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Rich Kienzle

(Ray )

(b Plainview, TX, Aug 10, 1928; d Varina, VA, June 13, 2010). American singer, songwriter, and entrepreneur. Despite achieving only a few hits, he played a pivotal role in advancing the prominence of country music on network television. Born into poverty in rural Texas, he learned piano with his mother. During postwar service in the US Air Force, he was stationed near Washington, DC. Following his discharge in 1948, he began performing in the region playing accordion with his band the Texas Wildcats. His first hit was “Bummin’ Around” (1952, Mer.). In 1955 he began hosting a local morning TV show, Town and Country Time. For a time Roy Clark was the Wildcats’ guitarist and banjoist with an unknown Patsy Cline a frequent guest. After joining CBS he hosted the morning show “Country Style” (1957) from Washington and the daytime program “The Jimmy Dean Show” (...

Article

Lori Burns and Jada Watson

[Angela Maria ]

(b Buffalo, NY, Sept 23, 1970). American folk singer-songwriter, guitarist, label owner, and political activist. She began performing music at local bars and busking at age nine. A fiercely independent spirit, she left home at 15 and lived with friends while she wrote and performed her music in the Buffalo area. By 19 she had written more than 100 songs and begun to build a devout grassroots following. In 1989 she founded Righteous Records (renamed Righteous Babe Records in 1994), an independent record label for which she has composed, performed, recorded, and produced all of her material. Since the late 1990s the label has released albums for other non-mainstream artists. DiFranco has also published two volumes of poetry: Self Evident: poesie e disegni (Rome, 2004) and Verses (New York, 2007).

DiFranco is a prolific lyricist whose songs communicate strong messages about gender, identity, social institutions, and politics, and address social issues including racism, homophobia, poverty, war, and reproductive rights. Much of her lyrical material is autobiographical and tackles topics including religion, relationships, motherhood, and sexuality. Her music is classified variously as folk rock, alternative rock, punk folk, and singer-songwriter folk. DiFranco has emerged as an icon of feminism and independent music making, and her career has featured solo albums, many compilations and collaborations, live albums, official bootleg releases, and an unrelenting concert calendar....

Article

Andrew Raffo Dewar

[William Robert]

(b Nantucket, MA, Oct 5, 1925; d North Bennington, VT, June 16, 2010). American jazz trumpeter, composer, visual artist, educator, and organizer. He created a singular body of work that extended the language of the trumpet and conventional definitions of jazz tradition, exploring concepts and sounds considered by some to be outside the bounds of orthodoxy. His family moved from Nantucket Island to New York in 1933 and settled in Harlem. Music, and the trumpet, became a focus of interest when, as a child, Dixon heard Louis Armstrong perform. He purchased his first trumpet while in high school and was self-taught until the mid-1940s. He began his formal creative work, however, as a visual artist, studying and serving an apprenticeship in the commercial art world during the early 1940s. Dixon enlisted in the army in 1944, after which he attended the Hartnette School of Music in Manhattan. After this intense period of study he composed arrangements and performed with a number of bands and worked as a copyist for George Russell and David Amram, among others. In ...

Article

Dina M. Bennett

(b Vicksburg, MS, July 1, 1915; d Burbank, CA, Jan 29, 1992). American blues double-bassist, vocalist, songwriter, arranger, and record producer. He learned to sing harmony and write poems which he turned into songs as a teenager. In 1951, he joined the staff of Chess Records and became the label’s primary blues songwriter and producer. Many of his songs contained motifs most commonly associated with African American life in the South such as magic, voodoo, and country folkways, and were recorded by blues artists Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Little Walter, Koko Taylor, and many others. Among his most famous songs are “Back Door Man,” “Little Red Rooster,” “Spoonful,” “Hoochie Coochie Man,” “I Just Want to Make Love to You,” “Mellow Down Easy,” and “My Babe.” With more than 500 compositions to his credit, Dixon was influential in creating the sound of “Chicago blues,” a post World War II blues style that replaced the basic guitar/harmonica duo of Delta blues with electrically amplified versions of the guitar, bass guitar, and harmonica with the addition of drums, piano, and sometimes the saxophone. In ...

Article

Robert B. Winans

revised by Jonas Westover

[Clapp, George Alfred ]

(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 1878 and 1883 he was Charles Dockstader’s partner in a performing duo called the Dockstader Brothers, and in 1886 he formed his own Dockstader’s Minstrels. He later formed a company with George Primrose (1898–1903), which was among the last minstrel troupes to tour major US cities. For the next 11 years he maintained his own company, and his last years were spent in vaudeville. Dockstader was an extremely successful organizer and director of minstrel productions and created many skits and afterpieces. His own talent lay particularly in burlesque and mimicry. Regarding the latter, he was especially famous for his monologues and stump speeches in addition to parodying politicians, actors, and singers. He was one of the few to keep minstrelsy alive as a distinct form well into the 20th century. Dockstader published a few collections, including a minstrel songster in ...

