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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.

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

Country

USA

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

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

1/5/1960

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

USA

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

Country

USA

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

Country

USA

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. Harrell attended Eastern Academy and Junior High School 123. After graduating from Charles Evans Hughes High School in 1978, Harrell attended Baruch College. He later transferred to Lehman College, where he majored in communications and business management.

In 1976, 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 left Lehman College during his junior year to work as an account executive at the gospel station WWRL. A year later, he joined the local radio station WINS. In 1983, Harrell began working for Russell Simmons at RUSH Management, and within two years, he became the vice president and general manager, helping to 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 also served as the executive producer of Fox’s hit crime television show, New York Undercover, which aired from 1994 to 1998, and as 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.

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 and November 21, 2019.

Accession Number

A2018.029

Sex

Male

Interview Date

2/28/2018

2/28/2018 |and| 11/21/2019

11/21/2019

Last Name

Harrell

Maker Category
Organizations
Schools

Jhs 123 James M Kiernan

Charles Evans Hughes High School

Baruch College

Lehman College

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

Country

USA

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, before becoming the vice chairman of Revolt TV Network.

Employment

WWRL

WINS

RUSH Management

Uptown Records

MCA Music Entertainment Group

New York Undercover

Motown Records

Bad Boy Records

Nu Records

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

Interview Description
Birth Date

11/10/1933

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Jackson

Country

USA

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

Paul Riser, Sr.

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

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

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

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

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

Accession Number

A2017.187

Sex

Male

Interview Date

10/18/2017

Last Name

Riser

Maker Category
Organizations
First Name

Paul

Birth City, State, Country

Detroit

HM ID

RIS01

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Michigan

Favorite Vacation Destination

Bahamas

Favorite Quote

Nice Job, But Let’s Do It Again

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Michigan

Birth Date

9/11/1943

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Detroit

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Banana Pudding

Short Description

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

Favorite Color

Aqua

Miller London

Music executive Miller London was born on October 13, 1946 in Detroit, Michigan. He attended Estabrook Elementary School and McMichael Junior High School and graduated from Northwestern High School in Detroit, Michigan in 1964. After high school, London attended Highland Park Junior College before he enrolled at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan where he studied history and English.

While in college, London worked in the sales department at both Star Hickey Ford and then the Bill Markley Chevrolet dealerships in Detroit. In 1969, London was hired as the first African American regional sales manager at Motown Records and was the first African American to work in any major record company’s sales department. London was later promoted as the record company’s executive vice president and general manager for the company. London worked at Motown Records for twenty-one years, before he left in 1990, and joined RCA Records in New York. There, he became the first African American to head a label’s sales division for all music genres. He was later promoted to vice president of product and development, and became vice president of marketing. He then joined A&M Records in Los Angeles, California as executive vice president and general manager of its urban music division, where he worked with Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, CeCe Peniston and Barry White. London then assisted the N.W.A. rapper Ice Cube develop his independent record label, Lench Mob Records. In 1994, London became the president of The Urban Network magazine. When Clear Channel Entertainment purchased the magazine, London became its executive vice president of urban entertainment. In 2003, London purchased The Urban Network from Clear Channel Entertainment and became its president and CEO. In 2017, he joined The Celeb Group as senior vice president.

In 2012, he collaborated with Bert Dearing to form Detroit-based Russell Street Entertainment to bring in young talent and teach them the business side of music. London is the 2016 recipient of The Living Legends Foundation’s Chairman’s Award. He also served on the board of directors of The Living Legends Foundation.

Miller London was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on October 16, 2017.

Accession Number

A2017.186

Sex

Male

Interview Date

10/18/2017 |and| 10/20/2017

10/18/2017

10/20/2017

Last Name

London

Maker Category
Occupation
Organizations
Schools

Northwestern High School

Highland Park Junior College

Wayne State University

First Name

Miller

Birth City, State, Country

Detroit

HM ID

LON05

Favorite Season

Summer

State

Michigan

Favorite Vacation Destination

Atlanta, Georgia

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Michigan

Birth Date

10/13/1946

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Detroit

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Fried Chicken

Short Description

Music executive Miller London (1946 - ) worked at Motown Records for twenty-one years as its executive vice president and general manager. He also worked as an executive at RCA Records, A&M Records, and as owner of The Urban Network magazine.

Employment

Bert's Ent. Complex

Urban Network

A and M Records

RCA Records

Motown Records

Bill Markley

Stark Hickey Ford

Favorite Color

Brown

Patricia Cosby

Music executive Patricia Cosby was born on February 9, 1944 to Willie Thompson and Meomi Seay Thompson. She graduated from Northwestern High School in Detroit, Michigan in 1961 and attended Detroit Business Institute.

