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Article

[Francis]

(b ?Paris, 1799; d Soisy-sous-Etiolles, Corbeil, nr Paris, Sept 25, 1841). French actor and impresario. He came from a theatrical family; his father, Jacques François Laporte (1775–1841), was the celebrated Harlequin of the Théâtre du Vaudeville in Paris for over 30 years. The younger Laporte also appeared in comic French roles at the Vaudeville, 1822–6, and in Brussels (1823) and London (1824), making his début on the English stage at Drury Lane in November 1826. The following year he joined the Haymarket company and by the beginning of 1828 was involved with one Laurent, the manager of the Italian opera in Paris, in a scheme to run the King’s Theatre, London. Laurent soon withdrew and Laporte actively managed the theatre for the next 13 years (apart from the 1832 season, when Monck Mason was in charge and Laporte himself was lessee of Covent Garden)....

Article

Robert B. Winans

[Toney, Lemuel Gordon ]

(b Richmond, VA, Oct 17, 1870; d New York, NY, July 29, 1941). American minstrel and vaudeville performer and composer. He served in the army from 1895 to 1898. He also attempted to become a professional baseball player in Baltimore, and it is said that he became a minstrel after George H. Primrose saw him entertaining the other players in the clubhouse, having failed to make the team. He then went to work for Primrose and West’s Minstrels, where he changed his name and soon became a star performer. He played in vaudeville until that form declined in the late 1920s, then occasionally appeared in nightclubs; he also performed in a number of Broadway shows. Leonard wrote many of his own songs, including his first hit “Just because she Made them Goo-goo Eyes,” “Roll dem boly boly eyes,” “I lost my Mandy,” and his most famous song, “Ida, Sweet as Apple Cider” (...

Article

Bonnie Elizabeth Fleming

(b Harrisburg, PA, March 2, 1921). American singing actress, producer, stage director, and teacher. Possessing a wide range of performing skills, she is known for undertaking challenging operatic roles such as Birdie and Regina in Mark Blitzstein’s Regina (1949, 1953, and 1958) and Lizzie in Jack Beeson’s Lizzie Borden (1965). She worked on Broadway, in light opera, on radio and television, and at New York’s Metropolitan Opera. Lewis attended Penn State University and was encouraged by its Glee Club director to audition for a scholarship at the Curtis Institute of Music, where she went on to study with Emilio de Gogorza. After her teacher suddenly left the Institute, Lewis auditioned and made her debut with the Philadelphia Opera Company at the age of 19 in the role of the Marschallin in Richard Strauss’s Der Rosenkavalier. A remarkably quick study, Lewis absorbed music and words in any language almost on the spot, a gift to which she attributes most of her early success. In ...

Article

Kathleen Hudson

(b Klein, TX, Nov 1, 1957). American songwriter, musician, and actor. Known for quirky stories, strong language, a wry tone, gentle and profound themes, and interesting music, Lyle Lovett has been influenced by fellow Texas songwriters Guy Clark, and Townes Van Zandt. His voice and appearance have created a distinctive image, but his reputation stands on the foundation of his songwriting.

Lovett grew up on a horse ranch in a suburb of Houston, graduating from Texas A&M University in 1982 with a degree in journalism and German. There, he met singer-songwriter Robert Earl Keen, with whom he co-wrote “Front Porch Song” while both were playing in College Station’s Front Porch Band. After a stint playing music and studying in Germany, he went to Nashville, where, with the support of Guy Clark, he was signed to a recording contract with MCA/Curb Records. They released his self-titled debut album in ...

Article

Patricia Moss

[Bridges, Christopher Brian ]

(b Champaign, IL, Sept 11, 1977). American rapper and actor. He entered the music industry through the Atlanta-based radio station Hot 97 (later Hot 107.9) where he was known as DJ Chris Lova Lova. This position led to his acquaintance with the producer Timbaland, who featured him on the song “Phat Rabbit” from Timbaland’s album Tim’s Bio (Blackground, 1998). This collaboration provided Ludacris with national exposure, essentially launching his career as a rapper. In 2000 he signed with the hip-hop label Def Jam South and released his debut album Back for the First Time, which reached number four on the US Billboard 200. His musical style is exuberant and profanity laden and features a combination of humor, fiery raps, and clever rhythms. Ludacris has sold more than 12 million albums and received awards from MTV, the Screen Actors Guild, the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, and the Broadcast Films Critics Association. This visibility and commercial success, however, has led to some instances of controversy. In ...

