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William Banfield

Professor and composer William Banfield was born on March 24, 1961 in Detroit, Michigan to William Banfield and Anne Banfield. He attended Cass Technical High School in Detroit, Michigan and graduated in 1979. Banfield enrolled at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, Massachusetts and graduated with his B.M. degree in jazz studies in 1983. He later received his Th.M. degree from Boston University in 1988, and his D.M.A. degree from the University of Michigan in 1992.

Banfield accepted his first teaching position at Madison Park High School in Boston, Massachusetts. In 1983, he resigned from his position and founded BMagic Records. Two years later, Banfield founded Young Artists Development, Inc. After he received his D.M.A. degree in 1992, Banfield served as assistant professor of African American Studies/Music at Indiana University. In 1997, Banfield served as the endowed chair of humanities, professor of music, director of American cultural studies/jazz, popular, world music studies at the University of St. Thomas, Minnesota. He then became the W.E.B. DuBois fellow at Harvard University in 2002. The following year, Banfield was the visiting Atelier artist at Princeton University; and, in 2005, he was hired as a visiting professor of composition at the University of Minnesota. Banfield subsequently accepted an appointment at the Berklee College of Music as a professor and director of the Africana Studies program. In 2010, he was hired by Quincy Jones’ foundation called the QFoundation, to write a national music curriculum for American popular music.

Banfield has also released a number of albums which include Extensions of the Tradition in 1996, Striking Balance in 2004, Spring Forward in 2009, and Playing with Other People’s Heads in 2014. He was also the host of National Public Radio’s “Landscapes in Color: Conversations with Black American Composers” and an original program on WCAL at St. Olaf College entitled, “Essays of Note.” Banfield has authored seven books, completed six symphonies and two operas. In 2014, Banfield launched JazzUrbane, a contemporary jazz recording label. He has also served on the Pulitzer Prize composition panel.

William Banfield was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on November 17, 2018.

Accession Number

A2018.218

Sex

Male

Interview Date

11/17/2018

Last Name

Banfield

Maker Category
Occupation
Organizations
First Name

William

Birth City, State, Country

Detroit

HM ID

BAN06

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Michigan

Favorite Vacation Destination

Florida

Favorite Quote

It Don't Mean A Thing, If It Ain't Got That Swing.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Massachusetts

Birth Date

3/24/1961

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Boston

Favorite Food

Seafood

Short Description

Professor and composer William Banfield (1961- ) was made director of Africana Studies at the Berklee College of Music in 2006, and has released several albums as a recording artist, wrote six symphonies and two operas, and published seven books.

Favorite Color

Blue

Dick Griffin

Composer, trombonist and artist Dick Griffin was born in Fannin, Mississippi in 1940. He began playing the trombone in the seventh grade and sang in a doo-wop group as a teenager. His first professional break came while he was still in high school, when his group, the Sputniks, was selected to open for Sam Cooke. He graduated from Jackson State University in 1963 and later earned his M.S. degree in music education and trombone from Indiana University.

In the mid-1960s, Griffin performed with the Sun Ra Arkestra and began a longtime collaboration with saxophonist Rahsaan Roland Kirk. His first album with Kirk was The Inflated Tear, which came out in 1968. Griffin has also worked with many other musicians, including Charles Mingus, Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Marvin Gaye and Michael Jackson. Griffin released his first album as a leader, The Eighth Wonder, in 1974. This was followed by Now is the Time in 1979, A Dream For Rahsaan in 1985, All Blues in 2003, and Time Will Tell in 2011. He has played at such prestigious events as the 1980 Olympics, and with symphony orchestras such as the Harlem Philharmonic and the Symphony of the New World. He has also performed in several Broadway shows, including The Wiz, Me & Bessie, Raisin, and Lena (starring Lena Horne). He has made television appearances in the United States on shows such as "The Today Show", "Soul", "Faces", "The Ed Sullivan Show", and "Like It Is". In the 1980s, Griffin composed World Vibration Suite, which was premiered by the Brooklyn Philharmonic.

