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. Paul Laurence Dunbar
1872: Paul Laurence Dunbar was born. He was a poet & novelist and he also wrote lyrics for ‘In Dahomey’ the first musical written and performed entirely by African-Americans to appear on Broadway in 1903. He passed away at age 33 in 1906 of Tuberculosis. Dunbar was prolific, writing short stories, novels, librettos, plays, songs and essays as well as the poetry for which he became well known. He was popular with black and white readers of his day, and his works are celebrated today by scholars and school children alike.
2. Elmo Hope
1923: Elmo Hope was born on this day. He was a jazz pianist, performing chiefly in the bop and hard bop genres. He was hospitalized with pneumonia in 1967 and died a few weeks later of heart failure. He was 44 years old.
3. Big Moose Walker
1929: Big Moose Walker (John Mayon Walker) was born. He was a Chicago and electric blues pianist, organist and singer. He worked with many of the blues legends. He passed away in 1999 at age 72.
4. George Braith
1939: George Braith was born. He is a soul-jazz saxophonist and is credited with the invention of the Braithophone (two different horns mended together). He is also well known for playing multiple horns at once.
5. Louis Risbrook
1950: Louis Risbrook was born. He was the bassist and an original member of B.T. Express, a funk/disco group that had several successful songs during the 1970s.
6. Jackie Wilson
1953: “You Can’t Keep a Good Man Down” was Jackie Wilson’s recording debut with the Dominoes.
7. The Orioles
1953: ‘I Cover the Waterfront’ by the Orioles was released on this day.
8. Lonnie Johnson
1960: Lonnie Johnson, an originator and founding father of modern guitar blues performed at the Playboy Club in Chicago. He had played with the likes of Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington going back to the ’20s.
9. The Valentinos
1964: The Valentinos charted with “It’s All Over Now,” reaching only #94 pop. The group was actually Bobby Womack and his brothers, who started out as the gospel group, the Womack Brothers. Bobby’s song, however, would gain immortality as an early hit for the Rolling Stones. (Singing in the background vocals is none other than the great Bill Withers).
10. The Jackson Five
1970: The Jackson 5 hit #1 with “The Love You Save,” thus becoming the first artists to reach the top spot with their first three charters.
11. Barney Bigard
1980: Barney Bigard (Right) passed away on this day. He was a clarinetist, saxophonist, bandleader and composer and performed with some of the greats. He was 74 years old.
12. Rick James
1981: ‘Give It To Me, Baby’ by Rick James was the Number One song on this day.
13. Whitney Houston
1987: Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” hit #1, while her album Whitney became the first album by a female singer to debut on Billboard’s chart at #1.
14. Charles Tyler
1992: Charles Tyler passed away on this day at age 51. He was a jazz baritone saxophonist.
15. Michael Jackson World Tour
1992: Michael Jackson began his latest world tour in support of the album Dangerous in Munich, West Germany. A European-only TV program was taped and included two of Michael’s performances live from the concert.
16. Debra Hurd aka Deah Dame
1994: Debra Hurd passed away on this day. Her stage name was Deah Dame and she was 1/2 of the duo Damian Dame. She died in a car accident at age 35.
17. Prez ‘Kidd’ Kenneth
1995: Blues singer and guitarist Prez ‘Kidd’ Kenneth passed away on this day at age 61.
18. Bruce Edward Broadus
1996: Bruce Edward Broadus passed away on this day. His stage name was Damian and he was 1/2 the duo Damian Dame. He died of colon cancer exactly two years after Debra. He was 30 years old.
19. The Fugees
1996: The Fugees appeared at the free Hoodstock concert in New York. A man began firing a gun and numerous onlookers were hospitalized.
20. Fayette Pickney
2009: Fayette Pickney passed away. She was an original member of the singing group the Three Degrees who lent her voice to the ‘70s hits “When Will I See You Again?” and “TSOP” (“The Sound of Philadelphia”), the theme song of the TV show Soul Train. Pinkney died of acute respiratory failure at age 61.