Roberta Dodd Crawford: Born August 5, 1897

CrawfordIn the 1920s and 1930s, Bonham mezzo-soprano Roberta Dodd Crawford (1897-1954) shot across the concert world like a rare comet, blazing with talent and demonstrating the power of black performers to seriously engage American and European critics and audiences. In the end, through bad luck and poor circumstance, she flamed out, dying broke and forgotten by the world she had made richer by her incandescent presence.

She came from humble circumstances, spent long years training her remarkable voice, toured extensively in the U.S. and France, socialized and worked with fellow ex-patriots in Paris during the 1920s and early 1930s, married an American World War I hero and, later, an African prince; and suffered physically and mentally while under Nazi detention during World War II.
http://ntxe-news.com/cgi-bin/artman/exec/view.cgi?archive=51&num=81273

Texas State Historical Association~ https://tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fcr69

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Isaac Stern: Born July 21, 1920

stern1Stern’s family moved to the United States and settled in San Francisco when he was one year old. His mother, a professional singer, gave him his first music lessons. He began studying the violin at the San Francisco Conservatory in 1928. In 1932 he became the third immensely talented San Francisco-area boy to train with the San Francisco Symphony concertmaster Louis Persinger (the others were Menuhin and Ruggiero Ricci). However, he considered Naoum Blinder, with whom he studied until the age of 15, his only true teacher. Stern made his debut with the San Francisco Symphony on February 18, 1936, with Pierre Monteux conducting the Third Concerto by Saint-Saëns.
http://www.allmusic.com/artist/isaac-stern-mn0000965898/biography

However, Stern was to become as famous internationally for his contribution to public causes as he was Stern2for his concert performances and recordings. His social contributions took many forms: his most noted involvement as a cultural activist was his pivotal role in the 1960 salvation of Carnegie Hall, then facing demolition. Elected president of the Carnegie Hall Corporation, he guided the affairs of the edifice he called “our country’s affirmation of the human spirit” (Stern and Potok, p. 141) until the end of his life. He was chairman of the board of the America-Israel Cultural Foundation and founder and chairman of the Stern3Jerusalem Music Center, and in the United States he campaigned for and became a founding member of the National Endowment for the Arts in 1964. In 1975 he received the first Albert Schweitzer Award for “a life’s work dedicated to music and devoted to humanity” and two years later was made a member of the French Légion d’Honneur.
http://www.anb.org/articles/18/18-03785.html

Obituary, New York Times~ http://www.nytimes.com/2001/09/23/nyregion/violinist-isaac-stern-dies-at-81-led-efforts-to-save-carnegie-hall.html

Van Cliburn: Born July 12, 1934

But if the Tchaikovsky competition represented Mr. Cliburn’s breakthrough, it also turned out to be his undoing. Relying inordinately on his keen musical instincts, he was not an especially probing artist, and his growth was stalled by his early success. Audiences everywhere wanted to hear him in his prizewinning pieces, the Tchaikovsky First Concerto and the Rachmaninoff Third. Every American town with a community concert series wanted him to come play a recital.
“When I won the Tchaikovsky I was only 23, and everyone talked about that,” Mr. Cliburn said in 2008. “But I felt like I had been at this thing for 20 years already. It was thrilling to be wanted. But it was pressure, too.”
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/28/arts/music/van-cliburn-pianist-dies-at-78.html

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Ringo Starr: Born on July 7, 1940

youngRingo

While some accused Ringo Starr of being a clumsy drummer, many more agreed with George Harrison’s assessment: “Ringo’s the best backbeat in the business.” And while many in the wake of the youngerRingoBeatles’ breakup predicted that Starr would be the one without a solo career, he proved them wrong. Not only has he released several LPs (the first came out before the Beatles disbanded) and hit singles, but he’s also the only Beatle to establish a film-acting career for himself outside of the band’s mid-’60s movies.
http://www.rollingstone.com/music/artists/ringo-starr

Anybody who knows the Beatles’ music intimately knows the tympanic accents and fills as clearly today as when they were recorded: the famous drum roll that launches into “She Loves You”; the shimmering incandescence of his cymbal work on so many of those early hits; the impressionistic free-form of “Rain”; the loping cadence and crispy snare of “Sexy Sadie”; the haunting, almost cinematic drama and rich texture behind “Long, Long”; the building, tour-de-force crescendo that leads up to the “The End” on “Abbey Road.”

