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Douglas B. Green

(b near Willcox, AZ, Dec 31, 1924; d Tucson, AZ, Dec 19, 1999). American singing cowboy, songwriter, actor, and radio and recording artist. Born on a remote ranch, Allen had a powerful voice of tremendous range, was a world-class yodeler, and a prolific songwriter. He had begun a performing career straight out of high school and, after a stint at WTTM in Trenton, NJ, was added to the ...

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Holly George-Warren

(b Tioga, TX, Sept 29, 1907; d Los Angeles, CA, Oct 2, 1998). American country-music and popular singer, songwriter, and actor. He began his career singing on the radio station KVOO in Tulsa, while working as a relief telegraph operator for the Frisco Railroad. In ...

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Linda J. Daniel

(b Duncan, OK, March 25, 1938; d nr Victor, MT, Oct 26, 1999). American singer-songwriter and actor. He took lessons in classical piano as a child and began playing guitar in his teens. His mother, Mae Boren Axton, co-wrote “Heartbreak Hotel,” which was a hit for Elvis Presley in ...

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Todd Decker

(b Chicago, IL, Feb 14, 1894; d Beverly Hills, CA, Dec 26, 1974). American Entertainer, actor, and violinist. The son of Jewish immigrants from Poland and Lithuania, he began playing violin at age six and was considered a local prodigy. By age 17 he was playing in vaudeville pit orchestras and soon moved onto the stage. Benny paired up with a pianist—initially Cora Salisbury, then Lyman Wood—in his signature musical act of this time, “From Grand Opera to Ragtime.” After brief service in the US Navy during World War I, Benny returned to vaudeville as a single in an act emphasizing comedy over music. He married Mary Livingstone (Sadye Marks) in ...

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Craig A. Lockard

(b Vienna, Austria, May 2, 1924). American and Israeli actor and singer. Born into a Jewish family, he spent his youth in Austria. Following the Nazi occupation the Bikel family escaped to Palestine, where he made his stage debut in 1943. Moving to London to study at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, he began his acting career in ...

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Lauren Joiner

(b Harlem, New York; April 8, 1964).

American rapper, beatboxer, MC, DJ, and actor. He began his career in 1985 as a beatboxer for Roxanne Shanté of the Juice Crew. In 1988, he signed with Cold Chillin’ Records and released his first solo album, ...

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Jonas Westover

(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 ...

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Jonas Westover

(b June 1, 1934, Jacksonville, FL). American singer, actor, and author. He is best known for his success during the 1950s and 60s, when he delivered old-fashioned sounds with a wholesome image and was seen a safe antidote to the African American artists who were performing R&B and rock ’n’ roll. His success was due in part to his choice to cover many of their songs in his own fashion. These were targeted specifically to middle-class white teenagers and resulted in 38 top 40 hits. Boone began recording in ...

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Monica F. Ambalal

(b New York, NY, Jan 31, 1892; d Beverly Hills, CA, Oct 10, 1964). American actor, comedian, singer, author, songwriter, and philanthropist. Born to Russian immigrant parents in New York, he apparently was orphaned by the age of two, although some scholars believe that his father deserted him, leaving him to be raised by his maternal grandmother. At the age of 13 he left school, and in ...

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Philip Gentry

(b Maysville, KY, May 23, 1928; d Beverly Hills, CA, June 29, 2002). American singer and actor. Raised in difficult circumstances in northern Kentucky, she won a talent competition with her sister Betty sponsored by a Cincinnati radio station, and in 1945 the pair joined the Tony Pastor Orchestra as the Clooney Sisters. Soon thereafter she struck out on her own: she signed with Columbia Records and established a musical partnership with the producer Mitch Miller....

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Athena Elafros

(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 ...

Article

Common  

Jared Pauley

(b Chicago, IL, March 13, 1972). American rapper and actor. He attended Florida A&M University as a business major but dropped out after two years. He originally went by the name Common Sense, but he was sued by a California reggae band that had already copyrighted the name. He first gained attention after being featured in the “Unsigned Hype” column of ...

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Gary W. Kennedy and Philip Gentry

(b New Orleans, LA, Sept 11, 1967). American pianist, singer, leader, and actor. He began playing piano at the age of three, was sitting in at local jazz clubs when he was six, and made his first recordings three years later; he had piano lessons with James Booker until ...

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Robert B. Winans

(b Pawtucket, RI, July 27, 1829; d New York, NY, Feb 14, 1908). American minstrel performer. He ran away from home to join a circus in 1845, and first gained prominence with Matt Peel’s Minstrels in the mid-1850s, when he was a great success in the blackface role of “Old Bob Ridley,” performing the song of the same name. He became particularly noted for his impersonations of older black men. He achieved great fame as a minstrel performer in the 1860s and 1870s, sometimes in companies bearing his own name, and worked primarily in New York, San Francisco, and Chicago. Toward the end of his career, he played character parts in popular plays, including ...

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J. Ryan Bodiford

(b New York, NY, July 30, 1971). American singer, composer, actor, and activist of Puerto Rican descent. Known to his fans as the King of Merengue, he has achieved international recognition for his self-styled brand of urban merengue fusion, which incorporates influences from Latin American genres like samba, salsa, and bomba, while also employing slick pop production techniques and hip-hop aesthetics. Romantic lyrical sentiments and attention to fashion further characterize his professional approach....

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Todd Decker

(b Tacoma, WA, May 3, 1903; d Madrid, Spain, Oct 14, 1977). American popular singer and actor. He quit Gonzaga College during his senior year in the hope of starting of a career in music. After teaming up with the pianist Al Rinker as Two Boys with a Piano: Singing Songs their own Way, he moved with Rinker to Los Angeles in ...

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John Behling

(b New York, NY, Dec 8, 1925; d Beverly Hills, CA, May 16, 1990). American singer, dancer, and actor. Widely regarded as one of the greatest entertainers of his time, he sang, danced, acted, played several instruments, performed comic impersonations, and excelled at the variety entertainment format popular in American vaudeville, nightclubs, and television. His parents were vaudeville dancers frequently on tour, so Davis spent his earliest years with his grandmother. In ...

Article

Mos Def  

Jared Pauley

(b Brooklyn, NY, Dec 11, 1973). American rapper and actor. He is known for his wide-ranging abilities as a lyricist and is also a competent multi-instrumentalist. He first came to prominence during the late 1990s as a member of Black Star, a duo with the rapper Talib Kweli. Many of his lyrics focus on political and socioeconomic subjects....

Article

Robert B. Winans and Jonas Westover

(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 ...

Article

Jared Pauley

(b Long Beach, CA, Oct 20, 1971). American rapper and actor. One of the world’s most recognized hip-hop personalities, he began MCing in the sixth grade. Known for having a versatile flow capable of moving deftly between a laid-back drawl and rapid-fire delivery, he first came to fame performing with Dr. Dre on the ...