May Black History

The Peoples Community Radio Link, 103.5 F.M Stereo

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1st. MAY

1762  James Durham, physician is born. He was the first regularly recognized Black physician in the United States. Born a slave in Philadelphia, his early masters taught him the fundamentals of reading and writing. Durham was owned by a number of doctors, ending up in New Orleans with a Scottish Physician, who hired him in 1783 to perform medical services. He moved back to his hometown and was lauded by prominent local doctors. Durham saved the lives of more yellow fever victims than most doctors in colonial Philadelphia. Durham returned to New Orleans and had a flourishing practice until 1801, when the city restricted his practice because he was unlicensed and untrained.  (tr-iokts)
1820  William 'Black' Davidson Jamaican born secretary of Shoemakers Union, hanged on this day for his part in The Cato Street Conspiracy. William Davidson was found guilty of high treason and sentenced to death, charged with plotting to murder government officials. His beheading at Newgate Prison was England's last public decapitation. Born in 1781, William Davidson was the illegitimate son of the Jamaican Attorney General and a local black woman. When he was 14 his father sent him to Glasgow to study law. While in Scotland, Davidson added his voice to growing public demand for Parliamentary reform. Later he joined the Royal Navy but he was discharged and so returned to Scotland to resume his studies. Davidson did not enjoy education and soon abandoned his tuition to move to Birmingham, where he set up in business making cabinets. After marrying a widow, Davidson became a Wesleyan Methodist and taught at a local Sunday school, but appalled by the Peterloo Massacre in 1819, lost his faith in God and again became involved in radical politics. He joined the Marylebone Union Reading Society and met Arthur Thistlewood who would recruit Davidson into the Executive of Five, a group of conspirators who plotted the deaths of predominate government officials. On February 23rd 1820, Davidson and his co-conspirators assembled in a hayloft in Cato Street preparing to strike, but unknown to them the gang had been infiltrated by George Edwards, a government informer. All five conspirators were arrested, found guilty of high treason and executed at Newgate Prison on the 1st May that year.  (read: Aspects of British Black History - Peter Fryer (mn))
1890  Ada Brown, blues/vaudeville singer, born, Jackson, Miss, USA. (Died March 31, 1950, Kansas City, Kansas, USA). Ada Brown was born to a musical family including her cousin, noted ragtime composer and performer James Scott. She was already an established performer who had toured nationally and internationally when she recorded "Evil Mama Blues"  with Bennie Moten for the Okeh label on September 1923. Ada's rough blues performance on "Evil Mama Blues" belies her polished vocal style which was well suited for the stage. After recording with Moten, Ada toured extensively on the TOBA and vaudeville circuits. She was an original incorporator of The Negro Actors Guild of America in 1936 and appeared with Fats Waller in the film "Stormy Weather." During the mid 1940s, she moved back to Kansas City, Kansas. (mn-rs)
1894  Black invention: Electric Railway, W.B. Purvis receives patent.
1924  Big Maybelle, R&B singer is born Maybel Smith in Jackson, Tenn. Her mountainous stature matching the sheer soulful power of her massive vocal talent, Big Maybelle was one of the premier RB chanteuses of the 1950s. Her deep, gravelly voice was as singular as her recorded output for Okeh and Savoy, which ranged from down-in-the-alley blues to pop-slanted ballads. In 1967, she even covered ? the Mysterians' "96 Tears" (it was her final chart appearance). Alleged drug addiction leveled the mighty belter at the premature age of 47, but Maybelle packed a lot of living into her shortened lifespan.  (rs)
1926  Bessie Coleman, first licensed female African American pilot, dies. She grew up in a cruel world of poverty and discrimination. The year after her birth in Atlanta, Texas, an African American man was tortured and then burned to death in nearby Paris for allegedly raping a five-year-old girl. The incident was not unusual; lynchings were endemic throughout the South. African Americans were essentially barred from voting by literacy tests. They couldn't ride in railway cars with white people, or use a wide range of public facilities set aside for whites. When young Bessie first went to school at the age of six, it was to a one-room wooden shack, a four-mile walk from her home. Often there wasn't paper to write on or pencils to write with. (tr-iokts)
1930  Little Walter, harmonica player, born, Marion Walter Jacobs, Marksville, La, USA. (Dies February, 15, 1968, Chicago, Ill., USA.  Jacobs is generally included among blues music greats: Ry Cooder 's opinion is that Jacobs was the single greatest blues musician ever. His revolutionary harmonica technique has earned comparisons to Charlie Parker and Jimi Hendrix in its impact: There were great musicians before and after, but Jacobs' startling virtuosity and innovations reached heights of expression never previously imagined, and fundamentally altered many listeners' expectations of what was possible in blues music. He had two No.1 R&B hits with 'Juke' & 'My babe'. (mn-rs)
1950  Gwendolyn Brooks becomes the first African American to win the Pulitzer Prize, for her book of poetry, Annie Allan. (tr-iokts)
1954  Ray Parker Jnr., born in Detroit, Michigan, USA. Ray sang the theme music to the popular film 'Ghostbusters'. In the mid-1970s he was a sideman in Barry White's "Love Unlimited Orchestra", before creating Raydio, an R&B group, in 1977, with Vincent Bohnam, Jerry Knight, and Arnell Carmichael. Parker also wrote songs and did session work for Rufus and Chaka Khan, Stevie Wonder, Leon Haywood, Temptations, The Spinners, Rhythm Heritage, and Gladys Knight and the Pips. (mn)
1970  AMG, rapper from Brooklyn, LA, USA, real name Jason Lewis who documents the 1992 LA riots in his records born today. (mn-ms)
1970  First publication of Essence Magazine.
1998  Eldridge Cleaver dies. A social activist and writer, Cleaver was born in Webbeseka, Arkanas. While serving a 12 year jail sentence he  received his high school diploma. He was also converted to the Black Muslim faith in prison and wrote and lectured after his release.  Soul on Ice (1968) is one of his books. (mn-ss)
1999  A man was arrested after a third racist attack using nail bombs that had exploded in London, two people were killed and dozens more had been maimed and injured. (mn)
2000  Man Torched In Race Attack, read the front page headline in the The Standard, a Bromsgrove newspaper. A 24-year-old black man from Birmingham was attacked by 3 thugs as he walked with a white girl outside the Royal Orthopaedic Hospital in Northfield in the early hours of the morning. This came just a week after the National Front held a march in Bromsgrove. On may 19 the police arrested the same man as they now believe he fabricated the whole incided along with a 28 year-old man and woman, they are to apear in court that day. (mn)
2000  Voice newspaper reports: The life of Lord Pitt of Hamstead - noted doctor, civil rights campaigner and Britain's first black peer - was celebrated last month by Campden Council with a special commemorative plaque. His surgery attracted more than 3,000 patients, and he went on to serve as the first black President of the British Medical Association in 1985. His surgery doubled as a meeting place for the  Anti-Apartheid Movement, a target for racist petrol bomb in 1961.  It also became a haven for students and young anti-colonial activists from Africa and the Caribbean. Originally from Trinidad, Lord Pitt helped found the West Indian National Party in the 1940s. He died in 1994. (surgery: 200 North Gower St, Camden, London) (mn)
2001  The UK reggae Greensleeves Label celebrates 25 years of trading this month. It's owned by Chris Cracknell and the first single released was 'Where Is Jah' by the Reggae Regulars. (mn)

2nd. MAY 

1844  Elijah McCoy, The Real McCoy, holder of 50 patents, born Ontario, Canada. So, you want the "real McCoy?" That means you want the "real thing," what you know to be of the highest quality, not an inferior imitation. The noted African American inventor, Elijah McCoy was issued more than 57 patents for his inventions during his lifetime. His best known invention was a cup that fed lubricating oil to machine bearings through a small bore tube. Machinists and engineers who wanted genuine McCoy lubricators might have used the expression "the real McCoy."
1899  Black Invention: Hoisting and Loading Mechanism, Mary Jane Reynolds receives patent. (sc)
1969  Brian Charles Lara is born in Port of Spain, Trinidad. In 1992 he breaks Sir Garfield Sobers world record scoring 375 runs for the West Indies. County debut: 1994;County cap: 1994; Test debut: 1990-91;Tests: 54; One-Day Internationals: 130; 1000 runs in one season: 2. (cm-mn)
1980  Pink Floyd's smash hit, Another Brick In The Wall was banned in South Africa as it was felt it might encourage boycotts a black schools.(mn-jt)
1998  Justin Fashanu, gay football star found dead in a lock up garage.  He had fled to the UK after US police wanted to talk to him over sex assult charges against an 18 year-old man. (mn)
1999  Jesse Jackson sucures the release of three American Air-Force hostages from the conflict in Cosova (in Europe) after their plane was shot down during a bombing mission for The United Nations. (mn)

3rd. MAY     

1855  Macon B. Allen is the first African American to be formaly admitted to the bar in Massachusetts, USA. (tr-iokts)
1897  Black Invention: Spring Gun, Edward R. Lewis. (sc)
1897  Black Invention: Lawn Sprinkler, Joseph H. Smith. (sc)
1898  Septima Poinsette Clark born. She was an American educator and civil rights activist. Her work for equal access to education and civil rights for African-Americans several decades before the rise of national awareness of racial inequality has led her to be known as the "Queen mother" or "Grandmother of the Civil Rights Movement" in the United States.  (d.1987) (tr-bl)
1933  James Brown, Godfather of Soul is born in Barnwell, South Carolina, U.S.A. James's grandmother on his father's side was a Cherokee Indian he thinks (some books say 1928). Statistics so far: Over 100 American hits, including 56 R&B Top 10 entries, 18 No.1's and more than 40 separate million-plus sellers. The sound, the structure, the spirit of so much of his monumental output was way ahead of it's time: right now a broad spectrum of what you hear in modern black music and it's  offshoots is based substantially on what he was laying down 17-28 years ago! Dies Christmas day 2006. (mn-cw)
1963  Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivers his I have a dream speech.
1972 Mark Morrison born Hanover, Germanyi s a British urban R&B singer who saw success in the mid-1990s. His single, Return of the Mack became a top ten hit across Europe in 1996, and opened the U.S. market for him the following year. Subsequently, he is notably known for his criminal convictions, a one year sentence for getting someone else to do his community service for another offence and protesting his innocence onstage. (nationmaster)
2006  Earl Woods, 74, father of golf great Tiger Woods, died from cancer at his home in Cypress, California. He had been diagnosed with prostate cancer in 1998 and had radiation treatments, but in 2004 the cancer returned and metastasized.  "My dad was my best friend and greatest role model, and I will miss him deeply. I'm overwhelmed when I think of all of the great things he accomplished in his life. He was an amazing dad, coach, mentor, soldier, husband and friend," said Tiger.  "I wouldn't be where I am today without him, and I'm honored to continue his legacy of sharing and caring," he added in a statement on his Web site. Last month, Earl Woods was too frail to attend the Masters for the first time. (yahoo-mn)