“Here’s what I discovered in the very first session that I did with him,” recalls Walsh. “He came in and I oldRingosaid, ‘You want to see a chart on the song?’ And he said, ‘No, give me the lyrics.’ He responds to the singer. A great example of that is when he plays on the Beatles’ ‘Something’ and he does that fill that’s such a musical response it’s almost like a guitar player; there’s notes to it.”
http://variety.com/2014/music/news/ringo-starr-paul-mccartney-beatles-1201073353/

olderRingo

July 1~ Willie Dixon & James Cotton

 

Willie Dixon was born July 1, 1915, in Vicksburg, MS.
http://www.allmusic.com/artist/willie-dixon-mn0000959770/biography
Illustration: William Stout  / Legends of the Blues

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

James Cotton was born July 1, 1935, in Tunica, MS.
http://www.allmusic.com/artist/james-cotton-mn0000131841/biography
Illustration: Jack Coughlin / A Brush with the Blues: 26 Portraits

 

 

 

 

Willie Dixon and James Cotton with Muddy Waters, Sunnyland Slim, Otis Spann, Sonny Terry, Brownie McGhee, and Mable Hillery in 1966 at the Canadian CBC Television studio, recording a portion of a CBC “Festival” series:

http://www.allmovie.com/movie/masters-of-the-blues-v204117

Paul McCartney: Born June 18, 1942

youngpaul

I was saying to someone the other day that one of the very first gigs we did – I don’t even think we were Beatlesthe Beatles, it was the Quarrymen – one the very first times I ever played with John, we did a very early gig at a thing called a Co-Op Hall, and I had a lead solo in one of the songs and I totally froze when my moment came. I really played the crappiest solo ever. I said, “That’s it. I’m never going to play lead guitar again.” It was just too nerve-wracking onstage. So for years, I just became rhythm guitar and bass player and played a bit of piano, do a bit of this, that and the other. But nowadays, I play lead guitar, and that’s the thing that draws me forward. I enjoy it. So, yeah, that means the answer to “Are you going to retire?” is “When I feel like it.” But that’s not today.
http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/paul-mccartney-the-long-and-winding-q-a-20140717?page=2

At the deepest level, McCartney has little idea where all the olderpaulmelodies come from. He still hasn’t figured out how he wrote “Yesterday” in his sleep. “I don’t like to use the word ‘magic,’ unless you spell it with a ‘k’ on the end, because it sounds a bit corny. But when your biggest song – which 3,000 people and counting have recorded – was something that you dreamt, it’s very hard to resist the thought that there’s something otherworldly there.”
http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/paul-mccartney-yesterday-today-20120618

Jackie Wilson: Born June 9, 1934

WilsonThey called him “Mr. Excitement,” and indeed Jackie Wilson was a gifted singer of considerable range and a charismatic showman who commanded a stage like few before or since. Wilson possessed a natural tenor. He sang with the graceful control of Sam Cooke and moved with the frenzied dynamism of James Brown…A mainstay of the R&B and pop charts from 1958 to 1968, Wilson amassed two dozen Top Forty singles, all released on the Brunswick label.

Wilson launched his solo career in November 1957 with the single “Reet Petite (The Finest Girl You Ever Want To Meet).” The song was written by Berry Gordy, Jr., a struggling songwriter who had yet to found his Motown empire. Another Gordy composition, “Lonely Teardrops,” was Wilson’s breakthrough, topping the R&B chart and becoming a Top Ten hit on the pop side. More R&B chart-toppers followed in quick succession
https://rockhall.com/inductees/jackie-wilson/bio/

Jackie Wilson Discography~ http://www.discogs.com/artist/69375-Jackie-Wilson

George Szell: Born June 7, 1897

1978 SPECIAL CITATION for distinguished service to the arts (Posthumous)~
http://clevelandartsprize.org/awardees/george_szell.html
NAXOS: George Szell~ http://www.naxos.com/person/George_Szell_38224/38224.htm

“Szell stories”—tales of his irascibility, hauteur and genius—are still popular when musicians gather to drink and dish after concerts. Pianist Glenn Gould referred to Szell’s “Dr. Cyclops” reputation and nearly walked out of his one and only collaboration with the conductor. (“That nut’s a genius” was Szell’s personal appraisal of Gould.) In 1946, his first year as music director of the Cleveland Orchestra, Szell fired 22 of the 94 musicians in the group, and he later dismissed his brilliant principal oboist of almost two decades for a single insubordinate comment at a rehearsal. Most of his players were terrified of him; some frankly despised him. After Szell’s death, one Cleveland violinist refused to cut his hair, letting it grow down to his waist in posthumous rebuke to the martinet who could no longer object.

