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Lisa A. Urkevich

[Muḥammed ‘Abdu ‘Othmān Marzuq al-Dehel al-‘Asīrī]

(b Jizan, Saudi Arabia, 1949). Saudi singer, composer and ‘ūd (lute) player. His father was a well-known sailor who died when Muḥammed was two years old. Muḥammed began singing at the age of six, and at nine he received his first vocal training through the study of Qur'anic recitation, which, along with the call to prayer (adhān), he offered at school events. About the age of 13 he became involved with amateur traditional singers and learnt to play the ‘ūd. Because of his close proximity to Yemen, he encountered master musicians of the al-yamānī style. He gained a diploma in shipbuilding and was offered a scholarship to study in Japan, but declined the offer, preferring to become a professional musician. His first recognized composition was Hala yā bū sha'ar tha'ir (1965). He went on to record over 80 albums in a variety of styles, including popular Egyptian styles, but he has been most appreciated for his folkloric, traditional Saudi and Gulf pieces. He gained an international reputation and has often been called ‘...

Article

Val Wilmer

(Stanley )

(b Cape Town, June 26, 1947). South African drummer, percussionist, singer, and leader. Known first for his singing, he developed as a drummer by accompanying other singers in Cape Town and playing with the quartet led by the pianist Cecil May. In 1962 he joined the Coon Carnival stage show. He then spent seven years in Swaziland, where he played bop with the pianists Roy Peterson and Howard Belling and accompanied Sarah Vaughan and Nancy Wilson. In 1975 he traveled to England and worked in variety and dance bands before joining Dudu Pukwana’s group Zila. In 1981 he founded the trio District Six with Mervyn Afrika and the guitarist Russell Herman, both of whom grew up in the District Six area of Cape Town; with Abrahams as its leader, the trio expanded to a sextet (including Jim Dvorak from 1983 to 1993 and Claude Deppa at some point thereafter) and became an important focus for musicians who played both jazz and African rhythms. Abrahams also worked with Ronnie Scott, John Taylor, Johnny Dyani, and the Brotherhood of Breath. In ...

Article

Barry Jean Ancelet

(b nr Gueydan, LA, June 27, 1913; d Basile, LA, May 13, 1981). American cajun accordionist, singer, and songwriter. He came from a musical family; his father, mother, and at least one uncle played instruments. He was among the second generation of Cajun musicians to record, in the 1930s, and helped lead a revival of accordion and traditional Cajun music after World War II. He sometimes performed with Amédé Ardoin. The titles of some of his best known songs, such as “Service Blues” and “French Blues, indicate that blues was a major influence. In 1949 Abshire had a regional (Gulf Coast) hit with “The Pine Grove Blues,” after which he named his band, the Pine Grove Boys. Its various lineups included such musicians as Will Kegley (fiddle), Ernest Thibodeaux (guitar), Atlas Frugé (steel guitar), and Robert Bertrand (fiddle and vocals), and its best known recordings were released by Swallow Records. In the 1960s Abshire performed with Dewey Balfa and his brothers at colleges and festivals across the country and in doing so helped bring Cajun music to the national folk music circuit. He was featured in several documentary films, including ...

Article

Liz Thomson

(Claxton)

(b Maynardville, TN, Sept 15, 1903; d Nashville, TN, Nov 23, 1992). American country singer-songwriter and publisher. He was first influenced by traditional music heard at home, much of it British, and by music at the church where his father was the pastor. His Southern Baptist heritage became evident in the mournful, wailing style of his vocals. A keen sportsman, he was denied a professional athletic career through ill-health, but learnt to play his father’s fiddle. His early career was in so-called medicine shows, and radio appearances with local musicians led to the formation of his first group, the Tennessee Crackerjacks. His first record followed in 1937, and he made his début on ‘The Grand Old Opry’ radio show, subsequently becoming a regular contributor as Roy Acuff and the Smoky Mountain Boys. His recording of the Carter family classic Wabash Cannonball earned him a gold disc and led to nationwide tours as well as work in Hollywood....

Article

Michael Ethen

(Guy)

(b Kingston, ON, Nov 5, 1959). Canadian rock singer, songwriter, and guitarist, and photographer. The son of a diplomat, he spent his youth in England, Israel, Portugal, and Austria. After returning with his family to North America, he began performing and recording at the age of 15 with rock bands in British Columbia and Ontario. In 1978 he began what became a long and successful songwriting partnership with Jim Vallance, with whom he created most songs recorded under his name up to 1987, as well as songs recorded by Rod Stewart, Kiss, Bonnie Raitt, Neil Diamond, and the Canadian groups Prism, BTO, and Loverboy.

