul." In 2003, the duo garnered a Soul Train nomination. Three years later, Kindred was nominated for a BET Award. Graydon and Dantzler have worked with Grammy Award-winning recording artists like Jill Scott, India.Arie, The Roots and Snoop Dogg. Fatin and Dantzler reside in Philadelphia and have six children.

Aja Graydon was interviewed by the The HistoryMakers on May 22, 2012.

Accession Number

A2012.112

Sex

Female

Interview Date

5/22/2012

Last Name

Graydon

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Occupation
Organizations
Schools

Robert Brent Elementary School

Maret School

Francis C. Hammond Middle School

Duke Ellington School Of The Arts

First Name

Aja

Birth City, State, Country

Los Angeles

HM ID

GRA13

Favorite Season

Summer

State

California

Favorite Vacation Destination

Africa

Favorite Quote

Goodness Goodnight.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Pennsylvania

Interview Description
Birth Date

9/25/1978

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Philadelphia

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Cake (Chocolate)

Short Description

Singer Aja Graydon (1978 - ) was best known, along with her singing partner and husband Fatin Dantzler, as the critically acclaimed R&B and Soul music group, Kindred the Family Soul.

Employment

Kindred the Family Soul

Favorite Color

Green

Timing Pairs
0,0:11968,221:13123,242:14201,262:14509,267:15279,278:15818,287:27258,490:28194,509:29274,528:32277,565:32593,571:33225,582:35121,614:38439,692:42942,767:53900,883:54116,888:55088,915:55574,925:55898,932:56114,937:61015,1021:63670,1084:65322,1116:67328,1170:68095,1187:68390,1193:68626,1198:69275,1210:69570,1216:77897,1331:78962,1354:79246,1359:80737,1389:83790,1453:89008,1501:90625,1530:95760,1573:98160,1645:103408,1720:104357,1744:104722,1750:107861,1827:108518,1841:110197,1870:120538,1997:127115,2091:127845,2104:128940,2131:133824,2243:140124,2334:143484,2398:143988,2405:149440,2431:150532,2453:152872,2487:153340,2495:153886,2504:154198,2509:154666,2516:155134,2529:156070,2545:159424,2623:166995,2671:171480,2734:182371,2922:183001,2943:183316,2957:183568,2962:186466,3027:187096,3040:187600,3050:187978,3057:188230,3062:192577,3154:192829,3159:193522,3179:193900,3186:194341,3195:195412,3215:195916,3224:196231,3230:202344,3257:204104,3299:205952,3328:210000,3390:216157,3434:216433,3440:216916,3448:220090,3511:220918,3534:222643,3573:223057,3580:224161,3603:224644,3611:224920,3616:234500,3722$0,0:438,9:9804,174:10252,180:10812,186:12940,271:24664,434:25049,454:26204,474:26820,484:28052,579:47719,912:50656,960:52347,977:54394,996:57420,1059:67720,1143:70567,1171:71263,1181:71611,1186:77092,1290:77962,1306:84402,1445:90861,1507:94760,1589:104202,1786:113519,1901:113904,1908:114289,1914:114905,1925:115829,1944:119217,2025:119679,2032:119987,2037:121065,2059:121604,2073:121912,2078:122759,2092:124530,2130:124838,2135:125454,2149:125916,2160:131067,2188:131699,2197:133279,2226:133595,2231:133990,2237:135570,2276:145290,2395:151480,2471:154662,2535:155178,2542:155780,2550:156554,2561:157242,2574:157930,2583:159478,2618:165900,2669:167850,2720:168240,2727:168500,2732:168760,2739:169605,2759:169995,2769:170970,2792:173050,2840:173765,2853:174220,2861:174480,2866:174805,2872:179162,2908:179770,2918:181366,2941:181898,2950:182734,2964:183114,2970:183646,2979:184330,2989:184634,2994:188890,3115:189346,3122:189650,3127:196072,3170:196588,3178:197362,3188:199856,3241:200286,3247:201232,3261:206842,3307:211706,3433:212154,3442:212858,3456:220558,3559:222880,3597:223396,3604:227954,3688:228986,3701:230190,3720:234972,3749:235387,3755:235802,3764:236134,3769:237758,3778:238148,3784:238694,3794:242204,3890:242750,3899:248094,3953:248591,3984:249301,3997:250437,4022:250721,4028:251786,4071:254413,4109:254839,4116:255691,4166:267380,4287
DAStories

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/635632">Tape: 1 Slating of Aja Graydon's interview</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/635633">Tape: 1 Aja Graydon lists her favorites</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/635634">Tape: 1 Aja Graydon describes her mother's family background</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/635635">Tape: 1 Aja Graydon talks about her maternal grandparents</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/635636">Tape: 1 Aja Graydon describes her mother's career</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/635637">Tape: 1 Aja Graydon talks about her mother's upbringing</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/635638">Tape: 1 Aja Graydon describes her father's family background</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/635639">Tape: 1 Aja Graydon remembers her paternal grandmother</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/635640">Tape: 2 Aja Graydon talks about her father's imprisonment and career</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/635641">Tape: 2 Aja Graydon talks about her father's occupation</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/635642">Tape: 2 Aja Graydon recalls how her parents met</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/635643">Tape: 2 Aja Graydon describes her parents' personalities and who she takes after</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/635644">Tape: 2 Aja Graydon talks about her early household</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/635645">Tape: 2 Aja Graydon describes her earliest childhood memory</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/635646">Tape: 2 Aja Graydon describes the sights, sounds and smells of her childhood, pt. 1</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/635647">Tape: 2 Aja Graydon remembers the black culture in Washington, D.C.</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/635648">Tape: 2 Aja Graydon describes the sights, sounds and smells of her childhood, pt. 2</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/635649">Tape: 2 Aja Graydon describes the geography of Washington, D.C.</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/635650">Tape: 3 Aja Graydon remembers her teachers at Robert Brent Elementary School in Washington, D.C., pt. 1</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/635651">Tape: 3 Aja Graydon remembers her teachers at Robert Brent Elementary School in Washington, D.C., pt. 2</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/635652">Tape: 3 Aja Graydon describes the Children's Urban Arts Ensemble</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/635653">Tape: 3 Aja Graydon recalls attending the Maret School in Washington, D.C., pt. 1</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/635654">Tape: 3 Aja Graydon recalls attending the Maret School, Washington, D.C., pt. 2</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/635655">Tape: 3 Aja Graydon talks about her family's move to Alexandria, Virginia</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/635656">Tape: 3 Aja Graydon describes her favorite musical artists</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/635657">Tape: 3 Aja Graydon recalls the start of her career</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/635658">Tape: 3 Aja Graydon describes her first record deal with Delicious Vinyl in 1994</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/635659">Tape: 4 Aja Graydon talks about her challenges in high school</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/635660">Tape: 4 Aja Graydon recalls working with songwriter Eugene Hanes</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/635661">Tape: 4 Aja Graydon describes her experiences as a young songwriter</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/635662">Tape: 4 Aja Graydon describes meeting and working with her husband Fatin Dantzler</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/635663">Tape: 4 Aja Graydon recalls performing at the Black Lily showcase at Five Spot in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/635664">Tape: 4 Aja Graydon talks about the significance of the Black Lily showcase</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/635665">Tape: 4 Aja Graydon describes her first project with Hidden Beach Recordings</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/635666">Tape: 5 Aja Graydon describes the first Kindred the Family Soul album, 'Surrender to Love'</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/635667">Tape: 5 Aja Graydon remembers the song and music video for 'Far Away'</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/635668">Tape: 5 Aja Graydon talks about her musical influences</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/635669">Tape: 5 Aja Graydon remembers the creative disagreements while recording 'Surrender to Love'</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/635670">Tape: 5 Aja Graydon describes the accomplishments of Kindred the Family Soul</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/635671">Tape: 5 Aja Graydon recalls the closing of Five Spot in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/635672">Tape: 5 Aja Graydon talks about the second Kindred the Family Soul album, 'In This Life Together'</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/635673">Tape: 5 Aja Graydon describes the influence of the song "My Time"</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/635674">Tape: 5 Aja Graydon recalls the birth of her twins</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/635675">Tape: 6 Aja Graydon describes the third Kindred the Family Soul album, 'The Arrival'</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/635676">Tape: 6 Aja Graydon remembers the 2008 presidential election of Barack Obama</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/635677">Tape: 6 Aja Graydon describes her family's web show 'Six Is It'</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/635678">Tape: 6 Aja Graydon talks about the challenges of raising a family as a performing artist</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/635679">Tape: 6 Aja Graydon describes the Cedar Park neighborhood in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/635680">Tape: 6 Aja Graydon talks about the fourth Kindred Family Soul album 'Love Has No Recession'</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/635681">Tape: 6 Aja Graydon describes her future plans</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/635682">Tape: 6 Aja Graydon recalls founding the media company, Media Shack</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/635683">Tape: 6 Aja Graydon shares her views on contemporary music</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/635684">Tape: 7 Aja Graydon describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/635685">Tape: 7 Aja Graydon reflects upon her life</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/635686">Tape: 7 Aja Graydon reflects upon her legacy</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/635687">Tape: 7 Aja Graydon describes her children</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/635688">Tape: 7 Aja Graydon shares a story about her wedding ring</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/635689">Tape: 7 Aja Graydon describes how she would like to be remembered</a>