Article

MF Doom  

Mike Levine

[Dumile, Daniel ]

(b London, England, Jan 9, 1971). American Rapper and producer of alternative hip hop. Born in London, he grew up in Long Beach, New York. MF Doom (MF stands for Metal Face or Metal Fingers) models himself after the Marvel Comics super-villain Doctor Doom and has been known to wear a metal mask on stage and in daily life.

He began his career as Zev Love X in the rap group KMD, which also included his younger brother DJ Subroc. KMD’s recording debut was an appearance on 3rd Bass’s hit song “The Gas Face” from The Cactus Album (1989). The group followed with their own album Mr. Hood (1991), which was mostly overlooked. KMD disbanded after Subroc was killed in a car accident before the release of their second album, Black Bastards. Following his brother’s death, Dumile went on hiatus for several years, disappearing completely from the rap scene....

Article

Thomas Goldsmith

[Gerald Calvin]

(b Warren, OH, May 28, 1956). American bluegrass and country instrumentalist and record producer. Starting in his teenage years he brought dazzling technique, stylistic versatility, and a fat, rock-influenced tone to the resonator guitar, known as the Dobro, that has put him in musical company with artists as diverse as Ricky Skaggs, Tony Rice, Ray Charles, Elvis Costello, James Taylor, and Edgar Meyer. Playing with his father in local bands as a teenager, Douglas attracted the attention of members of the Country Gentlemen, who gave him his first high-profile gig in 1973. During the next decade he rose first to the top ranks of bluegrass musicians, playing with J.D. Crowe and the New South and Skaggs’ Boone Creek. He moved to Nashville in 1979 to perform and record with the Whites; he also began a career as a session musician that made his sound ubiquitous on country radio during the 1980s and 90s. He has made more than a dozen solo albums for various labels including Rounder and MCA. In ...

Article

Dr. Dre  

Justin A. Williams

[Young, Andre Romelle]

(b Los Angeles, CA, Feb 18, 1965). American rapper and producer. Dr. Dre played a key role in bringing West Coast “gangsta rap” to national and international prominence. His beat making styles have been hugely influential, most notably the “G-Funk” sound, which he featured from 1992 through 1996. Dre’s work with NWA from 1986 until his break with the group in 1991, and his later work with protégés Snoop Doggy Dogg, Eminem, 50 Cent, and The Game, also comprise important moments in hip-hop and popular music historiography.

He began his music career as a club DJ, producer, and rapper with groups The World Class Wreckin Cru (signed with Epic/Sony) and N.W.A The sound of the Wreckin Cru was heavily influenced by electro hip-hop sounds, drum machines, and synthesizers found in Afrika Baambaataa’s “Planet Rock” (1982). Recording under Eazy-E’s newly founded Ruthless Records where Dre was the house producer, N.W.A. gained national prominence with their debut album ...

Article

Jared Pauley

(Mauldin)

(b Asheville, NC, Sept 23, 1972). American rapper, producer, and record label executive. He is best known as the founder of Atlanta-based So So Def Recordings. Dupri got his start in the early 1980s as a dancer for artists such as the rap group Whodini and singer Diana Ross. In 1991, he met teenagers Chris Smith and Chris Kelly, who later became the group Kris Kross. In 1992, the duo released their debut album Totally Krossed Out, which sold over four million copies and spawned the number-one hit single “Jump.” Dupri parlayed this success into work with other artists, including Babyface and Boyz II Men. His label released Atlanta-based rapper Da Brat’s debut album Funkdafied in 1994, making her the first female rapper to achieve platinum-level sales. He continued to work with a multitude of artists during the late 1990s and early 2000s including Destiny’s Child, TLC, Usher, Jagged Edge, and Lil Bow Bow. More recently, Dupri has worked as a producer for artists such as Monica, rapper Fabolous, and his one-time girlfriend, vocalist/actress Janet Jackson. As one of the most successful music executives of the past 20 years, he has amassed dozens of gold and platinum records. He has also recorded his own music, releasing in ...

Article

Eazy-E  

Michael Berry

[Wright, Eric]

(b Compton, CA, Sept 7, 1963; d Los Angeles, CA, March 26, 1995). American rapper and record label executive. As a member of N.W.A, he helped bring west coast gangsta rap into the national spotlight, co-founding Ruthless Records and proving that rap music did not need to rely on radio to generate hit records.

With a keen sense for business and a strong vision for a new niche in the rap industry centered on violent and sexually explicit topics, Eazy-E began assembling the members of N.W.A. in 1986. His two strongest recruits were the producer and rapper Dr. Dre, who was responsible for most of the group’s sound, and the rapper Ice Cube, who wrote many of the group’s lyrics. He then reached out to the music industry veteran Jerry Heller, and the two founded Ruthless Records in 1987. The group’s first full-length album N.W.A. and the Posse...