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Article

Jonas Westover

[Salvatore Phillip]

(b Detroit, MI, Feb 16, 1935; d South Lake Tahoe, CA, Jan 5, 1998). American singer, composer, producer, actor, and politician. Bono began his career as a composer; one of his first songs, “Things You Do To Me,” was recorded by Sam Cooke in 1957–8. He eventually made contact with Phil Spector, with whom he worked closely for several years. One of his first successes came in 1963, when his song “Needles and Pins” (co-written with Jack Nitzsche) was recorded by Jackie DeShannon and reached number one on the charts in Canada. The height of his musical career came in the 1960s and 1970s as part of the duo Sonny and Cher. He wrote, produced, and performed on many of their hits, including “I Got You Babe” and “The Beat Goes On.” Success with Cher, to whom he was married from 1964 to 1975, led to many appearances on television, including ...

Article

Athena Elafros

(John) [Diddy; P. Diddy; Puff Daddy; Puffy; Sean John]

(b New York, NY, Nov 4, 1969). American record producer, rapper, record executive, artist manager, and actor. His sample-heavy approach to production and R&B-infused sound contributed to the mainstreaming and resurgence of East Coast hip hop in the mid-1990s. As an entrepreneur and business executive, Combs parlayed his career in music into the multi-million dollar Bad boy entertainment empire, consisting of Bad Boy Records, the clothing lines Sean Jean and Sean by Sean Combs, a movie production company, and several restaurants. Often criticized for commercializing and watering down hip hop, Combs’s career, and the controversy surrounding it, exemplify fundamental tensions related to hip hop’s massive cultural influence and complicated relationship to global capitalism. Significantly, his wholesale recycling of popular hooks such as the Police’s “Every Breath You Take,“ Diana Ross’s “I’m Coming Out” and David Bowie’s “Let’s Dance,” to name only a few, have resulted in his music being heavily criticized (and heavily sold) both within and outside of hip hop circles....

Article

Robert B. Winans

revised by Jonas Westover

[Clapp, George Alfred ]

(b Hartford, CT, Aug 7, 1856; d New York, NY, Oct 26, 1924). American minstrel performer and manager. He began his career as an amateur in Hartford in 1873, where he performed as a blackface song and dance man; he appeared with prominent minstrel organizations and with his own troupes. Between 1878 and 1883 he was Charles Dockstader’s partner in a performing duo called the Dockstader Brothers, and in 1886 he formed his own Dockstader’s Minstrels. He later formed a company with George Primrose (1898–1903), which was among the last minstrel troupes to tour major US cities. For the next 11 years he maintained his own company, and his last years were spent in vaudeville. Dockstader was an extremely successful organizer and director of minstrel productions and created many skits and afterpieces. His own talent lay particularly in burlesque and mimicry. Regarding the latter, he was especially famous for his monologues and stump speeches in addition to parodying politicians, actors, and singers. He was one of the few to keep minstrelsy alive as a distinct form well into the 20th century. Dockstader published a few collections, including a minstrel songster in ...

Article

Eminem  

Joseph R. Matson

[Mathers, Marshall Bruce III; Slim Shady]

(b St. Joseph, MO, Oct 17, 1972).

American rapper, record producer, and actor. As a youth, Eminem moved between multiple residences in and around Kansas City and Detroit; he has remained based in the Detroit area since the late 1980s. He was raised by his mother, Debbie (Deborah) Mathers; Ronnie (Ronald) Dean Polkinghorn, an uncle who was only a few months older than Eminem, first introduced him to hip-hop music. Eminem and Kim (Kimberly; Kimberley) Anne Scott, whom he later married and divorced twice, have one daughter, Hailie Jade Scott. During his third attempt to complete the ninth grade, Eminem dropped out of high school permanently to focus on his career as a rapper.

Proof [DeShaun] Holton (1972–2006), Eminem’s closest friend in high school, effectively functioned as his teacher, manager, and back-up band at various times in his early career. Together with four other Detroit rappers, they formed a collective unit called D12. In ...

Article

Robert B. Winans

[Hatfield, Alfred Griffith ]

(b Lessburg, VA, Nov 7, 1848; d Columbus, OH, April 3, 1921). American minstrel performer and manager. He gave his first minstrel performance as a schoolboy in Brownsville, Pennsylvania, and subsequently appeared in minstrel shows, serious theater, and circuses. In the late 1870s and early 1880s he played with major minstrel troupes, and in 1886 he formed Al G. Field’s Minstrels, a large touring company that functioned until 1928. His show grew in size and splendor until it became one of the most elaborate and expensive. It was especially noted for its lavish costuming and sets. Moreover, Field’s company was the first to carry complete scenic sets and to travel in specially built railroad cars. Field wrote and directed all of his own productions and also performed in them as endman, monologist, or companion to the main comedian; he was also one of the few minstrels to become wealthy....

