(b Port Arthur, TX, Oct 27, 1949; d Austin, TX, May 23, 2006). American nightclub owner, promoter, and producer. The son of Lebanese immigrants, he briefly attended the University of Texas at Austin (summer 1969), then opened an imported food and clothing store. Its backroom became a place for informal jam sessions, often with Antone playing bass. On 15 July 1975 he opened Antone’s. Although not the first or only club in Austin to book blues musicians, it became significant for both its relevance to the Austin music scene and the opportunities allowed for young musicians to share the stage with blues legends. In 1987 he launched recording label Antone’s Record and Tapes and opened Antone’s Records Shop. After serving two drug-related prison terms (1985–6; 1999–2002), Antone began an annual fundraiser for troubled youth. During the last two years of his life, he taught a course on the blues at both the University of Texas at Austin and Texas State University-San Marcos. A recipient of the National Blues Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award, he was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in ...
Kevin E. Mooney
(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 (...
Jay W. Junker
[Afat, Alfred Aiu]
(b Honolulu, Mar 19, 1919; d Honolulu, Jan 30, 1960). Hawaiian pop singer. In many ways, Apaka was the first modern pop star in Hawaiian music. His warm baritone reflected the enormous impact of Bing Crosby’s crooning in Hawaii during the 1930s, but also evoked comparisons with Elvis Presley and Marty Robbins a generation later, especially when they sang Hawaiian repertoire. Apaka’s good looks, trademark red carnation lei and easygoing charm attracted mainstream media, and he was one of the few Hawaiian artists to appear regularly on national programs in the 1950s. Romantic ballads were Apaka’s forte, especially hapa haole songs such as “Beyond the Reef” and “Lovely Hula Hands.” Much of his Hawaiian-language repertoire was similarly nahenahe (sweet) though he also performed up-tempo songs and novelties. Instrumental support tended to reflect the then-thriving Waikiki lounge scene with amplified steel guitar, ukulele, rhythm guitar, string bass and sometimes vibraphone and percussion....
Ryan R. McNutt
Canadian indie rock band. With captivating live performances and acclaimed recordings, the Montreal-based multi-instrumentalist group stood at the forefront of indie rock’s ascendency in the 2000s, growing from internet fanbase to festival-headlining slots over the decade. Often augmented by friends and touring members live, the core band consists of husband and wife Win Butler and Régine Chassagne, with Will Butler, Richard Reed Parry, Tim Kingsbury, Sarah Neufeld, and Jeremy Gara.
Formed in 2001 in Montreal, Québec—where the Texas-born Butler brothers attended school and met Chassagne, the daughter of Haitian immigrants—Arcade Fire quickly earned a local cult following that exploded upon the release of Funeral, its 2004 debut (Merge Records). An ecstatic review on the popular music website Pitchfork is often cited as the catalyst, though the band capitalized on that enthusiasm with its theatrical live show. Soaring melodies and anthemic, singalong hooks earned the album endorsements from David Bowie, David Byrne, and U2, all of whom have since performed with the band....
Lori Burns and Jada Watson
[Richards, Jann (Arden Anne)]
(b Springbank, AB, March 27, 1962). Canadian singer-songwriter. Her songs are characterized by a lyrical emphasis on heartbreak and introspection, set to seamless pop and rock arrangements featuring smooth vocals and catchy rhythmic riffs. She began writing songs at the age of 13 and released her debut single “Never Love a Sailor” as Jann Richards in 1980. Arden busked and performed with rock bands in clubs and at festivals before signing with A&M Records and releasing her debut album Time for Mercy (A&M, 1993), which included the single “I would die for you.” The album garnered her a Juno Award for Best New Solo Artist in 1994 and she subsequently received two more, for Songwriter of the Year, in 1995 and 2002.
Arden’s success continued with Living under June (A&M, 1994), which featured three of her biggest singles “Insensitive,” “Could I be your Girl,” and “Good Mother.” Arden has continued to release studio albums as well as a greatest hits album (...
(b 9 Dec, 1950, St Kitts, Leeward Islands). English singer-songwriter. One of five children, she spent the first few years of her life with her grandparents in the West Indies, following the rest of her family to Birmingham in 1958. An introverted youngster, she taught herself piano and guitar and as a teenager, inspired initially by Marianne Faithfull, she began writing and performing her own songs in clubs. While singing in the touring production of Hair, she met Pam Nestor with whom she recorded an album, Whatever's for Us (Cube, 1972). Produced by Gus Dudgeon, who had also worked with David Bowie and Elton John, it was a critical success but a commercial failure. Back to the Night (A&M, 1975) established Armatrading as a solo artist. However, she gained both critical and popular acceptance with her next album, Joan Armatrading (A&M, 1976), which included her best-known hit single ...
