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Lara E. Housez

(b Oceanside, NY, May 15, 1956). American composer, lyricist, librettist, pianist, and singer. After studying composition at Carnegie Mellon University, Gordon settled in New York, where he emerged as a leading writer of art song, chamber pieces, opera, and musical theater. Drawing on his own texts as well as those by Marie Howe, Langston Hughes, Tina Landau, Edna St. Vincent Millay, and Dorothy Parker, among others, Gordon dramatizes complex and mature subject material with sophisticated musical means that often stretch beyond the traditional palette of popular and Broadway music. In ...

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William Geoffrey Shaman and Jonas Westover

(b New York, NY, April 27, 1869; d New York, NY, Feb 15, 1943). American conductor, composer, and pianist. As a child, he sang boy soprano in several churches, singing solos in many oratorios and cantatas. He studied piano with Charles Blum, singing with William Courtney, composition with Frederick Schilling, and conducting with ...

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Karen M. Bryan

(b Kansas City, KS, 1885; d Los Angeles, CA, Jan 24, 1974). American critic, composer, singer, and pianist. After receiving a BSc from Western Ontario University in Quindaro, Kansas, Holt studied at the Chicago Musical College and earned the first MusM in composition awarded to an African American (...

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Renee Lapp Norris

(b 1823, in Lancaster or Philadelphia, PA; d Chillicothe, MO, Sept 10, 1868). American composer, manager, arranger, singer, and pianist. Of German ancestry, Kneass began his career as a child, appearing in 1828 in Philadelphia. By the early 1840s, he was performing vocal concerts in New York with a group that included Mrs. Eliza Sharpe (whom he may have married), George Holman, and Joseph H. Kavanagh. In the autumn of ...

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Kate Dunlay

(b Antigonish, NS, Feb 24, 1975). Canadian fiddler, pianist, composer, and singer. During his early years, he was immersed in the Scottish-derived traditional music of Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia. He took up the fiddle (which he plays left-handed) at age eight. MacIsaac studied under Stan Chapman along with sister Lisa, cousin Wendy MacIsaac, and neighbor Natalie MacMaster, all of whom are now well-known fiddlers....

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Daniel Party

(b Mérida, Mexico, Dec 7, 1935). Mexican singer, songwriter, pianist, and arranger. Manzanero began his professional career as a piano accompanist in Mérida in 1951. After relocating to Mexico City in 1957 he worked as accompanist for renowned singers such as Pedro Vargas, Lucho Gatica, and Angélica María. His first major success as a composer came in ...

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Chadwick Jenkins

(b Louisville, KY, Aug 9, 1926). American jazz singer, pianist, organist, and bandleader. She learned to play piano by ear and as a child performed at her father’s church. She studied pipe organ and music theory at Fisk University. By the late 1940s she was performing in Chicago nightclubs as a soloist and as the leader of an all-female group. Her most notable group of the period was the Syncoettes, which included Lula Roberts (formerly of the International Sweethearts of Rhythm) on saxophone. Their first recording, “My Whole Life Through,” was produced and arranged by Eddie Durham and appeared on Premium Records in ...

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Melanie Feilotter

(b Randolph, VT, Aug 26, 1981). American composer and pianist. Raised in Providence, Rhode Island, he learned piano, sang in an Episcopalian boys’ choir and became enchanted with the English choral tradition, from William Byrd, Orlando Gibbons, and Thomas Weelkes to Henry Purcell and Benjamin Britten. In high school he studied composition with ...

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Nathan D. Gibson

(b Corrigan, TX, March 29, 1909; d Beaumont, TX, Jan 1, 1967). American country music singer and pianist. Widely regarded as the King of the Hillbilly Piano Players, he drew inspiration from boogie-woogie pianists, blues guitarists, and the prominent western swing scene in East Texas where he grew up, developing his own hard-edged barrelhouse style of honky-tonk piano that bridged the gap between boogie woogie, country music, and rock and roll. Mullican began his music career in the mid-1930s as an instrumentalist with the Blue Ridge Playboys and later joined Cliff Bruner’s Texas Wanderers before forming his own band, the Show Boys, in the mid-1940s. He was signed to King Records in ...

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Megan E. Hill

(b Osaka, Japan, 1957). Jazz and blues pianist, singer, and composer of Japanese birth. She took piano lessons briefly as a child and was exposed to the blues while growing up in Osaka in the 1960s and 1970s. As a high school student, she formed the Yoko Blues Band with classmates. The band earned some success, winning first prize and a recording contract in a television-sponsored contest. In ...

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Jonas Westover

(b Houston, TX, Sept 2, 1946; d Scottsdale, AZ, June 6, 2006). American keyboard player, singer, and songwriter. Preston was a piano prodigy, who began learning when he was three and was playing live gigs with bands by the age of ten. Preston played with gospel stars Mahalia Jackson and James Cleveland, and landed a small acting role as a young W.C. Handy in the film ...

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Greil Marcus and Timothy D. Miller

(b Colt, AR, Dec 14, 1932; d Hammond, LA, July 25, 1995). American country singer, songwriter, and pianist. The last important artist to be signed by producer Sam Phillips, he made recordings for a subsidiary of the Sun label, Phillips, early in his career, but never fit into the rockabilly mold set by Elvis Presley for white musicians who recorded for Sun. Instead, he favored blues, gospel, and jazz, and his early recordings show less similarity to Presley (despite his full, beautifully modulated voice) than to the blues ballad singer Bobby Bland. In ...

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Luca Cerchiari

(b Spokane, WA, Aug 19, 1918; d Burbank, CA, May 28, 1996). American pianist and singer. A refined keyboard player and an occasional vocalist, he possessed a style that in some ways recalled Cole Porter’s. Initially self-taught, Rowles then studied at Gonzaga University in Spokane. His professional career began in the 1940s in California, where he performed with Lester Young, Billie Holiday, Charlie Parker, Ben Webster, Woody Herman, and Dexter Gordon, among others. The following decade he spent more time accompanying singers, including Peggy Lee, Anita O’Day, Jimmy Witherspoon, and Mel Tormé, and such instrumental soloists as Buddy Rich, Stan Getz, Shorty Rogers, Jimmy Giuffre, and Ray Brown. He recorded as a leader for Liberty, Pacific Jazz, Clef, and Verve and also worked as a studio musician for film and television. His later years included additional performing, touring (with Ella Fitzgerald), festival performances, and recording for Atlantic and Columbia, among other labels. One of his best known compositions, “The Peacocks,” has been covered by many interpreters and was featured in the film ...

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Jonas Westover

(b Lawton, OK, April 2, 1942). American singer, songwriter, keyboard player, and producer. He is well respected for his solo work—a mix of rock, folk, and country music—but his work as a session musician has also brought significant recognition. He began playing piano at the age of four and was playing in clubs in Tulsa as a high school student. His band, the Starlighters, managed to score a spot as the opening act for Jerry Lee Lewis in ...

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Jonas Westover

(b Brooklyn, NY, March 13, 1939). American singer, pianist, and songwriter. Sedaka began singing and playing the piano when he was quite young, eventually taking part in the Juilliard School’s preparatory curriculum. When he was 13, Sedaka met Howard Greenfield, and the two began to write pop songs together, eventually penning hits for Connie Francis and others. He organized a band called the Tokens after graduating high school, then became a solo artist in ...

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Pseudonym of Jane Sloman .