Gladys Knight (1944- )

Gladys Maria Knight is an American Grammy Award-winning singer, songwriter, actress, and humanitarian. She was born in Atlanta, Georgia, on May 28, 1944, to Sarah and Merald Knight Sr. and began singing in church as a child. At age seven, she gained minor fame after … Read MoreGladys Knight (1944- )

Rosetta Atkins [Sister Rosetta] Tharpe (1915-1973)

Sister Rosetta Tharpe was a singer, songwriter, and guitarist of gospel, jazz, blues, and rock-and-roll.  She was born on March 20, 1915 near Cotton Plant, Arkansas to Katie (née Harper) Bell Nubin and Willis B. Atkins.  Her mother, a mandolin-playing evangelist in the Church of … Read MoreRosetta Atkins [Sister Rosetta] Tharpe (1915-1973)

R. Nathaniel Dett (1882-1943)

From precocious five-year-old piano player in the 1890s to internationally known choral director, composer, concert pianist, and poet, R. Nathaniel Dett became champion for preservation of the black spiritual which he called authentic American folk music: He dedicated his life to finding a musical form … Read MoreR. Nathaniel Dett (1882-1943)

William Levi Dawson (1898-1990)

William Levi Dawson was an African American composer, choir director, and professor specializing in black religious folk music. He was born on September 26, 1899, in Anniston, Alabama to Eliza Starkey and George Dawson, the first of their seven children. His father, a former slave, … Read MoreWilliam Levi Dawson (1898-1990)

Robert “Bumps” Blackwell (1918-1985)

Robert “Bumps” Blackwell was a musician, producer, and composer who worked with the top names in early jazz and rock and roll.  Blackwell was born in Seattle, Washington on May 23, 1918.  By the late 1940s his Seattle-based “Bumps Blackwell Junior Band” featured Ray Charles … Read MoreRobert “Bumps” Blackwell (1918-1985)