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Roxanne R. Reed

(b Anguilla, MS, March 21, 1919; d Hazel Crest, IL, 15 June, 1995). American gospel director, singer, composer, and publisher. Anderson established a career forming and training gospel groups in Chicago. His formative years were spent as one of the original Roberta Martin Singers, one of the premiere gospel groups of the 1930s and 1940s. He left briefly, between 1939 and 1941, to form the first of his many ensembles, the Knowles and Anderson Singers with R.L. Knowles. He rejoined Martin, but ultimately resigned because of the travel demands. In 1947 he formed Robert Anderson and his Gospel Caravan, but after several members left in 1952, he formed a new set of singers that recorded and performed under the name the Robert Anderson Singers through the mid-1950s. Throughout his career, Anderson recorded on a multitude of labels including Miracle and United with Robert Anderson and the Caravans; and later with the Robert Anderson Singers, on Apollo. Anderson wrote, and often sang lead on, many of the songs his groups performed, including “Why Should I Worry” (...

Article

Maristella Feustle

(b Pekin, Tazewell County, IL, ?March 9, 1870; d Washington, DC, March 7, 1949). American publisher, real estate developer, and politician. Born into poverty, he began working as a child in a San Francisco vacuum cleaner brush factory, and soon began picking up odd jobs at local theaters. By 15, he was assistant treasurer at the Alcazar Theater, and he had become wealthy by 18. After traveling abroad, he settled in Chicago, and was in charge of the Midway Plaisance during the 1893 World’s Fair. He claimed to have composed the well-known “snake charmer’s” tune, or “Hoochie Coochie Dance” while there. Following the Fair, Bloom’s past connections in San Francisco brought him into association with the Witmark family and his first experience in music publishing. By 1895, Rothschild’s department store turned their sheet music department over to him. The next year he started his own company, publishing the hit “The Heroes Who Sank with the Maine” (...

Article

John Edward Hasse

(b Chicago, March 23, 1881; d Los Angeles, Aug 17, 1955). American popular pianist, teacher and editor. He studied the piano as a youth and in 1903 opened a teaching studio in Chicago with the advertisement ‘Ragtime Taught in Ten Lessons’. He simplified African-American ragtime piano playing to three essential melodic-rhythmic patterns or ‘movements’, and these became the basis for his teaching method and for a series of instruction books he brought out from 1904. Christensen’s Rag-time Instruction Book for Piano went through numerous revisions and title changes to incorporate early jazz and, eventually, swing styles; one method book remained in print until at least 1955.

Early in his career Christensen began establishing branch schools to teach ragtime piano. By 1914 he had founded 50 branches, and by 1918 he had schools in most major cities in the USA and also some abroad. By 1935 these schools had taught ragtime, popular piano and jazz piano to approximately 500,000 (mostly white) pupils....

Article

Roben Jones

[John Henderson ]

(b Whitehaven, TN, April 8, 1931). American singer-songwriter, producer, publisher, and entrepreneur. He began playing bluegrass while in the military and after his discharge in 1952, played at radio stations in Wheeling, West Virginia, and Boston. While enrolled in Memphis State University (from 1954), he worked nights and weekends at the Eagle’s Nest club. After working briefly for Fernwood Records, he was hired by Sun Records, where he recorded Roy Orbison, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Johnny Cash, among others. He wrote hits for several of Sun’s artists, including Johnny Cash’s singles “Ballad of a Teenage Queen” and “Guess things happen that way” (both Sun, 1958).

Clement left Sun in 1960 to became a staff producer for RCA in Nashville. In 1963 he moved to Texas, started a publishing company, and produced Dickey Lee’s hit “Patches” (Smash, 1963). After returning to Nashville in 1965, he discovered and produced Charlie Pride and wrote songs for a variety of country artists, including Pride (“Just between you and me,” RCA Victor, ...

Article

Harry B. Soria Jr.

[Albert R. ]

(b Honolulu, HI, Oct 1, 1879; d Honolulu, HI, Jan 23, 1933). Composer, arranger, publisher, pianist, and bandleader, active in Hawaii. Cunha’s compositions early in the 20th century spearheaded the development of the hapa haole song, featuring predominantly English lyrics with some references to Hawaii and the Hawaiian language, earning him the title of “Father of Hapa Haole Songs.” His innovation is credited with making Hawaii’s music accessible to a much wider audience, which rapidly grew to global proportions over the next few decades.

Cunha left Hawaii to attend Yale University, where he excelled in sports, the Yale Glee Club, and composed Yale’s “Boola, Boola.” Rather than practice law after graduation, he toured the mainland United States performing a new kind of Hawaiian song, combining the popular ragtime rhythm of American music with Hawaiian songs. Cunha returned to Hawaii and composed his first hapa haole song, “Waikiki Mermaid,” in ...

