Black Music Month originated in 1979. Jimmy Carter proclaimed the month of June as Black Music Month to celebrate the wonderful music, the achievements, births, important timelines, events and to remember those we lost.
1. Katherine Dunham
1909:Dancer and choreographer Katherine Dunham was born. She had one of the most successful dance careers in American and European theater of the 20th century, and directed her own dance company for many years. She has been called the “matriarch and queen mother of black dance.” She passed away in 2006 at age 96.
2. Ella Johnson
1919:Jazz and R&B singer Ella Johnson was born. She scored her first hit ‘Please, Mr. Johnson’ in 1940. Her popular 1945 recording of ‘Since I Fell for You’ composed by her brother Buddy led to its eventual establishment as a jazz standard. She passed away in 2004 at age 84.
3. Verne Allison of The Dells
1936: Singer and founding member of the Dells, Verne Allison, was born. He turns 78 today. In 2004, the group were inducted to both the Vocal Group Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The group continued performing until 2012.
4. Cal Green
1937:Texas native and Blues guitarist Cal Green was born.
5. Jackie Wilson
1959: Jackie Wilson charted with “I’ll Be Satisfied,” reaching #6 R&B and #20 pop. It was his fourth Top 10 hit in a row. He would go on to have ten in a row through 1961 and eventually chart forty-seven times on the R&B hit list through 1975.
6. The Four Pennies
1963: The Four Pennies charted en route to #67 pop with a Chiffons-styled takeoff of the Crystals’ “Uptown,” called “My Block.” One reason for the style similarity was because the Four Pennies were the Chiffons. With their current hit “One Fine Day” riding the charts, the group’s producers were so enamored of “My Block” that they didn’t want to wait months to release another Chiffons song, so they just renamed the group, at least for the one release.
7. Sly & the Family Stone
1968: Sly & the Family Stone performed at the Fillmore West in San Francisco.
8. The Impressions
1969: The Impressions, Ike & Tina Turner, and Santana all performed at the Fillmore West in San Francisco.
9. Freddie Jackson
1985:’Rock Me Tonight’ by Freddie Jackson was the Number One song on this day.
10. Ambrose Campbell
2006 Ambrose Campbell passed away on this day. He was the founding member of the West African Rhythm Brothers, Britain’s first-ever black band. He was 86 years old.
11. Betty Allen
2009:Mezzo soprano Betty Allen passed away. She became an internationally known opera singer and later a prominent voice teacher and arts administrator. She was part of the first great wave of black singers to appear on the world’s premier stages in the postwar years. She died of kidney disease at age 82.