4th. MAY       

1464  Columbus discovered Jamaica and landed at Dry Harbour, now called Discovery Bay. (mn-cb)
1891  First interracial hospital, the Provident in Chicago, opens.(tr-bl)
1893  Cowboy Bill Pickett earns the title as inventor of "Bull Dogging".
1938  Tyrone Davis soul singer born in Greenville, Mississippi, USA.The king of romantic Chicago soul, Tyrone Davis' warm, aching vulnerability and stylish class made him especially popular with female soul fans during a lengthy hitmaking  run that lasted throughout the '70s. Best known for the classics "Can I Change My Mind" and "Turn Back the Hands of Time," Davis was a versatile baritone singer who could handle everything from pop-soul to funk to bluesy chitlin-circuit R&B, but smooth soul was his true bread and butter. Once Davis broke through in the late '60s, he never really stopped recording; although the R&B chart hits dried up by the early '80s, he was still going strong into the new millennium, decades after his first single was released.  Dies 2005. (mn)
1942  Nicolas 'Nick' Ashford singer/songwriter and part of duo Ashford & Simpson born today in Fairfield, South Carolina, USA. (mn)
1943  William Tuban is elected president of Liberia.
1956  Jacob Miller, member of Inner Circle is born. Had it not been that he died in a tragic car crash in March 1980, this reggae band might have followed fellow countryman Bob Marley into the realms of international stardom. When he passed away, the Jamaican government declared 24 hours national mourning. (mn-jt-bmcd)
1957 John Akomfrah UK film director and writer born in Accra, Ghana , John Akomfrah is one of five children of Ghanaian political activists. He was educated at local schools in West London and at Portsmouth Polytechnic, where he graduated in Sociology in 1982. Akomfrah is best known for his work with the London-based media workshop Black Audio Film Collective, which he co-founded in 1982 with the objectives of addressing issues of Black British identity and developing media forms appropriate to this subject matter. Akomfrah's work takes a deliberately questioning approach to documentary film. His debut as a director, the controversial and influential Handsworth Songs (1986), reworks documentary conventions to explore the history of the contemporary British black experience: the film won seven international prizes, including the prestigious John Grierson Award. Testament (1988) is a portrait of an African politician forced into exile after a coup d'etat. The emergence of Black Power in Britain is the inspiration for Who Needs A Heart? (1991) and Seven Songs for Malcolm X (1993). A departure from earlier themes, the BFI production Speak Like a Child (1998) is a psychological drama set in Northumberland. Besides making theatrical films, Akomfrah has directed many television programmes, including one about Martin Luther King for the Reputations series ('Dr Martin Luther King: Days of Hope', BBC, tx. 30/7/1997) and another on Louis Armstrong for the BBC arts programme Omnibus ('The Wonderful World of Louis Armstrong', BBC, tx. 10/5/1999). A critic as well as a film-maker, Akomfrah has written widely about African cinema. He has been a member of the Arts Council Film Committee, and is currently a BFI Governor. (bfi-brit film inst)
1962  Oleta Adams, soul singer born in Seattle, WA. Being the daughter of a minister, it's no surprise that Oleta Adams' roots are in gospel, as she often performed in her father's church. But her formal introduction to the masses began rather unexpectedly. While performing in a Kansas City hotel, Oleta Adams was discovered by Curt Smith and Roland Orzabal of Tears for Fears, and she was invited to participate in the recording of the British band's follow-up to the immensely popular 1985 album Songs From the Big Chair. When Tears for Fears unleashed the long-awaited The Seeds of Love in 1989, listeners were taken aback by the soulful female voice that was prominently featured on the album.  (mn-ed/fp)
1967 Mr. Niceness (PCRL DJ) Born. R.I.P Sir Niceness. 04/05/67 - 26/04/08 (facebook tribute page)
1969  No Place to Be Somebody opens in New York. It will win the Pulitzer Prize the following year. (tr-iokts)
1978  Mass grave made for 1,000 unarmed Namibian patriots, women, children and old men who were murdered in cold-blood by racist South Africa's bombers/paratroopers, Kassinga, some 250 km inside Angola. (swapo-tr)

2016 Reggie Torian singer dies. b. Reginald Torian Snr., 22nd November 1950, Chicago Heights, Illinois, U.S.A. d. 4th May 2016, Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A. 
Reginald 'Reggie' Torian Sr., lead singer of The Impressions and the Independents Soul groups, has died. He was 65. He became ill on the 4th of May, and was taken to a hospital where he passed away. Shortly before his passing, Reggie had been rehearsing with the group, the Independents, for a Mother’s Day Show. Reggie was also a solo artist, actor and ordained minister. His father, Virgil 'V.J.' Torian Jr., played for the Harlem Globetrotters. Reggie spent his early years in Hopkinsville, Kentucky, later growing up in Chicago Heights and Markham, Illinois. He attended Thornton Township High School in Harvey, Illinois. Reggie is survived by his daughters, Tyra and Abrease, two more sons, Seth and Reginald 'Tre' III, three more sisters, Sharon Mance, Denise Daniels and Necole Torian, his brothers, Maurice and Vincent, and 17 grandchildren and one great-grandchild. (soulwalking)

5th. MAY

1857  Dred Scott decision :"Slave is not a citizen, so he can't sue in court."
1865  Adam Clayton Powell Sr., reformer, is born. Through his long career as a minister, Congressman, and social activist, Powell did much to promote the interests of African-Americans. Powell's father, was the pastor of Harlem's Abyssinian Baptist Church and supported many of Marcus Garvey's ideals. (tr-iokts-ss)
1901  Blind Willie McTell, the dean of the Atlanta blues school, born William Samuel McTell. Blind Willie lost his sight in late childhood, yet earned the status as one of the most accomplished guitarists and lyrical storytellers in Blues history. Blind Willie became an accomplished musical theorist, able to both read and write music in Braille, through an encouraging family and strong faith. While few of his recordings ever earned mainstream popularity, his influence on the modern music and art scene is widely known. His songs (Statesboro Blues, Broke Down Engine Blues, etc...) have been recorded by famous artists such as the Allman Brothers, Taj Mahal and others. He left the music scene for the pulpit in later life and the details of Blind Willie's death remain nebulous; nonetheless, his legacy grows exponentially each year.  (rs-about)
1905  Robert S. Abbott started the Chicago Defender weekly newspaper, it's still running today (1870-1940). (mn)
1945  Nyahbinghi Ilday. Ethiopian Victory Day: The reentry of Emperor Haile Selassie I to Ethiopia after defeating the Italians (Rome). (tr)
1938  Johnnie Taylor soul singer born in Crawfordsville, Arkansas, USA. Taylor sang gospel with Five Echoes, Highway Q.C.'s and Soul Stirrers, later solo on Stax records.Young gospel phenom, gritty Stax/Volt soulster, lady-killing balladeer, chart-topping disco king, Southern soul-blues stalwart -- Johnnie Taylor somehow always managed to adapt to the times, and he parlayed that versatility into a recording career that lasted nearly four decades. Nicknamed the "Philosopher of Soul" during his Stax days, that version of Taylor is best remembered for his 1968 R&B chart-topping smash "Who's Making Love," but far and away his biggest success was 1976's across-the-board number one "Disco Lady," the first single ever certified platinum (which at the time meant sales of over two-million copies). When the national hits dried up, Taylor wound up as one of the most prolific artists on the Malaco label, a refuge for many Southern soul and blues veterans whose styles had fallen out of popular favor by the '80s. Taylor called Malaco home for over 15 years, and kept on recording and performing right up to his passing in 2000.  (mn)
1964  Kelvin Saunderson, soul band member, Inner City, born. (mn-jt)
1981  Craig David, soul singer born in Holyrood, Southampton, Hampshire to an Afro-Grenadian father, George and an English mother, Tina who is of half Jewish descent. His father played bass guitar for a reggae band; the young Craig began his musical education by watching his father rehearse. David rose to fame as the singer on the Artful Dodger's "Rewind" which reached number two in the United Kingdom in late 1999. David sent in a self written song called "I'm Ready" for a competition Damage was running, which was then used as a b-side on their top three hit "Wonderful Tonight". (mn-wickpedia)

6th MAY

1787  Prince Hall forms the first African American Masonic Lodge in the United States. Abolitionist, civic leader, caterer, leather-dresser, and founder of what would become the Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, little is known of the life of Prince Hall. He is claimed by Grimshaw to have been born in Barbados, B. W. I. on September 12, 1748, although no record of this has ever been found. He is also claimed to have arrived in Boston from Africa in 1765 and sold to one William Hall who freed him in 1770. There were a number of Prince Halls in Boston at this period and the Certificate of Manumission deposited in the Boston Athenaeum Library, dated 9 April I770, cannot be positively identified as referring to Prince Hall.  (tr-iokts)
1812  Martin Delany, author, physician and nationalist is born in Charlestown, Va, USA. He will become the first African-American field officer to serve in the Civil War.
1969  Don Drummond reggae trombonist/Skatalite member dies. Having made records like Eastern Standard time, Man In The Street and Confucius. Born in 1933 in Kingston Jamaica was one of the many players from The Alpha Boy's Catholic School. Rico describes him as 'the greatest trombone player to come out of the Island'.(mn-tr-gleaner-ll) Another reference gives date of death as 6/5/69 21/3/71.       
1988  Eugene A. Marino becomes the nation's first black Roman Catholic archbishop. The Rev Eugene McManus, spokesman for the Josephites, said the relationship with Ms Long began around this time. It ended around the time it became public. Father McManus said Archbishop Marino was "exceedingly caring and generous". Archbishop Marino is survived by six sisters. Speaking about him this week, Fr Robert Kearns, Superior General of the Josephites, recalled conversation Archbishop Marino had with Pope John Paul II a few years ago:  He said: "Father, I am Archbishop Eugene Marino."  To which the Pope replied: "I know who you are. Archbishop, I have one question: Are you at peace?" The Archbishop answered: "I am, Holy Father." "Thanks be to God" said the Pope.
2002 Otis Blackwell, sonwriter dies of heart attack in Nashville, Tn. He wrote Don't Be Cruel & Reurn To sender for Elvis Presley & Great Balls Of Fire for Jerry Lee Lewis. (mn)
2009 Viola Wills dies. b. Viola Mae Wilkerson, a.k.a. Viola Wills, 30th December 1939, Los Angeles, California, U.S.A. d. 6th May 2009, Phoenix, Arizona, U.S.A. Viola Wills has passed away. She died on the 6th of May 2009 following a long illness. This piece was written for her by her grandson, Jermaine Ivey. Jermaine kindly allowed me to post this piece here. 'Viola Wills passed away in Arizona, USA at the age of 69 on 6th May 2009 after a long batlle with various illnesses. While never quite gaining the mainstream recognition of some of her peers, Viola Mae Wilkerson managed to gain critical and international acclaim during a career in music that spanned 45 years. The mother of six emerged from the streets of Watts (Los Angeles) in the 1960s to forge quite a name for herself in the industry - working with the likes of Barry White, Joe Cocker and Smokey Robinson, as well as other high profile artists of the time - culminating in her first self-penned solo album Soft Centers. Despite being a fan (amongst other genres) of gospel and soul, it was the growing disco/dance scene that provided her greatest recognition. Her 1979 cover of Gonna Get Along Without You Now (regarded by many artists as one of the greatest disco songs of all-time) and Dare To Dream (which became a template for 80s soul at that time) were part of a trio of songs that saw her entered into the Guinness Book of Records.  Viola Wills had massive international success on the club scene and became a legendary figure to the gay community in particular in the process. Her later years would see her performing on a number of national UK and european shows; enjoying a residency at Joogleberry’s in Brighton; completing a degree in music therapy; and going back to her roots by forming the band Jazzpel - inovatively mixing gospel and jazz for a new generation. She leaves behind six children, 21 grandchildren, eight great grandchildren, and an ‘extended family’ of many more. Her love for them all was unquestioned, and she will be missed dearly by all who knew her.' (soulwalking)

