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MusicMakers compose, perform, and promote music ranging from country to classical to doo wop and include lyricists, music executives, pianists, and orchestra conductors, among others.

Willie L. Hill, Jr.

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

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

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

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

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

Accession Number

A2018.221

Sex

Male

Interview Date

12/5/2018

Last Name

Hill

Maker Category
Occupation
Organizations
First Name

Willie

Birth City, State, Country

Mobile

HM ID

HIL19

Favorite Season

October

State

Alabama

Favorite Vacation Destination

Carribean

Favorite Quote

Never Put Off for Tomorrow What You Can Do Today

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Massachusetts

Birth Date

7/29/1946

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Northampton

Favorite Food

Fried Fish

Short Description

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

Favorite Color

Purple

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

Vivian Male

Government administrator and jazz singer Vivian Male was born on July 13, 1949 in Boston, Massachusetts to Frances Lesueur Cromwell and Anthony Cromwell. She graduated from Jeremiah E. Burke High School and Boston Business School in Boston, Massachusetts; and went on to study voice at the Elma Lewis School of Fine Arts in Boston. Later, she received her M.Ed. degree in management and administration from Cambridge College in 1980. Male also graduated from the National Judicial College in Reno, Nevada in 1988.

In 1973, Male worked as the special assistant to then U.S. Senator Edward Brooke. In this role, she focused on issues of education. In 1979, Male became the deputy director of the Community Economic Development Assistance Corporation; and in 1988, Male was appointed by Governor Michael Dukakis to serve as an administrative judge for workers’ compensation issues in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. From there, Male went on to serve as a senior policy maker for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and as chairperson of the Appeals Board of Unemployment Insurance. In 1991, Male and several other women in Boston, including Callie Crossley, Dianne Wilkerson and Sarah-Ann Shaw, formed the Boston chapter of the Coalition of 100 Black Women. Now known as the Boston Coalition of Black Women, Inc. Male was then named director of equal opportunity operations at the Massachusetts Housing Finance Agency in 1996. In 2000, Male was named director of equal opportunity at MassHousing.

Also, in 2000, Male made her recording debut on the collaborative album Boston Sings Out and later founded Vivian Male Productions through which she produced her music. She also performed at venues like the Berklee College of Music and the Negro Ensemble Company in New York City. In 2009, Male released her debut solo album, Our Day Will Come.

Male served as president of the Middlesex County Chapter of The Links, Incorporated, and was appointed to the board of trustees at Berklee College of Music in 1998. She was also a founding member of the Legacy Society at the Museum of African American History - Boston and Nantucket, and served on the Governor’s Advisory Committee on Women’s Issues. Male continued to perform throughout the Boston area, and was inducted into the Steppin’ Out Hall of Fame in 2007 at the Dimock Health Center alongside singer/songwriter George Benson. She was also a featured vocalist at the New England Emmy Awards, and performed the National Anthem for the New England Patriots several times.

Vivian Male was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on August 10, 2018.

Accession Number

A2018.146

Sex

Female

Interview Date

8/10/2018

Last Name

Male

Maker Category
Marital Status

Widow

Middle Name

C

Organizations
First Name

Vivian

Birth City, State, Country

Boston

HM ID

MAL09

Favorite Season

Summer

State

Massachusetts

Favorite Vacation Destination

St. Maarten

Favorite Quote

Control The Controllables.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Massachusetts

Birth Date

7/13/1949

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Martha's Vineyard

Country

United States of America

Favorite Food

Salad

Short Description

Government administrator and jazz singer Vivian Male (1949- ) worked for the Massachusetts state government for over thirty years, in addition to launching a singing career as the founder and president of Vivian Male Productions.

Favorite Color

Sky Blue

Terisa Griffin

Singer Terisa Griffin was born on August 25, 1969 in Monroe, Louisiana. She graduated Wossman High School in Monroe, Louisiana and attended Northeastern Louisiana University in Monroe, Louisiana on a music scholarship where she studied operatic singing.