DASession

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Aja Graydon recalls performing at the Black Lily showcase at Five Spot in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Aja Graydon describes the Cedar Park neighborhood in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Transcript
Tell us about the Black Lily. Now, this is important in the development of y- of you two and a lot of other artists, right?$$Yes.$$And, this is a venue [Five Spot] here in Philadelphia [Pennsylvania]?$$Yes. It was. It started out like jam sessions and that's what carried me back and forth to Philly all the time, was that we were having these jam sessions every week at Ahmir Thompson's [Ahmir Khalib Thompson] house who was better known as Questlove from The Roots. And, he had a row house and we would just pack into his house and they would set up the, you know, drums, and keyboards and everything in his house. And, it started out like that. But, because they're a hip hop group, primarily it was a lot of guys that wanted to rap. So, it wasn't really a wealth of singers. And, singers it was harder for them to get on. And, singing freestyle is a lot, I wouldn't say more difficult, but it's just a different animal than just rapping. So, we had to, you know, jump in there whichever way we could. And, sometimes that meant, you know, singing the hooks for the raps they were doing or whatever the case may be. But, you know, I found it to be kind of exhilarating. I never felt like it was issue with, you know, "I can't get on." But, that was definitely an issue for some of the other artists, especially the female ones. And, so, they started this event called the Black Lily where they felt like okay, this is gonna be just our event for all the women. It was supposed to be like for women. And, at the time, even though I started out at the jam sessions, in the interim, Fatin [HistoryMaker Fatin Dantzler] and I got married, we had a baby [Aquil Dantzler], and our lives had changed. So, I wasn't, you know, there every Friday and all the time, you know, all that kind of stuff. I was starting a family. And, once we decided to really do music again, the Lily was kind of up and running. And, my husband was telling me about it and he went to go check it out, and said, "You know, you should go." So, my first time actually going to the Lily and performing there was by myself. And, was shortly, when my son was an infant. And, my husband stayed home with him and I went. And, it was semi-traumatic for me that first time just being away from my baby and just hadn't been really singing in a long time. But, it was a, the bug kind of hit, bit again and it was really cool. So, once we really decided we were gonna start a group, it just made sense that we would do this weekly event. And, because I was a girl, then it made it okay for my husband to be there too. So, that's how it started. But, performing there every week, you know, performing every week just polishes you. There's no way around it. Doing anything consistent just makes you better. And, as we pull together a band, and he had this vision of this big like, War, Earth, Wind and Fire type thing and I was just like, "He's crazy." Like I didn't know what he was doing. But, I was glad that he did it. Because the sound was so unique to anyone else that was on the show. Already we were husband and wife team, and that in and of itself was just like something that nobody from our generation was even thinking about doing. And, then the fact that we had the ten piece band and we had four background singers, and four horns, and it was just like (laughter), just a gazillion people on this tiny little stage. And, you know, college students and you know, bohemes or whatever you wanna call 'em, came out every week to support us, even though none of us had record deals. None of us had records that were out. None of us had any of that. So, they supported us regardless. It was a really beautiful time.$Now, you still live in the community.$$Yes.$$I mean, as a, it's a neighborhood.$$Yeah.$$And--$$I got neighbors (laughter).$$You have neighbors and--$$And, block parties, and well, block captains, and all that, yeah. It's a Philly neighborhood where we live and we enjoy that. One of my husband's [HistoryMaker Fatin Dantzler] visions for the shop when we had the, when the shop was open, because we did eventually have to close the shop, but, when the shop was opened, he wanted to make the shop in the neighborhood. He wanted to improve the neighborhood. He's always been a neighborhood guy, you know. He's also the guy that people, "Hey," you know, he speaks to everybody, you know. Everybody knows him and he's walking down the street and he, he speaks to the, to, he speaks to the neighborhood drunk the same way he speaks to the block captain, you know what I'm saying. He speaks to those people the same. That's the, he does, you know, it's, so, he's always been that guy. So, he, that was his vision. So, we wanted to stay where we were. We wanted to live in the neighborhood and invest in that neighborhood and be a part of that, you know. Certainly, there are some days where, you know, you wish there was a big gate (laughter) around your house, you know. But, those days are not as often as you would think.$$Now, this, the neighborhood, do you still live in Cedar Park [Philadelphia, Pennsylvania]? Is that the name of this neighborhood?$$Um-hm.$$Okay. And--$$Now, that's the new neighborhood.$$Oh.$$That's the new name of it.$$Oh, what was the old name of it?$$Southwest Philly [Southwest Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania].$$Okay.$$(Laughter).$$Oh, somebody came up, I suppose, gentrifiers came up with the name Cedar Park.$$Yeah, probably. I mean, somewhere along the line it became Cedar Park. But, I've seen the neighborhood grow and change and, and you know, from a place where, you know, you wouldn't really wanna stand on the corner after a certain time. And, then now, it's just really much different. But, it's good. It's a good thing for the neighborhood to an extent, and it's a good thing for the people who live there. You just wanna maintain diversity and make sure that that stays there, 'cause that's the beauty of the neighborhood.$$Okay. There's a quote in here, I think from The Philadelphia Inquirer about your car being broken into five times I think.$$Yep.$$You know.$$I mean, my car has been broken into. People know what car we drive, you know. And, so, that doesn't always welcome people who care, or are grateful that you're there. They just, you know, but my husband, though it frustrates him, he always try to, gets me to be patient about certain things like that. Because he's always like, you know, "People in their desperation and what they don't have, you know, people steal because they don't have." And, you know, this was the speech he gave me after my son's bike was taken off the front porch or something like that, and, you know. And, I think, you know, living in an urban setting and, you know, you're always gonna have certain things that happen. But, we love it here and we enjoy being a part of a historical neighborhood, number one. And, having an older home that you have to give that care to, and it has all the character and the beauty, and the neighborhood has its story. And, as you been there and you've been there over time and you become a staple of the community. You become a part of its history. And, as a family, that's who you are. And, now, that's really what's happened. I go into my coffee shop, into my cleaners, into my corner store (laughter), and it's all kinds of, the neighborhood grocery and all of that, and they know me and I enjoy that. I like that. I think that and, even with my dad [Richard Graydon] and his heart of hearts, that would make him proud because I think he would think, you know, I think he, he feels that that would be something that was be about how we were raised when we were kids, about being proud of where you're from and where you live. And, bringing up the people around you and that kind of thing, so, you know. That's not to say that we might not move to the suburbs one day (laughter). But, not if I have anything to say about it.

