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Jeffrey Holmes

An all-woman fifteen-piece big band founded in 1992. It is led by drummer and composer-arranger Sherrie Maricle (b Buffalo, NY, Sept 2, 1963), the recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Mary Lou Williams Women in Jazz Festival. Joan LaBarbera initially served as music director while Stanley Kay offered early guidance. DIVA maintains an active touring schedule that blends club, festival, and educational performances at venues worldwide. Its personnel has included trumpeter Ingrid Jensen, and reedists Anat Cohen and Tia Fuller, with guest artists ranging from Cleo Laine, Nancy Wilson, and Diane Schuur to Randy Brecker, Clark Terry, and Slide Hampton. Seven CD releases to date feature updated and energized arrangements of American songbook and jazz standards as well as works written for the orchestra....


David B. Pruett

American country music group. One of the most popular country acts of the late 1990s and early 2000s, the Dixie Chicks was formed as a bluegrass and country-western group in 1989 by Martie (Erwin) Maguire (b York, PA, 12 Oct 1969; violin), Emily (Erwin) Robinson (b Pittsfield, MA, 16 Aug 1972; banjo), Laura Lynch (b Dell City, TX, 18 Nov 1958; bass), and Robin Macy (b Dallas, TX, Nov 1958; guitar). By 1995 Lynch and Macy had left the group, and Natalie Maines (b Lubbock, TX, 14 Oct 1974; vocals), a recent Berklee College of Music dropout and the daughter of the Texas music producer and steel guitarist Lloyd Maines, was invited to complete the new trio. Maines brought a rebellious attitude and modern country vocal style that complemented Maguire’s and Robinson’s instrumental virtuosity and helped them develop a more contemporary sound and image.

The Dixie Chicks made their major-label debut with ...


Vocal group. It was formed in 1950 by Billy Ward (b Robert L. Williams, Savannah, Georgia, Sept 19, 1921; d Inglewood, California, Feb 16, 2002) along with a number of his vocal students. Initially the African American group performed at a number of New York talent shows, including those that were regularly held at the Apollo Theater, until they were signed to Federal Records and released their first single “Do Something For Me.” It was quickly followed by the widely successful “Sixty Minute Man,” which made both the R&B and pop charts in 1951 and is sometimes cited as an early example of rock and roll. The group had continued success throughout the 1950s with hits such as “Have Mercy Baby,” “St. Therese of the Roses,” and “Stardust,” though none of these records met with the same level of success as “Sixty Minute Man.”

The group’s legacy is important to R&B and the early history of rock and roll. Their hit “Sixty Minute Man” was extremely popular with both black and white audiences and pushed the boundary for acceptable lyrics with its overtly sexual language. The single was initially banned by a number of radio stations, but it grew in popularity and was eventually covered by a number of white artists. The group also is known for helping launch the careers of successful R&B singers ...


Jonas Westover

Rock group. Formed in California in 1970, its original members were Tom Johnston (vocals and guitar), John Hartman (drums), Patrick Simmons (vocals and guitar), and Dave Shogren (bass guitar). Johnston and Simmons have remained with the group for more than four decades. The reference to marijuana in the band’s name did not prevent them from landing a contract with Warner Bros. in 1971, and their second album, Toulouse Street (1972), produced their first hit single, “Listen to the Music.” During this early period the band’s membership shifted often, and they changed their country-rock sound to include a fuller rhythm section and piano to support their distinctive vocal harmonies. They produced a string of successful singles, including “Black Water” (1975), and well received albums, including The Captain and Me (1973), What were once vices are now habits (1974), and Stampede (1975). The addition of the lead singer and principal songwriter Michael McDonald transformed their sound once again, leading to hit singles built around his soulful voice such as “Takin’ it to the Streets” (...