7th. MAY   

1878  Black Invention: Improved Fire Escape Ladder, J.R. Winters patents.
1905  Bumble Bee Slim, blues singer, born, Brunswick, Ga., USA. One of Chicago's most productive and popular blues artists in the late 30's. In 1935 alone he cut 30 sides, more than some blues artistes did in their whole careers, on labels such as Bluebird, Decca, and Vocalion. (Dies April 1968, Los Angeles, Calif., USA. (mn-rs)
1939  Jimmy Ruffin soul singer born in Whyknot, Collinsville, Mississippi, USA. Son of a minister, Ruffin was born to a musical family, his brother David Ruffin and cousin, Melvin Franklin both became mainstays with The Temptations. He joined Motown in 1961 and issued one single before being drafted for national service.  When he left the service he returned to Motown Records and turned down an offer to join the Temptations, recommending his brother instead. His commercial breakthrough came in 1966 with the major US and UK hit 'What Becomes Of The broken-hearted' and after three smaller hits he concentrated on the British market, were in 1970 he was voted the world's top singer in one poll. (mn-cl)
1942  Justin Hinds, reggae artiste born, Steertown, St. Anns, Jamaica, West Indies. Together along with the Dominoes, first recorded in late 1963 for producer Duke Reid. That first session produced an instant hit 'Carry Go Bring Come', recorded in one take, and set a pattern from which Hinds rarely deviated. He stayed with Reid until 1972 after reputedly recording some 70 singles. (mn-cl)
1946  William Hastie is inaugurated as the first black governor in the Virgin Islands. In 1949 he became the first African-American jurist to be appointed to the judge on the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Born in Knoxville Tennessee, Hastie was the country's best known African-American legal figure after Thurgood Marshall. He studied at Howard university, and also a consultant for race relations to the secretary of war, but he resigned after a protest against discrimination in the military. (mn-ss)
1950  Bertha "Chippie" Hill, blues singer dies. Bertha "Chippie" Hill was a dancer and vaudeville singer. At the age of thirteen she and her family moved to New York City where Hill began to pursue a life in show business. In 1919 she was working as a dancer with Ethel Waters in New York and toured with the Rabbit Foot Minstrels. In the early 1920s she toured the TOBA circuit with her own song and dance act. In the mid-1920s she settled in Chicago and worked at various venues in the city appearing on the same bill with King Oliver's Jazz Band. Hill is best remembered today for the ten recordings she made for Okeh in 1925 and 1926 that featured Louis Armstrong on cornet. Hill left show business for a few years when the Depression was in full swing, but by the mid-1930s she was performing again with Jimmie Noone, and Lovie Austin and her Blues Serenaders. After World War II she worked with James P. Johnson, Kid Ory and Art Hodes. She died in 1950 after being injured in a hit and run automobile accident. (b.15/3/1905) (mn-rs)
2000  Britain sends war ships and troops to Siera Leone to evacuate British Nationals as a rebel force attempts to take over the elected government there. (mn)
2000  Popular DJ Father Hovis walks-out of PCRL un-willing to take on changes to his programme time-slot implemented by management. All PCRL staff had similar changes as well. (mn)

8th. MAY        

1911  Robert Johnson, one of the most celebrated figures in blues history, born. In all, Johnson recorded 29 compositions at five sessions held between 23 November 1936 and 20 June 1937; a further "bawdy' song recorded at the engineers" request is as yet unlocated. It has never been established which, if any, of his recordings were specifically created for the studio and what proportion were regularly performed, although associate Johnny Shines attested to the effect that "Come On In My Kitchen" had upon audiences. Similarly, the image of shy, retiring genius has been fabricated out of his habit of turning away from the engineers and singing into the corners of the room, which Ry Cooder identifies as "corner loading", a means of enhancing vocal power. (d. 16 Aug,1938) (mn-rs)
1915 John Hope Franklin, was born, an African- American educator. A native of Oklahoma and a graduate of Fisk University, he received the A.M. and Ph.D. degrees in history from Harvard University. He has taught at a number of institutions, including Fisk University, St. Augustine's College, North Carolina Central University, and Howard University. Professor Franklin's numerous publications. His best-known book is From Slavery to Freedom: A History of African-Americans, now in its seventh edition. In 1993, he published The Color Line: Legacy for the Twenty-first Century. Professor Franklin wrote a biography of his father that he edited with his son, John Whittington Franklin. In 1995, he received the first W.E.B. Du Bois Award from the Fisk University Alumni Association and the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Dr. Franklin has received honorary degrees from more than one hundred colleges and universities. Currently, Professor Franklin serves as chairman of the advisory board for One America: The President's Initiative on Race. Franklin has also been the recived many honors. (a.a.reg)
1915  Henry McNeal Turner, first African American chaplain in the U.S. Army, dies in Canada. (tr-iokts)
1932  Sonny Liston was born on this day. He was an African-American boxer. From Arkansas, he was the tenth of eleven children born into an impoverished family. He moved to St. Louis with his mother in 1945. Unable to read or write Liston became a juvenile delinquent, serving nineteen months in prison in 1950 for robbing a gas station. A priest in prison directed him to boxing and in 1953; he won the national Golden Gloves championship. Liston turned professional, went 14 and 1 but assaulted a police officer and returned to prison in 1956. After his release he won sixteen bouts in a row, became the number one heavyweight contender in 1960, and took the championship on September 25, 1962 from Floyd Patterson with a first round knockout. Because of his underworld connections, the New York State Boxing Commission refused to license him, though he won his rematch with Patterson again with a first round knockout in 1963. Liston had a remarkable physical presence as a boxer; a crushing left hook and a great ability to take punches. He lost his title to Cassius Clay in 1964 on a TKO (unable to answer the bell in the seventh round, losing again in a rematch by a first round knockout to Clay (who had changed his name to Muhammad Ali). His career record was 54-4 (with 39 knockouts). Sonny Liston died of natural causes in 1970, six months after his last fight. (a.a.reg)
1958  Ernest Green becomes fist black to graduate from Little Rock's Central High School.
1951  Philip Bailey soul singer born today in Denver, Colorado, USA.  He joined soul group Earth Wind and Fire in 1972 as a co-vocalist and percussionist. By 1983 he had released his first solo effort, Continuation, produced by George Duke, However, more influential was Phil Collins's production of his second album. Collins provided percussion throughout, and also co-wrote Easy Lover, which topped the UK charts in March 1985 and reached No.2 US. (mn-cl)

9th. MAY 

1800  John Brown, Abolitionist Martyr, is born. He was an American abolitionist, whose attempt to end slavery by force greatly increased anxiety between North and South in the period before the American Civil War. Called Old Brown of Osawatomie John Brown was from Torrington, Connecticut. His family moved to Ohio when he was five years old. Early in life he acquired the hatred of slavery that marked his subsequent career, his father having been actively hostile to the institution. While living in Pennsylvania in 1834, Brown initiated a project among sympathetic abolitionists to educate young blacks. The next 20 years of his life were largely dedicated to this and similar abolitionist ventures, entailing many sacrifices for himself and his large family. In 1855 he followed five of his sons to Kansas Territory, then a center of struggle between the antislavery and proslavery forces. Under Brown's leadership, his sons became active participants in the fight against proslavery terrorists from Missouri, whose activities led to the murder of a number of abolitionists at Lawrence, Kansas. Brown and his sons avenged this crime, on May 24, 1856, at Pottawatomie Creek by killing five proslavery adherents. This act, as well as his success in withstanding a large party of attacking Missourians at Osawatomie in August, made him nationally famous as an irreconcilable foe of slavery. Aided by increased financial support from abolitionists in the northeastern states, Brown began in 1857 to formulate a plan, which he had long entertained, to free the slaves by armed force. He secretly recruited a small band of supporters for this project, which included the establishment of a refuge for fugitive slaves in the mountains of Virginia. After several setbacks, he finally launched the venture on October 16, 1859, with 18 men (including several of his sons), seizing the United States arsenal and armory at Harpers Ferry, Virginia and winning control of the town. After his initial success, he made no attempt at offensive action, but instead occupied defensive positions within the area. They were surrounded by the local militia, which was reinforced on October 17 by a company of U.S. Marines under the command of Colonel Robert E. Lee. Ten of Brown's men, including two of his sons, were killed and he was wounded and forced to surrender. He was arrested and charged with various crimes, including treason and murder. He distinguished himself during his trial, which took place before a Virginia court, by his eloquent defense of his efforts in behalf of the slaves. Convicted, he was hanged in Charlestown, Virginia (now West Virginia) on December 16th 1859.  For many years after his death, Brown was generally regarded as a martyr to the cause of human freedom. He became the subject of a famous song, known generally by the first line as "John Brown's body lies a-mould’ ring in the grave." (a.a.reg)
1862  General David "Black Dave" Hunter enlists blacks for combat in South Carolina.
1899  Black Invention: Lawn Mower,  John Albert Burr receives patent. John Albert Burr invented the first rotary-blade lawn mower. Burr designed a lawn mower with traction wheels and a rotary blade that was designed to not easily get plugged up from lawn clippings. John Albert Burr also improved the design of lawn mowers by making it possible to mow closer to building and wall edges. This Black inventors Patent number is #624,749. (mn)
1937  Dave Prater, soul singer of Sam & Dave born today in Ocilla, Georgia, USA. Along with Sam Moore born in  Florida they first performed together in 1961, but it was not until Jerry Wexler signed them to Atlantic Records that their talents blossomed. For political reasons they appeared on Stax Records, where You Don't Know Like I Know, Hold On I'm Coming (both 1966), Soul Man (1967) and I thank you (1968) were some of their finest moments.  (mn-cl)
1964  Berry Bounces Back to Rock in London. Having served a three-year prison sentence for an offence involving an under-age Indian prostitute, Norine Janice Escalanti, who worked in a nightclub he owned, Chuck Berry opened his first UK tour with a show at Finsbury Park Astoria (later The Rainbow Theatre). (mn-jt)
1964  Kelvin Saunderon, member of soul band Inner City, born.The group was formed in 1987 when Saunderson, still in college and recording out of his basement studio, produced a track he felt needed lyrics. After Chicago vocalist Paris Grey (b. Shanna Jackson) was recommended by Chicago producer Terry Baldwin, the two collaborated on the single "Big Fun." It was finally released late in 1988 on the Virgin compilation Techno: The New Dance Sound of Detroit, and hit the British charts in a surprising crossover success. Signed to Virgin soon after, Saunderson and Grey hit again later that same year with the Top Ten single "Good Life." Their debut album Paradise (Big Fun on its American issue) reached the UK Top 20, though it largely failed to cross over on the American pop charts.  (mn-jt)
1971  Jason Benedict Lee, 6'3", 13.8 footballer born in Forest Gate, England. Club Honours: Div 2 '98. (bh-mn)
1972  James Brown record's Get On The Good Foot. It reaches N0.1 in R&B chart that year. (mn)
1974  Don Yute, reggae artist born, Jason Andrew Williams, Kingston, Jamaica, West Indies. Best remembered for his 1995 combination hit with Wayne Wonder, 'Sensi Ride'. He performed in a style reminiscent of Beenie Man and Bounty Killer. (mn-cl)
2010 Lena Horne dies. b. Lena Mary Calhoun Horne, 30th June 1917, Brooklyn, New York, U.S.A.d. 9th May 2010, New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center, New York City, New York, U.S.A.Lena Horne has died in New York. She was 92.Lena was the first African American performer to be signed by a Hollywood Studio (MGM).Durning the 1960's, she was active within the Civil Rights Movement, participating on several marches for freedom. (mn)