Article

William J. Schafer

(b Leavenworth, KS, April 12, 1878; d Los Angeles, CA, Jan 23, 1943). American songwriter and music publisher. He had popular success early in his career with the two-step “Margery” (1898), the song “You tell me your dream” (1899), and “Hiawatha” (1901, described as an “Indian intermezzo,” although it was an early ragtime song). He also purchased and published Scott Joplin’s first piano rag, Original Rags, in 1898. Daniels began working for Carl Hoffman, a local publisher in Kansas City, then formed his own firm, Daniels, Russel & Boone, which he sold to Whitney-Warner of Detroit in 1902 for a reputed $10,000 based on the rights to the hugely popular “Hiawatha.” In Los Angeles he later established another publishing firm, Villa Moret, which took its name from one of Daniels’ pseudonyms, Neil Moret, and was highly successful in the 1920s. Daniels contributed many enduring standards to the American popular song repertory, including “Moonlight and Roses” (...

Article

David Sanjek

[James Rae ]

(b Buffalo Valley, TN, Feb 28, 1911; d Nashville, TN, Aug 27, 1963). American country music agent, publisher, and Grand Ole Opry manager. One of the most influential and powerful figures in the country music business, Jim Denny followed the path of the classic American success story. He left his home in Buffalo Valley, Tennessee, at age 16 with purportedly no more than 40 cents in his pocket. He moved to Nashville and joined the mailroom staff at WSM radio (home of the Grand Ole Opry). He completed his college degree by mail and worked his way up the corporate ladder, becoming the manager of concessions at the Opry during World War II. In 1951 Denny was promoted to manager of the Opry, an appointment that granted him to programming privileges and thus put him in the position to make or break performers’ careers. Additionally, he headed the ...

Article

Horace Clarence Boyer

(b Fayette, MS, Sept 10, 1899; d Chicago, IL, Aug 26, 1963). American gospel pianist, composer, and publisher. He sang in local choirs before settling in Chicago in 1927. There he joined the Ebenezer Baptist Church and became co-director of its junior choir with Thomas A. Dorsey. With Dorsey he organized in 1931 the first known black gospel chorus. In 1932, with Dorsey, Sallie Martin, and Magnolia Lewis Butts, he formed the National Convention of Gospel Choirs and Choruses, and the same year he and Roberta Martin, pianist for his junior choir, founded the Martin–Frye Quartet (renamed the Roberta Martin Singers in 1935). In the late 1940s Frye began an association with Mahalia Jackson, and it was for her that he surreptitiously secured the song “Move on up a little higher”; her recording in 1947 was a great success, selling over a million copies. Frye later published this composition as his own (he opened a publishing house in the early 1950s), without crediting its rightful composer, William Herbert Brewster. He did, however, compose several well-known gospel songs, including “I am sending my timber up to heaven” (...

Article

Darlene Graves and Michael Graves

[William J. ]

(b Alexandria, IN, March 28, 1936). American gospel songwriter, performer, producer, and publisher. He grew up on a small farm in Indiana and graduated from Anderson College with a major in English and a minor in music. He went on to receive a master’s degree in guidance and counseling and met his future wife and song-producing partner, Gloria Sickal, while both were teaching high school. Gaither started singing gospel music as a child and in 1956 formed the Bill Gaither Trio with his brother Danny and his sister Mary Ann. He started his own publishing company in 1959. He continued to perform and compose while a teacher at Alexandria High School and in 1961 formed the Gaither Music Company to publish his works. After their marriage in 1962, Gaither and his wife wrote their first major song, “He touched me,” which was a significant hit by 1963. He re-formed the Bill Gaither Trio with Gloria and Danny, and in ...

Article

Maristella Feustle

(b Odessa, Ukraine, Aug 31, 1886; d Beverly Hills, CA, July 12, 1970). American Lyricist and publisher of Ukrainian birth. He arrived in the United States with his family in 1887 and was raised in Philadelphia. At the age of 14 he moved to New York, where he appeared in nightclubs, vaudeville, and burlesque acts; he also toured with the boxer John L. Sullivan. Lauded by peers as the “Dean of Tin Pan Alley,” Gilbert wrote more than 250 songs, including the theme for the movie Ramona (1928) and such standards as “Waitin’ for the Robert E. Lee” (1912), “Lucky Lindy” (1927), “Green Eyes” (1931), “The Peanut Vendor” (1931), and George Jessel’s theme song, “My Mother’s Eyes” (1929). He collaborated with many artists including Al Jolson, Lewis F. Muir, Paul Whiteman, Abel Baer, George M. Cohan, Jay Gorney, Nacio Herb Brown, Irving Berlin, and Frank Sinatra....