Black History: Mister Bojangles

Bill Robinson (1878-1949) was born in Virginia and raised by his grandmother after the death of his parents when he was eight. At an early age he began “hoofing” or busking in local beer gardens. He was spotted by a promoter who hired him as a pickaninny in a minstrel show where his job was […]

Black History: From Vaudeville to Broadway

Pearl Bailey (1918-1990) was born in Virginia where her father was a reverend. Her brother Bill Bailey (1912-1978) was a professional tap dancer who would later be the first person recorded performing the “moonwalk” in the 1943 film Cabin in the Sky. When Pearl was 15 ee would encourage her to enter a singing competition […]

Black History: King of Rumba Rock

Papa Wemba (1949-2016) was born in Lubefu in the Belgian Congo, a colonial territory under the rule of Belgium. The territory had been placed under the direct rule of Leopold II of Belgium (1835-1909) in 1885 and over the years he ordered large scale atrocities that would outrage even the other colonial powers leading the […]

Black History: Contralto of Intrinsic Beauty

Marian Anderson (1897-1993) was born in Philadelphia where her father had a business selling ice and coal. Her mother had been a school teacher but without a formal degree could not teach in Philadelphia. Both were devout Christians and her aunt was an active member of the church and involved in the music program. She […]

Fisk Jubilee Singers (1871-pres) were formed in 1971 as a charity raising effort for Fisk University a recent addition to the historically black colleges established in the USA. Such colleges began to appear in the 1850’s originally in Northern States, serving the free black community, but following the American Civil War they would begin to […]