Composers, musicians, and singers who have contributed to this Black genre.

Blind Willie Johnson, gospel singer with power

Blind Willie

On this in 1902, date we remember the birth of Blind Willie Johnson. He was an African American gospel singer who performed on the streets of Southern cities.

Johnson grew up near Temple, TX. When he was seven years old, his stepmother, fighting with his father, threw lye in Johnson's face, permanently blinding him. From his youth, he sang gospel songs while accompanying himself on guitar, for donations on the streets of small towns and cities, mostly in Texas. Johnson recorded 30 songs in Dallas, and Atlanta. in 1927-30.

An early jazz trumpet, Bunk Johnson

Bunk Johnson

*On this date we remember the birth of Bunk Johnson in 1879. He was an African American musician and composer.

Roy Eldridge played more than just Bebop

Roy Eldridge

*On this date Roy Eldridge was born in 1911. He was an African American jazz musician.

A fiery trumpet player and a key figure in the instrument's lineage, Roy Eldridge was an outstanding improvisational stylist. Eldridge was born in Pittsburgh, and after paying his dues with regional bands in the Midwest, moved to New York in 1930. In 1935 he joined Fletcher Henderson's orchestra, then led his own group before joining Gene Krupa in 1941. Through extensive tours and recordings, the Krupa engagement brought him to prominence.

Roosevelt Sykes could play those 88's

Roosevelt Sykes

*On this date in 1906, Roosevelt Sykes was born. He was an African American blues singer and musician.

From Elmar, Arkansas, Sykes began playing while growing up in Helena, Arkansas. At age 15, he hit the road, developing his rowdy barrelhouse style around the blues-fertile St. Louis area. Sykes began recording in 1929 for OKeh and the next year was signed to four different labels under four different names (among them-Dobby Bragg, Willie Kelly, and Easy Papa Johnson)!

A realist of jazz, Eric Gravatt

Eric Gravatt

*Eric Gravatt was born on this date in 1947. He is an African American musician, educator and world-renowned drummer and percussionist..

From Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Eric Kamau Gravatt is the only child of Clifford and Margo Gravatt. He graduated from Germantown H.S. in 1965 and has attended Cheyney State College, Temple University, Howard University and the University of Minnesota.

Young, Gifted and Black, Irvin Mayfield Jr.

Irvin Mayfield Jr.

*Irvin Mayfield, Jr. was born on this date in 1977. He is an African American musician, bandleader and educator.

Mayfield is from New Orleans, Louisiana the youngest nine children of Joyce Alsanders and Irvin Mayfield, Sr. His mother was a schoolteacher in New Orleans’ Upper Ninth Ward. His father was a drill sergeant in the United States Army and a boxer who died in the flood after Hurricane Katrina.

Tina Turner, an international record breaker

Tina Turner

Tina Turner was born on this date in 1939. She is an African American singer, dancer, and entertainer.

Odetta, the soul of American folk music!


*The birth of Odetta is marked on this in 1930. She was an African American singer, song writer and Civil Rights activist.

Nora Douglas Holt, a musical pioneer

Nora Holt

*The birth of Nora Douglas Holt in 1885 is celebrated on this date. She was an African American singer, composer and music critic.

Clora Bryant, Woman With A Horn

Clora Bryant, an African American jazz trumpeter, was born on this date in 1927.

She was born in Denison, Texas, and started in music as a singer in her Baptist church, but at age 14, she took up the trumpet after her brother, Fred, left his behind when he went into the military in 1941. Bryant was a very good student academically who played in her high school band.