David F. Garcia
(b Ranchuelo, Las Villas, Cuba, April 4, 1928; d Mohegan Lake, NY, Jan 6, 2016). Cuban trumpet player, active in the United States. Known for his uniquely traditional Cuban style, Armenteros began playing trumpet in the youth municipal band of Ranchuelo. After moving to Havana in 1949, he made his first recordings with René Álvarez y Su Conjunto titled “Llego María La ’O” and “Jovenes del muelle.” He later became a member of Arsenio Rodríguez y Su Conjunto and the Beny Moré orchestra, performing on Cuban radio as well as recordings. Armenteros performed in New York for the first time in 1956 as a member of Fajardo y Sus Estrellas. Soon afterward he moved there, performing and recording with Machito and His Afro-Cubans, La Sonora Matancera, Larry Harlow, Moncho Leña, Charlie Palmieri, Eddie Palmieri, Grupo Folklórico y Experimental Nuevayorquino, and many others through the 1970s. After that he recorded with Cachao, John Santos, and Poncho Sanchez, as well as led his own recording projects totaling more than eight albums. His performance and recording career encompassed seven decades. Recordings of his playing demonstrate the idiomatic markers of Cuban trumpet playing and music, including ...
(b Memphis, TN, Feb 3, 1898; d Chicago, IL, Aug 27, 1971). American jazz pianist, singer, bandleader, and composer. She studied keyboard privately from an early age and had hopes of becoming a concert pianist. While she was enrolled at Fisk University, her mother and stepfather moved to Chicago, where in 1917 she took a job as a sheet music demonstrator, which led to her joining the Original Creole Jazz Band as its pianist. It was her first job playing jazz and she decided not to return to Fisk. She subsequently worked with several bands, including King Oliver’s Creole Jazz Band, with which she performed in San Francisco in 1921 and made her recording debut in 1923. By this time the band included louis Armstrong, whom she married in 1924. Armstrong’s place in jazz history was assured by her participation on Oliver’s Gennett recordings and Louis’ Hot Five sessions for Okeh. She played an important role in Louis’ move into a brighter spotlight before their separation in ...
Gene H. Anderson
[Dippermouth Papa Dip Pops Satchelmouth Satchmo ]
(b New Orleans, LA, Aug 4, 1901; d New York, NY, July 6, 1971). American trumpeter, singer, and entertainer.
Despite his lifelong claim of 4 July 1900 as his birthday, Armstrong was actually born on 4 August 1901 as recorded on a baptismal certificate discovered after his death. Although calling himself “Louis Daniel Armstrong” in his 1954 autobiography, he denied knowledge of his middle name or its origin. Nevertheless, evidence of “Daniel” being a family name is strong: Armstrong’s paternal great-great-grandfather, a third generation slave brought from Tidewater Virginia for sale in New Orleans in 1818, was named Daniel Walker, as was his son, Armstrong’s great-grandfather. The latter’s wife, Catherine Walker, sponsored her great-grandson’s baptism at the family’s home parish, the Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic Church on Canal Street.
Armstrong’s mother, Mary (“Mayann”) Albert (1885–1927), a recent arrival in New Orleans from rural Boutte, Louisiana, was living with relatives “back o’ town” on Jane Alley when she met Catherine and Daniel Walker’s grandson, William Armstrong (...
David F. Garcia
(b Santiago de Cuba, March 2, 1917; d San Diego, CA, Dec 2, 1986).American entertainer, bandleader, and television producer of Cuban birth. Arnaz left Santiago for the United States when his father, the mayor, was exiled upon the fall of the Machado government in 1933. Arnaz began his career as a singer in Miami and joined the internationally famous Xavier Cugat orchestra in the late 1930s. He started his own band, which recorded with Columbia in 1941 and Victor from 1946 through 1951. While Arnaz was the leader and featured singer, the band also recorded with prominent American singers, including the Andrews Sisters and Jane Harvey. Arnaz also appeared in the Broadway and film versions of Too Many Girls in 1939 and 1940, respectively. He married the film actress Lucille Ball, and the couple eventually starred in and produced their classic television show, I Love Lucy (featuring Arnaz as a bandleader), from ...
