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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 ...

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Roben Jones

(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 ...

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David Sanjek

(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 ...

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Darlene Graves and Michael Graves

(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 ...

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Jonas Westover

(b Bronx, NY, April 17, 1934; d Boca Raton, FL, Jan 17, 2011). American publisher, promoter, and producer. He was known as “The Man with the Golden Ear” for possessing a remarkable ability to identify music that would sell. After attending Upsala College in East Orange, New Jersey, he gravitated immediately to the music industry, finding success at the Brill Building with Aldon Music Publishing. He and his partner, Al Nevins, contracted a wide variety of top-selling songwriters and performers including Neil Sedaka, Carole King, Jack Keller, and Gerry Goffin, among others. A big part of his success involved pairing writers with appropriate singers. Sedaka credited his opportunity to become a performer largely to Kirshner’s promotion; Neil Diamond, Kansas, Connie Francis, and Bobby Darin also profited from his work as a producer. Kirshner branched into recording, becoming involved with three separate labels: Chairman, Calendar, and Kirshner. One of his biggest successes came with the creation of the Monkees; he was responsible for providing the corporate-formed group with songs for their television program and spin-off albums. He also managed the studio musicians who performed on their records. Kirshner returned to this strategy with The Archies, the late 1960s band of bubblegum pop fame. From ...

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Travis D. Stimeling

(b Knoxville, TN, June 21, 1921; d Nashville, TN, March 7, 2012). American country music journalist, publisher, and promoter. Charlie Lamb reshaped the Nashville music industry’s business practices during the 1950s and 60s and promoted Nashville as an international music center. Lamb began his career in Knoxville, where, among other jobs, he booked artists to perform on radio station WROL and reported for the ...

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Ian Brookes

(b New York, NY, Jan 16, 1884; d Palm Springs, CA, April 21, 1985). American Impresario, music publisher, band manager, record producer, songwriter, and singer. He was the son of Russian Jewish immigrants who settled in New York. There, as a teenager, he worked as a song plugger and singer before establishing a music publishing business in ...

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Don Cusic

(b Clarkdale, GA, Jan 24, 1939). American singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer, arranger, music publisher, television star, and entrepreneur. Harold Ragsdale began his musical career with a high school band that played R&B songs by the Coasters, Drifters, and other R&B groups. In 1955 the family moved to Atlanta, where publisher Bill Lowery signed him as a songwriter and secured his first recording contract with Capitol Records; Capitol’s Head of A&R, Ken Nelson changed Ragsdale’s name to Ray Stevens. After attending Georgia State University, where he studied music, Stevens had his first success with his recording of “Jeremiah Peabody’s Poly Unsaturated Quick Dissolving Fast Acting Pleasant Tasting Green and Purple Pills” (Mercury, ...