10th. MAY  

1655  English expedition under General R. Venibles and Admiral W. Penn lands in Jamaica; the Spaniards capitulated on the 11th. May. (mn-cb)
1775  Lemuel Haynes/Epheram Blackman/Primas Black help capture Fort Ticon-deroga as members of Ethan Allen's Green Mountain Boys. (tr-iokts)
1837  Pickney B.S. Pinchback, Lt. Governor of Louisiana, born.
1935  Larry Williams, soul singer born in New Orleans, Louisiana, USA. Williams recorded a handful of raucous rock 'n' roll songs for Specialty Records that later influenced, among others, John Lennon. Williams learned to play the piano while in New Orleans, and moved to Oakland, California, with his family while in his teens. There he joined a group called the Lemon Drops. In 1954, while visiting his old home-town of New Orleans, he met and was hired as a pianist by Lloyd Price, who recorded for Specialty. Price introduced Williams to producer Robert "Bumps" Blackwell. At that time Specialty head Art Rupe signed Williams. His first record was a cover version of Price's "Just Because", which reached number 11 on the R&B chart for Williams and number 3 for Price. Backed by fellow Specialty artist Little Richard's band, Williams recorded his own "Short Fat Fannie", which reached number 1 in the R&B chart and number 5 in the pop chart during 1957. To follow up his song about a fat girl, Williams next recorded one about a skinny girl, "Bony Moronie", which was almost as big a hit. Williams had one final chart single for Specialty the following year, "Dizzy, Miss Lizzy", which reached number 69 (it was later covered by the Beatles, with Lennon singing - they also covered "Slow Down" and "Bad Boy", while Lennon later recorded "Bony Moronie" and "Just Because", providing Williams with a steady royalties income until his death). A number of singles and an album were issued by Specialty up to 1959, none of which were hits. In that year, he was arrested for selling drugs and sent to jail, causing Specialty to drop him and his career to fade. He recorded later for Chess Records, Mercury Records and for Island Records and Decca Records in the mid-60s, by which time he was working with Johnny "Guitar" Watson. In 1966 Williams became a producer for OKeh Records and recorded an album with Watson for that label. He was virtually inactive between 1967 and 1979, at which point he recorded a funk album for Fantasy Records. In January 1980, Williams was found in his Los Angeles home with a gunshot wound in the head, judged to be self-inflicted, although it was rumoured that Williams was murdered owing to his involvement with drugs and, reportedly, prostitution. (Dies January 2, 1980). (mn-rs)
1938  Henry Fambrough, singer with soul band The Detroit Spinners. (mn-jt)
1951  Ron Banks singer with the Dramatics born in Detroit, USA. Ron made a one hour program for PCRL in 1993. (ref: md912) This R&B vocal group was formed in Detroit in 1964 as the Sensations. They changed their name to the Dramatics in 1965 and originally consisted of lead Larry Reed, Rob Davis, Elbert Wilkins, Robert Ellington, Larry Demps (Born 23 February 1949) and Ron Banks (Born 10 May 1951, Detroit, Michigan, USA). Ellington quickly dropped out. The Dramatics were a typical 60s stand-up vocal group, specializing in romantic ballads, but ably made the transition to the disco era in the late 70s with aggressive dance numbers. They made their debut on the charts with a minor R&B hit in 1967, "All Because Of You," which, like all their releases in the 60s, was issued on a small Detroit label. Around 1968, Reed and Davis were replaced by William "Wee Gee" Howard and Willie Ford (Born 10 July 1950), respectively. The reshaped quintet's fortunes flourished when Detroit producers Don Davis and Tony Hestor took command of their career and the group signed to the Memphis-based Stax Records in 1971. Still recording and touring today.  (mn-br-music.us)
1952  Sly Dunbar, soul/reggae producer/singer and member of Sly & Robbie, born Noel Charles Dunbar. Sly & Robbie are known as the Riddim Twins, and their playing has been the backbone for, quite literally, hundreds of reggae artists during the last twenty-five years. But to look at them as mere session musicians, or even as musician/producers (they've mixed some of the biggest reggae hits), would be doing them down. Sly and Robbie are innovators. (mn-jt-ll)
1994  The inauguration of Nelson Mandela as the democratically elected President of South Africa takes place.
1940  Arthur Alexander singer born in Florence, Alabama, USA. Despite his own interpretations, Alexander's recordings are often better recalled for their inspirational quality. "Anna (Go To Him)", a US R&B Top 10 hit, and "You Better Move On" were covered, respectively, by the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, while "A Shot Of Rhythm And Blues" became an essential UK beat staple (notably by Johnny Kidd). Although "You Better Move On" was recorded at the rudimentary Fame studios, Alexander's subsequent work was produced in Nashville, where his poppier perceptions undermined the edge of his earlier work. Later singles included "Go Home Girl" and the haunting "Soldier Of Love", but his fragile personality was particularly susceptible to pressure. This problem bedevilled his move to another label, Sound Stage 7, and although a 1972 album for Warner Brothers Records was promising, the singer's potential once again seemed to wither. A pop hit was secured on Buddah Records with "Every Day I Have To Cry Some" (1975), but the success remained short-lived. For many years Alexander was forced to work outside of the music business; he was a bus driver for much of this time. Alexander began to perform again in 1993 as renewed interest arose in his small but important catalogue. Lonely Just Like Me was his first album in 21 years and showed a revitalized performer. He signed a new recording and publishing contract in May 1993, suffering the cruellest fate when he collapsed and died the following month, three days after performing in Nashville with his new band. Richard Younger's excellent biography pays overdue respect to this unsung legend.  (Died 9/6/93). (mn/music.us)
1950  Prince Allah, reggae artist born, Keith Blake in Denham Town, Kingston, Jamaica, West Indies. Blake began his recording career with producer Joe Gibbs as part of  the Leaders vocal group during 1967/8. Gibbs licensed three releases from the group through B&C Music in the UK before the Leaders disbanded. In 1969 he became strongly involved in the Rastafarian movement living in the islands camp community until the mid-70's, he then re-emerged through Bertram Brown's Freedom Sounds with a series of records that proved landmarks in roots history. (mn-cl)

11th. MAY 

1895  William Grant Still, black composer, born. He was a ground-breaking African-American classical composer who wrote more than 150 compositions. He was the first African-American to conduct a major American Orchestra, the first to have a symphony (his first) performed by a leading orchestra (Southern 1980), the first to have an opera performed by a major opera company, and the first to have an opera performed on national television. He is often referred to as the dean of African-American composers. (d.December 3, 1978) (wickpedia)
1933  Louis Eugene Walcott is born in The Bronx, New York, USA. Better known as Minister Louis Farrakhan.  He grew up in Rodbury, Massachusetts, where the discrimination that he experienced made him think that African-Americans could not ern equality in white America. After converion to Islam, he was initially close to Malcolm X, but in 1963, when Malcolm left the movement, Elijah Muhammad appointed Farrakhan to be his national representative. In 1975 Muhammad's son  announced that whites could join the Nation of Islam, something that Farrakhan is totally apposed. Consequently, Farrakhan left the Nation of Islam and formed the Final Call to the Nation of Islam. (mn-ss)
1933  Titus Turner US singer/songwriter born in Atlanta, Georgia. Made his first records for Okeh in 1951, his first big success came in 1955 when Little Willie John had a Top 10 R&B hit with the Turner composition All Around The World; the song was revived as Grits Ain't Groceries by Little Milton in 1969. Dies 13 September, 1984. (mn-cl)
1961  Clifton R. Wharton Sr., first African American to head a U.S. embassy in Europe, is born. (tr-iokts)
1967  Apache Indian, ragga rapper, born Steve Kapur, Birmingham. The 'Don Raja' of British Asian raggamuffin, has come to represent a cross-cultural fusion of music that has both baffled and excited pundits and punters alike in the mid-90's. He grew up in Handsworth in the 70's. Cut his first single 'Movie Over India', as a white label, later picked up by Jet Star. He made a memorable appearance on PCRL's 10th Birthday Party where he was accompanied by Jamaican mini-skirted dancers alongside Asian girl dancers wearing sari's.  (mn-cl)
1981  Bob Marley dies, The Honourable Robert Nesta Marley dies tragically of cancer at the age of 36. He was given an official Jamaican funeral attended by the prime minister and the leader of the opposition. Singer, songwriter, guitarist and percussionist, born in St. Anns, Rhoden Hall, Jamaica. The son of a British service-man and a local woman. His father left the scene before he was born. Marley released his first single Judge Not at the age of 16 in 1961. He was a devout follower of the  Rastafarian religion. He was the leading light in Caribbean music, he included many cultural lyrics in his later recordings. (mn-rd-bmcd)
2006 Floyd Patterson, former boxer dies, aged 71 (NeoBlack.com)

12th. MAY     

1926  Mervyn Dymally, California's first African American lieutenant governor, is born in Cedros, Trinidad. Mervyn Malcolm Dymally, Ph.D. is a Californian politician of mixed Indo- and Afro-Trinidadian heritage. Currently a member of the California State Assembly, Dymally was previously a member of the United States House of Representatives, the first African American to serve as Lieutenant Governor of California and the first African American to serve in the California State Senate. As a member of the House of Representative, he was the first foreign-born black Member of Congress and one of the first persons of Indian origin to serve in the U.S. Congress. Dymally received his secondary education at Naparima College, San Fernando, Trinidad, his undergraduate education at Lincoln University, Jefferson City, Missouri and Los Angeles State College, his Master's degree from California State University, Sacramento, and his doctorate from United States International University (now Alliant International University), San Diego. (tr-iokts-wickpedia)
1944  James Purify, soul singer with James & Bobby Purify, born in Pensacola, Florida, USA. (mn-cl)
1967  H. Rap Brown replaces Stokely Carmichael as chairman of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). He took part in voter registration drives in Mississippi in 1964. He was an advocate of black power and violent confrontation with white racists. In 1968 he was charged with inciting a riot in Maryland and was then convicted of carrying a gun between states. In 1971 he was convicted and sentenced for armed robbery and assault. He was released from prison in 1976. (mn-ss)
1968  Coretta Scott King leads march of welfare mothers to Washington, D.C., as part of the Poor People's Campaign. (tr-bl)
1941  Jay Otis Washington, singer with The Persuasions is born. The Persuasions are an a cappella group who began singing together in Brooklyn, New York in the early 1960s and went on to produce numerous albums covering a wide range of musical genres. The five original members were Jerry Lawson, Joe 'Jesse' Russell, Jayotis Washington, Herbert 'Toubo' Rhoad, and Jimmy 'Bro' Hayes. Other members included Willie C. Daniels, Ray Sanders, and B.J. Jones. They also performed for periods as a four-man group. The Persuasions have enjoyed recognition from musicians outside the doo-wop or gospel community. Frank Zappa (who helped get them their first record contract), Joni Mitchell and the Grateful Dead are/were among their fans. The group opened concerts for both Mitchell and the Dead and later recorded tribute albums to Zappa (Frankly A Capella) and the Grateful Dead (Might as Well). They appeared on the album New Train by Paul Pena. Their eclectic choice of material and clever, unique arrangements have been hallmarks of their recordings. Jerry Lawson seems to find his strongest inspiration from the songs of Sam Cooke; the best examples of which can be found on We Came to Play and Chirpin', the two albums considered by many to be their best. Toubo Rhoad, of the original members, passed away in the mid '90's. (mn-jt-wickpedia)