Griffin relocated to Chicago, Illinois and sang backup for Diana Ross on a telecast of The Oprah Winfrey Show. She also toured with R&B legend Jerry Butler. Griffin worked for various Chicago advertising agencies recording jingles for commercials. In 1997, Griffin established her own independent music company, My Naked Soul Productions where she wrote, produced and starred in a series of one-woman shows including: One Voice, One Woman, Fantasy-A Tribute to the Divas of Song and Stage: Josephine Baker, Lena Horne, Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughn, Queens of R & B- A Tribute to the Queens of Rhythm and Blues: Dinah Washington, Diana Ross, Aretha Franklin, Donna Summers and Tina Turner, and Songs Divas – A Tribute to FamousSong.

In 1998, Griffin released her first album Songbird as an introduction of original and cover works showcasing her vocal skills. In 2002, she toured with Patti LaBelle and performed background vocals. That same year, Griffin produced and presented her one-woman show, One Woman. One Voice: A Musical Tribute to the Queens of Song. She also produced and presented Fantasy: The Divas of Song and Stage, a tribute to Josephine Baker, Eartha Kitt, Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald and Lena Horne. Griffin debuted her first full-length release, My Naked Soul showcasing her talents as a songwriter and producer. In 2007, Griffin established the nonprofit organization, Better Love Yourself, Inc. and served as its CEO and president. In 2011, Griffin provided the title song and appeared in the independent short film The Truth, directed by Hill Harper. She also released her sophomore double-disc, Soulzophrenic ‘Personalities of Soul' R&B and Dance releases. In 2012, Terisa Griffin auditioned for the NBC television reality series The Voice with a performance of Adele’s Someone Like You where she was selected as a contestant on NBC’s The Voice Season 3. In 2015, Griffin made Billboard Charts with her CD Revival of Soul which peaked at #33 on August 27, 2016. In 2016, Griffin and Better Love Yourself, Inc. celebrated ten years of service.

Terisa Griffin was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on July 11, 2018.

Accession Number

A2018.142

Sex

Female

Interview Date

7/14/2018

Last Name

Griffin

Maker Category
Occupation
Organizations
First Name

Terisa

Birth City, State, Country

Monroe

HM ID

GRI12

Favorite Season

Autumn

State

Louisiana

Favorite Vacation Destination

Italy

Favorite Quote

Better Love Yourself.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

8/25/1969

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

United States of America

Favorite Food

Pork Chops, Rice, Gravy

Short Description

Singer Terisa Griffin (1969- ) has recorded numerous commercial jingles for popular brands and toured with music legends Jerry Butler and Patti LaBelle. She established My Naked Soul Productions, as owner and president in 1997.

Favorite Color

Pink

Sugar Blue

Blues musician Sugar Blue was born on December 16, 1949 in New York City to Maisey Savage and Jimmy Jones. Blue was given his first harmonica as a child and taught himself to play by listening to the music of Stevie Wonder and Bob Dylan. He attended Herron High School, but left without receiving his diploma. By the age of eighteen, Blue was performing on the streets of New York and sitting in on sessions with blues and jazz legends like Muddy Waters, Sun Ra, Roosevelt Sykes and Brownie McGhee.

In 1977, Blue played on Johnny Shines’ album Too Wet to Plow before moving to Paris, France on the advice of blues pianist Memphis Slim, where he was discovered by The Rolling Stones’ lead singer, Mick Jagger, who asked him play with the band as a session player. Over the next few years, Blue recorded the harmonica parts for three The Rolling Stones’ albums: Some Girls in 1978; Emotional Rescue in 1980; and Tattoo You in 1981. His most notable work was for the hit single “Miss You.” In 1978, Blue toured the U.S. with both The Rolling Stones and Louisiana Red, with whom he had recorded two albums. Blue’s debut solo album, Crossroads, was released in 1980. After the release of his From Chicago to Paris album in 1982, Blue relocated to Chicago, Illinois, where he played with well-known blues artists like Big Walter Horton, James Cotton and Junior Wells.

He also signed with Alligator Records, and joined Willie Dixon’s Chicago Blues All Stars in 1982. Blue recorded several albums throughout the 1980s including Absolutely Blue and High Voltage Blues. In 1985, he received the Grammy Award for Best Traditional Blues Album for his contribution to the compilation album Blues Explosion. Blue made a small appearance in the 1987 film Angel Heart and had a harmonica solo for the movie Tapeheads in the following year. Blue continued to release new albums through Alligator Records including Paris Blues in 1993 and Blue Blazes in 1994. After a short hiatus, he released the album Code Blue in 2007, and appeared in the 2008 film The Perfect Age of Rock ‘n’ Roll. He recorded new music on the 2010 album Threshold and his live project Raw Sugar, released in 2012. Blue then released the album Voyage in 2016.