Adams’ albums characteristically alternate between down-tempo piano ballads and straight-ahead rock numbers. His third solo album, Cuts like a Knife (1983) launched him to the status of an international celebrity; its singles included the ballad “Straight from the Heart” and the anthem “Cuts like a Knife,” which both featured for weeks on magazine charts and music television. The next album, ...

Article

André Clergeat

(b Zurich, July 27, 1939). Swiss cellist, violinist, and singer. She studied piano and violin from a very young age and played in the orchestra at the conservatory in Geneva. An encounter with Steve Lacy in Italy in the late 1960s led her to abandon classical music; the couple were married, and in 1970 they settled in Paris. Under Lacy’s counsel, as well as that of Dave Holland and Jean-François Jenny-Clark, Aebi taught herself to play cello, which became her preferred instrument in the group constituted by Lacy. She often makes use of her deep voice in the group, reciting as well as singing literary and political texts (from such authors as Lao Tzu, Guillaume Apollinaire, Herman Melville, and Brion Gysin) set to music by the saxophonist. Aebi has also performed with Kent Carter, notably in the string group Pinch with Jean-Jacques Avenel, with Takashi Kako, and with Oliver Johnson. She may be seen in the video ...

Article

Ghulam-Sarwar Yousof

(b Muar, Johor, Malaysia, June 12, 1941). Malaysian singer and lute player. He became interested in music at an early age, as a result of watching bangsawan (Malay opera) performances; his father, a musician, was important in nurturing this interest. At the age of 18 he joined the Setia Ghazal Party in his home town (the principal centre of the syncretic vocal genre ghazal in Malaysia) as a singer and musician; he later joined the well-known Seri Maharani Ghazal, becoming famous as a gambus (short-necked lute) player (the lead instrument in ghazal ensembles) and featuring on Seri Maharani Ghazal's many recordings.

He has visited around 40 countries, often giving solo performances, but principally as a member of exchange troupes through the Malaysian Ministry of Culture, Arts and Tourism, which he joined in 1976. Shortly after joining this organization, he worked as a gambus teacher at Kompleks Budaya Negara (National Cultural Complex), where he continued until his retirement. He continues to work part-time at the Akademi Seni Kebangsaan (National Arts Academy). In addition to being a highly successful ...

Article

(b Pisky, near Khar′kiv, 8/Sept 20, 1876; d Paris, Jan 8, 1945). Ukrainian composer and pianist. Aged ten he was sent, along with his brother Yakiv (later known as the composer Stepovy), to sing in the choir of the Imperial Chapel in St Petersburg. It was during his time there (1886–95) that he began to compose under the influence of his teachers Balakirev and Lyapunov. He finished studies with Rimsky-Korsakov and Lyadov at the St Petersburg Conservatory in 1901, the year in which the latter conducted the first performance of the Lyric Poem, op.20. Akimenko then became the director of a music school in Tbilisi (1901–03). He performed widely as a pianist, particularly in France and Switzerland, and lived for a while in Paris (1903–06) before returning to Khar′kiv. In 1914 he was invited to teach composition and theory at the St Petersburg Conservatory, a post he held until ...

Article

Howard Rye

(bMemphis, July 30, 1906; dNew York, Feb 2, 1983). Americandouble bass and tuba player and singer. His date of birth, previously unknown, is taken from the social security death index. At Le Moyne College, Memphis, he played in a band with Jimmy Crawford. Both men recorded two titles in 1927 with the Chickasaw Syncopators (Col. 14301D), and Chickasaw Stomp includes an example of Allen’s half-spoken, half-sung vocal “preaching.” In summer 1928 Allen joined Jimmie Lunceford’s orchestra, and four years later he changed from tuba to double bass. He may be heard on tuba on Sweet Rhythm (1930, Vic. 38141), while his double bass playing is prominent on such recordings by Lunceford as Avalon (1935, Decca 668), Organ Grinder’s Swing (1936, Decca 908), and Harlem Shout (1936, Decca 980), which reveal him as one of the major practitioners of the era; he also appears in the short film ...