13th. MAY 

1914  Joe Louis, Pugilist who held heavyweight title longer than any other is born. In fact it was 11 years, 7 months. Also holds the record for consecutive title defences (25). Joseph Louis Barrow (either May 13 or May 14 (sources differ), 1914 - April 12, 1981), better known in the boxing world as Joe Louis and nicknamed The Brown Bomber, was a native of LaFayette, Alabama who became World Heavyweight Champion. At a turbulent time in history, just before the war, he became a popular and national hero, along with Jesse Owens, for both black and white America. (mn-ring)
1943  Mary Wells soul singer born in Detroit, Michigan, USA. Singing gospel in church at the age of four. After her fathers death she discovered he had connections with the Mafia which devastated her later in her life. She joined Motown Records in 1961 for a string of hit records that included 'My Guy' (1965), during this time her husband persuaded her to change labels, this enraged label owner, Berry Gordy and it's thought he orchestrated the demise of her career afterwards. Dies at the age of 49 (26/7/92) from throat cancer - not uncommon in singers!. (mn-rt)
1944  Carolyn Franklin singer/younger sister of Aretha Franklin born in Memphis, Tennessee, USA. Wrote songs for and sang with her sisters Erma and Aretha. Later a recording contract with RCA Records. Dies 25 April, 1988. (mn-cl)
1950  Stevie Wonder, born Steveland Morris, blind, in Saginaw, Michigan, before he was ten he had mastered the keyboards, harmonica and drums. In 1961 he was discovered by Ronnie White of the Miracles who took him to Berry Gordy, and in '62 he made his debut at Motown. In 1973 he was involved in a bad car crash, that left him in a coma for four days, and a semi-coma for a week. His subsequent work was tinged with the awareness of morality, fired by his spiritual beliefs. In 1981 and 1982 he sponsored two marches in Washington to demand a holiday for Martin Luther King Day. He returned in 1982 to celebrate the passing of the bill. (mn)
1968  Parrish J. Smith, Hard core, boasts and money talk rapper from Brentwood, Long Island and member of EPMD born today. (mn-ms)
1969  James Brown record's Mother Popcorn at the King Studios, Cincinnati, Ohio, USA. It reaches N0. 1 in R&B chart. (mn)
1997  Councillor Sybil Spence becomes Birmingham's first Black Mayor elect.
1997  WBC super welterweight champion Terry Norris sues Don King for $61.5-million and asks Manhattan's State Supreme Court to nulify a contract that the fighter claims his manager, Joe Sayatovich, misled him into signing with the promoter in October 1996. Norris, 29, also sues Sayatovich for $3-million. (mn-ring)      
2000  Corey Wayne Allen, shot dead outside the Oaklands Sports and Social Centre in Handsworth, the shooting is the 12th in Birmingham thus far this year. (mn)
2006  Johnnie Wilder Jr., with Heatwave dies. (soulwalking.com)

14th. MAY 

Official birthday of the president of Malawi, Dr. H. Kamuzu Banda.
1913  Clara Stanton Jones, first African American president of the American Library Association, is born in St. Louis, Mo, USA. (tr-iokts)
1959  Sidney Bechet soprano saxophonist dies in France. A member of Duke Ellington's Nobel Sissle's orchestra. Born in 1897, one of the great originals of American music, Bechet pioneered soloing, as opposed to the ensemble playing of traditional New Orleans-style jazz, and with Coleman Hawkins established the saxophone as a jazz instrument. Born into a musical New Oreans family, he mastered the clarinet early and became one of the first jazz players to recieve critical attention. (mn-ss)
1966  Raphael Wiggins, soul singer with Tony Toni tone', born in Oakland, California, USA. It was composed of D'wayne Wiggins on lead vocals and guitar, his brother Raphael Wiggins (also known as Raphael Saadiq) on lead vocals and bass, and their cousin Timothy Christian on drums. Other members were Elijah Baker, Carl Wheeler, Randall Wiggins, and Antron Haile. Their best-known songs were "Little Walter," "Feels Good", and "If I Had No Loot," as well as "Anniversary", "It Never Rains (in Southern California)" and "Lay Your Head On My Pillow".  (mn-cl)
1973  Shanice Wilson, soul singer born in Mc Kees Rocks, Pittsburg, USA. Raised in Los Angeles, California, she began singing on stage with her mother Crystal and her aunt Penni, who now jointly oversee her career. Shanice performed in T.V. commercials one with Ella Fitzgerald and musicals while still in her teens. One performance in 'Get Happy' got her a recording contract with A&M at the age of 11. By 1990 she signed with Motown where her hit record 'I Like Your Smile' came from her 1992 gold-certified album 'Inner Child'. Two other top ten hits came with 'Silent Prayer' and 'I'm Crying'. Shanice featured in numerous film Soundtracks and gained a number one hit from the film Meteor Man, 'It's for You'. She also duetted with Jon Secada on 'If If I Never Knew You' from the highly successful Disney movie Pocahontas. (m
1975  Chris (Christopher) Wrey, 5'7", 11.13 footballer born Liberia. Club Honours: PL '98; FAC '98. International Honours: Liberia: 7. (bh-mn)
1998  US president Bill Clinton arrives in Birmingham for the G8 summit talks (G8 = 8 richest countries). The P10 (10 poorest countries group) organise a protest linking hands around the building over unpaid third world debts. (mn)
2009 Buddy Montgomery dies. b. Charles 'Buddy' Montgomery, 30thy January 1930, Indianapolis, Indiana, U.S. A. d. 14th May 2009, Palmdale, Los Angeles, California, U.S.A. Pianist and vibraphonist, Buddy Montgomery has died. He was 79. He passed away from heart failure at his home in Palmdale, north of Los Angeles. Buddy was the brother of the Jazz Guitarist, Wes Montgomery, and was the youngest of three brothers (Wes, Monk and Buddy). He became professional in 1948, and toured with Big Joe Turner shortly afterwards.  Buddy played keyboards with Slide Hampton, whilst in Indianapolis. He served in the military, and worked with the Mastersounds with his brother Monk. Buddy led the Montgomery - Johnson Quintet with Ray Johnson from 1955 until 1957. He played with Miles Davis in 1961, before relocating to Milwaukee in 1969. Buddy moved again, in the eighties, to Oakland, where he worked with the Riverside Reunion Band, Charlie Rouse and the late David Fathead Newman. Buddy recorded for several labels including World Pacific, Fantasy, Riverside, Milestone, and Impulse, and never could read music, incidentally. (soulwalking) 
2015 B.B. King blues legend dies. Guitarist aged 89 had a very distinct self reverb sound on his guitar he named 'Lucy' a gift from Gibson Guitar Company. From 1991 he ran his own Blues Club in Beale Street, Memphis. 

15th. MAY

1918  Pfc. Henry Johnson and Pfc. Needham Roberts receives the Croix de Guerre for their service in World War I, becoming the first American's to win France's highest military award. (tr-iokts)
1938  Lenny Welch, soul singer born in Asbury Park, New Jersey, USA. Treading the same path as Johnny Mathis, Welch built his career singing pop tunes with a hint of R&B flavour. His biggest hit was a remake of a 40s big-band standard 'Since I Fell For You' (US Pop No.4.) (mn-cl)
1946  Camilla Williams becomes the first African-American female concert singer to sign a contract with a major American opera company.
1957  Andre Maria Mbida becomes premier of Cameroon.
1972  Richard Blackwood (singer/comedian) born. (nationmaster)
1988  J.C. Burris, blues harmonica player, dies, Kings Mountain, N.C., USA. He maintained much of the country-blues style that he learned from his uncle Sonny Terry. As well as playing the harp Burris played the bones, the dancing doll (he called his doll Mister Jack), and other traditional percussive folk instruments. (mn-rs)
2009 Wayman Tisdale dies. b. Wayman Lawrence Tisdale, 9th June 1964, Tulsa, Oklahoma, U.S.A. d. 15th May 2009, St. John's Hospital, Tulsa, Oklahoma, U.S.A. Jazz bassist, Wayman Tisdale, has died. He was 44. Wayman had been suffering from cancer. Son of a respected pastor, Wayman was a professional basketball player as well as a Smooth Jazz bassist. Although a professional sportsman, he stated his main interest was within music. Wayman was a self-taught musician and played bass at his fathers church. He released the album 'Power Forward' in 1995, and in 2002, he was awarded the Legacy Tribute Award by the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame. In March 2007, he underwent treatment for cancer in his knee, which came to light after a fall at home, which broke his leg. The cancer worsened and Wayman had to have part of his leg amputated in an attempt to arrest the growth of the illness. Wayman had a new limb fitted and he became used to the new limb very quickly, reports stated.An album was released in 2008, entitled 'Rebound'. In April 2009, he accepted an award from the Greenwood Cultural Center in Tulsa, and then embarked on a 21 date national concert tour. Wayman Tisdale died from cancer on the morning of the 15th of May 2009. He was married to Regina Tisdale and the couple have four children.  (soulwalking)

16th. MAY

1840  James Milton Turner, educator, born. (tr-iokts)
1903  In Dahomey an all-black musical opened at the Shaftsbury Theatre, featuring the outstanding comedy team of Bert Williams a George Walker. The show ran for for 250 shows, after a performance at Buckingham Palace. (mn-pf)
1929  John Conyers Jr., founder of the Congressional Black Caucus, is born.  Congressman from Michigan, representing that state's 14th District (map), which includes all of Highland Park and Hamtramck, as well as parts of Detroit and Dearborn. He has served since 1965 (the district was numbered as the 1st District until 1993). (tr-iokts)
1930  Betty Carter, jazz singer born in Flint, Michigan, USA. Carter expanded the role of the vocalist in Jazz, to a full, improvising member of the band. Although her voice was not as admired by the public as such vocalists as Sarah Vaughan or Ella Fitzgerald, many consider her to have exercised mastery of the human voice previously unheard in Jazz. Carter was born Lillie Mae Jones in Flint, Michigan and grew up in Detroit, where her father led a church choir. She studied piano at the Detroit Conservatory. She won a talent contest and became a regular on the local club circuit, singing and playing piano. When she was sixteen, she sang with Charlie Parker. She later performed with Dizzy Gillespie and Miles Davis and toured with Lionel Hampton, (from whom she received the nickname "Betty Bepop") where she perfected her scat singing of bebop. Her career eclipsed somewhat during the 1960s and 1970s, but a series of duets with Ray Charles brought her a measure of popular recognition. She was well-received at the Newport Jazz Festival in 1977 and 1978. Carter won a Grammy in 1988 for her album Look What I Got!.  (dies September 26, 1998) (mn-cl-echoes)
1932  Isaac Holt, member with The Ramsey Lewis Trio is born. (mn-jt)
1947  Barbara Lee, singer with The Chiffons is born. The Chiffons was an all girl group originating from the Bronx area of New York in 1960. The group comprised Judy Craig (lead singer), Patricia Bennett, and Barbara Lee. Sylvia Peterson was added to the group in 1963. The group had already recorded a handful of singles when they hit the number one spot in the United States with the song "He's So Fine." George Harrison's 1971 "My Sweet Lord" was musically almost identical, prompting a copyright infringement claim. The Chiffons went on to record "My Sweet Lord" in 1975. A judge later found that Harrison had unintentionally plagiarized the earlier song. Their first hit was followed by other notable tunes such as Gerry Goffin and Carole King's "One Fine Day", "Sweet Talkin' Guy" and "I Have a Boyfriend", although many of their recordings were derivative of the period. Their Top 40 single "I Have A Boyfriend" was playing on Dallas station KLIF on November 22, 1963 and was interrupted by the first radio bulletins of the JFK assassination. The group also released material under the title The Four Pennies. They released two singles on the Rust Label. Craig left the Chiffons in 1968 and they continued as a trio. In 1992, Lee died of a heart attack, and Craig returned to the group. Peterson retired shortly thereafter and was replaced by Connie Harvey. Harvey has since left to pursue a solo career and Bennett has retired from the group. Craig continues with replacement backup singers.   (mn-jt-wickpedia)
1966  Janet Jackson soul singer born today in Gary, Indiana, USA. Janet Damita Jo Jackson  is an American singer-songwriter, producer, dancer, actress, and the youngest child of the famed Jackson music family. She is the sister of pop icon Michael Jackson. Breaking away from the shadows of her siblings, Jackson now ranks as the ninth most successful artist in the history of rock and roll, according to Billboard magazine in 2004.  (mn-tx)
1968  Ralf Tresvant, singer with New Edition, later solo, born in Boston, Massachusetts, USA. Ralph Tresvant (born Ralph Edward Tresvant Jr., on 16 May 1968 in Roxbury, Massachusetts) is an American tenor singer, best known as one of the lead singers in R&B act New Edition. Tresvant also pursued a solo career during New Edition's early-1990s hiatus, and scored a hit with 1990's "Sensitivity", written and produced by Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis. He also scored big with the hits "Do What I Gotta Do", "Rated R", and "Stone Cold Gentleman". Ralph's third solo album Rizz-Wa-Faire, was released March 7, 2006. (mn-cl)
1979  A. Philip Randolph, civil rights and labour leader, dies. He was a socialist in the labor movement and the US civil rights movement. He was born in Crescent City, Florida. His father was a minister of the A.M.E. Church who moved the family to Jacksonville, Florida in 1891. In 1911, Randolph moved to New York City's Harlem in hope of becoming an actor. Randolph's parents objected to his dramatic aspirations, so while at the City College of New York, he switched his studies to politics and economics. While at City College, he met his future wife, Lucille Green. Green was a teacher who had quit that career and opened a lucrative beauty salon when her first husband died. After their marriage, Randolph's political activities would often cause Lucille the loss of some customers. Also at City College, Randolph met Chandler Owen, a sociology and political science student at Columbia University. Together, they formed the radical Harlem magazine, The Messenger, in 1917. (wickpedia)
1985  Six Million Dollar Hit. Columbia Records Senior Vice President Al Teller presented a cheque for $6.5 million to Ken Kragen, President of the United Support Of Artists for Africa foundation (USA for Africa) as the first royalty payment on a single that had reached the record stores of the USA only two months before, on March 7. (mn-jt)
1990  Sammy Davis Jr., singer/entertainer/comedian, dies. In 1960, Davis caused controversy when he married white Swedish-born actress May Britt. Davis received hate mail when he was cast in the Broadway musical adaptation of Golden Boy in 1964, but that did not bother his fans. The play was (at first) a success, but closed quickly. At the time Davis starred in the play, interracial marriages were forbidden by law in 31 US states out of 50, and only in 1967 were those laws abolished by the US Supreme Court. The couple had one daughter and adopted two sons. Davis performed almost continuously and spent little time with his wife. They divorced in 1968, after Davis admitted to having had an affair with singer Lola Falana. That year Sammy Davis, Jr. started dating Altovise Gore, a dancer in "Golden Boy". They were wed in 1970 by Jesse Jackson. They remained married until Sammy Davis, Jr.'s death on this day.  (mn-jt)
1993  Marv Johnson, singer collapses and dies at a concert in Columbia, South Carolina, USA. Just a few weeks earlier he had recorded a one-hour radio programme for PCRL, when later completed contained tributes from stable-mates JJ Barnes, Edwin Starr and Martha Reeves. He now lies in an un-marked grave in Detroit. Marv Johnson and Berry Gordy set up Motown records together in the late 50s -  when Motown celebrate their anniversaries they seem to forget Marv's work!. (mn-br-cl)
2007 A BBC TV programme was shown about the demolition of the 24 storey block in March, Hamilton House, Grove Lane, Smethick. Not much was told about it's real history. This was the home to PCRL for many years during the 1990's andd it was sad to see it fall. (mn)