Quincy Jones

An impresario in the broadest and most creative sense of the word, Quincy Jones’ career has encompassed the roles of composer, record producer, artist, film producer, arranger, conductor, instrumentalist, television producer, record company executive, magazine founder and multi-media entrepreneur. As a master inventor of musical hybrids, he has shuffled pop, soul, hip-hop, jazz, classical, African and Brazilian music into many dazzling fusions, traversing virtually every medium, including records, live performance, movies and television.

Quincy Jones was born on March 14, 1933, in Chicago, Illinois, and brought up in Seattle, Washington. While in junior high school, Jones began studying trumpet and sang in a Gospel quartet at age twelve. His musical studies continued at the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts, where he remained until the opportunity arose to tour with Lionel Hampton’s band as a trumpeter, arranger and sometime-pianist. He moved on to New York and the musical “big leagues” in 1951, where his reputation as an arranger grew. By the mid-1950s, he was arranging and recording for such diverse artists as Sarah Vaughan, Ray Charles, Count Basie, Duke Ellington, and Dinah Washington.

In 1957, Jones decided to continue his musical education by studying with Nadia Boulanger, the legendary Parisian tutor to American expatriate composers such as Leonard Bernstein and Aaron Copeland. To subsidize his studies, he took a job with Barclay Disques, Mercury’s French distributor. Among the artists he recorded in Europe were Charles Aznavour, Jacques Brel and Henri Salvador, as well as such visitors from America as Sarah Vaughan, Billy Eckstine and Andy Williams. Jones’ love affair with European audiences continues through the present: in 1991, he began a continuing association with the Montreux Jazz and World Music Festival, which he serves as co-producer.

Jones won the first of his many Grammy Awards in 1963 for his Count Basie arrangement of “I Can’t Stop Loving You.” Jones’ three-year musical association as conductor and arranger with Frank Sinatra in the mid-1960s also teamed him with Basie for the classic Sinatra At The Sands, containing the famous arrangement of “Fly Me To The Moon.”

When he became vice-president at Mercury Records in 1961, Jones became the first high-level black executive of an established major record company. Toward the end of his association with the label, Jones turned his attention to another musical area that had been closed to blacks--the world of film scores. In 1963, he started work on the music for Sidney Lumet’s The Pawnbroker, and it was the first of his thirty-three major motion picture scores. In 1985, he co-produced Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of Alice Walker’s The Color Purple, which won eleven Oscar nominations, introduced Whoopi Goldberg and Oprah Winfrey to film audiences, and marked Jones’ debut as a film producer.

In 1990, Jones formed Quincy Jones Entertainment (QJE), a co-venture with Time Warner, Inc. The new company, which Jones served as CEO and chairman, produced NBC Television’s Fresh Prince Of Bel Air (now in syndication), and UPN’s In The House and Fox Television’s Mad TV. He is also the publisher of VIBE Magazine (as well as founder), SPIN and Blaze magazines. Also in 1990, his life and career were chronicled in the critically acclaimed Warner Bros. film, Listen Up: The Lives of Quincy Jones, produced by Courtney Sale Ross.

In 1994, Quincy Jones led a group of businessmen, including Hall of Fame football player Willie Davis, television producer Don Cornelius, television journalist Geraldo Rivera and businesswoman Sonia Gonsalves Salzman in the formation of Qwest Broadcasting, a minority controlled broadcasting company which purchased television stations in Atlanta and New Orleans for approximately $167 million, establishing it as one of the largest minority owned broadcasting companies in the United States. Quincy served as chairman and CEO of Qwest Broadcasting. In 1999, taking advantage of the rapid escalation of broadcast station values, Jones and his partners sold Qwest Broadcasting for a reported $270 million. In 1997, Quincy Jones formed the Quincy Jones Media Group.

The laurels, awards and accolades have been innumerable: Quincy has won an Emmy Award for his score of the of the opening episode of the landmark TV miniseries, Roots, seven Oscar nominations, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award, twenty-seven Grammy Awards, and N.A.R.A.S.’ prestigious Trustees’ Award and The Grammy Living Legend Award. He is the all-time most nominated Grammy artist with a total of seventy-nine Grammy nominations. In 1990, France recognized Jones with its most distinguished title, the Legion d’ Honneur. He is also the recipient of the French Ministry of Culture’s Distinguished Arts and Letters Award. Jones is the recipient of the Royal Swedish Academy of Music’s coveted Polar Music Prize and the Republic of Italy’s Rudolph Valentino Award. He is also the recipient of honorary doctorates from Howard University, the Berklee College of Music, Seattle University, Wesleyan University, Brandeis University, Loyola University (New Orleans), Clark Atlanta University, Claremont University’s Graduate School, the University of Connecticut, Harvard University, Tuskeegee University, New York University, University of Miami and The American Film Institute. Jones was also named a 2001 Kennedy Center Honoree, for his contributions to the cultural fabric of the United States of America.

In 2001, Quincy Jones added the title “Best Selling Author” to his list of accomplishments when his autobiography Q: The Autobiography of Quincy Jones entered the New York Times, Los Angeles Times and Wall Street Journal Best-Sellers lists. Rhino Records released a four CD boxed set of Jones’ music, spanning his more than five decade career in the music business, entitled Q: The Musical Biography of Quincy Jones.

Celebrating more than fifty years performing and being involved in music, Jones’ creative magic has spanned over six decades, beginning with the music of the post-swing era and continuing through today’s high-technology, international multi-media hybrids. In the mid-1950s, he was the first popular conductor-arranger to record with a Fender bass. His theme from the hit TV series Ironside was the first synthesizer-based pop theme song. As the first black composer to be embraced by the Hollywood establishment in the 1960s, he helped refresh movie music with badly needed infusions of jazz and soul. His landmark 1989 album, Back On The Block--named “Album Of The Year” at the 1990 Grammy Awards-- brought such legends as Dizzy Gillespie, Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan and Miles Davis together with Ice T, Big Daddy Kane and Melle Mel to create the first fusion of the be bop and hip hop musical traditions; while his 1993 recording of the critically acclaimed Miles and Quincy Live At Montreux, featured Jones conducting Miles Davis’ live performance of the historic Gil Evans arrangements from the Miles Ahead, Porgy and Bess and Sketches of Spain sessions, garnered a Grammy Award for Best Large Jazz Ensemble Performance. As producer and conductor of the historic “We Are The World” recording (the best-selling single of all time) and Michael Jackson’s multi-platinum solo albums, Off The Wall, Bad and Thriller (the best selling album of all time, with over forty-six million copies sold), Jones stands as one of the most successful and admired creative artists/executives in the entertainment world.

