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Deena Weinstein

Both an American Detroit-based hard rock band and the adopted name of its singer and main creative force Vincent Damon Furnier (b Detroit, MI, 4 Feb 1946). Cooper was the son of a minister and the nephew of the storyteller Damon Runyon, after whom he was named. He moved to Arizona, where he attended high school and formed the Nazz. This band eventually took the name Alice Cooper and developed an over-the-top, theatrical shock-rock style that influenced a host of other rock performers.

With snide and clever lyrics, Alice Cooper’s style was mainly hard rock, but some tunes were psychedelic and others would be suitable in a Broadway musical. After moving to Michigan, the band scored numerous hits in the early 1970s. Many of the songs were rebellious youth-focused anthems, including “Eighteen” (Warner, 1971) and “School’s Out” (Warner, 1972). Others centered on ghoulish menace or mere gothic gruesomeness like “Dead Babies” (Warner, ...

Article

Lori Burns and Jada Watson

[Myra Ellen]

(b Newton, NC, Aug 22, 1963). American alternative-rock singer-songwriter, pianist, and record producer. She emerged in the early 1990s amid a resurgence of female singer-songwriters and has been one of the few well known alternative-rock artists to use the piano as her primary instrument. She attended the preparatory division of the prestigious Peabody Conservatory but left the school at the age of 11. She began to play her own music in nightclubs at 14, chaperoned by her father, who was a preacher. After Amos moved to Los Angeles in her late teens to pursue a recording career, her band Y Kant Tori Read released a self-titled album (Atl., 1987). Although this was unsuccessful, Atlantic Records retained her six-album contract.

Amos’s debut solo album, Little Earthquakes (Atl., 1992), earned her critical acclaim for her vocal expressivity, pianistic virtuosity, and fearless exploration of a wide range of personal themes, notably female sexuality, personal relationships, religion, sexual violence, and coming of age. The album ...

Article

Roxanne R. Reed

[Delois Barrett and the Barrett Sisters]

Gospel trio. Its members were Delores [Delois] (soprano), Billie (alto), and Rhodessa (high soprano) Barrett. Hailing from the Southside of Chicago, they grew up with seven other siblings and were members of the Morning Star Baptist Church where they sang in a choir directed by their aunt. As the Barrett–Hudson Singers, Delores and Billie had performed in a group with a cousin, whom Rhodessa later replaced to form the Barrett Sisters. Delores, the eldest and the group’s leader, started singing at the age of six. Her professional career began in earnest after graduating from Englewood High School, when she became the first female to join the Roberta Martin Singers (1944; see martin, Roberta ). Billie and Rhodessa received some formal training, but it was through the Roberta Martin Singers that Delores learned technique and honed her individual style, along with the unique ensemble quality known as the Roberta Martin sound. Delores continued to sing with Martin from time to time, even as the Barrett Sisters took shape. Getting their start as an African American gospel trio, the Barrett Sisters first recorded with the label Savoy (...

Article

Akitsugu Kawamoto

American hip-hop group. It was formed in 1995 in Los Angeles by will.i.am (William James Adams, Jr.; b Inglewood, CA, 15 March 1975; rapping, vocals, various instruments), apl.de.ap (Allan Pineda Lindo, Jr.; b Angeles City, Philippines, 28 November 1975; rapping, drums), and Taboo (Jaime Luis Gómez; b Los Angeles, CA, 14 July 1975; rapping, keyboard). The group grew out of Atban Klann (1991–5), a Los Angeles-based group signed for a time to Eazy-E’s Ruthless Records. The Black Eyed Peas developed an approach that fused elements of global pop, jazz-rock, funk, soul, noise music, and a variety of hip-hop styles. Initially considered somewhat of an underground phenomenon, the Black Eyed Peas achieved worldwide commercial success after being joined by Fergie (Stacy Ann Ferguson; b Hacienda Heights, CA, 27 March 1975; rapping, vocals) in 2003. The group’s third and fourth albums, Elephunk (2003) and Monkey Business (2005...

Article

Raoul F. Camus

(b Port Jefferson, NY, April 15, 1923; d New York, June 26, 1981). American cornet and trumpet player and teacher. Because of damage at birth resulting in a withered right arm, he learned to play on instruments that were specially adapted for left-hand playing. Beginning lessons with his father at age five, by the time he was seven he was already performing as a soloist. At thirteen he studied with Del Staigers, considered one of the world’s great cornet soloists. In 1938 he began lessons with Ned Mahoney, cornet soloist with the Goldman Band, who convinced him to study at the Ernest Williams School of Music. In 1943, at the age of twenty, Burke was invited to join the Goldman Band, playing some 1100 solos over the next 32 years. In addition to the Goldman Band, Burke performed with the Cities Service Band of America (1948–56), the Radio City Music Hall Orchestra and the Baltimore SO....

