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Bessie Coleman

(b. 20 January 1896; d. 30 April 1926), first licensed African American female aviator, barnstormer, parachutist, and activist. Born in Atlanta, Texas, Elizabeth Coleman was the ...

Coleman, Bessie

Coleman, Bessie (20 January 1896)   Reference library

Black Women in America (2 ed.)

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
2005
Subject:
History, Regional and National History
Length:
1,140 words
Illustration(s):
1

..., Bessie (b. 20 January 1896 ; d. 30 April 1926 ), first licensed African American female aviator, barnstormer, parachutist, and activist . Born in Atlanta, Texas , Elizabeth Coleman was the twelfth of thirteen children. Her mother, Susan Coleman, was African American. Her father, George Coleman, was three-quarters Choctaw Indian and one-quarter African. While Bessie was still a toddler, the Coleman family moved to Waxahachie, Texas, an agricultural and trade center that produced cotton, grain, and cattle. The town was about thirty miles south of...

Bessie Coleman

Bessie Coleman  

(b. 20 January 1896; d. 30 April 1926), first licensed African American female aviator, barnstormer, parachutist, and activist.Born in Atlanta, Texas, Elizabeth Coleman was the twelfth of thirteen ...
Bessie Smith

Bessie Smith  

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Overview Page
Subject:
Music
(1895–1937)Black US blues singer. Known as the ‘Empress of the Blues’, this tall handsome woman created a style that was followed by many jazz singers, including Louis Armstrong and Billie ...
Frank Walker

Frank Walker  

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Overview Page
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Music
B. 24 October 1889, Fly Summit, New York, USA, d. 15 October 1963, Little Neck, New York, USA. After a spell in banking and the US Navy, Walker joined Columbia ...
Kronos Quartet

Kronos Quartet  

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Overview Page
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Music
String quartet founded in Seattle 1973 by David Harrington and re‐formed in 1978 in San Francisco. Plays almost exclusively contemp. mus. incl. rock transcrs. Has given over 400 f.ps. of works by ...
Sun Ra

Sun Ra  

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Overview Page
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Music
B. Herman Sonny Blount, 22 May 1914, Birmingham, Alabama, USA, d. 30 May 1993, Birmingham, Alabama, USA. One of the most extraordinary figures in twentieth-century music who deserves much greater ...
Aretha Franklin

Aretha Franklin  

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Overview Page
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Music
(b. 1942), gospel, jazz, pop, and rhythm and blues singer.Aretha Franklin was born in Memphis, Tennessee, and grew up in Detroit, Michigan. Her father, Rev. Clarence LaVaugh Franklin, was a gospel ...
Ethel Waters

Ethel Waters  

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Overview Page
Subject:
Music
(1896–1977)African-American singer and actress who began her career in Philadelphia, literally stopping the show with her rendition of ‘St Louis Blues’. Eight years later she was billed as ‘Sweet ...
Smith, Bessie

Smith, Bessie (b. 15 April 1894)   Reference library

Encyclopedia of African American History 1896 to the Present

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
2009
Subject:
History, Regional and National History
Length:
1,232 words

...Never Stop Singing.” Bessie Smith was born into stark poverty in Chattanooga, Tennessee, to William Smith, a part-time preacher, and his wife, Laura; her birth date is uncertain. Her father died when she was an infant, and her mother died when she was about eight years old, leaving six orphaned siblings. By age nine Bessie, with her brother Andrew as her guitarist, was singing for coins on the streets of Chattanooga. Her older brother Clarence left home to become a dancer and comedian in a small traveling show. In 1912 when Bessie was about eighteen,...

Franklin, Aretha

Franklin, Aretha (1942)   Reference library

The Concise Oxford Companion to African American Literature

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
2002
Subject:
Literature
Length:
422 words

...declared her voice a “natural resource” in honor of her twenty-fifth year in the music business. In 1987 , she became the first woman to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The “Queen of Soul” has been compared to other great blues singers like Dinah Washington , Bessie Smith , and Billie Holiday . Blues singers maintain an iconic importance in African American poetry, drama, and fictive narrative. In African American literature they often figure as sensual women who utilize music as a liberating tool to communicate pain, suffering, desire,...

Aviation

Aviation   Reference library

Black Women in America (2 ed.)

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
2005
Subject:
History, Regional and National History
Length:
2,296 words
Illustration(s):
1

...to perform before segregated audiences. Through her performances, lectures, and newsreels—film was a medium also still in its infancy—Coleman encouraged black Americans to become involved in aviation. She was killed in an air accident in 1926 , but generations of pilots of both genders and all races would be inspired by Coleman’s determination and enthusiasm. In the late 1920s, William J. Powell organized the Bessie Coleman Aero Club in Los Angeles to promote “airmindedness,” as the enthusiasm for and interest in aviation were then known, among the black...

Rainey, Ma (Gertrude Pridgett)

Rainey, Ma (Gertrude Pridgett) (26 April 1886)   Reference library

Black Women in America (2 ed.)

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
2005
Subject:
History, Regional and National History
Length:
1,294 words
Illustration(s):
1

...cotton and tobacco harvests in the South and Midwest, and performing under a large circus tent with a portable wooden stage and Coleman lanterns for footlights. Ma Rainey, shown in an advertisement for Paramount Records that appeared in the Chicago Defender , 18 February 1928. Rainey was known as the “mother of the blues.” Courtesy of Georgia Music Hall of Fame, Macon Sometime during her minstrel days, Rainey worked with Bessie Smith, whose fame would one day eclipse her own. Popular legend aside, Rainey never kidnapped Smith, nor did she teach her to sing,...

Henderson, Fletcher Hamilton, Jr.

