Independent Historian

Catherine D. Foster (“Kay”) received her B.A. in Political Science from St. Martin’s College (now University) in Olympia, Washington in 1976. Previously, she attended Western Washington University, where she was in the Honors Program.

She has an extensive background in editing and proofreading, with a number of organizations and agencies including the Washington State Supreme Court. She has edited and copyedited for BlackPast since its inception.

Daughter of a history teacher, she is an amateur historian with a special interest in Pacific Northwest African American history, and the history of jazz. She has served on a number of boards and worked on numerous political campaigns, actively volunteering in her community.

William Allen (Count) Basie (1904-1984)

A jazz pianist and bandleader, Count Basie was one of the leading musicians of the Big Band “Swing” era. His Count Basie Orchestra was formed in 1936, and featured singers such as Billie Holliday, and notable musicians including Lester Young, Jo Jones, and Walter Page. … Read MoreWilliam Allen (Count) Basie (1904-1984)

George Bridgetower (1780-1860)

Eighteenth and nineteenth century classical violinist George Augustus Polgreen Bridgetower is perhaps now best remembered for his association with Ludwig von Beethoven, who composed his Kreutzer Sonata for the young Afro-European musician, and personally performed the sonata for violin and piano with Bridgetower. A copy … Read MoreGeorge Bridgetower (1780-1860)

Jessye Norman (1945-2019 )

Best known as an opera singer, Jessye Norman also lent her rich, dramatic, and powerful voice to recordings and recitals of spirituals and hymns—including a particularly compelling version of “Amazing Grace,” Christmas carols, and jazz recordings. She never limited herself to any one musical genre, … Read MoreJessye Norman (1945-2019 )

Maxwell Lemuel “Max” Roach (1924–2007)

Drummer, composer, and percussionist Max Roach was noted for his innovative contrapuntal polyrhythms, and was one of the founders of the bebop movement in jazz. He is widely considered one of the greatest drummers of all time, able to keep separate simultaneous rhythms going with … Read MoreMaxwell Lemuel “Max” Roach (1924–2007)