Accession Number

A2007.340

Sex

Male

Interview Date

9/27/2007

Last Name

Jones

Maker Category
Organizations
Schools

James A. Garfield High School

First Name

Quincy

Birth City, State, Country

Chicago

HM ID

JON18

State

Illinois

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

California

Interview Description
Birth Date

3/14/1933

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Los Angeles

Country

USA

Short Description

Music composer and arranger, musician, and music producer Quincy Jones (1933 - ) has encompassed the roles of composer, record producer (#1 album of all time Thriller), artist (his albums include The Dude and Q's Jook Joint), film producer (The Color Purple), arranger, conductor, instrumentalist, television producer (Fresh Prince of Bel Air), record company executive, magazine founder (Vibe) and multi-media entrepreneur.

Employment

Mercury Records

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/578291">Tape: 1 'An Evening With Quincy Jones' opens with credits</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/578292">Tape: 1 'An Evening With Quincy Jones' opens with an introduction of host, HistoryMaker Gwen Ifill</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/578293">Tape: 1 Gwen Ifill introduces Quincy Jones</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/578294">Tape: 1 Quincy Jones talks about growing up in Chicago, Illinois and Seattle, Washington</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/578295">Tape: 1 Quincy Jones remembers discovering his love of music during his youth in Seattle, Washington</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/578296">Tape: 1 Quincy Jones recalls the music industry and important recording artists of his youth</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/578297">Tape: 1 Quincy Jones shares his memories of Sarah Vaughan, Dinah Washington and Frank Sinatra</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/578298">Tape: 1 Lesley Gore performs 'It's My Party' to honor Quincy Jones' career at Mercury Records</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/578299">Tape: 1 Quincy Jones talks about producing 'It's My Party' at Mercury Records</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/578300">Tape: 1 Quincy Jones talks about moving from jazz into pop</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/578301">Tape: 1 Quincy Jones describes his career writing scores for film and television</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/578302">Tape: 1 HistoryMaker Bebe Winans performs Quincy Jones' 'Everything Must Change'</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/578303">Tape: 1 Quincy Jones talks about suffering two brain aneurysms in 1974</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/578304">Tape: 1 Quincy Jones talks about his admiration for Miles Davis</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/578305">Tape: 1 HistoryMaker James Ingram performs Quincy Jones' song 'Just Once'</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/578306">Tape: 1 Bobby McFerrin and HistoryMaker Herbie Hancock perform a medley of Michael Jackson songs to honor Quincy Jones</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/578307">Tape: 1 Quincy Jones reflects upon his enduring success in the music industry</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/578308">Tape: 1 HistoryMaker Herbie Hancock plays a piano instrumental to honor Quincy Jones</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/578309">Tape: 1 Quincy Jones reflects upon his life</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/578310">Tape: 1 'An Evening With Quincy Jones' concludes with a group performance of 'I'll Be Good to You'</a>

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Quincy Jones remembers discovering his love of music during his youth in Seattle, Washington
Quincy Jones recalls the music industry and important recording artists of his youth
Transcript
Tell me about lemon meringue pie and juke joints.$$Right across the street from our house was the [U.S.] Army camp [sic. Naval Station Bremerton and Naval Submarine Base Bangor; Naval Base Kitsap, Washington] with the barbed wire, fifty-caliber machine guns and there was a big armory next door that was our recreation hall for all of the whole community. And we had inside tracks on everything. You know, I'm telling you, we had our stuff together. And we heard that there was some lemon meringue pie was being shipped in on Monday (audience laughter) and some chocolate and vanilla ice cream. So we were ready on arrival. And we broke in there and ate as much as we could, and then we had pie fights. And I went and broke open the superintendent's office and saw a little spinet piano over in the corner and was getting ready to close the door 'cause it didn't look valuable to me. You know, I didn't know people played them. And somebody said, "Fool, go back," God's whisper, said go back in that room now (laughter). And I went back in there, and I slowly went over to that piano and touched it with my fingers. And every cell in my body said, this is what you'll do the rest of your life. And that, and that one move, it changed everything in my whole life, you know.$$Music for you was an escape. It was your form of rebellion.$$But music was more than an escape. It was a mother. I started out in Seattle [Washington] when you had to play a white tennis club dinner, with white cardigan jackets, and play dance music and so forth. Then we changed our uniforms and go to the black clubs, The Rocking Chair [Seattle, Washington] and the Washington Educational Social Club [sic. Washington Social and Educational Club, Seattle, Washington]. What a joke (laughter). And the proprietor was Reverend Silas Groves, please. Bring your own bottles--$$(Laughter).$$--play for strippers. We'd do comedy acts. Man, we'd do the works, steal--all the comics who'd come through there, we'd steal all their material, and (unclear), do all these nasty jokes. And we--wasn't supposed to be in clubs. I was thirteen, you know.$$Yeah.$$So we pretended like we're smoking and everything so we could get in the clubs and it was just lucky that the teachers didn't--I had one teacher, Parker Cook, that saved my life, 'cause he said, "You're doing what you're supposed to be doing," 'cause I didn't get finished playing till 5:30 in the morning. And I couldn't--[James A.] Garfield High School [Seattle, Washington] was right across the street, you know. That's where Jimi Hendrix went to. And I couldn't get there till eleven sometimes, you know, but he supported me though (laughter). In fact, I saw, I thought I saw him up there in one of those joints a couple of times (laughter).$Did it ever occur to you that you were in the middle of something revolutionary?$$No way. We were just--Ray Charles came to town. I was fourteen. I was, I couldn't believe him, you know. He came in, and he was sixteen or seventeen, but he was like a hundred years older than me because I was still staying at home with eight kids, you know, and two parents [Quincy Jones, Sr. and Sarah Wells Jones], and this raggedy stepmother [Elvera Jones]. And he had two suits, his own record player, two girlfriends, everything. I mean I couldn't believe it, and I was around him. I didn't do it like (unclear) did. I wasn't like that at all. And I wrote the dialogue for that, but I wasn't like that at all. In movies, they have to make up stuff, you know. This little cat was loud and cocky and talked. I never talked at all when I was little. I shut up and listened, 'cause I was around guys who knew what they were talking about, like [Count] Basie and Clark Terry. And there's one thing that Ray and I used to say every day to keep from being affected by the climate in this country at that time, and that, "Not one drop of my self-worth depends on your acceptance of me," 'cause we never wanted to--(applause), we never wanted an external force to decide what your identity was about. And we were really, really, really, really cognizant of that. And we stuck to it 'cause Ray was strong, boy. He says, "I'm gonna have three of my own planes in twenty years." In 1968, he had three planes, and Ray went, he'd land--he knew how to deal with money, everything because in the beginning, we didn't think about money or fame. We didn't--like today, the bling bling, forget that.$$There was no money.$$There was no bling bling (laughter). The biggest joke on Broadway when we were out there starving to death was in front of the Brill Building [New York, New York] was you'd see somebody being held by their ankles out of the thirty-three-story window, and the overcoat hanging all over his head. And they'd say, "What's that going on up there?" They said, "That's Jackie Wilson renegotiating his contract (laughter)."$$(Laughter).$$All of the booking agencies, the nightclubs, record companies, everything--were all owned by the gangsters, everything, the Copacabana [New York, New York], the Chez Paree [Chicago, Illinois], (unclear) and Fish [ph.] and stuff and boy, between them, Chicago [Illinois] and [Frank] Sinatra, I met all of 'em.$$Tell us the story of the first time you met Charlie ["Bird"] Parker.$$Oh, I almost had a heart attack, but you know, we're so--Bird was never aware that anybody was around 'cause he was, unfortunately, what happened, he came from Jay McShann's band. Dizzy [Gillespie] came from Cab Calloway's band, and they had this new idea, but they did not wanna be entertainers anymore. They didn't wanna have to roll their eyes or dance or entertain and dance for anybody anymore. Louis [Armstrong] had to do it, and I'll defend Louis to death 'cause Louis did what he had to do, and if it wasn't for Louis, we wouldn't be here. (Applause) Everybody did what they did and it's a sociological music. That's what I try to tell my brothers all the time. Man, you can't say to throw jazz and blues away just for hip hop because it's all part of a--made millions of people's sociological experience, a terrible one. And for the '50s [1950s] and '60s [1960s] black artists got wasted. I'm telling you. You cannot believe what I've--I'd record with LaVern Baker, they'd send the arrangement over to the other side of town. Georgia Gibbs would copy it. Fats Domino would do his tune. Pat Boone would take it on the other side and it was split--the markets were split in the black and white markets, you know. So, now, please, yeah what would Jay-Z make now?

