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Mark Anthony Neal

(b Chicago, IL, Jan 8, 1967). American R&B singer, writer, producer, and arranger. Kelly was born on the South side of Chicago. Raised, with his three siblings, by a single mother, he was encouraged to pursue a musical career by his high school music teacher and mentor, Lena McLin, who was the chair of the music department at the Kenwood Academy and the niece of the legendary gospel music composer Thomas Dorsey. In high school Kelly formed the group MGM (Musically Gifted Men), which won a $100,000 grand prize on the television talent show Big Break, hosted by Natalie Cole. The group eventually signed with Jive Records, though after creative and financial tensions, three of the members were replaced and the group renamed R. Kelly and Public Announcement. After a moderately successful debut that produced the hit singles “She’s Got That Vibe” and “Honey Love,” Kelly left the group in early ...

Article

George J. Grella

(b Arlington, MA, Dec 17, 1954). American composer, singer, broadcaster, and journalist. He taught himself to play drums, piano, and guitar as a teenager, after seeing Soft Machine open for Jimi Hendrix when he was 13. He attended the Rhode Island School of Design (BA 1976), where he played jazz piano, sang, composed chamber music, and organized free-jazz ensembles. He moved to New York and worked as a graphic designer and illustrator, producing work for Paul Bley’s label Improvising Artists and for composer La Monte Young, while making music on the side. Garland followed the twin paths of piano improvisation and composition for chamber ensembles in the minimalist style and later joined Nigel Rollings’s band Ad Hoc Rock; with Rollings he sang and played drums, guitar, and keyboards and appeared at The Kitchen, Carnegie Hall, and in the Noise Fest at White Columns (1981). In ...

Article

Karen M. Bryan

[Douglas, Lena ]

(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 (1918). During the 1920s she performed as a singer throughout Europe, studied composition briefly with Nadia Boulanger, and developed close friendships with Harlem Renaissance figures such as Carl Van Vechten and Langston Hughes.

While Holt’s career included periods in which she composed (only one of approximately 200 compositions survive) and performed (she sang extensively in private venues during her travels), she always returned to music journalism. She served as critic for The Chicago Defender from 1917–21, becoming the first woman music critic in the United States. During this same period she published Music and Poetry (1919–21), in which she included new compositions (including her own)....

Article

Owen Wright

(fl first half of the 11th century). Arab musician and writer. The son of an eminent musician, he became a prominent singer at the Cairo court of the Fatimid caliph al-Ẓāhir (1021–36), and was still active as a teacher in 1057. His music treatise, completed after 1036 and entitled Ḥāwī al-funūn wa-salwat al-maḥzūn (‘Compendium of the arts to comfort sad hearts’), is of particular interest in that it deals with various topics of little concern to other authorities. Written from the perspective of a cultured musician rather than that of a philosopher-theorist, it calls upon a literary tradition of writing about music, and its historical content is frankly derivative, even if of interest for the implication of continuity with the court music of 9th-century Baghdad. But it is wide-ranging in its treatment of contemporary practice, dealing not only with such basics as mode and rhythm, but also with such matters as the normal sequence of events in performance, deportment and etiquette, the materials and construction of the ‘...

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Michael Kassler

(b Woburn, Beds., Sept 24, 1766; d London, Jan 6, 1826). English geologist and writer on music. He was a tenor in the Surrey Chapel Society which met weekly in Southwark to practise sacred music. In 1791, when that society became part of the Choral Fund, Farey served as secretary and librarian and became acquainted ‘with numbers of the most eminent’ practitioners of music. The next year he returned to Woburn as the Duke of Bedford’s land steward and warden of Woburn parish church; from 1802 he lived in London.

Farey found the study of systems of musical temperament ‘a favourite source of amusement, while relaxing from … professional studies and practice’. His thoughts on music appeared mainly in numerous articles in the Philosophical Magazine and reappeared in contributions to David Brewster’s Edinburgh Encyclopaedia and to Abraham Rees’s Cyclopaedia: indeed Rees named only Charles Burney and Farey as ‘co-adjutors’ of the musical articles in the ...

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John Snelson

(Friedrich) [Gallas, Brian Roy]

(b Wellington, New Zealand, Feb 15, 1946). New Zealand writer on musical theatre. He studied law and classics at Canterbury University, New Zealand, subsequently joining the New Zealand Opera company as a bass singer. After moving to London he became a casting director and then a theatrical agent in musical theatre; from 1990 he devoted himself to writing and broadcasting on this subject. His pioneering two-volume study The British Musical Theatre (London, 1986), won several awards: its thorough survey of performances has ensured its place as an essential reference work. His later Encyclopedia of Musical Theatre (Oxford, 1994) is ambitious in its scope, displaying both the breadth of Gänzl’s interest and, through its selections and judgments, his characteristically personal view of the subject. His other books include Gänzl’s Book of the Musical Theatre (with Andrew Lamb; London, 1988), a companion guide in the manner of Kobbé, ...

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Leanne Langley

(b Norwich, Jan 22, 1784; d Brentwood, March 12, 1863). English bass and writer on music. Born into a prominent Unitarian family with literary leanings, he worked as an ironmonger and was active in liberal politics as well as amateur musical life in Norwich. He sang at the Octagon Chapel and the Glee and Catch Club, was principal bass at the Hall Concerts, and played a key role in the founding and organization of the Norwich Triennial Festival in 1824; he was also skilled as a wind player and choir trainer. Among his teachers were the Rev. Charles Smyth, William Fish and J.C. Beckwith.

In 1825 Taylor started an engineering firm in London, but on its failure a year later took up music professionally, as a concert singer and teacher. Still associated with opposition politics, by 1829 he had become music critic for the weekly Spectator. Its didactic, reform-minded tone suited him well, and he wrote there regularly for 14 years, notably on provincial festivals, the relative merits of Spohr (his friend) and Mendelssohn (whom he thought overrated), and on the importance of earlier music and of amateur music-making. In ...

Article

Jean Mongrédien

revised by Katharine Ellis

(b Bellême, Sept 6, 1759; d Tours, April 27, 1839). French writer on music . He attended the maîtrise of Le Mans Cathedral, where he met Le Sueur, and studied oriental languages at the Sorbonne. He was ordained a priest and, as a tenor, joined the maîtrise of Notre Dame on the eve of the Revolution. During the Revolution, however, the maîtrise was suppressed, and he joined the Opéra chorus, soon gaining the post of chorus leader.

In 1798 he went to Egypt as a member of a large scientific group accompanying Napoleon on his Egyptian expedition; this journey determined much of Villoteau’s future career. During two years in Egypt he amassed numerous documents, mainly on music, which he later studied with the aid of the principal Paris libraries. He then published several works, the first of which was Recherches sur l’analogie de la musique avec les arts qui ont pour objet l’imitation du langage...