In 1962, Cosby began working at Motown Records in Detroit, Michigan. She began working as a switchboard receptionist and was promoted to tape librarian under the supervision of Frances Heard Maclin, the first assistant in the tape library. Cosby later became an album coordinator. At Motown, Cosby met her husband, Hank Cosby. Her husband produced hits such as “The Tears of a Clown” and “My Cherie Amour.” In 1972, Cosby and her husband, moved to Los Angeles, California when the company relocated. In 1974, Cosby earned songwriting credits for two songs on the Blood, Sweat, & Tears album, Mirror Image. The songs are titled “Tell Me That I’m Wrong” and “Love Looks Good On You (You’re Candy Sweet),” with the album reaching 149 on the Billboard Pop Album chart. Cosby left Motown Records and in 1985, she secured a position with Embassy Pictures as a procurement coordinator, working under television producer Norman Lear. After two years at Embassy Pictures, she moved back to Detroit in 1987 and later worked for the health insurance company, Cigna in 1990. Cosby served as a contracting manager and retired from her position at Cigna in 2005.

In 2002, her husband, Hank Cosby, passed away, with over 300 mourners at his funeral, Stevie Wonder, Rance Allen and Jennifer Fouche sang at his funeral. In 2006, Hank Cosby was posthumously inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. Cosby was also a member of the Motown Historical Museum and the Heroes and Legends Scholarship Foundation.

Patricia Cosby had two children with and her husband, Henry Cosby: Henry Cosby, Jr., and William Cosby. Her husband Henry Cosby, also had another son, Kevin Cosby, from a previous marriage.

Patricia Cosby was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on October 17, 2017.

Accession Number

A2017.185

Sex

Female

Interview Date

10/17/2017

Last Name

Cosby

Maker Category
Organizations
Schools

Jefferson Intermediate School

Hancock Elementary School

High School of Commerce and Business Administration

Northwestern High School

Detroit Business Institute

First Name

Patricia

Birth City, State, Country

Detroit

HM ID

COS03

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Michigan

Favorite Vacation Destination

Las Vegas

Favorite Quote

If It Feels Good, Do It

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Michigan

Birth Date

2/9/1944

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Detroit

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Ice Cream

Short Description

Music executive Patricia Cosby (1944 - ) was a receptionist, tape librarian, and album coordinator for Motown Records Corporation and was married to Motown writer and producer Henry “Hank” Cosby.

Employment

Motown Records

Embassy Pictures

CIGNA Healthcare

Favorite Color

Yellow; Red

Carolyn Wilkins

Professor and jazz musician Carolyn Wilkins was born on April 23, 1952 in Chicago, Illinois to Elizabeth Sweeny and Julian Wilkins. She graduated from the University of Chicago Laboratory School in Chicago, Illinois in 1969, and received her B.M. degree from the Oberlin Conservatory in Oberlin, Ohio in 1973, and her M.M. degree from the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York in 1978.

Wilkins taught as an assistant professor of music at Wilbur Wright College in Chicago, Illinois from 1979 to 1981. In 1987, she served as choir director at Mount St. Joseph Academy and in 1989, she developed a "concert-lecture" designed to introduce some of jazz's greatest composers. She has also given concert-lectures on "What Is This Thing Called Jazz - a History from New Orleans to Coltrane", "Black Women in Jazz" and "The Roots of Jazz - African Music, Spirituals and the Blues" for audiences in libraries, schools and colleges. Wilkins was professor of Ensembles at Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts.

Wilkins released four albums of her original compositions entitled SpiritJazz I, SpiritJazz II, Healin' Time and Praise Song on Tiphareth Records. Wilkins also composed music for The Search Goes On, an original musical performed at First Night 2000, for the NPR adaptation of Langston Hughes' Tell Your Mama, poet Phil Bryant's Southside Suite, and for Return, a Meditational Journey of Self Discovery for Black Women. The Wright College Choir, the Mt. St. Joseph Chorale, the Emmanuel College Singers, and the Shiloh Gospel Choir have also performed Wilkins’ compositions. She performed her jazz-influenced spiritual music weekly in her role as music director for the Jazz Worship Service at the First Church in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Her performance experience also included radio and television appearances with her group SpiritJazz, a concert tour of South America as a Jazz Ambassador for the U.S. State Department, performances as a percussionist with the Pittsburgh Symphony under Andre Previn and in shows featuring Melba Moore, Nancy Wilson and the Fifth Dimension. Wilkins performed at Boston's Regattabar, Scullers' Grille, the Globe Jazz Festival and the Many Colors of a Woman Jazz Festival. She has also appeared in concert at Harvard, Brandeis and Boston Universities, and was featured four times as a part of Boston's annual First Night Celebration.

Wilkins authored five books; Damn Near White: An African American Family’s Rise from Slavery to Bittersweet Success, They Raised Me Up: A Black Single Mother and the Women Who Inspired Her, both published by the University of Missouri Press, Melody for Murder and Mojo for Murder, both published by Pen-L Publishing, and Tips for Singers: Performing, Auditioning and Rehearsing.

Carolyn Wilkins was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on August 19, 2017.

Accession Number

A2017.157

Sex

Female

Interview Date

08/19/2017

Last Name

Wilkins

Maker Category
Organizations
First Name

Carolyn

Birth City, State, Country

Chicago

HM ID

WIL79

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Illinois

Favorite Vacation Destination

Maine

Favorite Quote

When the going gets tough the tough get going.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Massachusetts

Birth Date

4/23/1952

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Cambridge

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Rice

Short Description

Professor and jazz musician Carolyn Wilkins (1952 - ) served as professor of ensembles at Berklee College of Music and has released four albums of original work and authored five books.

Favorite Color

Blue