Blue and his wife, Ilaria Lantieri, have one son together, James, and Blue also has a daughter named Sarah.

Sugar Blue was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on June 10, 2018.

Accession Number

A2018.116

Sex

Male

Interview Date

6/10/2018

Last Name

Blue

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Occupation
Organizations
First Name

Sugar

Birth City, State, Country

New York

HM ID

BLU02

Favorite Season

Summer

State

New York

Favorite Vacation Destination

Hawaii

Favorite Quote

Blues...Black Lives Under Egregious Suppression

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

12/16/1949

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Favorite Food

Pasta

Short Description

Blues musician Sugar Blue (? - )

Favorite Color

Black

Lee Koonce

Nonprofit executive and pianist Lee Koonce was born on January 5, 1960 in Xenia, Ohio to Ida Bent Koonce and Lee Koonce. As a child, Koonce took piano lessons and learned to play the violin, baritone horn, and flute in school. Koonce, who grew up in Chicago, graduated from Bishop Byrne High School in Memphis, Tennessee, where his father had taken a job, in 1978. He received a B.M. degree in piano performance from Oberlin Conservatory of Music and a B.A. degree in Spanish literature from Oberlin College in 1982. After working as a music and Spanish instructor at Elgin Academy in Elgin, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago, Koonce went on to complete his coursework for his M.M. degree in piano performance from the Eastman School of Music in Rochester in 1988, earning the degree in 1993.

After graduating from the Eastman School of Music, Koonce became a senior manager at Andersen Consulting, now Accenture. In 1996, Koonce became director of community relations at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Then, in 2001, he was hired as the executive director at the Sherwood Conservatory of Music in Chicago. From 2004 to 2007, Koonce served as the executive director of Opus 118 Harlem School of Music in New York City. In 2007, he became the executive director at Third Street Music School Settlement, serving until 2014, when he was named the executive director of Ballet Hispanico. After two years, Koonce became the first president and artistic director of Gateways Music Festival in association with Eastman School of Music. Under his leadership, Gateway Music Festival was awarded a $300,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

In addition to his role as president and artistic director, Koonce has served on the board of directors of Gateways Music Festival since 1997. He also serves as a member of the board of trustees for the National Guild for Community Arts Education and served on the board of the League of American Orchestras. Koonce has served as a panelist for the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York State Council on the Arts, and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs as well as the Oberlin Conservatory of Music committee chair of the Oberlin College Alumni Council.

Lee Koonce was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on April 28, 2018.

Accession Number

A2018.084

Sex

Male

Interview Date

4/28/2018

Last Name

Koonce

Maker Category
Schools

Dulles School of Excellence

Bishop Byrne High School

Oberlin Conservatory of Music

Eastman School of Music, University of Rochester

First Name

Lee

Birth City, State, Country

Xenia

HM ID

KOO01

Favorite Season

Summer

State

Ohio

Favorite Vacation Destination

Amsterdam and San Andres Island, Columbia

Favorite Quote

N/A

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

1/5/1960

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Favorite Food

Peanut Butter

Short Description

Nonprofit executive and pianist Lee Koonce (1960 - ) served as president and artistic director of the Gateways Music Festival in association with the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York.

Employment

Gateways Music Festival

Ballet Hispanico

Third Street Music School Settlement

Opus 118 - Harlem School of Music

Sherwood Conservatory of Music

Chicago Symphony Orchestra

Accenture (Andersen Consulting)

Elgin Academy

Favorite Color

Blue

Petrella Pollefeyt

Singer Petrella Pollefeyt was born on April 15, 1947 in Hot Springs, Arkansas to Herbert and Dorothy Bonner. She graduated from Goldstein Elementary School in 1959, and from Langston Junior/Senior High School in 1964. Pollefeyt received her B.S. degree in business administration from Philander Smith College in 1968.