James Ingram

R&B vocalist James Ingram was born on February 16, 1952, in Akron, Ohio to Alistine and Henry Ingram. Ingram was interested in music at an early age and became a self-taught musician, inspired by his musical idol, jazz organist Jimmy Smith. In the 1970s, Ingram began performing in the Akron band Revelation Funk under leader John Birkett and alongside Bernard Lawson, Sr. The group opened for the Ohio Players and performed with a variety of other Akron funk bands, including Axis and the Silky Vincent Group.

In 1973, when Ingram was seventeen years old, the group traveled to Los Angeles, California, hoping to find further opportunities to perform. Although the group met with some success, recording the track “Time is on Our Side” for the soundtrack to the film Dolemite, the band was unable to sustain itself, and the group returned to Ohio. Ingram stayed behind, playing music around Los Angeles and eventually performing backup vocals and playing keyboards for Ray Charles. Ingram’s career as a musician began to take off, and in the mid-1970s, he began working as soul artist Leon Haywood’s musical director.

In the late 1970s, Ingram had a reputation for his work as a studio session vocalist in Los Angeles, and soon grabbed the ear of legendary ex-Motown songwriter Lamont Dozier. Dozier offered Ingram the opportunity to contribute vocals and material for some of his releases, and Ingram’s “Love’s Calling” gained some airplay. Another musical legend, composer and musical director, Quincy Jones, heard a demo of Ingram performing a track entitled “Just Once,” and quickly offered the singer the opportunity to perform on his 1980 album The Dude. “Just Once,” re-recorded with Quincy Jones, became Ingram’s first massive hit, winning Ingram Grammy Awards for Best Male Pop Vocal and Best R&B Vocal, as well as a nomination for Best New Artist.

Ingram signed to Quincy Jones’s Qwest Records and recorded his own solo material with production work from Jones, and, in 1982, released his first solo single, “One Hundred Ways.” The song reached #14 on the U.S. charts. After co-writing Michael Jackson’s hit “P.Y.T.,” Ingram released his debut album It’s Your Night in 1983, selling 850,000 copies and working with such musical artists as Ray Charles, Michael McDonald, Patti Austin, Anita Baker, Nancy Wilson and Kenny Rogers. Ingram joined another large group of popular artists in performing on the 1985 record “We are the World,” the same year as he was awarded a Grammy Award for his Michael McDonald duet “Yah Mo B There.”

In 1986, Ingram’s second album Never Felt So Good was released alongside the singles “Always” and “Never Felt So Good.” He joined singer Linda Ronstadt for 1987’s gold-selling hit “Somewhere Out There,” and released his third album, entitled It’s Real, on Warner Brothers in 1989. The album featured the hit title track, written by legendary songwriter Thom Bell.

In 1990, Ingram appeared on Quincy Jones’ R&B mega-ballad “The Secret Garden,” and one year later released his own greatest hits disc entitled The Power of Music. In 1993, Ingram released his fourth LP, Always You and continued writing and performing individual singles throughout the 1990s. In 1999, Ingram released Forever More: The Best of James Ingram, and in 2006, participated in Celebrity Duets, a reality television program.

Ingram continues to perform annually on the “Colors of Christmas” Tour and regularly tours throughout southeast Asia, where he is one of the most popular U.S. artists to this day.

Ingram passed away on January 29, 2019.

Accession Number

A2007.272

Sex

Male

Interview Date

9/25/2007

Last Name

Ingram

Maker Category
Organizations
Schools

Robinson Community Learning Center

East High School

First Name

James

Birth City, State, Country

Akron

HM ID

ING03

Favorite Season

Holiday Season

State

Ohio

Favorite Vacation Destination

Home

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

California

Interview Description
Birth Date

2/16/1952

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Los Angeles

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Salmon

Death Date

1/29/2019

Short Description

Musician, songwriter, and R & B singer James Ingram (1952 - 2019) was a multiple Grammy Award winner. Some of Ingram's hit songs included "Just Once," "Yah Mo B There;" he also co-wrote Michael Jackson's "P.Y.T."