In addition to playing music, Griffin has also served as a professor of music. He has taught at Wesleyan University and the State University of New York at Old Westbury. Griffin is also an accomplished painter. He has had group and solo exhibitions in cities all over the world, including Vienna, Tokyo, and Nairobi.

Griffin lives in New York City.

Dick Griffin was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on February 19, 2014.

Accession Number

A2014.058

Sex

Male

Interview Date

2/19/2014

Last Name

Griffin

Maker Category
Organizations
Schools

Jackson State University

Indiana University

Lanier High School

Hinds Community College

Speakers Bureau

Yes

Speakers Bureau Availability

Any

First Name

Dick

Birth City, State, Country

Fannin

HM ID

GRI08

Speakers Bureau Preferred Audience

Any

Speakers Bureau Honorarium

Yes - $5,000 - $10,000

Favorite Season

Summer

State

Mississippi

Favorite Vacation Destination

Africa

Favorite Quote

Wow.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

1/28/1940

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Salmon, Grapes, and Pecans

Short Description

Trombonist, composer, and painter Dick Griffin (1940 - ) has played with the Sun Ra Arkestra and Rahsaan Roland Kirk, in addition to leading his own bands. Griffin released his first album as a leader, The Eighth Wonder, in 1974. This was followed by Now is the Time in 1979, A Dream For Rahsaan in 1985, All Blues in 2003, and Time Will Tell in 2011. He is also an accomplished painter.

Employment

Sun Ra Arkestra

Wesleyan University

State University of New York at Old Westbury

Favorite Color

Blue

DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Dick Griffin's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Dick Griffin lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Dick Griffin talks about his parents and his childhood neighborhood

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Dick Griffin recalls working on a beer truck as a junior high student

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Dick Griffin talks about the origin of his last name

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Dick Griffin talks about his birth and his childhood dog

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Dick Griffin talks about his maternal family history, pt.1

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Dick Griffin talks about his maternal family history, pt.2

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Dick Griffin describes his mother, Ruby Mae Griffith O'Banner, pt.1

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Dick Griffin describes his mother, Ruby Mae Griffith O'Banner, pt.2

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Dick Griffin talks about his half siblings

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Dick Griffin talks about his stepfather's death

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Dick Griffin remembers learning that his stepfather was not his biological father and getting free lunch in school

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Dick Griffin talks about his religious upbringing

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Dick Griffin remembers listening to a neighbor play the guitar and learning to play piano

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Dick Griffin talks about learning to play the trombone in seventh grade

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Dick Griffin remembers being selected to open for Sam Cooke at Lanier High School in Jackson, Mississippi

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Dick Griffin talks about the State Fair in Jackson, Mississippi, with performers like Peg Leg Bates, Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf and HistoryMaker B.B. King

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Dick Griffin remembers working as a clerk and butcher for "Mr. Dad," who owned a cafe and grocery store in his neighborhood

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Dick Griffin talks about his mother's value for education and learning to run a store from "Mr. Dad"

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Dick Griffin recalls why his family moved from the Under-The-Hill neighborhood

Tape: 2 Story: 12 - Dick Griffin talks about his experience at Lanier High School in Jackson, Mississippi

Tape: 2 Story: 13 - Dick Griffin talks about how water moccasins drove his neighbors out from Under-The-Hill

Tape: 2 Story: 14 - Dick Griffin talks about his route through white neighborhoods as a student at Lanier High School in Jackson, Mississippi

Tape: 2 Story: 15 - Dick Griffin talks about playing trombone and piano in high school, and his band, the Blue Notes

Tape: 2 Story: 16 - Dick Griffin talks about his encounters with racial discrimination as a teenager

Tape: 2 Story: 17 - Dick Griffin remembers being sent from Jitney Jungle to work in a shoe shine parlor

Tape: 2 Story: 18 - Dick Griffin talks about his vocal group, the Sputniks, and his musical elementary school classmate Freddie Waits