In 1968, Pollefeyt went to work for the National Rejecters Industries as a timekeeper. In 1972, Pollefeyt became the first African American administrator for Governor of Arkansas Dale Bumpers. She later accepted a position with Alcoa Aluminum and in 1973, Pollefeyt moved to Detroit, Michigan and worked for Chrysler Defense. She was later married and moved St. Louis, Missouri and worked for the GAF Corporation in 1976. Pollefeyt worked in the GAF accounting department from 1976 to 1980 and then at Kimmenade as an office manager in accounting and administration from 1980 to 1984. She then joined JC Penney in accounts payable from 1984 to 1986 as well as working as an accounting administrative assistant for Ford Aerospaceand for Pyromet Industries in accounting and administration from 1989 to 1994.

Pollefeyt’s singing talent was discovered by noted indie Nashville pioneer record producer Jack Gale in 1988. She also became a songwriting member of the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers in 1992, and Pollefeyt released her debut album Countryversial in 1993. Her single I Found Somebody spent fourteen weeks on the national Top 100 Country Singles Chart and she was the first African American female in country music to be featured on the cover of Cashbox magazine. She was named New Female Vocalist and Album of the Year in Nashville Tracker Magazine in 1994. Pollefeyt served as partner for P2 Production and P. Phunk Music, from 1994 to 2007, while serving as president of the charitable organization, Dreams of the Heartland Foundation in 1996. She was also credited on the albums Papa Did A Raindance in 2001, and Find A Cure in 2002. She released Walk Around Heaven, Homes for the Holidays and Dreams of the Heartland albums on the Petrella record label in 2005, and became a registered agent and manager for Garden Mound LLC in 2007. Pollefeyt released her single, Working in The USA to country radio in 2013. Pollefeyt and Jack Gale celebrated the 25th Anniversary of her musical career with the release of the CD Shine on Me.

Pollefeyt twice received the Golden Microphone Award in 2002 and 2003, and Producer’s Choice Award in 2002 and 2004 from Airplay International King Eagle Awards.

Pollefeyt donated her personal papers, audio and video recordings, posters, costumes and memorabilia documenting her career as a country soul singer-songwriter to Archives of African American Music and Culture at Indiana University for Petrella Pollefeyt Collection. Pollefeyt also gifted an annual donation to her alma mater, Philander Smith College for the music students. She shared her legacy, donated historic land and family property to the Garland County Habitat for Humanity in Hot Springs.

Petrella Pollefeyt was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on April 2, 2018.

Accession Number

A2018.059

Sex

Female

Interview Date

04/02/2018

Last Name

Pollefeyt

Maker Category
Occupation
Schools

Langston High School

Goldstein Elementary School

Lincoln University

Philander Smith College

First Name

Petrella

Birth City, State, Country

Hot Springs

HM ID

POL01

Favorite Season

Summer

State

Arkansas

Favorite Vacation Destination

Hot Springs, Arkansas

Favorite Quote

You might know where you been, but you don't know where you're goin...

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Arkansas

Birth Date

4/15/1947

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Little Rock

Favorite Food

Popcorn

Short Description

Singer Petrella Pollefeyt (1947- ) was discovered in 1988 by pioneer record producer Jack Gale, and released her debut album Countryversial in 1993. She was named New Female Vocalist and Album of the Year in Nashville Tracker Magazine in 1994.

Employment

Garden Mound LLC

P2 Production and P. Phunk Music

Pyromet Industries

Ford Aerospace

JC Penney's

Kimmenade

GAF

Favorite Color

Blue

Kevin Eubanks

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

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

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

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

Accession Number

A2018.050

Sex

Male

Interview Date

3/19/2018

Last Name

Eubanks

Maker Category
Occupation
Organizations
First Name

Kevin

Birth City, State, Country

Philadelphia

HM ID

EUB01

Favorite Season

Summer

State

Pennsylvania

Favorite Vacation Destination

Anywhere Tropical

Favorite Quote

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

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

California

Birth Date

11/15/1957

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Los Angeles

Favorite Food

Any plant-based food

Short Description

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

Favorite Color

Blue and Sunset

Andre Harrell

Producer and record executive Andre Harrell was born on September 26, 1960 in Harlem, New York. At the age of sixteen, Harrell and high school friend, Alonzo Brown, formed the hip hop duo, Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde; and in 1980, they signed with Tayster and Rojac Records in Harlem. They released several hit songs including “Genius Rap,” “Fast Life,” and “AM/PM” as well as the 1984 album, The Champagne of Rap. Harrell attended Lehman College, where he majored in communications and business management, but left after three years to work for a local news station, WINS.