Article

(b Los Herreras, Nuevo León, México Dec 16, 1921; d Monterrey, Nuevo León, México, Sept 1, 2003). Mexican actor, singer, songwriter, and film director. Eulalio “Piporro” González Ramírez is best known for developing an idiosyncratic style of parodying Northern Mexican, or norteño, identity, lifestyle, and language through music and comedic acting for radio, stage, and film. His career spanned 60 years. He began as a newspaper reporter and radio personality in Monterrey and in US-Mexico border towns when he landed a role on the radio comedy, Ahí viene Martín Corona (Here Comes Martín Corona) produced in México City and starring the popular singer and actor Pedro Infante. At age 28, he played Infante’s elderly sidekick in 19th-century northern México where his bumbling character, “Piporro,” helped solve conflicts and dustups in local ranch life. The show’s success led to the 1951 film of the same name starring González and Infante. González enjoyed countless roles as “Piporro” in classic ...

Article

Robert B. Winans

[Jack ]

(b Bellefonte, PA, June 30, 1837; d Salt Lake City, UT, Sept 28, 1901). American minstrel show manager. He began his career in 1864 in Michigan and Ohio, and by the late 1860s and early 1870s he was managing his own and others’ minstrel troupes. From about 1873 he concentrated his talents on his own company, Haverly’s Minstrels, and began to buy interests in other companies and theaters in several cities. The trend toward huge companies began with Haverly’s Mastodon Minstrels in 1878, with its “40, count ‘em, 40” performers; by 1880 he had a company of 100. After 1883 minstrelsy was dominated by the type of large, profitable company, traveling nationwide, that Haverly had pioneered; such companies replaced the raucous shows of the early troupes with lavishly produced variety entertainments. Haverly’s Mastodon Minstrels disbanded in 1896, and Haverly retired from active management shortly after. He was probably minstrelsy’s most successful organizer and promoter, having a good sense of the public’s taste and a flair for advertising and producing....

Article

Dominique-René de Lerma

(b Baltimore, MD, c1840; d Surabaya [now in Indonesia], 1902). American minstrel-troupe manager. He became one of the most successful African American managers of minstrel groups. In about 1865 he organized the Original Georgia Minstrels, probably named after a 15-member troupe of former slaves called the Georgia Minstrels, established in April of that year by W.H. Lee in Macon. Hicks’s troupe began touring in the Northeast and the West and, within three years, included a 13-piece brass band. In 1870 Hicks and some of his members joined with Sam Hague’s Great American Slave Troupe (formerly Lee’s group) for a tour of the British Isles. In July of the following year there was a disagreement and Hicks returned to the United States. He sold his company to Charles Callender in 1872 but continued to work as its manager. From 1877 to 1880 he toured Australia with a new troupe, also called the Georgia Minstrels. Returning once more to the United States, he worked with various groups including Hicks and Kersands’ Minstrels, McIntosh and A.D. Sawyer’s Colored Minstrels, and Callender’s Minstrels, with whom he presented the Callender Consolidated Minstrel Festival in the Grand Opera House, New York, in ...

Article

Robert B. Winans

(b Ballina, Ireland, April 13, 1822; d Chicago, IL, Sept 8, 1893). Minstrel performer and manager of Irish birth. He came to the United States in 1844 and began performing with Christy’s Minstrels in Buffalo, New York in 1845, remaining with the company two years. He continued to perform, but made his reputation chiefly as a manager, owner, and promoter. He first organized a company of his own in 1851 and took it on a tour of Europe, then during much of the 1850s he managed Maguire’s Minstrels, the foremost troupe in San Francisco. He organized Hooley and Campbell’s Minstrels in 1860, and after it disbanded in 1861 he opened his own minstrel hall in Brooklyn. He remained in Brooklyn for much of the remainder of his career, though he spent periods in Chicago in the early 1870s, and again in the early 1880s; he built minstrel theaters in both Brooklyn and Chicago, where not only his own troupes but all the important touring companies of the day performed. He followed the trend for larger companies with the formation of his Megatherian Minstrels in the 1880s....

Article

Sandra Jean Graham

(b Halifax, NS, Canada, 1815; d Cambridge, MA, Jan 19, 1887). Actor and impresario of Canadian birth. An 1842 theatrical engagement in Boston united him with 13-year-old Caroline Emily Fox (1829–1908); they married in 1844. Fox had a family act with her brothers George L., James A., Henry N., and Charles K., which Howard later managed. Howard asked Fox’s cousin George L. Aiken (1830–76) to write the first dramatization of Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin, which debuted at the Troy (NY) Museum on 27 September 1852 and toured until 1857. The cast was a three-generation family affair: Howard as St. Clare; Mrs. Howard as Topsy (in blackface); their 4-year-old daughter Cordelia (1848–1941) as Little Eva; Mrs. E. Fox (Caroline’s mother) as Aunt Ophelia; George Fox as Phineas Fletcher; Charles K. Fox as Gumption Cute; and Aiken doubling as George Harris and George Shelby. Howard wrote several songs for the play, including Mrs. Howard’s hit “Oh! I’se So Wicked.” Although Cordelia Howard retired at age 12 and the extended Fox family eventually dispersed, the Howards devoted their careers to the play. In ...