Name used by various rhythm-and-blues vocal groups. The first of these was active from 1953 to 1958, the second from 1959. The first group’s original members were Clyde McPhatter (b Durham, NC, 15 Nov 1932; d New York, NY, 13 June 1972; lead vocals), Bill Pinkney (b Sumter, SC, 15 Aug 1925; d Daytona Beach, FL, 4 July 2007), Andrew Thrasher (b Wetumpka, AL), and Gerhart Thrasher (b Wetumpka); their first successful recordings were “Money Honey” (Atl., 1953), “White Christmas” (Atl., 1954), and “Whatcha gonna do” (Atl., 1955). At the end of 1954 McPhatter left the group on his induction into the US Army; he was succeeded by a number of lead singers, including Dave Baughn, Johnny Moore, and Bobby Hendricks, before the group disbanded in 1958. The following year George Treadwell, who had been the Drifters’ manager and retained the rights to their name, hired a group called the Five Crowns to fulfill their remaining tour obligations, and renamed them the Drifters. The new ensemble included the baritone Ben(jamin) E(arl) King (Nelson; ...



Konin Aka

Term for a xylophone or ensemble of xylophones and kettledrums of the Senufo people in the Korhogo region of the Ivory Coast. The ensemble normally comprises three or four frame xylophones, each with 12 bars slung on cords attached to the frame at each end. Under each bar is a gourd resonator with spider’s web mirliton. All the xylophones have the same pentatonic tuning; they are accompanied by three wooden kettledrums. The players wear iron jingles on their wrists. The ...


John Piccarella

Rhythm-and-blues and funk group formed by the brothers Maurice White (b Memphis, TN, 19 Dec 1941 vocals, songwriting, drums, and production) and Verdine White (b Chicago, IL, 25 July 1951; bass guitar and vocals). Their brother Fred White joined the group on drums in 1974. Other principal members were Philip Bailey (vocals), Roland Bautista (guitar), Larry Dunn (keyboards), Ralph Johnson (vocals and percussion), and Andrew Woolfolk (saxophone). Its lineup has changed frequently.

Maurice White began playing drums in Memphis with his schoolmate Booker T. Jones (who later led Booker T. and the MGs). He studied in Chicago, first at Roosevelt University, then at the Chicago Conservatory. In the early 1960s he worked as a session drummer for Chess Records, and in 1966 he became the drummer for Ramsey Lewis. He formed the Salty Peppers in 1969 and the group had some local success. After moving to Los Angeles in ...



Tania Camacho-Azofeifa

Costa Rican trio founded in 1990. It was formed by Edín Solís (b Zarcero, Alajuela, Costa Rica, 22 Nov 1963, guitar), Ricardo Ramírez (b San José, Costa Rica, 11 Nov 1967, violin), and Carlos “Tapado” Vargas (b San José, Costa Rica, 22 Jan 1971, percussion).

Editus is an eclectic group based in San José, Costa Rica. Its style and sound moves from classical music to new age, from jazz to Costa Rican and Latin American folk styles, and from popular to electronic music. Editus’ musical projects, including recordings, DVDs, and tours, typically seek to increase public awareness about environmental and other causes, and to promote social activism. This commitment is clearly expressed from their first recording, Ilusiones (1994), and its single/video, “Tokú,” to their most recent, Editus 360 DVD (2008).

The quality and versatility of the group has proved attractive not only to music schools but also to critics, filmmakers, and other musicians who have invited Editus to collaborate in new artistic and musical projects. One of their most successful partnerships has been with Rubén Blades. Together, Blades and Editus produced the recordings ...


Steve Loza

Rock and soul band. This successful group emerged in 1970, the year of the Chicano Moratorium in East Los Angeles and the high school blowouts, and a period in which political unrest and cultural reawakening manifested themselves through artistic expression, especially among young Chicanos or Mexican Americans. Originally assembled as the VIPs, the group recorded a rendition of “Viva tirado” by the jazz composer Gerald Wilson. Soon the name was changed to El Chicano, and the single and album Viva Tirado were released. “Viva Tirado” became a local hit within 12 weeks after being aired on such radio stations as KGFI and KHJ. It remained the number one record for 13 consecutive weeks and attained top radio ratings in Baltimore, New York, the South, and the Midwest. One of the band’s more successful local hits was an interpretation of the traditional Mexican bolero “Sabor a mi,” sung by the female lead vocalist Ersi Arvizu and recorded on the album ...