Bill C. Malone
revised by John W. Rumble
(b Henderson, TN, May 15, 1918; d Brentwood, TN, May 8, 2008). American country-music recording artist and television performer. He personified country music’s commercial expansion during the period 1940–70. His father died when Arnold was 11, and the family became sharecroppers on the farm they had owned in Chester County, Tennessee. By 1936 he had begun working on radio programs and in beer joints, first in Jackson, Tennessee, and then in Memphis and St. Louis. Becoming the featured vocalist of the band led by Pee Wee King on the radio program Grand Ole Opry in 1940 heightened his profile. Arnold began to perform under his own name in 1943 and subsequently headlined the show’s segment broadcast over the Mutual Network. He made his first recordings for RCA Victor in 1944.
Between 1945 and 1955 Arnold scored 66 top-ten country hits; 21 reached number one including “That’s How Much I Love You” (RCA, ...
[James; Gitfiddle Jim]
(b Lovejoy, GA, Feb 15, 1901; d Chicago, IL, Nov 8, 1968). American blues singer and guitarist. He grew up on a farm in Georgia, learning to play guitar at the age of ten, and was an accomplished musician by the time he settled in Buffalo at the age of 18. In the 1920s he performed in local clubs and traveled with other singers as far south as Mississippi. Arnold played a steel-bodied guitar laid horizontally across his lap, stroking the strings with a glass flask to produce a wailing sound. Although his natural voice was low, the singing on many of his records is high pitched; he often employed a buzzing tone as a drone to accompany guitar solos. As Gitfiddle Jim he recorded “Paddlin’ Blues” (1930, Vic.), an instrumental tour de force, in Memphis, but despite his dazzling technique, Victor did not record him again. In ...
revised by Justin A. Williams
American hip hop group. Formed in Atlanta, Georgia, in 1987 by the rapper Speech (Todd Thomas; b Milwaukee, WI, 25 Oct 1968), they have combined social commentary and sample-based production with a non-aggressive stance. Other members have included Rasadon (drums), Headliner (DJ), DJ Kemit, Nadirah Shakoor (lead vocals), Za (bass), One Love (vocals), JJ Boogie (guitar), Dionne Farris (vocals), Aerle Teree (poetry and vocals), Ajile and Montsho Eshe (both dance and vocals), and Baba Oje (spiritual adviser). Arrested Development first achieved fame with their debut album, 3 Years, 5 Months and 2 Days in the Life of … (Chrysalis, 1992), the title of which referred to the length of time it took them to get a record contract. The album won Grammy awards for Best New Artist and Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group in 1993 and has sold more than four million copies. The album’s main hit “Tennessee” is a spiritually themed track about reclaiming Southern black traditions amid a history of racism. Other notable songs from the album include “Mr. Wendal,” which drew attention to the plight of the homeless, and “People Everyday,” which reworked Sly and the Family Stone’s “Everyday People.” Their mixture of rapped verses and soulfully sung choruses prefigured music by groups such as the Fugees. Arrested Development’s success furthered a stream of intelligent, gentle, and commercially viable Afrocentric hip hop which was begun by De La Soul’s album ...
Avant-garde jazz and new-music ensemble formed in Paris in 1969 by the trumpeter Lester Bowie (b Frederick, MD, 11 Oct 1941; d New York, NY, 9 Nov 1999), the saxophonists Roscoe Mitchell (b Chicago, IL, 3 Aug 1940) and Joseph Jarman (b Pine Bluff, AR, 14 Sept 1937), and the bass player Malachi Favors (b Lexington, MS, 22 Aug 1927; d Chicago, IL, 30 Jan 2004). The drummer Famoudou Don Moye (b Rochester, NY, 23 May 1946) joined the following year. Having collaborated in the Experimental Band (formed in 1961) and its successor the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (1965), Mitchell, Jarman, and Favors founded the Roscoe Mitchell Sextet (1966), which they renamed the Roscoe Mitchell Art Ensemble (1967) and finally the AEC during an 18-month tenure in France (1969–71...
Art rock is a contested term referring to British progressive rock influenced by classical music, as well as rock music made by musicians whose creative experience and training was drawn more from visual art than music. Many musicians of the latter group attended art schools, where they developed familiarity with the techniques and theory of contemporary art. Emphasis was placed on postmodern, eclectic, and avant-garde approaches. This stream of art rock had a significant influence on the development of punk, new wave, and related styles in the United States.