Tape: 2 Story: 19 - Dick Griffin talks about training his ear for music

Tape: 2 Story: 20 - Dick Griffin remembers not receiving a scholarship to attend college

Tape: 2 Story: 21 - Dick Griffin talks about his decision to attend Utica Junior College in Utica, Mississippi and his mentor there, Louis Lee

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Dick Griffin recalls meeting Sun Ra in Chicago, Illinois and becoming serious about the trombone

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Dick Griffin talks about the Civil Rights Movement in Jackson, Mississippi and his work on voter registration

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Dick Griffin remembers the assassination of Medgar Evers in 1968

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Dick Griffin talks about Sun Ra's band in New York City

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Dick Griffin describes Sun Ra

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Dick Griffin describes his musical development under Sun Ra

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Dick Griffin remembers the musicians he met in New York including Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Charles Mingus, John Coltrane, Cannonball Adderley, and more

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Dick Griffin talks about the development of his arrangement techniques

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Dick Griffin remembers meeting Charles Mingus at the Five Spot

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Dick Griffin recounts the time he was almost fired by Charles Mingus

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Dick Griffin talks about his friendship with Charles Mingus

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Dick Griffin talks about earning the respect of Charles Mingus and lying to Charles Mingus

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Dick Griffin describes the musical genius of Charles Mingus

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Dick Griffin talks about Charles Mingus' family background and Mingus' temper

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Dick Griffin remembers working in the Apollo Theater and playing in the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Big Band

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Dick Griffin talks about moving to New York, and a missed opportunity to play for John Coltrane

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Dick Griffin recalls his initial interest in multiphonics and the development of his technique

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Dick Griffin talks about his marriage and his son

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Dick Griffin talks about his early musical career in New York City, New York

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Dick Griffin talks about how Rahsaan Roland Kirk challenged him as a musician

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Dick Griffin lists the musical acts he saw while playing in the house band at the Apollo Theater

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Dick Griffin shares his memories of working with Rahsaan Roland Kirk

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Dick Griffin talks about Rahsaan Roland Kirk's name change, intelligence, and blindness

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Dick Griffin compares the management of Sun Ra, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, and Charles Mingus

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Dick Griffin talks about the release of his first album, 'The Eighth Wonder' in 1974 with Strata-East Records

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Dick Griffin talks about the leadership of Strata-East Records and the company's difficulty fulfilling large orders

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Dick Griffin talks about the band he assembled for his first album, 'Eighth Wonder' and his composition process

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Dick Griffin talks about his composition, 'World Vibration Suite,' jazz v. classical trombone, and playing with the Symphony of the New World

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Dick Griffin talks about his string quartets commissioned by Max Roach, which premiered at the 2011 Vision Festival

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Dick Griffin talks about his early affinity for art and his renewed interest in art as an adult

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Dick Griffin describes how the death of Freddie Waits inspired him to take his painting seriously

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Dick Griffin talks about his early art career and teaching career

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Dick Griffin talks about the launch of his career as an artist after receiving a master class from HistoryMaker Edward Clark

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Dick Griffin recalls his art training and reentry into the art world after a yearlong hiatus

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Dick Griffin talks about playing for musical greats like Lionel Hampton, Cab Calloway, Count Basie, Thad Jones and Mel Lewis, Frank Foster, and Lena Horne

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Dick Griffin talks about working on a beer truck as a teenager and his relationship with Thelonious Monk

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Dick Griffin talks about musicians at the Village Vanguard

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Dick Griffin talks about his good friend and mentor, Donald Byrd

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Dick Griffin talks about his artwork

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Dick Griffin describes the importance of creating boundaries between music and art

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Dick Griffin talks about seizing life's opportunities

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Dick Griffin talks about the economic factors behind demographic shifts in jazz

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Dick Griffin talks about creativity and innovation in gospel, blues, jazz, and hip-hop music

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Dick Griffin talks about jazz musicians in academia

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Dick Griffin reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Dick Griffin talks about how he would like to be remembered and his values

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Dick Griffin plays his trombone

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Dick Griffin narrates his photographs