Michael Walsh

revised by Megan E. Hill

Chamber music ensemble founded in 1971 at the Berkshire Music Center. In 2011 its members were the trumpeters Rolf Smedvig and Marc Brian Reese, horn player Michelle Perry, trombonist Mark Hetzler, and tubist Kenneth Amis. Earlier members included trumpeters Charles A. Lewis Jr. and Timothy Morrison, horn player David Ohanian, trombonists Lawrence Isaacson and Scott A. Hartman, and tubist J. Samuel Pilafian. In the early 1970s the quintet performed mainly in the New England area; in 1976 it made its formal New York debut at Carnegie Hall and went on its first European tour; soon afterwards it became the first brass ensemble to receive the Naumburg Award. The quintet took part in a concert for Jimmy Carter’s presidential inauguration in 1977. In subsequent years, the group began touring regularly in Europe and East Asia. It was in residence at Boston University from 1976 until 1989, and it led the Empire Brass Seminar at the Boston University Tanglewood Institute. It also founded the Empire Brass Quintet Symposium for brass students at the Berkshire Music Center in ...


Ian Mikyska

Czech string quartet, founded 1999. Its line-up has remained constant since its foundation: David Pokorný and Vladimír Klánský on violins, Vladimír Kroupa on viola, and Vít Petrášek on cello. Although classical repertoire remains central to their professional lives, the Epoque Quartet is remarkable for the breadth and professionalism of its ‘crossover’ work. The quartet has performed with the leading artists of Czech popular music, arranged world music from various traditions (most recently with the clarinettist Irvin Venyš for their CD Irvin_Epoque), and given the premières of over 80 pieces, the style of which ranges from rock- and jazz-influenced music to contemporary art music, mostly by Czech composers including Jan Kučera, Petr Wajsar, Jan Dušek, Gabriela Vermelho, and others.

Their open-mindedness and long-standing interest in various musical fields allows them to perform stylistically in a way classically-trained ensembles often find problematic, particularly in terms of rhythm, feeling, and energy when performing jazz- and rock-influenced repertoire....



Ryan Kirk

[Emerald, Sapphire and Gold]

Funk dance group formed in the South Bronx, New York, in 1978 by the sisters Maria (vocals), Renee (guitar and vocals), Deborah (bass and vocals), and Valerie Scroggins (drums). Its sound is characterized by the prominent role of bass and drums with only sparse guitar and repetitive, catchy vocal lines. The use of call and response techniques in the vocals and the sophisticated rhythmic interplay between the bass and drums gave the group’s music a raw and primal energy.

Although the group split up shortly after releasing their debut album Come away with ESG (99 Records, 1983), their music proved influential to hip hop, no-wave, and post-punk artists. ESG reformed in 1991, and in response to their popularity among hip hop producers released the album Sample credits don’t pay our bills (Nega Fulô Records, 1992). After they disbanded again in 2007, Soul Jazz Records released further compilations and EPs, and two new full length albums, enabling their music to reach a younger generation of punk, funk, and dance-oriented artists....



James Bash

String quartet. Formed in 1998, ETHEL consists of Juilliard-trained violinists Cornelius Dufallo and Mary Rowell, violist Ralph Farris, and cellist Dorothy Lawson. Dufallo replaced one of the quartet’s founders, violinist Todd Reynolds. The ensemble performs only new music, often using amplification and, in many cases, introducing some degree of improvisation. Their repertory includes their own works and pieces by contemporary composers such as Julia Wolfe, Phil Kline, John Zorn, Steve Reich, John King, JacobTV, David Lang, Scott Johnson, Don Byron, Marcelo Zarvos, Evan Ziporyn, and Mary Ellen Childs. The ensemble has collaborated with rock musicians such as Joe Jackson, Todd Rundgren, and David Byrne as well as with classical artists such as Ursula Oppens and Colin Currie. From 2007 to 2010, ETHEL gave the premieres of 47 new works, many of which were commissioned for the ensemble or by its nonprofit foundation.

The quartet has recorded a number of albums, including its debut, ...


