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King Oliver's Creole Jazz Band 1920, Calendar
King Oliver's Creole Jazz Band 1920, Calendar

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Musicians & Entertainers Black History Posters & Prints, “Q...-R...-S...-”
for the classroom, home schoolers, inspirational images for the home or office.

social studies > history > Black history > musicians & entertainer list > a | b | c | d | e-f | g | h | i-k | l-m | n-o-p | Q-R-S | t-u-v | w-x-y-z < music index

African American musicians and entertainers ~

“Ma” Rainey
Della Reese
Paul Robeson
Bill “Bojangles” Robinson

Smokey Robinson
Sonny Rollins
Diana Ross
Nina Simone

Bessie Smith
Eddie South
Mavis Staples
William Grant Still

Ma Rainey, Photographic Print
Ma Rainey,
Photographic Print

“Ma” Rainey
née Gertrude Malissa Nix
b. 4-26-1886; Columbus, GA
d. 12-22-1939; Columbus, GA

“Mother of the Blues” Ma Rainey was one of the first entertainers to record.

Ma Rainey at

Della Reese, Photographic Print
Della Reese,
Photographic Print

Della Reese, née Delloreese Patricia Early
b. 7-6-1931; Detroit, Michigan

Della Reese, who began her career as a gospel singer with Mahalia Jackson, and moved into jazz in the 1950s, is well known as an actress in the TV series, “Touched by an Angel”.

Della Reese at

Paul Bustill Robeson American Actor and Singer, Giclee Print
Paul Bustill Robeson American Actor and Singer, Giclee Print

Paul Robeson
b. 4-9-1898; Princeton, NJ
d. 11-25-1949; NYC

Paul Bustill Robeson was an actor and operatic bass-baritone singer. He was awarded the 1945 Spingarn Medal for his outstanding achievment as a musical artist, writer, athlete, orator, lawyer and wide-ranging social justice activism. Robeson was also a founder of the Negro Playwrights' Company with Theodore Ward, Richard Wright and Langston Hughes, among others.

Show Boat poster
Paul Robeson at

Bill ‘Bojangles’ Robinson Photographic Print
Bill ‘Bojangles’ Robinson Photographic Print

Bill ‘Bojangles’ Robinson
b. 5-25-1878; Richmond, VA
d. 11-25-1949, NYC

Bill Robinson was dancing for pennies on the streets of his hometown of Richmond, Virginia, when he was 6 years old. He went on tour as a featured dancer when he was 10. He always claimed that tap dancing just came naturally to him, but his talent was also shaped by hard work and careful study of the styles of other dancers.

No one is quite sure how the nickname “Bojangles” came about – Bill Robinson himself claimed not to know. But that is how he was known in both black and white vaudeville shows all over the country. He eventually settled in Harlem, and he made his Broadway debut at the age of 50 in Blackbirds of 1928, which ran for 512 performances. The show was successful largely because white audiences wanted to see Robinson, who was known as the greatest tap dancer in the world. Eventually, his appearances in movies with actress Lena Horne and child star Shirley Temple made “Bojangles” a household name.

Robinson's innovative tapping, larger-than-life personality, and great generosity made him a legend: He was known in his community as “The Honorary Mayor Harlem.” When he died in 1949 at the age of 71, his funeral procession stretched from Harlem all the way down to Brooklyn. One and a half million mourners came to say goodbye to one of the world's greatest entertainers.

• more Stars of the Harlem Renaissance posters
dance posters
Mr. Bojangles: The Biography of Bill Robinson

Smokey Robinson, Photographic Print
Smokey Robinson,
Photographic Print

Smokey Robinson
b. 2-19-1940; Detroit, MI

William “Smokey” Robinson was an original member of the Miracles, and an executive with Motown Records. Robinson is credited with more than 4,000 songs over a 50 year career. His song “Shop Around” is ranked #495 on the Rolling Stone's list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

Sonny Rollins - Sonny Boy, Photographic Print
Sonny Rollins -
Photographic Print

Sonny Rollins
b. 3-27-1924; Newark, NJ
d. 4-3-1990

Diana Ross, Photo
Diana Ross, Photo

Diana Ross
b. 3-26-1944; Detroit, Michigan

Singer and actress Diana Ross was lead singer of the Motown group The Supremes during the 1960s and nominated for Best Actress Academy Award as Billie Holiday in Lady Sings the Blues (1972).

Nina Simone Anthology, Audio CD
Nina Simone Anthology,
Audio CD

Nina Simone
née Eunice Kathleen Waymon
b. 2-21-1933; Tryon, NC
d. 4-21-2003; Mississippi

Singer, songwriter, pianist, arranger, and civil rights activist Nina Simone is most often associated with Jazz.

Bessie Smith, American Blues Singer, February 3, 1936 Photographic Poster Print
Bessie Smith,
Photographic Poster Print

Bessie Smith
b. 4-15-1894; Chattanooga, TN
d. 9-26-1937; Mississippi

Bessie Smith is a key figure in the development of American blues and jazz. She was a protege of the great “Ma” Rainey and made her first recording, “Downhearted Blues”, in 1923 which established her as the most successful black recording artist of the day.

Bessie Smith at

Eddie South, African American Jazz Violinist, 1941, Poster
Eddie South, African American Jazz Violinist, 1941, Poster

Eddie South
b. 11-27-1904; Louisiana, Missouri
d. 4-25-1962; Chicago, IL

Eddie South was a child violin prodigy studying classical music. He visited Europe in the 1920 and was influenced by Hungarian folk and Roma music which he worked into his move to vaudeville and Jazz orchestras due to limited opportunities for African Americans.

Mavis Staples
Mavis Staples

Mavis Staples
b. 7-10-1939; Chicago, IL

Mavis Staples, rhythm and blues and gospel singer, and civil rights activist, recorded with her family's band, The Staple Singers.

William Grant Still, Print
William Grant Still,

William Grant Still
b. 5-11-1895; Woodville, MS
d. 12-3-1978

William Grant Still, called the “Dean of African-American Composers”, wrote more than 150 compositions, was the first African American to conduct a major American symphony orchestra, the first to have a symphony of his own (his first symphony) performed by a leading orchestra, the first to have an opera performed by a major opera company (1949, Troubled Island, NYC Opera), and the first to have an opera performed on national television. He also arranged music for films such as Pennies from Heaven and Lost Horizons.

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