17th. MAY

1875  Kentucky Derby won by Oscar Lewis, who rides Aristides to victory.
1915  The National Baptist Convention is chartered.
1938  Pervis Jackson, soul singer with The Spinners is born. Originally known as the Domingo’s until they signed with Harvey Fuqua's Tri-Phi in 1961. (Known as The Detroit Spinners in the UK.) (mn-jt)
1953  George Johnson, soul singer with The Brothers Johnson, born. The Brothers Johnson is a band consisting of the musicians George Johnson ('Lightnin' Licks') and Louis Johnson ('Thunder Thumbs'). After touring with various artists like Bobby Womack and Billy Preston, Quincy Jones hired them for a tour in Japan and produced their debut LP Look out for Number 1, released in March 1976 (#9 US). Their Right On Time album was released in May 1977 and reached number 13 on the Billboard 200. Blam!! came out in August 1978 and reached number 7 on the Billboard 200. Their popular album Light Up the Night was released in March 1980 and got as high as number 5 on the Billboard 200. It was number 46 on the "Top 100 LP's of 1980" list in Rolling Stone Magazine. The subsequent album, Winners, was self-produced by the brothers and released in July 1981, but was less successful, going only as high as number 48 on the Billboard 200. Among their most popular songs are "I'll Be Good to You" (Hot 100 #3 in 1976), "Strawberry Letter 23" (Hot 100 # 5 in 1977), "Ain't We Funkin' Now" (1978), and "Stomp!" (Hot 100 #7 and Hot Dance Music/Club Play #1 in 1980). Their styles include funk, disco, and R&B ballads. The duo split up in 1982. (mn-jt-wickpedia)
1954  The Supreme Court out-laws school segregation in Brown vs Board of Education decision (USA).
1956  Sugar Ray Leonard, world famous boxer born today. He was one of the leading boxers in the world in the 1970s and 1980s, winning world titles at multiple weights and triumphing in contests with such celebrated opponents as Wilfred Benitez, Thomas Hearns, Roberto Duran and Marvin Hagler. Born Ray Charles Leonard, named for the singing legend Ray Charles, Leonard later adopted the nickname used by Sugar Ray Robinson. (mn-tx-wickpedia).
1972  Barry (Barrington) Hayles, 5'9", 13.0 footballer born in Lambeth, London, England. He is an English born Jamaican professional football player, he currently plays as a striker for Millwall. Hayles was first noticed as a Stevenage player in their FA Cup run before earning a move to Bristol Rovers in 1997. After just one season with the pirates, Hayles moved to Fulham in 1998 and helped the club through two promotions to get to the FA Premier League. In 2004, he was released on a free transfer to Sheffield United, but was only there a couple of months before he moved to Millwall for a nominal fee.  (bh-mn-wickpedia)
1973  Vernie Bennett, soul singer with Eternal born today. Eternal was a London-based 1990s R&B girl group that found fame in 1993 and went on to become one of the UK's most successful girl groups of all time, achieving both domestic and global success. The group was made up of church-going sisters Easther and Vernie Bennett and school friends Kéllé (or Kelle) Bryan and Louise Nurding (also known as Louise and Louise Redknapp), who both went to the famous Italia Conti Academy stage school. (mn-tx-wickpedia).
1996  Johnny ‘Guitar’ Watson soul singer dies. Watson was born in Houston, Texas. He had a long and varied musical career, from 50s blues to 70s funk. He worked with many musicians throughout his life, among them Frank Zappa, and appeared on Zappa's 1975 One Size Fits All and 1984 Them or Us albums. He died while on tour in Yokohama, Japan. His remains were brought home for interment in the Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery in Glendale, California. (mn-cl-wickpedia)
1997  American president Bill Clinton apologizes to African Americans over medical experiments made on them with the syphilis virus. (mn)
1997  Rebel leader Laurent Kabila takes control of Zaire and renames it The Democratic Republic of the Congo. (mn)
2002  Little Johnny Taylor, soul/blues singer died at Conway Regional Medical Centre, Conway, Arcansas, he was 59. (mn)

18th. MAY

Heroes Day for Namibian people. For about 2 decades this day has been celebrated by the Namibian people as Hero’s Day in remembrance of  all the patriots who have laid down their lives in the course of Namibia's century long struggle against colonial oppression and imperialist plunder. (swapo-tr)
1911  Big Joe Turner, soul/R & B singer is born. He recorded the original and best version of Shake Rattle & Roll. (Dies 24/11/85). Although he came to his greatest fame in the 1950s with his pioneering rock and roll recordings, particularly "Shake, Rattle and Roll", Turner's career as a performer stretched from the 1930s, into the 1980s. Known as The Boss of the Blues, Turner first worked as a singing bartender in Kansas City, then a wide-open town run by "Boss" Tom Pendergast. His partnership with boogie-woogie pianist Pete Johnson led to his inclusion in John Hammond's "Spirituals to Swing" concerts that were instrumental in introducing jazz and blues to a wider American audience. Turner and Johnson had a major hit with "Roll 'Em, Pete", which Turner recorded many times under various names over the years. They appeared with boogie players Albert Ammons and Meade Lux Lewis at Cafe Society, a club in New York City for several years during the war. Besides "Roll 'Em, Pete", his best known recordings from this period are probably "Cherry Red", "I Want A Little Girl", and "Wee Baby Blues". Turner continued to record blues with small combos on several record labels, particularly National Records and also appeared with the Count Basie Orchestra. In his career, Turner led the transition from big bands to jump blues, to rock and roll.  (mn-jt-wickpedia)
1948  Feliciano 'Butch' Tavares, soul singer with Tavares is born. Originally named Chubby and the Turnpikes, they started performing in 1963, when the youngest brother was only nine years old. By 1973 they signed with Capitol Records, and soon began charting regularly on the R&B and pop charts. Hit songs include "It Only Takes a Minute" (1986); "Don't Take Away My Music" (1976); "The Ghost of Love" (1977); "Whodunit" (1977) and "Heaven Must Be Missing An Angel" (1976). Their popularity ebbed with the fading disco scene by the early 1980s. In 1983, Ralph Tavares stepped down from the group, and Tiny left in the mid 1990s, but the other three brothers continue to tour. Their hit song "It Only Takes a Minute" is featured in the soundtrack of Konami's dancing game Dance Dance Revolution 3rd Mix.  (mn-jt-wickpedia)
1955  Mary McLeod Bethune, educator, dies in Daytona Beach, Fl. She ranks high among the great women of America. Her life story is one of ennobling rise from a field hand picking cotton to position of confident and friend of Franklin D. and Eleanor Roosevelt. Almost single-handedly she built the Bethune-Cookman College. (Hear BHPAP 100) (mm-ra)
1956  Winifred Atwell, British pianist was presented with two gold singles for sales of her hit medleys, Let's Have A Party and Let's Have Another Party. (mn-jt)
1848  William Leidesdorff, manoeuvring millionaire dies. One of the earliest settlers in California; born (at Szathmar, Hungary ?) about 1802; died at San Francisco May 18, 1848. He was the son of Mordecai Leidesdorff; his cousin Yitl (Henrietta) married Akiba Eger, and their daughter married Moses Sofer (Schreiber). William Leidesdorff left his home when about fifteen years of age, and his family never heard from him again. A tradition became current in the Eger and Schreiber families that he had "gone to America" and "become a great man." He went to San Francisco (Yerba Buena) in 1840; but his history before his appearance there is obscure. He passed as a native of Jamaica, of Danish extraction; on leaving that island he went to New York, and subsequently to New Orleans, in which latter city he held the office of "captain of the port." On arriving at Yerba Buena he began the establishment of extensive commercial relations with "the States." When the American flag was raised over San Francisco (July, 1846) he became vice-consul. He bore a high reputation for integrity and enterprise. He is said to have been "liberal, hospitable, cordial, confiding even to a fault." Leidesdorff became the wealthiest man in San Francisco. During the eight years of his residence there he organized the first American public school, served as alcalde, as a member of the Ayuntamiento, as one of the six aldermen, or town-councilors, and as city treasurer. On the day of his burial the town was in mourning, the flags were at half-mast, business was suspended, and the schools were closed. His remains were interred in the Roman Catholic graveyard behind the church of the Mission Dolores. Leidesdorff street was named for him.  (hear BHPAP 062) (wickpedia)