And yet Szell’s accomplishments in Cleveland cannot be overstated. He summed up his approach succinctly three years before his death. “My aim in developing the Cleveland Orchestra has been to combine the finest virtues of the great European orchestras of pre-World War II times with the most distinguished qualities of our leading American orchestras,” Szell wrote. “We put the American orchestra’s technical perfection, beauty of sound, and adaptability to the styles of various national schools of composers into the service of warmhearted, spontaneous music-making in the best European tradition.” And indeed, such was his legacy.
http://www.gramilano.com/2011/07/conductor-george-szell-was-his-own-worst-enemy-not-while-rudolf-bing-was-alive/

Josephine Baker: Born on June 3, 1906

JBBaker, Josephine (3 June 1906-12 Apr. 1975), dancer, singer, and civil rights activist, was born in St. Louis, Missouri, the daughter of Eddie Carson, a musician, and Carrie Macdonald. Her parents parted when Josephine was still an infant, and her mother married Arthur Martin, which has led to some confusion about her maiden name. Very little is known about her childhood, except that she was a witness to the East St. Louis riot in 1917.
Josephine Baker…began her career in “tent shows,” touring musical ensembles that played mostly in the southern states. Her first success was as a comic dancer in a show…Her Broadway debut was in The Chocolate Dandies at the Colonial Theatre in September 1924…
Subsequent appearances in New York City…led to Baker’s engagement as one of the featured performers in La Revue Nègre, an all-black show…La Revue Nègre was destined to become one of the key influences in Parisian theater and visual arts in the late 1920s.
http://www.anb.org/articles/18/18-00048.html

JBfamilyAchievements~ http://www.cmgww.com/stars/baker/about/achievements.html
https://www.nwhm.org/education-resources/biography/biographies/josephine-baker/

JBDCSpeech at the March on Washington~ http://www.blackpast.org/1963-josephine-baker-speech-march-washington
FBI files~ http://vault.fbi.gov/josephine-baker

Discography~ http://www.discogs.com/artist/378436-Josephine-Baker

Benny Goodman: Born May 30, 1909

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YoungBGBorn in Chicago, Illinois in the United States, into a large, impoverished family of immigrants. Goodman experienced hard times while growing up. Encouraged by his father to learn a musical instrument, Goodman and two of his brothers took lessons; as the youngest and smallest he learned to play the clarinet. These early studies took place at the Kehelah Jacob Synagogue and later at Hull House, a settlement house founded by reformer Jane Addams. From the start, Goodman displayed an exceptional talent and he received personal tuition from James Sylvester and then the renowned classicist Franz Schoepp. Before he was in his teens, Goodman had begun performing in public and was soon playing in bands with such emerging jazz artists as Jimmy McPartland, Frank Teschemacher and Dave Tough. Goodman’s precocious talent allowed him to become a member of the American Federation of Musicians at the age of 14 and that same year he played with Bix Beiderbecke. By his mid-teens Goodman was already established as a leading musician, working on numerous engagements with many bands to the detriment of his formal education.
http://biography.just-the-swing.com/benny-goodmanOrchestra

The summer of 1932 saw Benny organise his first band which starred singer Russ Columbo. The second band that he formed (in 1934) got a job at Billy Rose’s Music Hall. This band made some great recordings and began appearing on the 3-hour NBC radio program called “Let’s Dance.”

After this, the Benny Goodman Orchestra began touring (with not so fantastic results) until August 21, 1935, when the Benny Goodman Orchestra opened in the Palomar Ballroom in Los Angeles. After playing a few dance tunes, he told the band to play some Fletcher Henderson arrangements. The mostly young crowd promptly started something of a riot. After this public approval of the music – this thing called “Swing” – there was no looking back!
http://www.touchoftonga.com/DavidMulliss/benny-goodman.html

OlderBGBenny did for clarinet what Louis Armstrong had done for the trumpet.  He gave it a newly assertive leadership role in the jazz ensemble.

His was the most popular and influential swing band of the 1930s and ‘40s, and his unique trios, quartets and sextets shaped small-band Jazz style.  Before Benny, clarinet was rarely a lead instrument for a band.  His success made it the most popular instrument for other bandleaders like Artie Shaw, Jimmy Dorsey and Woody Herman.
http://jazzhotbigstep.com/45801.html

Benny Goodman Discography: http://www.discogs.com/artist/254768-Benny-Goodman