Employment

Sharp and the G Clefts

Revelation Funk

Different Bag

Ford Motor Company

Favorite Color

Green

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/464787">Tape: 1 Slating of James Ingram's interview</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/464788">Tape: 1 James Ingram lists his favorites</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/464789">Tape: 1 James Ingram describes his parents' family backgrounds</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/464790">Tape: 1 James Ingram describes his religious upbringing</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/464791">Tape: 1 James Ingram describes his early interest in music</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/464792">Tape: 1 James Ingram describes his siblings' musical interests</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/464793">Tape: 1 James Ingram describes his parents' personalities</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/464794">Tape: 1 James Ingram describes his earliest childhood memory</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/464795">Tape: 1 James Ingram remembers celebrating the holidays with his family</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/464796">Tape: 1 James Ingram describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/464797">Tape: 1 James Ingram describes his early education</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/464798">Tape: 1 James Ingram describes his musical interests at East High School in Akron, Ohio</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/464799">Tape: 1 James Ingram talks about his early bands</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/464800">Tape: 1 James Ingram remembers his music lessons</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/464801">Tape: 2 James Ingram talks about his older brother's musical talent</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/464802">Tape: 2 James Ingram describes his involvement in his church choir</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/464803">Tape: 2 James Ingram describes his decision to pursue music as a career</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/464804">Tape: 2 James Ingram talks about his band, Revelation Funk</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/464805">Tape: 2 James Ingram describes his family's civil rights involvement</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/464806">Tape: 2 James Ingram explains the meaning behind 'Yah Mo B There'</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/464807">Tape: 2 James Ingram describes his spirituality</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/464808">Tape: 2 James Ingram recalls performing in Revelation Funk</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/464809">Tape: 2 James Ingram talks about his wife</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/464810">Tape: 2 James Ingram recalls touring Japan with A Different Bag</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/464811">Tape: 3 James Ingram remembers his bandmates</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/464812">Tape: 3 James Ingram describes his collaboration with Ray Charles</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/464813">Tape: 3 James Ingram remembers meeting Quincy Jones</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/464814">Tape: 3 James Ingram remembers winning a Grammy Award for 'Just Once'</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/464815">Tape: 3 James Ingram remembers working with Dick Clark</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/464816">Tape: 3 James Ingram recalls recording 'Just Once' with Quincy Jones</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/464817">Tape: 3 James Ingram describes his tour with Quincy Jones and Patti Austin</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/464818">Tape: 3 James Ingram remembers winning his first Grammy Award</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/464819">Tape: 3 James Ingram describes Quincy Jones' influence on his career</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/464820">Tape: 3 James Ingram talks about his experiences of fame</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/464821">Tape: 3 James Ingram talks about his children</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/464822">Tape: 4 James Ingram describes his collaboration on Quincy Jones' album, 'The Dude'</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/464823">Tape: 4 James Ingram remembers touring with Patti LaBelle</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/464824">Tape: 4 James Ingram recalls writing 'P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)'</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/464825">Tape: 4 James Ingram remembers working with Michael Jackson</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/464826">Tape: 4 James Ingram talks about his vocal training</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/464827">Tape: 4 James Ingram describes his songwriting process</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/464828">Tape: 4 James Ingram reflects upon his musical influences</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/464829">Tape: 4 James Ingram remembers recording 'We Are the World'</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/464830">Tape: 4 James Ingram describes his collaborations with Harry Belafonte</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/464831">Tape: 5 James Ingram recalls recording 'How Do You Keep the Music Playing'</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/464832">Tape: 5 James Ingram reflects upon his international success</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/464833">Tape: 5 James Ingram talks about his tours abroad</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/464834">Tape: 5 James Ingram remembers writing 'The Day I Fall in Love'</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/464835">Tape: 5 James Ingram talks about his Academy Award nominations</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/464836">Tape: 5 James Ingram recalls singing the theme song for 'An American Tail'</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/464837">Tape: 5 James Ingram remembers performing with Linda Ronstadt and Natalie Cole</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/464838">Tape: 5 James Ingram reflects upon his musical influences</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/464839">Tape: 5 James Ingram describes his collaboration with Keith Diamond</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/464840">Tape: 6 James Ingram recalls collaborating with Kenny Rogers and Kim Carnes</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/464841">Tape: 6 James Ingram remembers his third album, 'It's Real'</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/464842">Tape: 6 James Ingram reflects upon the success of his mentors</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/464843">Tape: 6 James Ingram remembers his manager, Dick Scott</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/464844">Tape: 6 James Ingram remembers Gerald Levert and Eddie Levert</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/464845">Tape: 6 James Ingram describes his collaboration on 'The Secret Garden'</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/464846">Tape: 6 James Ingram talks about his album 'The Greatest Hits'</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/464847">Tape: 6 James Ingram describes his talk show appearances</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/464848">Tape: 6 James Ingram reflects upon his personal success</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/464849">Tape: 6 James Ingram reflects upon his career success</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/464850">Tape: 7 James Ingram describes his collaborations with Debbie Allen</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/464851">Tape: 7 James Ingram talks about his album, 'Stand (In the Light)'</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/464852">Tape: 7 James Ingram describes his philanthropic work</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/464853">Tape: 7 James Ingram reflects upon his musical influences</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/464854">Tape: 7 James Ingram reflects upon his legacy</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/464855">Tape: 7 James Ingram reflects upon his music</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/464856">Tape: 7 James Ingram describes how he would like to be remembered</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/464857">Tape: 7 James Ingram shares a message to future generations</a>

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$3

DAStory

3$2

DATitle
James Ingram describes his decision to pursue music as a career
James Ingram describes his collaboration with Ray Charles
Transcript
When did you decide, I'm going to be a professional musician?$$A professional musician? When we had, as the band, we had, when we developed later on before I left Akron, Ohio. I graduated in 1970 [from East High School; East Community Learning Center, Akron, Ohio], but I left Ohio in '73 [1973] to come to California with my band, Revelation Funk. Well I joined another band because the other band, they were working and they had families in Akron, Ohio and they were not leaving to go on the road. So we started traveling to New York [New York] and different places and I was making like maybe $150 a week when we split up our money and we were working Monday through Saturday playing four hours, right? Okay, now in between that I got a job at Ford Motors [Ford Motor Company], where my father [Henry Ingram, Sr.] was working at, at the time, he got me a job and I made basically the same money and I was in there eight hours for five days a week so that was like forty hours and make the same money. And so while I'm doing this work, I'm thinking about music and everything and I'm saying wait a minute, hold on, I worked twenty-four hours and made the same money. What is this, 'cause I didn't know exactly about no music business and that I could make a living at it right cause Akron, Ohio was a small city and there was nothing around for me to see. Like if you're in Detroit [Michigan] and Motown [Motown Records] was there, you would have ambitions probably of you know how you could do that, right? It dawned on me, said, "I'm leaving. I'm gonna go on the road. I'm gonna get with a band." We were on the road so we formed a band. And I worked for maybe about six months. And when the people at, that was working at Ford, some of those brothers I knew, when you worked, put your ninety days in right, they was buying like Cadillac cars and a Deuce and a Quarter [Buick Electra] and all that. And so they asked me what was I doing with my money? I said, "I'm buying equipment." "Equipment?" "Yeah, I'm buying speakers and clavinet and another electric piano and all that stuff (unclear)." Say, "Man, for what?" I said, "I'm going on the road." "Aw man, the benefits we have. You going--man you ain't going nowhere." And one day they were coming in and I was leaving out. I said, "I'll see y'all later." But I left in a way that the general foreman there, that--because my work ethics were impeccable because when you went into the department you worked on the jobs. You could pick what job you want to. I could just put things like you're stamping out metal and just--you know what I'm saying? I took the hardest job in there which is on the pan line where the pans came out and you had to lift these things with somebody else on the other side right, cause I figure if I'm going to be there for eight hours, I want to do something that's gonna help me stay in shape. So I went that route until I got out of there.$At what point did you meet Ray Charles?$$That had to be in 19--1976, somewhere around there.$$And tell me about that encounter. How did you meet?$$I met him because my brother Henry Ingram [Henry Ingram, Jr.], my oldest brother was living in Los Angeles, California. And he had a friend that we knew from Chicago [Illinois] that came through our hometown in Akron, Ohio, extremely talented. His name was Larry Woods. And so Larry Woods came to our apartment with my brother and he was telling me, I need to turn you on to Joe Webster 'cause you know, he knew I could write. You know by this time I was writing songs and doing things and stuff. He said I need to turn you on to Joe Webster. Joe Webster was Mabel John's [HistoryMaker Reverend Dr. Mable John] son who was one of the background singers in Ray Charles' studio and he was signed to Ray Charles' label [Tangerine Records]. So Joe and I we met and we hit it off and we started writing songs together. So then I started coming to the studio and singing backgrounds with him you know. I could at least sing backgrounds you know and playing some of the instruments. But one of the tracks I had a click track and I played the drums and I played the bass and I played the keyboards. So the engineer told Ray, you got to see this dude, he can--you know what I'm saying, he's real talented and stuff. So Ray heard me and that's how I got the chance to play organ on 'I Can See Clearly' ['I Can See Clearly Now'] and 'Anonymous Love.'$$What did he say when he heard you for the first time, Ray Charles?$$He said, "Son, you talented." I said I don't know, I'm just here Ray. And, but Ray liked my personality and sometimes he would just like, he would have the engineer call for me just to be around even when I wasn't working because he--Ray was giving me a lot of information not only about the music industry but about you know, about techniques. I saw Ray Charles, which I don't know most engineers could do this. Back then they weren't cutting with click tracks, click tracks you know the drummer would listen to it and it would keep the tempo steady all the way through the song. So naturally the song would speed up a little bit you know just through naturally playing right? Ray had a track like that where he took--I saw him, supposed to be blind right, and of course he was right? The engineer wasn't even there. It was him. I was in the studio with him. And he took the horn parts and flew them over to a half inch tape right, and sent them back to the back of the track even though the track was going faster, an eighth note at a time on different tracks and he put them together. Ray Charles did that. He'd walk all over there. He'd walk out there to the mic [microphone] by himself and all that. Ray Charles not hand- he was not handicapped. He was not handicapped.$$He had a sense, he could see with his mind.$$Right. Right, I don't even know how to explain it but--$$And what did you learn from him?$$He was deaf on drummers. Your timing had to be impeccable, right. And it wasn't like I was a great drummer, but my time was impeccable. So what happened was he heard about, from the engineers, that I fixed a track that the track had sped up right. And so I had to learn where the track was, where it sped up and kept--until I got it and then I got it. So Ray had a track that needed fixed and so they called me to fix that track. So I was in there with Ray and I found out exactly where the tape, it was kind of speeding up, where the musician kind of sped up and it was kind of slowing down and I finally caught it and I had the groove right. Once we got finished, Ray said, "You know what, you did a good job, but I'm going to scrap this." He said, "We're going to cut this all over." So they had a bossa nova, a thing that had these little beats, right? And this was pre-drum machines and all that stuff in terms of the (unclear) and all that stuff. So he said we're going to cut it over. Ray went out there to the drum machine and put the keyboards down, right? And then he gave me the beat to play and I played the beat. Then Ray hummed all of the turnarounds for me to play. "(Scatting) No (scatting)," right, and we'd move on to the next one when I--until--you know what I'm saying? And he punched me in all the turnarounds. So I'm playing drums along with the track and you hear these--feels like I'm going to--you know what I'm saying, because that was the magic of recording.

