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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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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 ...

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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 ...

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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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Harry B. Soria Jr.

(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....

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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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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 ...

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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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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 ...

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Noal Cohen

(b Pensacola, FL, Nov 28, 1925; d Pensacola, FL, March 14, 1983). American jazz saxophonist, flutist, composer, arranger, music publisher, and teacher. Known more as a composer and arranger than as an instrumentalist, he was nonetheless an alto saxophonist out of the Charlie Parker tradition with a lyrical bent and a recognizable style and sound. He studied clarinet initially and after serving in the US Navy (...

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Edward A. Berlin

(b Jacksonville, FL, June 17, 1871; d Wiscasset, ME, June 26, 1938). American lyricist, poet, novelist, anthologist, civil rights leader, and international diplomat. He began his professional life as an educator and lawyer in Florida (one of the early African Americans admitted to the Florida Bar), but in the summer of ...

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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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Jonas Westover

(b Stamford, CT, Dec 31, 1885; d New York, NY, Jan 22, 1976). American lyricist, publisher, and songwriter. He began his career in vaudeville, tailoring songs to individual singers, and working with a variety of composers. Leslie began to publish songs in 1909...

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Caroline Polk O’Meara

(bc1966). American music critic and editor. He graduated from Yale University in 1988. He began writing at the Rolling Stone in the late 1980s, where he often covered hip-hop, country, and rock music. In the wake of the 1992 Los Angeles riots, Light advised readers to pay closer attention to rap, pointing out that many artists had been critiquing urban violence well before the Rodney King beating. In ...

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Ian Brookes

(b Norfolk, VA, Nov 6, 1883; d New York, NY, Aug 1, 1944). American Lyricist, composer, and music publisher. Mack, also known as R.C. McPherson, wrote the lyrics for many popular songs during the first quarter of the 20th century. He had his first hit in ...

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Horace Clarence Boyer and Roxanne R. Reed

(b Pittfield, GA, Nov 20, 1896; d Chicago, IL, June 18, 1988). American gospel singer and music publisher. Martin joined the Fire Baptized Holiness Church (Pentecostal) while living in Atlanta, an affiliation that defined her earliest gospel influences. Martin, her husband, and their son moved to Chicago in the 1920s. She met ...

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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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Christopher A. Reynolds

(b Brazil, IN, Nov 1874; d New Haven, CT, Oct 25, 1932). American songwriter and publisher. She was among the most successful female songwriters of her generation. The daughter of John Dale Owen, a composer born in Wales, she was raised in Indiana and went to school near Terre Haute at St. Mary’s in the Woods. While there she sold her first song, evidently a setting of “Ave Maria.” Her obituary in the ...

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Horace Clarence Boyer

(b Atlanta, GA, Aug 4, 1886; d Pittsburgh, PA, Dec 16, 1963). American gospel composer and publisher. When he was 13 he settled with his family in Chicago, where he continued to study piano and began to write gospel songs and arrange black spirituals for the Beth Eden and Liberty Baptist churches. In ...