August 21: This Day in Black History
FEATURED: Savannah Churchill
1904: One of the best-loved and most legendary bandleaders of all time, William “Count” Basie was born today. He passed away in 1984.
1920: A terrific singer who began her career out of necessity, not desire, Savannah Churchill was born today. When her husband died in a car accident in 1941, she began performing to support her two children. Recording mostly with the vocal group the Four Tunes, she scored her biggest hit with “I Want To Be Loved,” which was #1 R&B for eight weeks, and “Daddy Daddy” (R&B #3). She also played a mean violin. She died in 1974 at age 53.
1928: Art Farmer was born. He was a jazz musician and composer. He passed in 1999, aged 71.
1932: Melvin Van Peeples was born. He is an actor, director, screenwriter, playwright, novelist and composer. He turns 81 today.
1936: NBA legend Wilt Chamberlain was born. He passed away in 1999 at age 63.
1939: Clarence Williams III was born. He is an actor of television, film and stage. He is 74 today.
1943: Harriet M. Waddy became the first black female major in the Women’s Army Corps.
1949: Loretta Devine was born. She is a stage, film and television actress. She is 64 today.
1954: The Harptones’ “I’ll Never Tell,” with Bunny Paul singing lead, and the Singing Wanderers’ “Say Hey Willie Mays” were released.
1954: Archie Griffin was born. He is a former NFL running back. He is college football’s only 2-time Heisman Trophy Winner. He is 59 today.
1961: Motown releases what would be its first #1 hit, “Please Mr. Postman” by The Marvelettes.
1965: The Ramsey Lewis Trio charted with their signature single, “The ‘In’ Crowd,” reaching #2 R&B and #5 pop. A year later, two-thirds of the group, Eldee Young and Red Holt, would form their own trio, the Young Holt Trio, and have the hit “Wack, Wack.”
1971: Howlin’ Wolf charted with his album The London Howlin’ Wolf Sessions, reaching #79 pop and #28 R&B.
1971: Diana Ross reached #1 in England with “I’m Still Waiting.” The single wasn’t well-received in America
1976: Who’d She Coo?” by the Ohio Players was the Number One R&B Song this day.
1979: Kelis was born. She is an award winning singer-songwriter and a certified chef. She turns 34 today.
1983: Andre Crouch, Shirley Caesar, and Barry White performed in Jerusalem, Israel, at the first Annual Gospel Festival.
1994: Danitra Vance passed away. She was an actress and comedian. She was the first African American woman to become an SNL repertory player in 1985. She died at age 40 of breast cancer.
1996: Rick James was freed from Fulsom Prison after serving two years and thirty-four days of a five-year sentence. While there he had written more than 200 songs, though many turned out to be rough or unfinished. Others would become the nucleus of Rick’s 1997 Urban Rhapsody album.
1996: Jamia Simone Nash was born. She is a singer and actress. Happy 17th Birthday, Jamia.
2003: Wesley Willis passed away. He was a singer-songwriter and visual artist. He is best known for his simple but unique music that featured his bizarre, humorous, and frequently honest, yet obscene lyrics. He was 40 years old.
2003: Archie Epps passed away. He was dean of students at Harvard College from 1971 to 1999. He was one of the first black administrators at Harvard. He was 76.
2009: John E. Carter passed away. He was an R&B singer, the last surviving founding member of The Flamingos and two-time inductee into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame & Museum. He was 75 years old.
2010: Harold Dow passed away suddenly at age 62. He was an Emmy-winning CBS News correspondent who helped to shape the documentary program 48 Hours and covered the kidnapping of Patricia Hearst and the Sept. 11 attacks. Dow’s nearly 40 years with the network also included reporting for CBS Evening News with Dan Rather and CBS News Sunday Morning. Over the years he won five Emmys.