Evelyn Freeman Roberts

Evelyn Freeman Roberts was born on February 13, 1919, to Gertrude Evelyn Richardson and Ernest Aaron Freeman. Roberts grew up in Cleveland, Ohio and performed music at local social events with "The Freeman Family," a group that included her brother, Ernie, and father. She also began performing locally in a classical ensemble. Roberts skipped school one day to watch Duke Ellington at Cleveland's Palace Theater and met Ellington after the performance. His music made a huge impact on Roberts, who decided at that moment that she wanted to be a bandleader. She was a bright student, and graduated ahead of her grade in 1936.

After auditioning for a scholarship at the Cleveland Institute of Music, Roberts decided to attend the Institute. Although she had less training than many of the students, Roberts had perfect pitch and was a talented sight-reader, and managed to work her way through school performing. Around 1938, she formed her own swing band, and their performances included a Cleveland Institute dance party. Roberts graduated from the Institute of Music in 1941, and as an African American, she saw no openings in classical music, so she began to focus more on her band's work.

Her group, now titled the Evelyn Freeman Swing Band, had begun performing locally, including broadcasts on Cleveland's WHK radio station and performances for the local NBC affiliate. When World War II arrived, a Navy recruiter convinced the group to join the Navy as a whole, which prevented the draft from splitting the ensemble. As a result, they had become the first all-African American Navy band, were stationed near Peru, Indiana and were nicknamed the "Gobs of Swing." Roberts herself was not recruited, although she would be later as an 'honorary member,' but in the meantime she continued performing but with a smaller ensemble, which included such future jazz stars as Ben "Bull Moose" Jackson.

In 1945, after the war ended, Roberts left Cleveland after meeting Thomas S. Roberts, her future husband. Roberts met her husband after he sought her for some musical arrangements, although it took some time before they would become romantically involved. The couple soon moved to New York City, where Roberts received significant critical accolades for her vocal arrangements for the Wings over Jordan gospel group. She also began working with Vaudeville acts, then began performing in upscale hotels in New York City. In the meantime, much of her band, now discharged from the military, went on to significant success, including members who would go on to perform with Dizzy Gillespie and Lionel Hampton.

The Evelyn Freeman Orchestra would reform in the late 1950s with new members, and released Let’s Make a Little Motion. In 1960, she released Sky High, a new album, and in 1962 released Didn’t It Rain. In the late 1960s, she moved to California and masterminded a group called The Young Saints, and in 1970, the Young Saints performed for Richard Nixon in the White House. Roberts continued to perform over the years, including a lengthy stint as a composer for television, although she would often remain in the background as an arranger, including work for Bing Crosby, Dean Martin and Louis Prima. She was the co-founder and chief administrator for the Young Saints Scholarship Foundation.

Roberts passed away on June 5, 2017 at age 98.

Accession Number

A2006.056

Sex

Female

Interview Date

3/31/2006

Last Name

Roberts

Maker Category
Middle Name

Freeman

Organizations
Schools

Central High School

Cleveland Institute of Music

John Burroughs Elementary School

First Name

Evelyn

Birth City, State, Country

Cleveland

HM ID

ROB12

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Ohio

Favorite Quote

Education Is The Key To Success.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

California

Interview Description
Birth Date

2/13/1919

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Los Angeles

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Shrimp

Death Date

6/5/2017

Short Description

Bandleader, music composer, and musician Evelyn Freeman Roberts (1919 - 2017 ) formed the Evelyn Freeman Orchestra and composed music for television shows.