In 1983, Harrell began working for Russell Simmons at RUSH Management. Within two years, he became the vice president and general manager of Def Jam Records, where he helped launch the careers of Run-DMC, LL Cool J, and Whodini. In 1986, Harrell founded his own record label, Uptown Records, where he worked with Heavy D. & The Boyz, Al B. Sure, Notorious B.I.G., Guy, Jodeci, McGruff, Sean Combs, Lost Boyz, and The Gyrlz. He also worked with Mary J. Blige, releasing her debut album, What’s the 411?, with Uptown in 1992. That same year, Harrell accepted a multimedia deal with MCA Music Entertainment Group. He was also the executive producer of Fox’s hit crime television show, New York Undercover, which aired from 1994 to 1998. Harrell was also the executive producer of several films, including Strictly Business in 1991, and Honey in 2003. Harrell became the chief executive officer of Motown Records in 1995, where he oversaw the careers of Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross, and Queen Latifah. Harrell also founded Nu Records, and served as an executive producer on Robin Thicke’s and Pharrell William’s 2013 hit song “Blurred Lines.” In 2013, Harrell became the vice chairman of Sean Combs’ multimedia company, Revolt TV Network. He played an instrumental role in launching the Revolt Music Conference in Miami, Florida, which was attended by Guy Oseary, Russell Simmons and L.A. Reid.

In 2009, Harrell received a Cultural Excellence Award from the National Action Network. He was also the recipient of BET’s Culture Creators Award in 2016.

Andre Harrell was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on February 23, 2018.

Accession Number

A2018.029

Sex

Male

Interview Date

2/28/2018

Last Name

Harrell

Maker Category
Occupation
Organizations
First Name

Andre

Birth City, State, Country

New York City

HM ID

HAR53

Favorite Season

Spring - May In New York

State

New York

Favorite Vacation Destination

St. Barts

Favorite Quote

Whatever

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

California

Birth Date

9/26/1960

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Los Angeles

Favorite Food

Chicken

Short Description

Producer and record executive Andre Harrell (1960 - ) founded Uptown Records, and served as the president and chief executive officer of Motown Records, and executive producer of New York Undercover before becoming the vice chairman of Revolt TV Network.

Favorite Color

Blue

Emmett "Bobby Rush" Ellis, Jr.

Blues musician Emmett “Bobby Rush” Ellis, Jr. was born on November 10, 1933 in Haynesville, Louisiana to Mattie Spivey Ellis and Emmett Ellis, Sr. He attended public school in Haynesville until he was eleven years old, at which point he halted his education to help support his family.

Ellis received his first guitar at seven years old, and was taught to sing and play music by his father. He aspired to become a blues musician after hearing the music of Muddy Waters and other artists on the radio. After leaving school at eleven years old, Ellis began working at a cotton gin to help his family financially. In 1947, Ellis moved to Sherrill, Arkansas with his family and found work as a sharecropper. He continued playing guitar during this time, and started his professional music career in 1950, when he played with Elmore James at a club in Arkansas. When he was eighteen years old, he migrated to Chicago, Illinois, and formed the band Bobby Rush and the Four Jivers, which included Pinetop Perkins, Freddie King and Little Walter. He began recording blues music at Chess Records, but was denied work after the Chess brothers learned that he could read. In 1954, he integrated the Bourbon Street nightclub and his band became a regular act there. He recruited comedian Dick Gregory to perform at Bourbon Street. Ellis met Jimmy Reed at Vee-Jay Records, and opened for Reed at a major Chicago venue in 1957. During the course of his career, Ellis befriended other popular blues musicians such as Muddy Waters and B.B. King. In 2015, he played at King’s final show, and performed a harmonica tribute when King passed away shortly afterwards.

Ellis has been widely celebrated for his role in blues music history. In 2006 he was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame. The following year he became the first blues artist to perform in China, which earned him the unofficial title as the International Dean of the Blues. In 2015, he was the recipient of two Blues Music Awards in the categories of Soul Blues Male Artist and B.B. King Entertainer of the Year. The same year, he was inducted into the Official Rhythm and Blues Music Hall of Fame. Ellis won a Blues Music Award and his first Grammy Award in 2017 for his album Porcupine Meat, and received an award for Historical Album of the Year for Chicken Heads: A 50 Year History of Bobby Rush. His green-studded suit depicted on the inside cover of Porcupine Meat was donated to the Smithsonian Institute’s National Museum of American History.