Article

Lisa MacKinney

[Koch, Lydia Anne ]

(b Rochester, NY, June 2, 1959). American singer, songwriter, guitarist, composer, poet, and performance artist. Lydia Lunch arrived in New York City as a teenage runaway in 1976, after a childhood of chaos, abuse, and extreme neglect. Motivated by the Velvet Underground, the New York Dolls, Patti Smith, and the incendiary writing of Lester Bangs in Creem magazine, Lunch formed Teenage Jesus and the Jerks in 1977. The group (which briefly included James Chance) released only a handful of singles and EPs before breaking up in 1979, but Lunch had established herself as an uncompromising purveyor of a brutal, confronting, violently sexual, and bleak artistic vision. She is considered to be a founder of No Wave, an abrasive, untutored form of noise-based punk music that was often politically charged and musically experimental. No wave often involved conventional instruments (guitar, bass, electronic keyboards) used as extreme noise-making devices to create discomforting, visceral sounds—Lunch regularly used electric guitar with a slide in this manner to piercing, abrasive effect. Lunch released her first solo album, ...

Article

William A. Everett and Lee Snook

(b East Orange, NJ, Mar 12, 1921; d Lincoln, NE, Jan 24, 1986). American actor and singer . Known for his good looks, pleasant smile and smooth baritone voice, he is best remembered for his work in film adaptations of Broadway musicals during the 1950s. His two most important roles were Curly McLain in Oklahoma! (1955) and Billy Bigelow in Carousel (1956). Other notable films include Look for the Silver Lining (1949), Tea for Two (1950), By the Light of the Silvery Moon (1953), The Desert Song (1953), and The Best Things in Life Are Free (1956). Prior to his move to Hollywood, MacRae was a band singer and nightclub performer. His career was blighted by the decline of the movie musical and he returned to the stage and nightclub circuit in the 1960s. Two of his daughters, Meridith and Heather, became actresses....

Article

Lauren Joiner

[Hall, Marcel Theo]

(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, Goin’ Off. His second album, The Biz Never Sleeps (1989), went gold and included his first Top Ten hit, “Just a Friend,” which peaked at number nine on Billboard’s Pop Singles chart. The single, Markie’s biggest hit to-date, features the self-deprecating and satirical humor that won him the title “Clown Prince of Hip Hop.” Besides “Just a Friend,” he is also well known for the controversy surrounding a 1991 lawsuit leveled against him by singer/songwriter Gilbert O’Sullivan. Markie’s song “Alone Again,” from his album I Need a Haircut (1991), featured an unauthorized sample of O’Sullivan’s “Alone Again (Naturally).” The case featured the first federal decision regarding music sampling and had a profound effect on hip hop, requiring prior approval of samples on future recordings. An injunction was issued against the sale of ...

Article

William A. Everett

(Warren )

(b Bluffton, IN; d Long Branch, NJ, Aug 7, 1969). American singer and actor . One of Broadway’s most popular leading men of the 1920s, Marsh is best remembered for creating the roles of Prince Karl Franz in The Student Prince (1924) and Gaylord Ravenal in Show Boat (1927). After studying law and finance he became a banker in Indianapolis, but eschewed his career to study music in New York. He made his New York début as Count de Cluny in The Grass Widow (1917). Subsequent Broadway credits included Greenwich Village Follies (1920), Baron Schober in Blossom Time (1921), Ned Hamilton in Cherry Blossoms (1927), the poet in The Well of Romance (1930), and leading roles in Gilbert and Sullivan revivals in 1931 and 1935. Although regarded as a quintessential operetta singer, he later sang in nightclubs and hotels in New York and Miami....

Article

Monica F. Ambalal

[Crocetti, Dino Paul ]

(b Steubenville, OH, June 7, 1917; d Beverly Hills, CA, Dec 25, 1995). American Singer, actor, and comedian. As a teenager, the Italian American Martin left high school in the tenth grade, and worked a number of odd jobs while entering the field of amateur boxing under the name “Kid Crochet.” In his 20s, he began singing in small venues in Ohio, but his professional career did not take off until after meeting comedian Jerry Lewis in 1946. Together, Martin and Lewis debuted at the 500 Club in Atlantic City, dividing their act between songs, skits, and ad-libbed material. They soon became America’s leading comedy-singing duo with nightclub engagements, appearances on NBC’s Colgate Comedy Hour, and guest segments on radio and television. After starring in 17 films and enjoying a decade of success, they parted ways in 1956 because of differing opinions, and Martin’s career briefly waned.