Cedric Dent

Male gospel quartet. It began as a trio at the Fairfield Missionary Baptist Church in Nashville, Tennessee in 1921. The group originally consisted of Rufus and Harold Carrethers and John Battle. Nathaniel Irvin joined in 1925, Samuel McCrary in 1935. McCrary became a notable lead singer, auguring the lead-driven sound of post–World War II gospel style quartets. Like most gospel style quartets, it often comprised more than four singers to maintain a consistent four-part accompaniment behind one or more lead singers. In 1942 the group began a 12-year engagement with WLAC, a 50,000-watt radio station in Nashville. The exposure led to a recording contract with Bullet Records in 1946. The quartet’s repertory consisted of Negro spirituals and newer songs by pioneering black gospel composers such as Thomas Dorsey, Lucie E. Campbell, and W. Herbert Brewster. Many personnel changes occurred throughout the 1950s before the group eventually disbanded in 1960. A reunion concert 20 years later in Birmingham, Alabama sparked renewed interest in the group, leading to a recording contract with Warner Bros. in ...


Barry Jean Ancelet

Cajun musicians. On 27 April 1928 Joseph Falcon (b nr Robert’s Cove, LA, 28 Sept 1900; d Crowley, LA, 19 Nov 1965; accordionist, vocalist, and songwriter) and his wife Cléoma (b Crowley, LA, 27 May 1906; d Crowley, LA, 9 April 1941; guitarist, vocalist, and songwriter) became the first musicians to record a commercially released Cajun music record. They recorded for Columbia with Cléoma on guitar and Joseph on accordion and vocals. Their first album featured “Lafayette” and “La valse qui ma portin de ma fose” [La valse qui m’a porté dans ma fosse]. They subsequently recorded more songs for Columbia as well as for Decca until Cléoma’s death in 1941. Many of these recordings became part of the core repertoire of Cajun music as it evolved in the 1920s and 30s. Partly due to the impact of their early recordings, and also as a result of their musical talents, Joseph and Cléoma Falcon were among the most popular and influential Cajun musicians of that formative period. They shared vocal duties, with Joseph singing mostly traditional Cajun material, and Cléoma singing both traditional songs and Cajun French translations of American popular tunes, such as “Lulu’s Back in Town.” Cléoma, who was the sister of active Cajun musicians Amédé, Ophy, and Clifford Breaux, was especially renowned for her soaring, soulful vocal style. Joseph, on the other hand, had a keenness for improvising new arrangements for older traditional songs. After Cléoma’s death Joseph continued to perform, eventually with his second wife Thérèse playing drums. He produced one additional recording, a live performance at the Triangle Club in Scott in ...


Marisol Negrón

After debuting in 1968, they gained international popularity during the salsa “boom” of the 1970s for their performances in the United States and abroad. Comprised of the top artists signed to the renowned Fania Records, the ever-evolving membership of the Fania All-Stars resembles a “who’s who” of Latin music’s most esteemed musicians, vocalists, and sidemen, including Ray Barretto, Willie Colón, Celia Cruz, Larry Harlow, Héctor LaVoe, Johnny Pacheco, and Bobby Valentín.

The All-Stars’ performance at New York’s Cheetah Lounge in 1971 became legendary when Our Latin Thing (Nuestra Cosa) (1972), a documentary of the concert, was released. The film helped launch salsa, the band, and Fania records to international prominence. The All-Stars’ performance at Yankee Stadium in 1973 to a crowd of approximately 44,000 fans confirmed the aesthetic and cultural significance of Latin music as well as its commercial viability. Though the concert ended abruptly when fans rushed the field, footage of the event was included in the film ...


Akitsugu Kawamoto

Asian American hip hop group. The group was formed in Los Angeles in 2003 by Kev Nish (Kevin Nishimura; rapping and singing), Prohgress (James Roh; rapping and singing), and J-Splif (Jae Choung; rapping and singing). DJ Virman (Virman Coquia; turntable and DJ) joined in 2008. Rather than using traditional means to break into the music business, such as sending a demo recording to music industry executives, the group used the social networking website MySpace to cultivate a grassroots audience, in so doing proving their commercial viability to attract the interests of major record labels. Although their music departs from the political concerns of much other Asian American music, the group acquired its audience in part by drawing on the networks and affiliations established by earlier Asian American artists. Their single “Round Round,” from their album Folk Music (2006), for example, was featured in the film The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift...



Charles Garrett