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Alberta Hunter was born in Memphis and grew up in Chicago. She was a pioneering African-American popular singer whose path crossed the streams of jazz, blues and pop music. Hunter recorded in six decades of the twentieth century, and enjoyed a career in music that outlasted most human lives. Her initial records for Black Swan, made in May 1921, were the first blues vocals recorded by the company. During the '20s, Hunter also established herself as a songwriter of some significance; her song
Hunter dropped out of show business for two decades starting in 1956 in favor of working as a licensed practical nurse at a hospital in the New York City area. When she retired from nursing in 1977, she was 81 and ready to go back on the road. By this time her voice was gritty, down and dirty, and her fans loved her for it. She made four albums for Columbia between 1977 and her death in 1984.
Alberta Hunter was one of the earliest African-American singers, along with Sippie Wallace, to make the transition from the lowly brothels and sporting houses into the international spotlight. That she defies easy categorization attests to the astonishing fact that she was on the scene a little before the genres themselves were defined.
Alberta Hunter was born in Memphis and grew up in Chicago. She was a pioneering African-American popular singer whose path crossed the streams of jazz, blues and pop music.
Leroy Carr, born in Nashville, Tennessee, 27 March 1905. His family moved to Indianapolis in 1912. He spent time at the Pot Roast Club in 1917, watching and listening to pianist Ollie Akins.
As a Harvard/Radcliffe student majoring in Social Relations and African Studies, she attended classes and immersed herself in the city's turbulent cultural and political activities.
Bessie Smith helped pioneer the genre of blues music and propel it into popular culture. Smith was born into poverty in Chattanooga, Tennessee to William Smith, a preacher, and Laura Smith.
Huddie Ledbetter was born January 15, 1888, on the Jeter Plantation near Mooringsport, Louisiana. He was an only child who quickly became interested in music when he received his first instrument.
Legendary blues singer B.B. King was born Riley B. King on September 16, 1925 in Itta Bena, Mississippi. King spent his childhood in the Mississippi Delta, but in 1946 left to pursue a music career in Memphis.
National Museum of African American Music
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The National Museum of African American Music will stand as an international iconic cultural museum dedicated to the vast contributions African Americans have made in music.