September 26: This Day in Black History
FEATURED: Bessie Smith
1795:Alexander Twilight was born. He was the first African-American person known to have earned a bachelor’s degree from an American college or university upon graduating Middlebury College in 1823. He passed away in 1857.
1899:William Levi Dawson was born. He was a composer, choir director and professor. He passed away in 1990.
1929:Meredith Gourdine was born. He was an athlete, engineer and a physicist. He passed in 1998.
1929:Dr. Ida Owens was born. He is a biochemist and conducted studies in the genetics of detoxification enzymes, aimed at shedding light on how the human body defends itself against poison. She is 84 today.
1935:Lou Myers was born. He was an actor and appeared in many movies, stage plays television sitcoms, and dramas. He died in February of this year at age 78.
1936:Winnie Mandela was born. She s a South African politician who has held several government positions and headed the African National Congress Women’s League. She is 77 today.
1937:“Empress of the Blues” Bessie Smith died today. Influenced by Ma Rainey, Bessie was simply the best of the classic blues singers. Her first recording in 1923, “Down Hearted Blues,” sold more than 750,000 copies in a few months. She was 43.
1953:Seven of the R&B charts Top 10 positions were occupied by vocal groups, including the Orioles, the Clovers, the “5″ Royales, the Royals, the Spaniels, the Dominoes, and the Coronets.
1957:The Montones’ immortal “Book of Love” (#3 R&B, #5 pop) was recorded.
1960:Maurice Williams & the Zodiacs charted R&B with “Stay,” reaching #3 and #1 pop.
1961:Cindy Herron was born. She is a singer and actress, who is best known as a founding member of En Vogue.
1963:Baby Washington, Sam Cooke, Freddie Scott, the Tymes, Little Willie John, and Bobby “Blue” Bland performed in New Orleans
1966:Craig Heyward was born. He was an NFL running back. In the mid-1990s, He showcased his sense of humor in a series of tv commercials for Zest body wash. He died of cancer at age 39.
1972:Shawn Stockman was born. He is a singer, songwriter, musician and a judge on ‘The Sing-Off’ a TV singing competition.
1973:Ras Kass was born. He is a rapper and producer.
1981:Patti Austin’s Quincy Jones-produced “Every Home Should Have One” album charted on its way to #36, becoming Patti’s biggest of five Top 200 albums through 1990.
1981:Serena Williams was born. She is a professional tennis player who is currently ranked No. 1 in women’s singles tennis. She turns 32 today.
1981:Christina Milian was born. She is an actress, singer and songwriter. She turns 32 today.
1981:’Endless Love’ by Diana Ross and Lionel Richie was the number one R&B song this day.
1992:Bobby Brown appeared as the performing guest on the season opener of NBC-TV’s “Saturday Night Live.”
1998:Betty Carter passed away at age 69. She was a jazz singer known for her improvisational technique, scatting and other complex musical abilities that demonstrated her vocal talent.
2007:Rev. George Brooks Sr. passed away at age 81. He was a longtime civil rights activist in Phoenix who founded a church, served in the Arizona state Legislature, and led the Maricopa County NAACP chapter in the ’60s. He founded Southminster Presbyterian Church, helped to bring Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. to Phoenix in the ’60s, and championed the first Meals on Wheels and Head Start programs in south Phoenix.
2011:Jessy Dixon passed away at age 73. He was a singer and songwriter whose travels helped to popularize gospel music outside the US. His career span more than five decades.