Early cross-fertilization of rock and contemporary art in the United States was evident in Andy Warhol’s collaboration with the Velvet Underground in 1966. His multi-media events, called the Exploding Plastic Inevitable, combined his films with the band’s rock music, which was overlaid with minimalist features, including drones. Warhol’s goal of using rock as part of a larger, interdisciplinary-art work based around performance was influential on later incarnations of art rock. Frank Zappa’s work from the same era sat ambiguously between rock, avant-garde composition, and ...
(b Warsaw, Poland, Dec 2, 1905; d New York, NY, Oct 19, 1986). American record producer of Polish birth. He founded the label Asch in New York in 1939, initially to release local Jewish music. He soon expanded to jazz and American vernacular music releasing records by such musicians as Mary Lou Williams, James P. Johnson, Woody Guthrie, Lead Belly, and Pete Seeger, who subsequently gained widespread acclaim. He then founded Disc (1945), Cub Records (1948), and Folkways Records and Service Corporation (1948).
It was Asch’s goal with Folkways to create an encyclopedia of the sounds of the 20th century. He did not take anything out of print, regardless of sales, using the rationale that one does not take “Q” out of the alphabet and leave “P” simply because “Q” is not used as much as “P.” During his career he released 2168 albums, the equivalent of about one a week. As well as folk music, his catalog included spoken word, recordings of natural and manmade sounds, jazz, blues, children’s music, political speeches, and non-Western musics from around the world....
(b Detroit, MI, Aug 6, 1932; d Santa Monica, CA, April 13, 1986). American jazz harpist and bandleader, daughter of the jazz guitarist Wiley Thompson. She attended Cass Technical High School with Donald Byrd and Kenny Burrell, and took up piano, double bass, saxophone, and, eventually, harp. She then studied piano and music education at Wayne State University. Although she performed on piano in nightclubs, she had settled on harp as her primary instrument by 1952. She also formed a trio in which her husband, John Ashby, played drums. During the 1960s, Ashby presented her own radio show and, with her husband, formed the Ashby Players, an African-American theater group. Down Beat included her on its poll of best jazz performers in 1962, and by the late 1960s, she was in demand as a studio musician, in which capacity she recorded with Stevie Wonder, Barry Manilow, and Diana Ross, among others, and on movie soundtracks. Ashby’s most celebrated albums include ...
Soul duo and songwriting and production team. Nickolas Ashford (b Fairfield, Hilton Head Island, SC, 4 May 1942; d New York, NY, 22 Aug 2011) and Valerie Simpson (b Bronx, NY, 26 Aug 1946) met in 1963; their first successful songwriting collaboration was “Let’s go get stoned” which, in a recording by Ray Charles (ABC, 1966), reached no.31 on the pop chart. They became staff writers and producers for Motown, where they worked with such performers as Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell (“You’re all I need to get by,” Motown, 1968) and “Ain’t nothing like the real thing,” Motown, 1968) and Diana Ross (“Ain’t no mountain high enough, Motown, 1970). Ashford produced two albums that Simpson recorded under her own name (Exposed!, Motown, 1971, and Valerie Simpson, Motown, 1972). After leaving Motown, they released their first album together for Warner Bros., ...
revised by Travis D. Stimeling
American western-swing band. The group was established in Paw Paw, West Virginia, in 1970 and became one of the leading participants in the western swing revival centered around Austin, Texas, during the 1970s. The group’s personnel has frequently been in flux, but the best-known combination consisted of the bandleader, singer, guitarist, and songwriter Ray Benson (Seifert), the singer, songwriter, drummer, and guitarist Leroy Preston, the singer and guitarist Chris O’Connell, the steel guitarist Lucky Oceans (Ruben Gosfield), and the pianist Floyd Domino (James Haber).
In 1971 the group moved from West Virginia to Berkeley, California, at the recommendation of the rockabilly musician Commander Cody and the entertainer Wavy Gravy. For the following two years the group toured as the backup band for the country singers Stoney Edwards, Freddie Hart, and Connie Smith. In early 1973 they moved to Austin, where they met the former members of the Texas Playboys Jesse Ashlock and Al Stricklin and became one of the leading acts in the city’s progressive country-music scene. In ...