Henderson, Fletcher Hamilton, Jr. (b. 18 December 1897)   Reference library

Encyclopedia of African American History 1896 to the Present

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
2009
Subject:
History, Regional and National History
Length:
902 words

...African American presence on Broadway, Henderson never reconciled the goals of commercial expediency and cultural uplift. The company declared bankruptcy in 1923 , even as Henderson demonstrated his professional versatility by accompanying blues singers such as Ethel Waters and Bessie Smith on piano and leading a respectable dance orchestra at the Club Alabam in 1924 . Later that year he began a seasonal engagement for white patrons at Manhattan's prestigious Roseland Ballroom that lasted intermittently for a decade. The jazz critic Hugues Panassié later...

Blues

Blues   Reference library

Black Women in America (2 ed.)

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
2005
Subject:
History, Regional and National History
Length:
5,471 words
Illustration(s):
2

...songwriter; a star in minstrelsy, vaudeville, and recording; and a dancer, producer, and theater manager. (See individual entry: Rainey, Ma [Gertrude Pridgett] .) Bessie Smith ( 1892-1937 ) was a prominent figure in American popular culture and African American history, challenging conventional roles of African American womanhood while rising to national acclaim. (See individual entry: Smith, Bessie .) Mabel Smith (Big Maybelle) ( 1924-1972 ) came of age at the beginning of the jump music and rhythm and blues era and brought to the blues a growl and sense of...

Saxophone

Saxophone   Reference library

Stephen Cottrell

The Grove Dictionary of American Music (2 ed.)

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
2013
Subject:
Music, Social sciences, Regional and Area Studies
Length:
1,270 words

...tenor saxophone in particular, became increasingly iconic of the jazz tradition. No other instrument has contributed as much to the development of jazz, nor been played by so many of its innovators; notable exponents include Sidney Bechet, Coleman Hawkins, Lester Young, Charlie Parker, John Coltrane, and Ornette Coleman. As American popular music ascended globally in the 1940s and 50s, the saxophone was seen as an integral part of that music and thus increasingly representative of America itself. Whether in the big band saxophone sections of Count Basie and...

Holiday, Billie

Holiday, Billie (7 April 1915)   Reference library

Black Women in America (2 ed.)

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
2005
Subject:
History, Regional and National History
Length:
2,478 words
Illustration(s):
1

...Fitzgerald, were white, and all of whom sang with commercially popular big bands. Among jazz critics and historians, however, there is little question that Billie Holiday was the greatest jazz singer ever recorded. Coming into her own a generation after classic blues singers like Bessie Smith , Holiday created a place for herself outside the limited confines of the “girl singer” role within the big band, setting standards by which other jazz singers continued to be judged and influencing singers as diverse in style as Sarah Vaughan , Frank Sinatra , Carmen ...

Rhythm and Blues

Rhythm and Blues   Reference library

Encyclopedia of African American History 1896 to the Present

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
2009
Subject:
History, Regional and National History
Length:
2,473 words
Illustration(s):
2

...and influenced generations of musicians in America and elsewhere. A number of female performers also made their mark during this early period. In 1920 Mamie Smith , a veteran vaudeville performer, recorded Crazy Blues , which many consider to be the first blues song on disk. Bessie Smith , Ma Rainey , and Ida Cox also became famous for their performances and recordings. As rural blues developed, so did its close cousin, jazz, which was also influenced by multiple musical styles, including some of those associated with blues, as well as by martial music...

Gender

Gender   Reference library

Tracy McMullen

The Grove Dictionary of American Music (2 ed.)

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
2013
Subject:
Music, Social sciences, Regional and Area Studies
Length:
2,350 words

..., ed. S. Whiteley (London, 1997), 50–64 T.D. Taylor : Global Pop: World Music, World Markets (New York, 1997) J. Tick : Ruth Crawford Seeger: a Composer's Search for American Music (New York, 1997) A.Y. Davis : Blues Legacies and Black Feminism: Gertrude “Ma” Rainey, Bessie Smith, and Billie Holiday (New York, 1998) L. Erenberg : Swingin’ the Dream: Big Band Jazz and the Rebirth of American Culture (Chicago, 1998) J. Halberstam : Female Masculinity (Durham, NC, 1998) H. Carby : Cultures in Babylon: Black Britain and African America (London,...

Henderson, Fletcher

Henderson, Fletcher (18 Dec 1897)   Reference library

Jeffrey Magee

The Grove Dictionary of American Music (2 ed.)

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
2013
Subject:
Music, Social sciences, Regional and Area Studies
Length:
1,784 words

...be allowed to record anything that wasn’t blues or hot stuff,” recalled Stewart. Throughout the 1920s Henderson cemented his reputation as “one of the best … ‘blues’ specialists,” as one publication put it, accompanying more than a dozen female singers, including Ma Rainey and Bessie Smith. After the stock market crash of 1929 , the band continued to thrive, at first, on a routine of public appearances, radio play, and records. Its recording of the old orientalist Tin Pan Alley hit “Chinatown, my Chinatown” ( 1930 , Col.) sprints through the familiar tune at...

Gospel Music

Gospel Music   Reference library

Black Women in America (2 ed.)

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
2005
Subject:
History, Regional and National History
Length:
5,549 words
Illustration(s):
1

...voice and her ragtime/boogie piano playing, and is said to have influenced such gospel performers as Clara Ward, Rosetta Tharpe, and Ernestine Washington . Bessie Griffin ( 1922 - ), a protégée of Mahalia Jackson, was one of the top gospel singers of the 1940s and 1950s. She was born Arlette B. Broil in New Orleans, Louisiana , and raised by her grandmother after her mother’s death when Bessie was only five years old. She married young, but the marriage lasted only two years. Trying to remake her life, she began singing with church choirs and gospel...

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