Nancy Wilson: Born February 20, 1937

Nancy Wilson’s musical style is so diverse that it is hard to classify. Over the years her repertoire has included pop style ballads, jazz and blues, show tunes and well known standards. Critics have described her as “a jazz singer,” “a blues singer,” “a pop singer,” and “a cabaret singer.” Still others have referred to her as “a storyteller,” “a professor emeritus of body language,” “a consummate actress,” and “the complete entertainer.” Then who is this song stylist (that’s the descriptive title she prefers) whose voice embodies the nuances of gospel, blues, and jazz? Her colleague and long time friend Joe Williams used to call her “the thrush from Columbus.”
http://musicians.allaboutjazz.com/nancywilson

Leontyne Price: born on February 10, 1927

Leontyne Price received many honorary degrees as well as the Presidential Medal of Freedom (1965), the Kennedy Center Honors (1980), and the National Medal of Arts (1985). Her many recordings earned nineteen Grammy Awards, and she received a special Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1989. For her performance on Live From Lincoln Center, Leontyne Price, Zubin Mehta and the New York Philharmonic, Price received the 1982 Emmy award for Outstanding Individual Performance in a Variety or Music Program.

Price has been described as a “lirico-spinto” soprano with a 3-1/2 octave range. Her rock-solid vocal technique and purity and her dramatic flair have been combined to create a mix suitable both for the opera and concert stage.

– See more at: http://www.afrovoices.com/price.html#top

Maria Callas: Born December 2, 1923

colorCallasMaria made her first professional appearance in von Suppe’s Boccacio in 1939 and sang the leading part in Tosca in 1942. After a series of disappointments and resenting envy by her colleagues, she returned to the American land of her birth. She lived there for two years (1945-1947), met the bass Nicola Rossi – Lemeni and through him came to know the tenor Giovanni Zenatello, artistic director of the Arena of Verona. Maria Kalogeropoulos left for Italy, met the industrialist Giovanni Batista Meneghini, married him, became Maria Callas and experienced her artistic life’s curtain raiser without suspecting that she was about to emerge as the lyric theatre’s most brilliant personality. Her first appearance in Italy as La Gioconda was directed by Tulio Serafin. Her acquaintance with him would lead her to new forms of expression.   http://www.hri.org/MFA/thesis/autumn97/callas.html

Callas’ ability to sing such a wide range of roles was one of the things that led to her meteoric rise. But criticcallasPiano Conrad Osborne says it also contained the seeds of her vocal decline. Callas’ voice was already starting to fail her by the time she was in her 40s — quite young for an opera singer. A number of factors, including a rapid loss of weight, may explain why. But Osborne, who also teaches voice, says Callas lacked the proper technique to sustain her ambitious repertoire.But for Callas fans like James Jorden, the diva more than made up for her vocal flaws with her talent for bringing the music to life. Her imperfections set her apart, and her ability to find the emotional meaning in a role was unsurpassed.  http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=123612228

callasPosingBy the time of her retirement, she had performed more than 40 different roles and had recorded more than 20 complete operas. Callas’s personality and philosophy of performance are powerfully depicted in Terrence McNally’s play Master Class (first performed and published 1995), based on her classes at Juilliard.   http://www.britannica.com/biography/Maria-Callas

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

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

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