Della Reese (1931-2017)

Della Reese, born Delloresse Patricia Early on July 6, 1931 in the Black Bottom neighborhood of Detroit, Michigan, is best known for her work as a blues and gospel singer, minister, and later as an actress. Reese was born to Richard Thaddeus Early, an African American steelworker, and Nellie Mitchelle Early, a Cherokee cook. … Read MoreDella Reese (1931-2017)

James Price Johnson (1894-1955)

Mostly known as the “Father of the Stride Piano,” James Johnson transformed music during the Harlem Renaissance.  With his form of composition and performance style, he altered ragtime into a more ambitious musical presentation which incorporated elements of early jazz. Over his lifetime, Johnson would record over 400 … Read MoreJames Price Johnson (1894-1955)

Mary J. Blige (1971- )

When Mary J. Blige was born on January 11, 1971, in The Bronx, New York, few observers would have imagined her becoming one of the most successful rhythm and blues (R&B) artists within a musical world increasingly dominated by hip-hop. Blige’s father abandoned the family when she was four.  She … Read MoreMary J. Blige (1971- )