Emmett “Bobby Rush” Ellis, Jr. was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on December 12, 2017.

Accession Number

A2017.220

Sex

Male

Interview Date

12/12/2017

Last Name

Rush

Maker Category
Occupation
Organizations
First Name

Bobby

Birth City, State, Country

Haynesville

HM ID

RUS11

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Louisiana

Favorite Vacation Destination

West Coast

Favorite Quote

Do Unto Others Like You Wish To Be Done Unto You.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Mississippi

Birth Date

11/10/1933

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Jackson

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Vegetables, Seafood

Short Description

Blues musician Emmett “Bobby Rush” Ellis, Jr. (1933 - ) formed Bobby Rush and the Four Jivers and spent over fifty years in the music industry. He was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 2006 and won a Grammy Award for his album Porcupine Meat in 2017.

Employment

Cotton Gin

Bourbon Street

Chess Records

Jack Rabbits

Favorite Color

White, Green

DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Emmett "Bobby Rush" Ellis, Jr.'s interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Emmett "Bobby Rush" Ellis, Jr. lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Emmett "Bobby Rush" Ellis, Jr. describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Emmett "Bobby Rush" Ellis, Jr. talks about his paternal grandparents

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Emmett "Bobby Rush" Ellis, Jr. remembers leaving school to work at a cotton gin

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Emmett "Bobby Rush" Ellis, Jr. talks about his father's education and occupation

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Emmett "Bobby Rush" Ellis, Jr. describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Emmett "Bobby Rush" Ellis, Jr. talks about his mother's light complexion

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Emmett "Bobby Rush" Ellis, Jr. reflects upon the prevalence of racial discrimination

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Emmett "Bobby Rush" Ellis, Jr. describes his experiences of discrimination at Chess Records

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Emmett "Bobby Rush" Ellis, Jr. recalls his introduction to blues music

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Emmett "Bobby Rush" Ellis, Jr. describes his early musical influences

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Emmett "Bobby Rush" Ellis, Jr. talks about his siblings

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Emmett "Bobby Rush" Ellis, Jr. remembers moving with his family to Sherrill, Arkansas

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Emmett "Bobby Rush" Ellis, Jr. talks about his parents' relationship

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Emmett "Bobby Rush" Ellis, Jr. talks about his maternal great-grandfather's estate, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Emmett "Bobby Rush" Ellis, Jr. talks about his maternal great-grandfather's estate, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Emmett "Bobby Rush" Ellis, Jr. talks about WOKJ Radio in Jackson, Mississippi

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Emmett "Bobby Rush" Ellis, Jr. talks about the programming on WOKJ Radio in Jackson, Mississippi

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Emmett "Bobby Rush" Ellis, Jr. recalls winning the Grammy Award for Best Traditional Blues Album in 2017

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Emmett "Bobby Rush" Ellis, Jr. remembers Elmore James

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Emmett "Bobby Rush" Ellis, Jr. talks about the influence of Jimmy Reed

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Emmett "Bobby Rush" Ellis, Jr. remembers performing with Jimmy Reed in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Emmett "Bobby Rush" Ellis, Jr. talks about his friendship with Muddy Waters

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Emmett "Bobby Rush" Ellis, Jr. remembers playing with B.B. King

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Emmett "Bobby Rush" Ellis, Jr. recalls learning to play the harmonica

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Emmett "Bobby Rush" Ellis, Jr. plays the harmonica

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Emmett "Bobby Rush" Ellis, Jr. describes the stories behind his lyrics

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Emmett "Bobby Rush" Ellis, Jr. talks about music publishing rights, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Emmett "Bobby Rush" Ellis, Jr. talks about music publishing rights, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Emmett "Bobby Rush" Ellis, Jr. recalls his friendships with famous musicians

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Emmett "Bobby Rush" Ellis, Jr. remembers playing in segregated clubs in Chicago, Illinois, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Emmett "Bobby Rush" Ellis, Jr. remembers playing in segregated clubs in Chicago, Illinois, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Emmett "Bobby Rush" Ellis, Jr. recalls recruiting acts to the Bourbon Street nightclub in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Emmett "Bobby Rush" Ellis, Jr. shares his advice to aspiring musicians