R. Nathaniel Dett (1882-1943)

  Image Courtesy of the Library of Congress 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 … Read MoreR. Nathaniel Dett (1882-1943)

Chubby Checker (Ernest Evans) (1941– )

Image Ownership: Public Domain Chubby Checker, the man credited with inventing “The Twist,” was born Ernest Evans in Spring Gully, South Carolina. He moved to Philadelphia with his parents and two brothers and attended South Philadelphia High School. Evans aspired to become a performer from … Read MoreChubby Checker (Ernest Evans) (1941– )

The Mills Brothers (1925-1982)

Mills Brothers with Unidentified Man in Center. Image Courtsey of New York World’s Fair 1939-1040 Records, Manuscripts and Archives Division, The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations. The Mills Brothers, a musical quartet, originally featured John Jr. (b. 1910), Herbert (b. 1912), … Read MoreThe Mills Brothers (1925-1982)

Ink Spots (1932-1953)

Image Courtesy of the University of New Hampshire The Ink Spots, a musical quartet, originally included members Orville “Hoppy” Jones, Ivory “Deek” Watson, Jerry Daniels, and Charlie Fuqua. Some accounts claim Slim Greene also was a founding member. Influenced by the Mills Brothers, all four … Read MoreInk Spots (1932-1953)

John Leslie “Wes” Montgomery (1925-1968)

  Image Courtesy of Washington DC Jazz Network Wes Montgomery was a jazz guitarist whose natural genius and distinctive sound earned him recognition as one of the most important jazz musicians of the 20th century. Montgomery was born on March 6, 1925 in Indianapolis, Indiana … Read MoreJohn Leslie “Wes” Montgomery (1925-1968)

Benjamin “Bennie” Moten (1894-1935)

Bennie Moten’s Kansas City Orchestra Image Ownership: Public Domain As one of the most renowned big-band leaders of the 1920s, Bennie Moten succeeded in developing the “Kansas City” sound in big-band jazz.  Born in Kansas City, Missouri on November 13, 1894, Moten spent most of … Read MoreBenjamin “Bennie” Moten (1894-1935)