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. Lloyd Richards
1919: Lloyd Richards was born. He was an award winning theater director and actor. Among his many accomplishments are his staging the original production of Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun, debuting on Broadway to standing ovations on 11 March 1959, and in 1984 he introduced August Wilson to Broadway in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.
2. Julian Priester
1935: Julian Priester was born. He is a jazz trombone player and composer.He has played with many artists including Sun Ra, Max Roach, Duke Ellington, John Coltrane and Herbie Hancock.
3. Leonard Lee
1936: Leonard Lee was born. He was 1/2 the duo Shirley & Lee. He passed away in 1976 following a heart attack. He was 40 years old.
4. Gilbert Gil
1942: Gilbert Gil was born. He started to play music as a child and was still a teenager when he joined his first band. He began his career as a bossa nova musician, and then grew to write songs that reflected a focus on political awareness and social activism.
5. Little Eva
1943: Eva Narcissus Boyd was born. Better known by her stage name of Little Eva and her record The Loco-Motion that sold over a million copies. She passed away in 2003 at age 59. (Photo: Tumblr)
6. Brenton Dow of the Melodians
1946: Brenton Dowe was born. He was founding member of the Melodians. He passed away following a heart attack in 2006 at age 60.
7. Louis Jordan & Ella Fitzgerald
1946: Louis Jordan and Ella Fitzgerald charted with their duet on the rousing “Stone Cold Dead in the Market (He Had It Coming),” reaching #1 R&B for five weeks and #7 pop.
8. The Drifters
1953: The Drifters recorded their first song today, “Lucille,” which would become their third R&B chart hit (#7).
9. The Channels
1956: The Channels recorded their classic “The Closer You Are”. Sharing the session (to save money) were label mates the Continentals, who then recorded their beautiful ballad “Dear Lord”.
10. Lloyd Price
1959: ‘Personality’ by Lloyd Price was the Number One R&B Song on this day.
11. James Brown
1963: James Brown’s first album, Live at the Apollo, debuted on the pop charts today, eventually rising to #2. As with his pop singles, even though he had enormous chart success, he never had a #1 pop album. Though could go on to have forty-nine albums hit the pop charts through 1988, Live would remain his all-time biggest success and would be considered a milestone in the development of live albums for years to come. (Photo: Tumblr)
12. Eric Dolphy
1964: Eric Dolphy passed away. He was a jazz alto saxophonist, flautist, and bass clarinetist. He also played the clarinet, piccolo, and baritone saxophone and was one of several multi-instrumentalists to gain prominence in the 1960s. He fell ill while on stage and was taken to a hospital in Berlin. After being given a shot of insulin, he lapsed into a coma and died. He was only 36 years old. (Photo: YouTube)
13. Pigmeat Markham
1968: Pigmeat Markham, one of the few comedians to hit the singles charts, did it on this day with “Hear Comes the Judge,” which reached #4 R&B and #19 pop. The title line was from a recurring gag on TV’s Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In show.
14. Shorty Long
1969: Frederick Earl ‘Shorty’ Long passed away. He was a soul singer, songwriter, musician, and record producer for Motown’s Soul Records imprint. He was inducted into the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame in 1980. He and a friend drowned when their boat capsized on the Detroit River in Michigan. Stevie Wonder played the harmonica at his burial, and placed it on his casket afterwards. Writer Roger Green’s epitaph stated: “So there endeth the career of a man who sang what he wanted to sing – everything from the blues to romantic ballads, from wild and crazy numbers to a utopian vision of Heaven on Earth. Short in stature but big in talent, he entertained and amazed us, and finally he inspired us. He was 29 years old.
15. Juke Boy Bonner
1978: Weldon Juke Boy Bonner passed away on this day. He was a blues singer, harmonica player, drummer and guitarist. He died of cirrhosis of the liver at age 46.
16. The Mary Jane Girls
1985: The Mary Jane Girls entered the R&B charts with “Wild and Crazy Love,” reaching #10 and #42 pop. It was their follow-up to their break-through hit, “In My House,” which reached #3 R&B and #7 pop. Both were written and produced by Rick James. (Photo: Tumblr)
17. Whitney Houston
1985: Whitney Houston stormed onto the singles chart with “Saving All My Love For You,” an eventual #1 pop and R&B. She would go on to have eleven pop #1 singles through 2002. The song was originally done in 1982 by Marilyn McCoo & Billy Davis, formerly of the Fifth Dimension.
18. Elizabeth ‘Libba’ Cotten
1987: Elizabeth ‘Libba’ Cotten passed away on this day. She was a blues & folk musician, singer, songwriter and a self-taught left-handed guitarist with her own original style. She held a right-handed guitar upside down and this position required her to play the bass lines with her fingers and the melody with her thumb. Her signature alternating bass style has become known as “Cotten picking”.
1991: Levert, Dionne Warwick, Chaka Khan, En Vogue and Dianne Reeves, among others, performed on the Celebrate the Soul of American Music TV show. (Photo: YouTube)
2002: ‘Hot in Here’ by Nelly was the Number One Song on this day. (Photo: Tumblr)
21. Lloyd Richards
2006: Lloyd Richards passed away. He was an award winning theater director and actor. Among his many accomplishments are his staging the original production of Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun, debuting on Broadway to standing ovations in 1959, and in 1984 he introduced August Wilson to Broadway in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. (Photo: YouTube)
2008: ‘Closer’ by Ne-Yo was the Number One Song on this day. (Photo: Tumblr)