In ...

Article

Abel Stewart

[Enrique Martín Morales ]

(b San Juan, PR, Dec 24, 1971). American Puerto Rican pop singer and actor. He joined the popular boy group Menudo in 1984 and performed with the group until 1989. After starring in a Mexican soap opera, Martin signed with Sony’s Latin branch and released his solo debut album, Ricky Martin (1991), which achieved gold status. He released his second solo album, Me amarás, in 1993, and the following year he moved to Los Angeles to star in the US soap opera General Hospital. In 1995, he relocated to New York and starred in a Broadway production of Les Miserables. His third and fourth albums (A medio vivir, 1995, and Vuelve, 1998) achieved international success, but his big US breakthrough came with his first English-language album, the multiplatinum Ricky Martin (1999), featuring the hit single “Livin’ la Vida Loca.” His Greatest Hits album ...

Article

Olive Baldwin and Thelma Wilson

(b 1734/5; d Edinburgh, Aug 14, 1804). English tenor, actor and theatre manager . As a boy he sang at the London fairs and then had three seasons at Drury Lane (1749–52), creating the role of Palaemon in Boyce’s The Chaplet. His adult singing career was principally at Covent Garden, where he appeared every year from 1757 to 1784. O’Keeffe remembered him as ‘tall and well made’ and Hugh Kelly admired his ‘tender strain, so delicately clear’. He sang many romantic leading roles in English operas, retaining most of them until the early 1780s. He was the first Thomas in Love in a Village, Lord Aimsworth in The Maid of the Mill, Tom in Tom Jones and Ferdinand in The Duenna. Mattocks often sang with his wife, formerly Isabella Hallam, with whom he had eloped in 1765. He managed summer seasons in the provinces for many years and in ...

Article

Patrick Huber

(Dewey )

(b Macon, GA, Feb 2, 1900; d Macon, GA, March 29, 1962). American minstrel show entertainer and vaudeville singer. Beginning around 1919 he toured with and headlined for several professional minstrel troupes, including the Al G. Field Minstrels, and occasionally performed on the New York vaudeville stage. Billed as the Clarinet Voiced Comedian, he became known in his minstrel routines for his droll, stammering delivery and in his musical numbers for what was sometimes described as his trick voice.

Between 1924 and 1936 Miller made 39 recordings under his own name for OKeh and Bluebird, roughly two-thirds of which were musical numbers and the other third minstrel routines. Bridging the genres of jazz, blues, hillbilly, and popular music, his musical selections featured his inventive vocal phrasings and unusual yodel-like falsetto, and consisted chiefly of Tin Pan Alley songs with jazz accompaniment. Among them were his signature song, “Anytime,” as well as such numbers as “Lovesick Blues,” “I ain’t got nobody,” and “Right or Wrong,” which have since become famous. In the period ...

Article

Mary Helen Still

(b Charleston, MA, Feb 24, 1858; d New York, NY, May 3, 1897). American composer and actor. Often working with the librettist J. Cheever Goodwin, he produced several scores for Broadway productions in the 1890s. He studied harmony at the Boston Conservatory, and following his graduation from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology he traveled to Paris and studied art under Jean-Léon Gérôme and Jean-Jacques Henner, among others. After returning to America, he began to compose musical plays and operettas. He convinced the producer Augustin Daly to underwrite his first musical play, Cinderella at School (1881), which, although a popular success, was not well received by critics. In 1884 he began to collaborate with Goodwin, and their partnership produced six crowd- and critic-pleasing operettas. His adaptation of Emmanuel Chabrier’s L’étoile (1890), produced by and starring the actor Francis Wilson, caught the attention of Richard D’Oyly Carte who engaged Ivan Caryll to further rework the operetta for the Savoy Theatre in ...

Article

Donald A. Henriques

(Alberto )

(b Guanajuato, Mexico, Nov 30, 1911; d Los Angeles, CA, Dec 5, 1953). Mexican film actor and singer. Jorge Negrete was the second of five children born into an upper-class military family. In 1931 he debuted on Radio XETR singing operatic arias and romantic ballads. During this time Negrete also studied voice with José Pierson, a respected vocal coach in Mexico City. In 1936, at the request of Emilio Azcárraga, owner of Radio XEW, Negrete moved to New York City to costar on an NBC radio show entitled The Mexican Caballeros. Although his movie career began in 1937, it was the 1941 film ¡Ay, Jaliscono te rajes! (Hey Jalisco…Don’t Give Up) that made Negrete a star. The singing charro (cowboy) role as played by Negrete displayed the character qualities of what would become the model for the singing charro of the 1940s and 1950s—a brave, God-fearing, macho figure with “right” on his side....

