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. Big Bill Broonzy
1893: Big Bill Broonzy was born. He was one of Chicago’s early blues guitar influences and started recording in 1927 and had a hit h “Big Bill’s Blues.” By the ’50s he was billing himself as the “last blues singer.”
2. St. Louis Jimmy Oden
1903: St. Louis Jimmy Oden was born. He was a blues singer and songwriter who taught himself to play the piano in childhood. He passed away in 1977.
3. Clarence Profit
1912: Clarence Profit was born. He was a jazz pianist and composer associated with swing. He began playing at the age of three and led a ten-piece band in NYC. He passed away in 1944.
4. Reggie Workman
1937: Reggie Workman was born. He is an avant-garde jazz and hard bop double bassist, recognized for his work with both John Coltrane and Art Blakey.
5. James Weldon Johnson
1938: James Weldon Johnson passed away. He was an author, politician, diplomat, critic, journalist, poet, anthologist, educator, lawyer, songwriter, and early civil rights activist. He composed the lyrics of “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing,” originally written for a celebration of Lincoln’s birthday at Stanton School.
6. Billy Davis, Jr.
1940: Grammy Award winning Singer, songwriter, musician, author and long time member of the Fifth Dimension Billy Davis, Jr. was born. He and Marilyn McCoo have been married 44 years and recently released a book together.
7. Ruby Elzy
1943: Ruby Elzy passed away on this day. She was an operatic soprano and was educated at Julliard School. Elzy created the role of Serena in George Gershwin’s folk opera Porgy and Bess and performed in it more than eight hundred times.
8. Brian Abrahams
1947: Brian Abrahams was born. He is a jazz drummer and vocalist who started out working as a singer with local bands in South Africa. In the 1970s Abrahams participated in a gig in Swaziland as drummer for Sarah Vaughan and Nancy Wilson.
9. The Platters
1954: One of the first singles by the Platters, “Tell the World” was released on this day.
10. Angela Winbush
1954: Singer & songwriter Angela Winbush was born. She rose to fame in the 80s as 1/2 the duo of Rene & Angela and has had a great solo career. She has sold over ten million albums & singles worldwide.
11. Clifford Brown
1956: Clifford Brown, aka “Brownie,” was an influential and acclaimed jazz trumpeter. He died in a car accident at age 25, leaving behind only four years’ worth of recordings.
12. DJ Mister Cee
1961: Calvin LeBrun was born. He is better known as Mister Cee or DJ Mister Cee and is a hip hop DJ, radio personality on New York’s Hot 97 FM, and a respected record producer.
13. The Spinners
1961: The Spinners’ debut single, “That’s What Girls Are Made For,” charted, reaching #5 R&B and #27 pop. The quintet was discovered by the Moonglows leader/producer Harvey Fuqua at Detroit’s Make Way for Youth show, and it was Fuqua who sang the lead on this and their follow-up single, “Love (I’m So Glad) I Found You.”
14. The Supremes
1964: The Supremes, the Shirelles, the Crystals, and Major Lance, among others, performed at the Fairgrounds Grandstand in Allentown, PA, on Dick Clark’s Caravan of Stars tour.
15. Wilson Pickett
1965: Wilson Picket’s “In the Midnight Hour” charted, reaching #1 R&B, #21 pop. It was the first of five #1s for “the wicked Pickett,” a nickname he earned at Atlantic records office for his affection for the label’s ladies.
16. Prince & Stevie Wonder
1993: Stevie Wonder performed with Prince at the Purple One’s Grand Slam Club in Los Angeles.
17. Tupac Shakur
2005: Ghetto Gospel by 2Pac featuring Elton John was the Number One song on this day.
18. Johnny Jenkins
2006: Johnny Jenkins passed away on this day. He was a left-handed blues guitarist, who helped launch the career of Otis Redding. His flamboyant style of guitar playing also influenced Jimi Hendrix, who would later use some of Jenkins’s tricks in his stage show. He was 67 years old.
19. Benny Powell
2010: Benny Powell passed away. He was a jazz trombonist who performed or recorded with everyone from Frank Sinatra to Screamin’ Jay Hawkins but was best known for his long tenure with Count Basie’s big band. He was 80 years old.