19th. MAY

1925  Malcolm X, (Al Haji Malik El Shabbazz) born Malcolm Little in Omaha, Nebraska, USA. Best remembered for his self-righteousness teachings. Also known as Detroit Red, El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz, and Omowale was a National Spokesman for the Nation of Islam and an African American Muslim Leader. He was also founder of the Muslim Mosque, Inc. and the Organization of Afro-American Unity. During his life, Malcolm went from being a promising young student to a street-wise Boston hoodlum to one of the most prominent black nationalist leaders in the United States to a martyr of Islam. As a militant leader, Malcolm X advocated black pride, economic self-reliance, and identity politics. He ultimately rose to become a world renowned African American/Pan-Africanist and human rights activist. Malcolm X was assassinated in New York City on February 21, 1965 on the first day of National Brotherhood Week.  (mn-wickpedia)
1930  Lorraine Hansberry was born on this date. She was an African-American writer and activist for equal rights for Blacks. Lorraine Vivian Hansberry was from Chicago Illinois and attended the University of Wisconsin but left in 1950 and moved to New York City. She was a reporter and editor for Freedom, a progressive black newspaper in New York, from 1950 to 1953. She is best known for her play A Raisin in the Sun, which was made into a motion picture in 1961. It is the story of a Black Chicago family's attempt to find sense in their constrained existence. The play was the first drama by a Black woman to be produced on Broadway, and it won the New York Drama Critics' Circle Award in 1959. Hansberry's second play, The Sign in Sidney Brustein's Window, concerns a White intellectual in Greenwich Village, New York City. After Hansberry's death, her husband, songwriter and music publisher Robert Nemiroff, adapted her letters, plays, and papers into the production To Be Young, Gifted, and Black. This compilation was published in book form in 1970. During her career Hansberry also wrote many articles and essays on racism, homophobia, world peace, and other social issues. (aareg)
1952   Barbara Joyce Loomis, R&B vocals, b. New York, NY, USA. Member group: 'B.T. Express' In 1972, this funk-disco group was formed by Jeff Lane in Brooklyn. They started as the King Davis House Rockers, and later were called the Brooklyn Trucking Express. Originally, the group consisted of Bill Risbrook (saxophonist/vocalist), Dennis Rowe (percussionist), Rick Thompson (guitarist), Carlos Ward (saxophonist/flutist), Michael Jones Kashif (keyboardist), Wesley Hall (lead guitarist/vocalist), Leslie Ming (drummer), Louis Risbrook (bassist, organist and vocalist), and Barbara Joyce Lomas (vocalist). (nfo.net)
1952  Grace Jones singer/model/actor born in Spanishtown, Jamaica. Grace Jones (born Grace Mendoza on May 19, 1948, in Spanish Town, Kingston, Jamaica) is a model, singer and actress. Raised in Syracuse, New York, she found success in the 70s as a model, working in New York and Paris, before rising to public prominence as a singer and personality. (mn)
1963  Yazz soul singer born Yasmin Evans in Shepherds Bush, London, England. British pop singer who remains best known for her successful 1988 dance track, "The Only Way Is Up". After a spell as a catwalk model, she scored a number of club hits after recording with group, Biz, in 1983. Her first commercial success came in early 1988, when she supplied the vocals on Coldcut's "Doctorin' the House". She soon launched a solo career on Big Life records, a label set up by her future husband Jazz Summers, releasing her debut single "The Only Way Is Up" in the summer of 1988. It went on to spend five weeks at the top of the chart, eventually becoming the biggest selling UK single of the year. Suddenly one of Britain's biggest pop acts, her follow up was another big hit, whilst her debut album went top ten. She continued to have hits into 1989 but has since recorded only sporadically, releasing one single during 1990 and not releasing another until 1992. She returned to the charts in 1993, performing with Aswad on the top 40 hit "How Long". She continued to release singles well into the 1990s, including a cover version of The Jackson 5's "Never Can Say Goodbye". In 1997 she recorded the album Natural Life, which was only released in some parts of Europe and Asia. (mn-wickpedia)     
1967  Julio Cesar Green WBA Middleweight World Champion Boxer is born. Record: 22-2 (15). Best wins: Eric Holland; Lonny Beasley and William Joppy. He lives in Santo Domingo, Puerto Rico. (mn-ring)
1969  Coleman Hawkins, jazz-man saxophonist dies. Coleman Randolph Hawkins (November 21, 1904–May 19, 1969), nicknamed "Hawk" and sometimes "Bean", was a prominent jazz tenor saxophonist. Hawkins was born in Saint Joseph, Missouri in 1904. Some out-of-date sources say 1901, but there is no evidence to prove such an early date. He was named Coleman after his mother Cordelia's maiden name. He attended high school in Chicago, then in Topeka, Kansas at Topeka High School (THS). He later stated that he studied harmony and composition for two years at Washburn College in Topeka while still attending THS. In his youth he played piano and cello, and started playing saxophone at the age of nine; by the age of fourteen he was playing around eastern Kansas. Coleman Hawkins (incorrectly spelled "Haskins" in the caption) pictured in the Topeka High School orchestra, from the 1921 yearbook.Hawkins joined Mamie Smith's Jazz Hounds in 1921 with whom he toured through 1923, at which time he settled in New York City. Hawkins joined Fletcher Henderson's Orchestra, with whom he played through 1934, sometimes doubling on clarinet and bass saxophone. Hawkins' playing changed significantly during Louis Armstrong's tenure with the Henderson Orchestra. During the mid to late 1930s, Hawkins toured Europe as a soloist, playing with Jack Hylton, Django Reinhardt and many other groups until returning to the USA in 1939. He then recorded a seminal jazz solo on the pop standard "Body and Soul", a landmark equivalent to Armstrong's "West End Blues". After an unsuccessful attempt to establish a big band he led a combo at Kelly's Stables on Manhattan's famed 52nd Street, using Thelonious Monk, Oscar Pettiford, Miles Davis, and Max Roach as sidemen. He was leader on the first ever bebop recording session with Dizzy Gillespie and Don Byas. Later he toured with Howard McGhee and recorded with J.J. Johnson and Fats Navarro. He also toured with Jazz at the Philharmonic. After 1948 Hawkins divided his time between New York and Europe, making numerous freelance recordings, including with Duke Ellington in 1962. In the 1960s he appeared regularly at the Village Vanguard in Manhattan. During his long career Hawkins was always inventive and seeking new challenges. He directly influenced many bebop performers, and later in his career, recorded or performed with such adventurous musicians as Sonny Rollins, who considered him his main influence, and John Coltrane. He also performed with more traditional musicians, such as Henry "Red" Allen and Roy Eldridge, with whom he appeared at the 1957 Newport Jazz Festival. In the 1960s, he recorded with Duke Ellington. What was up to date in jazz changed radically over the decades. When record collectors would play his early 1920s recordings during Hawkins' later years he would sometimes deny his presence on them, since the playing on the old records sounded so dated. In his later years, Hawkins began to drink heavily and stopped recording (his last recording was in late 1966). He died of pneumonia in 1969 and is interred at the Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx. (mn-jt-wickpedia)
1971  Robert 'Bobby' Bowry, footballer born, this 5'9", 10.8, player was an integral part of Milwall's side '97-'98. Honours: Div 1 '97. (bh-mn)
1984  Bob Marley topped the UK album chart for the first time with Legend, an album released to coincide with the third anniversary of his death from cancer. (mn-jt)
1999  Augustus Pablo - real name Horace Swaby, reggae musician dies in Kingston Hospital, he suffered a colapsed lung seven days earlier and had been on a life support machine - he was 45 years old. Horace Swaby (June 21, 1954 – May 18, 1999), better known as Augustus Pablo, was a Jamaican roots reggae and dub record producer and keyboardist, active from the 1970s onwards. He was perhaps the first person to use the melodica as a viable musical instrument. He was born in St. Andrew, Jamaica and learned to play the organ in Kingston College School. It was at that point an unnamed girl lent him the melodica. Fascinated by the instrument, Pablo rarely put it down. He also met Herman Chin Loy; the Chin family owned an influential record store in Kingston. Swaby recorded "Iggy Iggy" in Clive's father's studio, Aquarius Records. He took the name Augustus Pablo for this recording. After releasing a few more singles, Pablo came out with "East of the River Nile", a unique blend of East Asian and Jamaican sounds, and the song became a moderate hit. Augustus Pablo popularized the use of the melodica, essentially a childs toy, in reggae music. He soon joined Now Generation (Mikey Chung's band) and played the keyboard with them while his friend, Clive, began his own career as a record producer. Pablo and Chin recorded "Java" (1972) together, as soon as Pablo quit Now Generation and Clive was able to get the studio time, the instrumental was a massive hit, and launched Pablo's solo career. He recorded with Chin and various others, including Leonard Chin, his uncle, and Lee Perry. He scored another smash hit with "My Desire" (John Holt). Pablo formed labels Hot Stuff, Message and Rockers (named after his brother's soundsystem, Rockers), and released a steady stream of well-received instrumentals, mostly versions of older hits from Studio One. In spite of his success with Rockers, Pablo's seminal 1974 album, This Is Augustus Pablo was recorded with Clive and Pat Chin. This was followed by a collaboration with the legendary reggae engineer King Tubby to great acclaim, releasing 1975's Ital Dub. In the later 1970s, Pablo produced a steady stream of hits, including the hit "Black Star Liner" (Fred Locks). He also worked with Dillinger, Norris Reid, I-Roy, Jacob Miller, Te -Track, The Immortals, Paul Blackman, Earl Sixteen, Roman Stewart, Lacksley Castell, The Heptones, Ricky Grant, Delroy Williams, Horace Andy and Freddy McKay. This period was eventually commemorated with critically acclaimed LP's including King Tubby Meets Rockers Uptown (1976) and Hugh Mundell's classic Africa Must be Free by 1983. This was followed by East of the River Nile (1978, Original Rockers 1979 and Rockers Meets King Tubbys In A Firehouse, another acclaimed hit album. In the 1980s, Pablo's career slowed significantly. He had begun to establish an American audience, and released Rising Sun in 1986 to good reviews and sales. Pablo also produced memorable hits, including "Ragamuffin Year" (Junior Delgado), "Humble Yourself" (Asher & Tremble) and "Far Far Away" (Ricky Grant). In addition, Pablo toured extensively throughout the world, making a memorable live album in Tokyo in 1987. That same year, Rockers Come East re-established his career, and he began to release a series of critically acclaimed though somewhat inaccessible albums in the 1990s, including Blowing With the Wind and also producing several, such as Night and Day (Dawn Penn) and Jah Made Them All (Yami Bolo). Pablo died of the nerve disorder Myasthenia gravis on May 18, 1999. He was known for his spiritual beliefs in Rasta.  (mn-echoes-wickpedia)