Article

Mark Tucker

[Stephen Valentine Patrick William]

(b New York, NY, Dec 16, 1921; d Encino, CA, Oct 30, 2000). American composer, radio and television personality, pianist, singer, and comedian. The son of Belle Montrose and Billy Allen, both of whom worked in vaudeville, he moved from place to place as a child, attending many schools for short periods of time. He played piano from an early age, although his musical training was mainly informal. He began a professional career in Los Angeles as a disc jockey on radio during the 1940s, then turned to television in the 1950s; he established himself as a comedian, and often played the piano during his shows, improvising jazz and singing his own songs. Among the musicians who appeared with him regularly was the vibraphonist Terry Gibbs. Allen’s most popular television program was “The Tonight Show,” which he began broadcasting locally in New York in 1953, subsequently leading it to nationwide success the following year. Allen performed the title role in the film ...

Article

Horace Clarence Boyer

(b McCormick, SC, Sept 25, 1921; d Philadelphia, PA, July 30, 2008). American gospel singer, pianist, and composer. She moved to Philadelphia at an early age and sang and played at a local Church of God in Christ. In 1942 she joined a female quartet, the Spiritual Echoes, and served as their pianist for two years, leaving the group in 1944 to organize the Angelic Gospel Singers with her sister Josephine McDowell and two friends, Lucille Shird and Ella Mae Norris. Their first recording, “Touch Me, Lord Jesus” (1950), sold 500,000 copies in less than six months. Her most famous composition is “My Sweet Home” (1960). The incidental harmony of their rural singing style and Allison’s sliding technique appealed to a large number of supporters who otherwise found the gospel music of the period controlled and calculated. The group traveled and recorded with the Dixie Hummingbirds during the 1950s. Allison toured, recorded, and performed gospel music for over seven decades....

Article

Patti Jones

(John, Jr. )

(b Tippo, MI, Nov 11, 1927). American jazz and blues pianist, singer and songwriter. His style was influenced by the blues music he heard on the juke box at his father’s general store. Primarily self taught on piano and trumpet, Allison began playing professionally in Delta roadhouses and attended the University of Mississippi, Oxford. However, he left to enlist in the US Army in 1946, and during his service he played trumpet and piano and wrote arrangements for an army band. After completing a degree in English at Louisiana State University, he moved to New York in 1956 and attracted attention nationally playing piano with such leaders as Chet Baker, Al Cohn, Zoot Sims, Gerry Mulligan, and Stan Getz.

Allison created a hybrid style that integrated country blues with urbane jazz; it can be heard on his first album, Back Country Suite (1959, Prst.), which includes what became his signature tune, “Young Man’s Blues.” In the 1960s Allison’s music influenced British rock musicians, and this tune was covered as a generational anthem by The Who. During the same period Allison recorded for Atlantic and wrote pithy lyrics about public service and social commentary (“Everybody Cryin’ Mercy”) and personal crisis (“Hello There, Universe”), some with a playful sense of humor (“Your Mind’s on Vacation”). Later songs such as “Ever Since the World Ended” and “Certified Senior Citizen” focused on contemporary culture and aging. Allison has also interpreted blues and jazz standards such as Willie Dixon’s “Seventh Son,” Muddy Waters’ “Rollin’ Stone,” and Duke Ellington’s “I ain’t got nothin’ but the blues.” His elaborate piano instrumentals and improvisations draw upon the music of Charles Ives and Alexander Scriabin and reflect his experimentation with conventional ideas of time....

Article

Adriano Mazzoletti

(b Genoa, Italy, 1908). Italian pianist, singer, and violinist. He first worked in Genoa with Tullio Mobiglia and others (1927–33). From 1934 he played piano and violin in a small band led by Kramer Gorni in Milan, which made several recordings, including Anime gemelle (1935...

Article

Juan Orrego-Salas

revised by Luis Merino

(b Santiago, Sept 2, 1911; d Santiago, Aug 2, 1954). Chilean composer and pianist. He studied with Allende for composition and Renard for the piano at the Santiago National Conservatory (1923–35), where he then held appointments as coach at the opera department (1935), assistant professor of the piano (1937), professor of analysis (1940), and director (1945). At the same time he taught at the Liceo Manuel de Salas in Santiago. He was secretary-general to the Instituto de Extensión Musical (from 1941), a founder-director of the Escuela Moderna de Música, Santiago (1940), and a member of various arts societies. In 1943 he went to the USA as a guest of the Institute of International Education and in 1953 he was in Europe for the performance of his Wind Sextet at the ISCM Festival. His early compositions show the influences of French music and Chilean folklore; from the late 1940s his work became more Expressionist and abstract....

