Black Music History Facts: Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis

Hello!

I know it’s been a few days since my last post. I was a bit under the weather, please forgive me. ūüėĒ

But I’m back! For today’s post of black music history fun facts, we have the amazing songwriting and music production team, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis! When I think of 80s and 90s R&B, they’re who I think of. They helped to make some of your favorite R&B hits, and if you don’t know about them…it’s time!

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  • James Samual “Jimmy Jam” Harris III and Terry Steven Lewis have been making hit after hit since 1982.
  • Jimmy Jam is the son of famous Minneapolis jazz and blues musician, Cornbread Harris.
  • Harris and Lewis met in high school in Minneapolis and formed a band called, Flyte Tyme, which became The Time.
  • Morris Day joined them in ’81 and they toured with Prince.
  • They produced their first record for the SOS Band.
  • They were known for being one of the few who used the Roland TR-808 drum machine
  • They produced Janet Jackson’s breakthrough album, Control¬†in ’86. (Won a Grammy)
  • In ’89, they hit it again with Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation 1814 (4 Billboard Hot 100 No. 1 hits)
  • In 1990 Jam And Lewis recorded “Pandemonium” with The Time, which was released on Prince‚Äôs Paisley Park Records.
  • In 2005, they opened up their recording studios in Sana Monica, Flyte Tyme¬†West.
  • They have 31 top ten hits on the charts in the US and the UK
  • Acts they’re associated with: The Time, Prince, Janet Jackson, Michael Jackson, The SOS Band, Boyz II Men, Usher, Rod Stewart, Mariah Carey, Chaka Khan, New Edition, Patti LaBelle, and more!

    Here’s a short interview:

    And a playlist of some of their hits: 

Black Music History Facts: William Grant Still

Hey hey!

It’s day 2 of Black History Month, and I’m back with more black music history fun facts!

William Grant Stills is a classical composer and gas had major orchestras play his compositions. He was a trailblazer for the African Americans in the world of classical music.

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  • Born May 11, 1895 in Woodville, Mississippi
  • He started taking violin lessons at the age of 15. He then taught himself clarinet, saxophone, oboe, double bass, cello, and viola (He was pretty amazing, no?)
  • Still actually went on to Wilberforce University to pursue a Bachelor of Science degree.
  • He conducted the band at his university and started composing and orchestrating…all while teaching himself to play more instruments.
  • Received a scholarship to study at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music.
  • He was a student of George Whitefield Chadwick and later Edgard Var√®se. (Both were composers/musicians)
  • Worked as an arranger for popular music
  • Played in the pit for various musicals
  • In 1934, we starting writing his first opera. He went on to write 8 operas.
  • In 1949 his opera,¬†Troubled Island,¬†was performed by the New York City Opera. It was the first opera by an African American to be performed by a major company.
  • He went on to conduct the New Orleans¬†Philharmonic in 1955. He was the first African American to conduct a major orchestra in the south.
  • He was also the first African American to have an opera performed on television in the US.¬†A Bayou Legend¬†premiered on PBS in 1981.

Afro-American Symphony – I. Moderato Assai

This symphony was the first one written by an African American and performed in the US by a major orchestra. As you’ll hear, this piece has classical and blues elements. The best of both worlds!

 

 

 

Black Music History Facts: Lena Horne

Happy Black History Month!

I love history, I love music, and I love my fellow black folks ūüôā

Every day this month, I’ll be posting black music history fun facts. Today’s feature is the amazing, elegant, and strong, Lena Horne.

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  • Born June 30th, 1917.
  • She was in the Chorus line of the Cotton Club when she was 16.
  • Moved to Hollywood and started playing small roles in films, then moved on to bigger roles in 1943 (Cabin in the Sky¬†and¬†Stormy Weather)
  • First African-American signed to a long-term studio contract
  • She was one of the first to work on both sides of the “color line”. She sang with both white and black swing and jazz groups.
  • She was blacklisted as a Communist because of her participation in the Civil Rights Movement and her friendship with Paul Robeson and W.E.B. DuBois, who were activists.
  • Received Honorary Doctorate from Howard University in 1980
  • Her career spanned over 70 years
  • More of a random fact….she guest starred on The Cosby Show and A Different World back in the 80s and 90s (two of my favorite shows haha)

– Bri