Article

Jonas Westover

[Nelson, Eric Hilliard; Rick]

(b Teaneck, NJ, May 8, 1940; d DeKalb, TX, Dec 31, 1985). American singer, actor, and songwriter. Born into a performing family, Nelson was given a boost towards stardom at a young age, and even his first forays into music were successful. The second son of bandmaster Ozzie and singer Harriet Nelson, he was already an actor on the radio series “The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet” by 1949. The family’s popularity inspired a film (Here Come the Nelsons, 1952), which led to the popular television series, also titled “The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet” (1952–66), on which he premiered as a singer. His good looks and clean image helped turn Nelson into a teen idol. In 1957, when he was 16, his first release became a hit: “A Teenager’s Romance” with “I’m Walkin’” on the flip side. Numerous hits followed, including “Stood Up” (...

Article

Travis D. Stimeling

(Hugh )

(b Abbott, TX, April 30, 1933). American singer, songwriter, and actor. A member of the Country Music Hall of Fame (1993) and Songwriters Hall of Fame (2001), Nelson received his first guitar from his paternal grandparents at the age of six. Absorbing the sounds of western swing, gospel convention singing, and the Czech and German bands that played in the Texas Hill Country, he composed his first songs at the age of seven, debuted as a singer in a West, Texas bar at age nine, and worked as a rhythm guitarist in John Raycheck’s polka band at age ten.

Following service in the US Air Force and a year of agricultural studies at Baylor University, Nelson set out to become a professional musician, playing clubs throughout Texas; working as a disc jockey on radio stations in Hillsboro (KHBR), Pleasanton (KBOP), and Fort Worth (KCNC, KCUL); and developing a portfolio of songs. In ...

Article

Travis D. Stimeling

(Clarence Robert )

(b Winnipeg, MB, April 13, 1908; d Newport Beach, CA, June 16, 1980). American cowboy singer, songwriter, and actor. Renowned for his ability to evoke the desert and woodland landscapes of western North America in both lyrics and music, Nolan was arguably the most influential western songwriter of his generation. As a child he moved frequently, living in British Columbia, New Brunswick, Boston, and Tucson. As a high school student in Tucson, he read the poetry of Shelley, Byron, and Keats and began writing his own poetry about the Arizona desert. After graduating from high school, he moved to Santa Monica, California, in 1929, where he worked as a lifeguard and began setting his poetry to music. In 1931 he joined Leonard Slye (later Roy Rogers) in the Rocky Mountaineers, and in 1933 they joined tenor Tim Spencer to form the Pioneer Trio (later the Sons of the pioneers ...

Article

John Koegel

[Samaniego, José Ramón Gil ]

(b Durango, Mexico, Feb 6, 1899; d Los Angeles, CA, Oct 30, 1968). Film actor and singer of Mexican birth. He moved to Southern California with his family during the Mexican Revolution in the later 1910s, and worked in Hollywood as an extra in such silent films as Cecil B. De Mille’s 1916 epi c Joan the Woman (with Metropolitan Opera star Geraldine Farrar). By the early 1920s he was starring in high-budget films such as The Prisoner of Zenda (1922) and Scaramouche (1923). In the later 1920s, as one of MGM’s biggest stars, he appeared as the romantic lead in a series of dramas and comedies, notably in Ben Hur (1925) and Ernst Lubitsch’s silent version of The Student Prince (1927). He also performed as a singer and dancer in three early MGM film musicals by the composer-lyricist team of Herbert Stothart and Clifford Grey: ...

Article

Paul Webb

[Davies, David Ivor]

(b Cardiff, Jan 15, 1893; d London, March 6, 1951). British composer, lyricist, librettist and actor. His career as a composer was determined for him by his mother, Clara Novello Davies, an internationally known voice coach and choir leader. She had ambitions for her son to be a composer of operas; however, the nearest he came to this was in The Dancing Years (1939), when he played an Austrian composer who conducts his own work at the Vienna Opera House. His early natural aptitude for writing attractive melodies was developed during a childhood at the centre of Cardiff’s musical world, and was given more shape and discipline by several years as a scholar at Magdalen College Choir School, Oxford, and a brief spell as a pupil of Dr Herbert Brewer. Brewer dismissed his pupil with the assertion that he would have no career in music, but in ...