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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 Tennessee. While in Memphis, King was employed as a singer and disc jockey at radio station WDIA where he was given the radio name “Beale Street Blues Boy” which he shortened to B.B. In 1949 while at WDIA he recorded many of his early singles for RPM records in Los Angeles.
King began to have significant success as a blues artist in the 1950s with a string of recordings such as “Please Love Me,” “Whole Lotta Love,” “Every Day I Have the Blues,” and “Ten Long Years.” His hits brought him to the attention of Paramount Records which signed the blues performer in 1962.
Over his career he has garnered 14 Grammys including a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1987. King has also received honorary doctorates in music from Brown and Yale University and an honorary Ph.D. from the University of Mississippi. In June 2006 King participated in the groundbreaking ceremony for the B.B. King Museum and Delta Interpretive Center scheduled to open in September 2008. On December 15, 2006, President George W. Bush awarded King the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
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.