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

Daniel Avorgbedor

(b Adiemmra, Ghana, March 31, 1945). Ghanaian popular guitarist, singer and master of guitar-band. Highlife and concert parties. He formed the African Brothers International Dance Band in 1963, a band that produced important musicians such as the late Eddie Donkor. Ampadu acquired rudimentary guitar skills with the help of P.K. Yamoah and worked briefly at the Ministry of Agriculture in his home district area. He performed briefly with the T.O. Jazz band led by T.O. Ampoma in 1962, but it was not until 1966 that he landed his first major recording contract with Philips West Africa Limited in Accra with the song, Agyanka Dabere. His most popular highlife single release was Ebi Tie Ye (1967), a song that illustrates his skills as musician, storyteller, moralist, satirist and social commentator. As a master of the concert party genre and a musician rooted in Akan verbal lore, the songs of Ampadu address a wide range of personal, political and social issues in very humorous and satirical ways. His music has won several national awards, including the ...

Article

(b Toḥayta, Tihama, South Arabia, c1892; d Ṣan‘ā, 1965). Yemeni singer and lutenist. He began singing while in Zabid, accompanying himself on a copper plate. He studied the qanbūs (lute) with Muḥammad Sha'bān and Muḥammad al-‘Attāb, both of whom he met in Ethiopia where they had taken refuge from the puritanism of Imām Yaḥyā. Al-‘Antarī’s life story is surrounded by legends, and it is also said that he met al-‘Attāb in Ṣan‘a and became his servant. Listening to al-‘Attāb, al-‘Antarī practised singing secretly until his master overheard him, recognized his talent and ordered him to sing to his guests. At the end of the 1930s al-‘Antarī recorded 25 songs for the Odeon company in Aden, and his subsequent career included numerous radio broadcasts and performances at weddings. He had an exceptional voice and was an accomplished lute player; he excelled in both the classical repertory of Ṣan‘ā (...

Article

Antony  

Shana Goldin-Perschbacher

[Hegarty, Antony]

(b Chichester, England, 1971). American singer-songwriter and pianist. After the Hegarty family moved to San Jose, Ccalifornia, in 1981, Antony studied experimental theater at New York University, formed a performance collective with Johanna Constantine, and collaborated with filmmaker William Basinski (Life on Mars, 1997) and rock icon Lou Reed (The Raven, Sire, 2003; Animal Serenade, RCA, 2004). Antony has become the world’s most famous transgender musician. Male-bodied and feminine-identified, Antony retains his birth name and uses masculine pronouns professionally. His band, Antony and the Johnsons (formed in 1996), is named after the murdered African American transgender activist Marsha P. Johnson.

Antony’s vocal depth, resonance, and melismatic grace evoke African American musical traditions. His tremulous vibrato and seemingly self-imposed limitations (also evident in his amateurish piano playing) express the grave earthly burdens of his lyrics. His eclectic work has been influenced by the AIDS-ravaged New York art scene (Peter Hujar), British synth-pop (Marc Almond), soul (Nina Simone, Boy George), and experimental underground music (Diamanda Galás). His band includes vocals, piano, drums, guitar, bass, cello, violin, and horns, he regularly appears with an orchestra, and he released an album of live symphonic performances with the Danish National Chamber Orchestra featuring arrangements by Nico Muhly, Rob Moose, Maxim Moston, and himself (...

Article

Gerhard Conrad

(b Pforzheim, Germany, Oct 6, 1929). German soprano, tenor, and bass saxophonist. After receiving three lessons on guitar from a member of the Reinhardt clan he played in dance bands until 1950. He then contacted Sidney Bechet in Paris and learned to play soprano saxophone. He played in Germany with the arranger and bandleader Ernst Simon and also with American soldiers. In ...

Article

Barry Jean Ancelet

(b L’Anse des Prien Noir, near Duralde, LA, Nov 16, 1915; d Eunice, LA, May 18, 2007). Creole accordionist, vocalist, and songwriter. A cousin of the legendary Creole accordionist Amédé Ardoin, Alphonse became interested in the Creole “la-la” music of his community, learning to play on his older brother’s accordion. In the late 1940s, he teamed up with his long-time partner, Creole fiddler Canray Fontenot. Together they were the core of the Duralde Ramblers, performing at local dance halls and house dances. In 1964, they were recorded by Ralph Rinzler, who was doing fieldwork for the Newport Folk Festival. They were invited to perform at Newport in 1966 and recorded their first album, Les blues du bayou, on the way home. By the 1970s, Ardoin and Fontenot were performing with the Ardoin Family Band, featuring several of Ardoin’s sons. With this band, Ardoin and Fontenot took their pre-zydeco Creole music to many parts of the country, becoming fixtures on the folk festival circuit. Ardoin tried to retire in the early 1970s, passing the torch to his son Gustave, but he rejoined the group when Gustave died in ...