Employment

Young Saints

Evelyn Freeman Swing Band

Karamu House

Wings Over Jordan

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/505796">Tape: 1 Slating of Evelyn Freeman Roberts' interview</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/505797">Tape: 1 Evelyn Freeman Roberts lists her favorites</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/505798">Tape: 1 Evelyn Freeman Roberts lists her parents' birthdates and birthplaces</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/505799">Tape: 1 Evelyn Freeman Roberts talks about her maternal great grandmother</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/505800">Tape: 1 Evelyn Freeman Roberts describes her maternal grandmother</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/505801">Tape: 1 Evelyn Freeman Roberts describes her maternal grandfather</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/505802">Tape: 1 Evelyn Freeman Roberts describes her mother's family</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/505804">Tape: 1 Evelyn Freeman Roberts recalls visiting her maternal grandparents</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/505806">Tape: 1 Evelyn Freeman Roberts describes her maternal grandmother's country store</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/505809">Tape: 1 Evelyn Freeman Roberts describes her mother's experience at boarding school</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/505826">Tape: 2 Evelyn Freeman Roberts describes her mother's education</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/505827">Tape: 2 Evelyn Freeman Roberts describes how her parents met</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/505828">Tape: 2 Evelyn Freeman Roberts describes her paternal great grandfather</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/505829">Tape: 2 Evelyn Freeman Roberts describes her paternal grandparents' courtship</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/505830">Tape: 2 Evelyn Freeman Roberts describes her father's time at Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/505831">Tape: 2 Evelyn Freeman Roberts describes her parents' married life</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/505832">Tape: 2 Evelyn Freeman Roberts lists her siblings</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/505833">Tape: 2 Evelyn Freeman Roberts describes her father's occupations</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/505856">Tape: 3 Evelyn Freeman Roberts recalls her father's music career</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/505857">Tape: 3 Evelyn Freeman Roberts remembers John Burroughs Elementary School</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/505858">Tape: 3 Evelyn Freeman Roberts describes Cleveland, Ohio's Central High School</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/505859">Tape: 3 Evelyn Freeman Roberts describes the demographics of Central High School</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/505860">Tape: 3 Evelyn Freeman Roberts recalls her decision to attend Cleveland Institute of Music</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/505861">Tape: 3 Evelyn Freeman Roberts recalls her experience at Cleveland Institute of Music</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/505862">Tape: 3 Evelyn Freeman Roberts recalls her brothers' educations</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/505863">Tape: 3 Evelyn Freeman Roberts talks about her brother, Ernest Freeman, Jr.</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/505873">Tape: 4 Evelyn Freeman Roberts recalls playing concerts with her family in Cleveland</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/505874">Tape: 4 Evelyn Freeman Roberts remembers meeting Duke Ellington</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/505875">Tape: 4 Evelyn Freeman Roberts recalls forming the Evelyn Freeman Swing Band</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/505876">Tape: 4 Evelyn Freeman Roberts recalls how her swing band was recruited to the U.S. Army</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/505877">Tape: 4 Evelyn Freeman Roberts recalls her career after her swing band's military recruitment</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/505878">Tape: 4 Evelyn Freeman Roberts recalls meeting her husband</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/505879">Tape: 4 Evelyn Freeman Roberts recalls arranging for the Wings Over Jordan Choir</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/505880">Tape: 4 Evelyn Freeman Roberts recalls her work arranging music in New York</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/505888">Tape: 5 Evelyn Freeman Roberts recalls her marriage to Lloyd Gentry</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/505891">Tape: 5 Evelyn Freeman Roberts explains her relation to Minnie Gentry and Terrence Howard</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/505893">Tape: 5 Evelyn Freeman Roberts remembers buying a house in New York City</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/505895">Tape: 5 Evelyn Freeman Roberts remembers touring with her children, pt. 1</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/505896">Tape: 5 Evelyn Freeman Roberts recalls touring with her children, pt. 2</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/505897">Tape: 5 Evelyn Freeman Roberts remembers moving to Los Angeles, California</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/505898">Tape: 5 Evelyn Freeman Roberts recalls challenges in Los Angeles, California</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/505899">Tape: 5 Evelyn Freeman Roberts remembers working with Peggy Lee</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/505900">Tape: 6 Evelyn Freeman Roberts recalls performing on 'The Jonathan Winters Show'</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/505901">Tape: 6 Evelyn Freeman Roberts recalls the Young Saints' performance on 'The Andy Griffith Show'</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/505902">Tape: 6 Evelyn Freeman Roberts recalls working with Frankie Laine</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/505903">Tape: 6 Evelyn Freeman Roberts recalls working with Louis Prima</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/505904">Tape: 6 Evelyn Freeman Roberts remembers forming the Young Saints</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/505905">Tape: 6 Evelyn Freeman Roberts recalls the Young Saints' contract with Ashley-Famous talent agency</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/505906">Tape: 6 Evelyn Freeman Roberts recalls the Young Saints' performance on 'The Danny Kaye Show'</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/505907">Tape: 6 Evelyn Freeman Roberts recalls her classes for the Model Cities program</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/505908">Tape: 6 Evelyn Freeman Roberts describes the Young Saints program at Second Baptist Church</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/505909">Tape: 7 Evelyn Freeman Roberts talks about the success of the Young Saints</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/505910">Tape: 7 Evelyn Freeman Roberts describes her family's involvement in the Young Saints</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/505911">Tape: 7 Evelyn Freeman Roberts recalls the Young Saints' performance at the White House, pt. 1</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/505912">Tape: 7 Evelyn Freeman Roberts recalls the Young Saints' performance at the White House, pt. 2</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/505913">Tape: 7 Evelyn Freeman Roberts describes how she would like to be remembered</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/505914">Tape: 7 Evelyn Freeman Roberts reflects upon her career</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/505915">Tape: 7 Evelyn Freeman Roberts narrates her photographs</a>

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$4

DAStory

2$3

DATitle
Evelyn Freeman Roberts remembers meeting Duke Ellington
Evelyn Freeman Roberts recalls forming the Evelyn Freeman Swing Band
Transcript
Now we're coming up to the place, back up to the place now where you're graduating from the institute [Cleveland Institute of Music, Cleveland, Ohio].$$But before that, let's back up again--$$All right.$$--to 1936. I'm graduating, and I'm so far ahead I could have graduated in January when I was sixteen. But I didn't want to graduate in January. That's a bad time to graduate. So I wanted to wait until June to graduate. And so, in the meantime, I have this very light class load. And kids are always going down, going onto the Palace Theatre in Cleveland [Ohio], and that's where all the big bands came to play.$$Right.$$I had never been. And they always come back on Monday, you know, and give a detailed description of everything that went on. So I was curious, and just happened the, the one day that, one Friday that I decided to skip school, Duke Ellington was playing.$$All right.$$That completely changed my life, completely. I was so enthralled when I heard that band. And so after I heard the band, I went backstage and, and a lot of people milling around back there. And you know, when you graduate they, you have these little calling cards, you know, with your name on it.$$Right.$$I sent it up by the elevator boy, and Duke invited me to come up and see him. So I did; I went up to see Duke. Duke had his son with him, Mercer [Mercer Ellington].$$Right.$$And I, I didn't have anything to talk about (laughter), you know.$$Right.$$But I just--and I remember asking Mercer if he was gonna be a musician, and he said, "Oh no, I'm gonna be an engineer," (laughter). And so I met Da- Duke many times after that, and I never did tell him but how he changed my life.$$Now why did Duke Ellington make such an impact? What--$$It was just (simultaneous)--$$--(simultaneous) was it that impacted--$$--the music--$$Just his music.$$--and the way it sounded.$$Okay.$$And I, that was when I decided right then and there I wanna be a bandleader.$$All right, okay.$$And that was a very important turning point in my life.$$Okay. And this was how long before you actually graduated from the institute.$$Oh, this is, this is when I was graduating from high school [Central High School, Cleveland, Ohio]--$$Okay.$$--nineteen thirty-six [1936].$$Okay.$$So I didn't graduate (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) So we're talking about five years--$$Oh yeah.$$--more--$$Well--$$--okay.$$--all my contemporaries, and there were some great musicians that came out of Cleveland [Ohio], you know.$$Right.$$Nobody wanted to be bothered with me.$All right (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) But what happened was, and one of the things that kind of hurried it along, my brother Ernie [Ernest Freeman, Jr.], the violin player, found an old saxophone way back in the closet that belonged to my father [Ernest Freeman, Sr.]. It was an E-flat alto Buescher. I don't even, I don't think they even me--make those kind of, that--he found that in, back in the saxophone and taught himself to play it.$$Right.$$Loved that saxophone because it gave him the freedom of expression he didn't have with the violin. And in playing the classical music, all of the brass players, in fact, everybody, had to play cues that for instruments we didn't have; like the clarinet players would have to play the oboe cues, and the brass would have to play French horn or whatever of the cues. So therefore, I had a bunch of kids who could read music. So I had, so I taken the brass section, and my burdit- my brother Ernie on first sax and a couple of more sax, and we had the bass player, got a drummer. We had a swing band--$$Okay.$$--Evelyn Freeman Swing Band. And in two years' time (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) But when did, when did you form the Evelyn Freeman Swing Band?$$That was formed out of the Freeman Ensemble.$$Okay.$$So we still had, we had two organizations going at the same time.$$Okay, so you were still in high school [Central High School, Cleveland, Ohio] you're saying?$$Nope, I was in, at the institute--$$Okay.$$--by that time.$$Okay, when you formed the swing band.$$Well, when we actually got started, I guess it would be about, about 1938.$$Okay, okay, so we are, you're just in the first year or two--$$Second year (simultaneous).$$--(simultaneous) at the institute?$$Yeah.$$Okay, all right.$$And we even played, we even played for a dance at the institute.$$I'm sorry?$$We even played for a dance at the Cleveland Institute [Cleveland Institute of Music, Cleveland, Ohio].$$At the Cle- at the institute, okay. I'm just trying to get us in the right chronology, right (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) Yeah, you looked at it chronologically, yeah.