Article

Paul R. Laird

(Dawn)

(b Broken Arrow, OK, July 24, 1968). American singer and actress. Chenoweth began her stage career singing for church functions before earning a BFA in musical theater and a master’s degree in opera performance from Oklahoma City University. Summer stock, beauty pageants, and off-Broadway roles preceded her Broadway debut in Kander and Ebb’s Steel Pier (1997). She portrayed Sally, a role envisioned for her, in the 1999 revival of You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown (winning a Tony Award) and starred in the play Epic Proportions the same year. Chenoweth has enjoyed a simultaneous television career, appearing in small-screen adaptations of Annie (1999) and The Music Man (2003) and working on series such as the eponymous Kristin, The West Wing, Pushing Daisies, Glee, and Good Christian Belles. Her most memorable role on Broadway was Glinda in Stephen Schwartz’s Wicked (2003), a part that she played for two years in workshops before the premiere and which was tailored to her unique talents. Later credits include Cunegonde in a semi-staged version of ...

Article

Claude Conyers

American ballet dancers, teachers, choreographers, and company directors. Three of the four Christensen brothers made their careers in dance. Members of a Danish Mormon family that had settled in America, they were taught folk and social dancing by their father and grandfather and trained in ballet by various teachers. All three were instrumental in establishing and popularizing ballet in the western United States.

Willam Farr Christensen (b Brigham City, UT, Aug 27, 1902; d Salt Lake City, Oct 14, 2001) was the eldest of the brothers. After touring the vaudeville circuit, he opened a ballet school in 1932 in Portland, Oregon, from which sprang the Portland Ballet. In 1937 he joined the San Francisco Opera Ballet, where, as ballet-master, he staged the first full-length American productions of Coppélia (1939), Swan Lake (1940), and The Nutcracker (1944). Returning to Utah in 1951, he taught ballet at the state university and founded a performing group that eventually became known as Ballet West....

Article

Horace Clarence Boyer

(b Columbia, SC, 1918; d Philadelphia, PA, Sept 4, 1967). American gospel singer. She studied music at Temple University and subsequently became a school teacher. In 1938 she heard Willie Mae Ford Smith sing gospel music in Washington, DC, and decided to adopt the style. She began singing in towns in the Washington area, where she soon became known as the “Sweetheart of the Potomac,” a title that remained with her throughout her career. She began recording in the early 1950s and by 1953 was one of the major gospel stars, specializing in the “song and sermonette” (where the first half of the song is delivered as a sermon and the second half is sung). Her most popular recordings, all made during the 1950s, include “Amen,” “Evening Sun,” and “Stop Gambler.” She performed most often with the support of a male quartet, beginning a song softly and subtly, then building in volume and drama as the song progressed....

Article

John Clemente

Girl group formed in Coney Island, New York, in 1954. Dorothy Jones, (Ethel) Darlene McCrea, and Jones’s cousin Beulah Robertson won third place in the Apollo Theater’s amateur contest. This led to their first single, “All Night Mambo/Don’t let go” (Lamp Records, 1954). The songwriter and manager Jesse Stone got them signed to Atlantic Records, where they recorded during the period 1955–6; their second single, “In Paradise/Passing Time” (1956) was written by Neil Sedaka. The Cookies also backed other artists on the Atlantic roster, with Margie Hendricks replacing Robertson in 1956. Two years later, McCrea and Hendricks accepted Ray Charles’ offer to be part of the Raelettes.

In 1960 Jones assembled another trio, with McCrea’s sister Earl-Jean and cousin Margaret Ross. They undertook studio work with Sedaka and subsequently with Carole King and Gerry Goffin. The Cookies scored their own hits with “Chains” (Dimension) and “Don’t say nothin’ bad (about my baby)” (Dimension). They continued backing other singers and recording demos for Goffin and King, and between ...

Article

David Sanjek

[Mighty Dells, the]

The group collectively grew up in Harvey, Illinois, and initially performed under the name the El-Rays. They recorded an unsuccessful single in 1954 for Chess Records before transferring to Vee-Jay the following year. Their first hit “Oh What A Night” (1956) came soon thereafter. It hit the top five of the R&B singles chart, sold over a million copies, and was awarded a gold record. Their commercial ascendance was interrupted when a member was severely injured in a car accident in 1958. The Dells re-formed in 1960 and initially served as backup singers to other stars including Dinah Washington, Ray Charles, and Barbara Lewis. They rejoined Chess Records in 1966 and a year later released the album There Is, the title track of which was a Top 20 pop hit. Successive achievements on the label include their first Top 10 Pop Hit, “Stay in My Corner” (1968...