Caterina Jarboro (1903-1986) was a pioneering African American opera singer. In 1933 — twenty-two full years before Marian Anderson’s dÃ©but at the Metropolitan Opera — impresario Alfredo Salmaggi hired Jarboro to sing with his opera company at the Hippodrome.
She was thus the first black opera singer ever to sing on an opera stage in America. (This milestone earned Salmaggi special recognition from First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt.Â Continue reading
1922-1991. Born John Elroy Sanford in St. Louis, Missouri, Foxx made his mark in the TV smash Sanford and Son (1972?77) after many years of odd jobs and short stretches on the night club circuit, including a kitchen job with Malcolm Little who would later be known as Malcolm X.
Foxx hit it big in Las Vegas in 1968, but didn’t make the celluloid jump until the 1970 film Cotton Comes to Harlem. The role brought him to the attention of producers Bud Yorkin and Norman Lear who decided to cast Foxx in Sanford and Son, his first major success. The show was followed by others, including The Redd Foxx Comedy Hour (1977-78) and the Redd Foxx Show (1986).
He later co-edited The Redd Foxx Encyclopedia of Black Humor (1977).
Lillian Evans Evanti (1890-1967) was the first African American to sing opera with an organized company in Europe.
In 1941 she founded the National Negro Opera.
She was born in Washington, D.C., and graduated from Armstrong Manual Training School.
She graduated from Howard University with a Bachelor’s Degree in music and studied in France and Italy. Evanti, a soprano, sang at the Belasco Theater in 1926 with Marian Anderson.
She debuted in 1927 in Delibes’s LakmÃ© at Nice, France. As an opera singer and concert artist, she toured throughout Europe and South America.
- In 1943, she performed with the Watergate Theater barge on the Potomac River. In 1944, she appeared at The Town Hall (New York City). She received acclaim as Violetta in Verdi’s La traviata as produced by the National Negro Opera Company in 1945.
- In 1963, she walked with her friend Alma Thomas in the March on Washington.
WGPR-TV (Where Godâ€™s Presence Radiates) was the first television station in the United States owned and operated by African Americans. The station, located in Detroit, Michigan, was founded by William Venoid Banks. WGPR-TV marketed toward the urban audience in Detroit, Michigan, which in that market meant programming for the African American community.
WGPR-TV first aired on September 29, 1975 on channel 62 in Detroit, Michigan. Station founder William Venoid Banks was a Detroit attorney, minister and prominent member of the International Free and Accepted Modern Masons, an organization he founded in 1950. The Masons owned the majority of stock in WGPR-TV. The station initially broadcast religious shows, R&B music shows, off-network dramas, syndicated shows and older cartoons.Â Continue reading
Born John Lee Williamson in Jackson, Tennessee. One of the founding members of the post-War Chicago blues scene, Sonny Boy Williamson did more to popularize the harmonica than any of his contemporaries. His musical and geographical migration from the deep South up the Mississippi to Chicago exemplifies his rise in popularity. Williamson never realized his full potential as a musician, as he was tragically murdered at the peak of his career.
He taught himself to play harmonica as a teenager and by his late teens was touring the Depression-era South, playing with the likes of Big Joe Williams and Robert Nighthawk. With his masterful harp (harmonica) playing and country-blues sound, Williamson fused a new band format with the harmonica as lead instrument. Continue reading