Music

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

B. B. King, a bluesman supreme


B. B. King

*B. B. King was born on this date in 1925. He was an African American blues guitarist and singer-songwriter.

Riley B. King was born to a poor family of sharecroppers living on the Mississippi Delta, near the town of Itta Bene, Miss. King's home life was very unstable and as a child he picked cotton to help with the family income. But King's mother brought him to church regularly, where he was first exposed to gospel music; he even learned some basic guitar skills from his preacher.

June Pointer, Yes She Can Can


June Pointer

June Pointer’s birth in 1953 is marked on this date. She was an African American singer best known for her work with The Pointer Sisters.

Berry Gordy Jr., Motown founder and brilliant entrepreneur


Berry Gordy Jr.

Berry Gordy, Jr., was born on this date in 1929. He is an African American record producer, and the founder of the Motown record label and its subsidiaries.

Walter Booker, bass player for the stars


Walter Booker

Walter Booker was born on this date in 1933. He was an African American musician, music administrator, and teacher.

Etta Baker, an original; one of the greatest


Etta Baker

*Etta Baker was born on this date in 1913. She was an African American singer, composer, and musician one of the last surviving original American folk-blues performers.

Tim Brymn, a 20th century jazz, orchestra and military band leader


Tim Brymn

Tim Brymn was born on this date in 1881. He was an African American musical conductor, arranger, and composer.

James "Tim" Brymn was from Kinston, N.C., and educated at the Christian Institute and Shaw University. He also attended the National Conservatory of Music. Brymn moved to New York around the turn of the 20th century and soon began composing. In 1905 he wrote five songs that were probably used in what came to be known as the Smart Set shows. They included "Morning, Noon, and Night," "O-San," "Powhatana," "Travel On," and "Darktown Grenadiers."

From Ohio to the world, Tracy Chapman


Tracy Chapman

*Tracy Chapman was born on this date in 1964. She is an African American singer-and songwriter. Born in Cleveland, Ohio, Chapman began playing guitar and writing songs as a child.

She was accepted into "A Better Chance" the national resource for identifying, recruiting and developing leaders among academically gifted students of color. This opportunity enabled her to attend Wooster School in Connecticut, and eventually Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts. During college, Chapman began street-performing and playing her guitar in coffeehouses in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Eddie Durham, a foundation in Jazz


Eddie Durham

*Eddie Durham was born on this date in 1906. He was an African American musician, composer and inventor.

From San Marcos, Texas, he was the son of Joe Durham who played the fiddle at square dances. Young Durham’s oldest brother, Joe played cello briefly with Nat King Cole, took correspondence lessons and in turn taught Eddie and his other brothers to read and notate music. Together with cousins Allen and Clyde Durham, Durhams and his brother Roosevelt formed the Durham Brothers Band around 1920. They were later joined in Dallas by another cousin, Herschel Evans a tenor saxophonist.

A voice of passion, Etta James


Etta James

*Etta James was born on this date in 1938. She was an African American singer.

Mariah Carey, a voice with range


Mariah Carey

*Mariah Carey was born on this date in 1970. She is an African American R&B and pop singer, songwriter, record producer and occasional actress.

Carey was born in Huntington, New York. She is the third and youngest child of Patricia Hickey, a former opera singer and Irish-American, and Alfred Roy Carey (Nunez), an Afro-Venezuelan aeronautical engineer. Her siblings include her older sister Alison, and her older brother Morgan. She was named after the song "And They Call the Wind Maria".