20th. MAY     

National Holiday-United Republic of Cameroon.
1868  P.B.S. Pinchback and James J. Harris are the first African American deligates to the Republican National Convention. (tr-iokts)
1899 Lydia Cabrera was born on this date. She was an Afro-Cuban writer and literary activist. From Havana, Cuba, she was the youngest of eight children in a family of social and financial privilege in pre-revolutionary Cuba. Her father, Raimundo Cabrera Bosch, was also a writer, jurist, lawyer, and a former fighter for Cuba's independence, and her mother, Elisa Marcaida Casanova was a housewife. The family had many African servants and child caretakers who introduced young Lydia to the world brought to Cuba by the African slaves. Through them she learned about African folklore, stories, traditions, religions and their mystical world. Her father’s contributions are evident in many of her writings. Her adult interest in Afro-Cuban culture began when she went to Paris in 1927 to study Asian religion and art. She studied drawing and painting in Paris with theatrical Russian exile Alexandra Exter. Cabrera lived in Paris for eleven years, returned home in 1938, and left Cuba again as an exile in 1960. She went first to Madrid and settled later in Miami, Florida. Author of twenty three books on Afro-Cuban themes, she was one of the first writers to recognize and make public the richness of Afro-Cuban culture, and made valuable contributions in the area of literature, anthropology, and ethnology. Her most famous book El Monte (The Forest), published in 1954, became a "bible" for Santeros who practice Santeria, a blend of catholic teachings and native African religions that evolved among former African slaves in the Caribbean. Cabrera was a woman of deep cultural background and humility. She created the Negro's identity and their incorporation into the Cuban national culture as an important and integral part of it. She received several honorary doctorate degrees, including one from the University of Miami in 1987. Cabrera described her stories as "transpositions," but they went much further than a simple retelling. She recreated and altered elements, characters, and themes of African and universal folklores, but she also modified the traditional stories by adding details of Cuban customs of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. She represented well-known themes within universal folklore from a different perspective as well. For example, Cabrera used the popular motif of a magical object (a saucepan, a salt shaker, a tablecloth) that provides endlessly for its owner, but she re-created it using as characters people from Colonial Cuba, such as clever slaves, their white owners, and European and local slave merchants. Themes of universal folklore such as cruel stepmothers, lost children, and the magic fish that has the power to grant wishes are also present in some of the stories she tells. But a divergent to the traditional folktale, Cabrera constantly gave her characters, (gods, humans, or animals) their own name. One example is Jicotea, a little water turtle with whom many Afro-Cubans identify, because it belongs to the lowest rung in the social scale and therefore has a hard life. But it adapts and confronts its aggressive environment in order to survive. Cabrera devoted her life to the study of Africans in Cuba and their influence on the development of Cuban folklore, a development that was also influenced by the Spanish culture that had been brought to the island during the Conquest. Lydia Cabrera died in Miami on September 19th, 1991. (aareg.com)
1902  Cuba gains independence from Spain.
1961  A White mob attacked Freedom Riders with chains and ax handles in Montgomery, Alabama. Because of the local officer’s ineffectiveness, federal marshals had to be eventually dispatched by Attorney General Robert Kennedy. The Ku Klux Klan hoped that this violent treatment would stop other young people from taking part in freedom rides. However, over the next six months over a thousand people took part in the SNCC freedom rides of 1961 (aareg.com)
1964  Run D. M. C., old-school rock rapper, real name Darryl McDaniels from Hollis, Queens, USA, born. Run-D.M.C. (or Run DMC) was a hip hop group founded by the late Jason "Jam Master Jay" Mizell that included Joseph "Run" Simmons and Darryl "D.M.C." McDaniels. The group had an enormous impact on the development of hip hop through the 1980s and is credited with breaking hip hop into mainstream music. The three members of Run-D.M.C. grew up in Hollis, Queens, New York, USA. (mn-ms)
1940  Shorty Long, soul singer born in Alabama. Signed to Motown in 1964, his debut release was Devil With The Blue Dress. This was followed by Function at the Junction and in 1968 Here Come The Judge, the title of his subsequent first album. The follow-up, The Prime of Shorty Long contains a tribute song to Martin Luther King. He died in a boating accident on the Detroit River, 29 June, 1969. (mn-jt-rt)
1955  Ruth Brown's US hit, Mamma He Treats Your Daughter Mean was banned in Britain by the BBC as it was felt to suggest wife-beating. Now copies of the 7' issues are valued at £175 (London HLE 8153), and only £20 for 10' (78 r.p.m. version). (mn-jt)
1999  PCRL receives a studio raid while off-air - loosing everything!

21st. MAY      

1879  John Jones dies. Businessman crusader Jones was so admired among Chicagoans that, when he celebrated his thirtieth year as a resident in 1875, most of the leading business and social personalities of both races were present. It was reported at the time he had amassed an estate worth $100,000 before the destructive Chicago Fire of 1871. (hear BHPAP 63) (mn)
1883  African American students enrol in classes at Oberlin College, Oberlin, Ohio, USA. (tr-iokts)
1904  Fats Waller, singer/pianist born Thomas Waller. He was an African-American composer, singer, and entertainer. Thomas Wright "Fats" Waller came from a Harlem household where his father was a Baptist preacher and his mother played piano and organ. He took up the piano at age six, playing in a school orchestra led by Edgar Sampson. After his mother died when he was 14, Waller moved into the home of pianist Russell Brooks, where he met and studied with James P. Johnson, Carl Bohm and the famous pianist Leopold Godowsky. Waller made his first record at age 18, "Birmingham Blues"/'Muscle Shoals Blues" in 1922.  He backed various blues singers and worked as house pianist and organist at rent parties and in movie theatres and clubs. He began to attract attention as a composer at this time forming a most fruitful alliance with lyricist Andy Razaf that resulted in three Broadway shows in the late '20s, Keep Shufflin', Load of Coal, and Hot Chocolates. Waller’s most significant early records for Victor were a series of brilliant 1929 solo piano sides of his own compositions like "Handful of Keys" and "Smashing Thirds." After finally signing an exclusive Victor contract in 1934, he began the long-running, prolific series of records with his Rhythm, which won him great fame and produced several hits, including "Your Feet's Too Big," "The Joint Is Jumpin'" and "I'm Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter."  He began to appear in films like Hooray for Love and King of Burlesque in 1935 while continuing regular appearances on radio dating back to 1923. He toured Europe in 1938, made organ recordings in London for HMV and appeared on one of the first television broadcasts. Well aware of the popularity of big bands in the '30s, Waller tried to form his own, but they were short-lived. Into the 1940s, Waller's touring schedule of the U.S. escalated; he contributed music to the films (including a memorable stretch of Stormy Weather where he led an all-star band that included Benny Carter, Slam Stewart and Zutty Singleton).  As a composer and improviser, his melodic invention rarely flagged, and he contributed fistfuls of joyous yet paradoxically winsome songs like "Honeysuckle Rose," "Ain’t Misbehavin,'" "Keepin' Out of Mischief Now," "Blue Turning Grey Over You" and the extraordinary "Jitterbug Waltz" to the jazz repertoire. While every clown longs to play Hamlet as per the cliché and Waller did have so-called serious musical pretensions, longing to follow in George Gershwin's footsteps and compose concert music. It was not to be due to the racial barriers of the first half of the 20th century. Waller influenced a long line of pianists of and after him, including Count Basie, Teddy Wilson, Art Tatum, Thelonious Monk, Dave Brubeck and countless others, his impact has been truly profound. Years of draining alimony squabbles, plus overindulgence and, no doubt, frustration over not being taken more seriously as an artist began to wear him down. Finally, after becoming ill during a gig at the Zanzibar Room in Hollywood in Dec. 1943, Waller boarded the Santa Fe Chief train for the long trip back to New York. He never made it, dying of pneumonia aboard the train during a stop at Union Station in Kansas City. (mn-jt-aareg.com)
1920  Little Willie Anderson, harmonica player, norn West Memphis, USA. Some folks called Chicago harpist Little Willie Anderson "Little Walter Jr.," so faithfully did Anderson's style follow that of the legendary harp wizard. But Anderson was already quite familiar with the rudiments of the harmonica before he ever hit the Windy City, having heard Sonny Boy Williamson, Robert Nighthawk, and Robert Jr. Lockwood around West Memphis. Anderson came to Chicago in 1939, eventually turning pro as a sideman with Johnny Young. Anderson served as Walter's valet, chauffeur, and pal during the latter's heyday, but his slavish imitations probably doomed any recording possibilities for Anderson -- until 1979, that is, when Blues On Blues label boss Bob Corritore escorted him into a Chicago studio and emerged with what amounts to Anderson's entire recorded legacy. ~ Bill Dahl, All Music Guide  Died June 20, 1991. (mn-rs)
1921  Christopher Perry, founder of the Philadelphia Tribune in 1885, dies. It is the oldest continually published non-church newspaper, first published in 1885. (tr-iokts)
1932  Billy Wright, gospel singer born in Atlanta, Geogia, USA. (mn-cl)
1938  Lee Shot Williams, soul singer born in Mississippi, USA. (mn-cl)
1941  Ronald Isley  singer born today in Cincinnati, USA. Ronald Isley is an American pop, rock, soul, and R&B singer and is known as the lead singer of the legendary family music group the Isley Brothers. He currently is enjoying a career resurgence that started in the mid-90s as an alter ego, Mr. Biggs, created by him and R. Kelly. In 2006 he is on trial about to take long prison sentence for tax evasion. (mn)
1963  ‘Little’ Stevie Wonder who had celebrated his 13th birthday only eight days before, recorded his first million selling single Fingertips Pt.2. (mn-jt)
1965  Dr Martin Luther King, Jr. leads his first Selma-to-Montgomery march.
1972  Notorious B.I.G., rapper born Christopher Wallace, Brooklyn, NY, USA. A six Foot-300-(or-so)-pound former drug dealer with a big booming, marble-mouthed voice who first appeared on Mary J. Blige album 'What's the 411? - The remixes'. First three singles went gold, becoming one of the most calibrated rap artists of the 1990s while earning a spot in the genre's history books as one of the key players in New York rap. (Dies March 9, 1997, Los Angeles, USA. (mn-jf)

22nd. MAY        

1928  Roscoe Robinson, soul singer born in Dumont, Alabama, USA. He was actually the second sighted member of the Five Blind Boys (Percell Perkins had been the first, but it was low-keyed) of Mississippi. Born in Arkansas, Robinson's family moved to Gary when he was 10. He began recording in 1951 for Trumpet and sang in many gospel groups, including The Five Trumpets, Highway QC's, and Fairfield Four, before moving into secular music in the '60s. He had a sensational hit in 1966, "That's Enough," for Wand. He continued recording for several other small labels, but never again had any national impact, although he has made many fine regional songs in vintage Southern soul style. Robinson also returned to his gospel roots in the '80s, recording for Savoy. ~ Ron Wynn, All Music Guide (mn-cl)
1948  Claude McKay In memory of this Jamaican poet (1890-1948). His Novel Home to Harlem became the first best seller written by an African-American writer. His first publication was Songs of Jamaica (1911), followed by Spring in New Hampshire (1920), Harlem Shadows (1922), Home to Harlem (1828), Banjo (1929), Banana Bottom (1933). (mn) (hear BHPAP 129)
1967  Langston Hughes, noted gay poet, dies in New York, USA. Born in 1902 the theme of his work was the common man, more specificly the Negro and his pleasures, joys and sorrows. His works include: Weary Blues, Fine Clothes to the Jew, The Dreem Keeper, Dear Lovely Death, Shakespeare in Harlem, Fields of Wonder, One Way Ticket and Ask Your Mama. His novels were Not Without Laughter and Tambourines to Glory. For the theatre he wrote Scottsbro Limited and Mulatto; the later work he also staged as an opra, the Berries. He also wrote the biographies: Famous American Negroes and Famous Negroe Music Makers. (hear BHPAP 133) (mn-ra)
1970  Naomi Campbell super-model born today. Campbell was born in Streatham, South London. She is of mostly Afro-Jamaican heritage, though her father is also partially of Jamaican-Chinese descent. Campbell attended the London Academy For Performing Arts. A graduate of the Italia Conti Academy stage school, Campbell's first appearance to a wider public was in February 1978 when she was cast as a pupil to appear in a music video with Jamaican reggae superstar Bob Marley for his song Is This Love?. She has been a prominent fashion model on the catwalk and in print advertising since the late 1980s. She also posed nude for Playboy magazine and for a series of lesbian-erotic photos with Madonna in the latter's book Sex. Campbell is also a successful singer. Her album Baby Woman sold over 1 million copies worldwide (mostly in Japan), and she was featured on Vanilla Ice's single "Cool as Ice." She had previously appeared in George Michael's music video, "Freedom '90", though she merely lip-synched to his song along with other models rather than performing herself. In 1995, her collaboration with Toshinobu Kubota, "La La La La Love Song", became a hit in Japan, with the single selling approx. 1,856,000 copies. She has also appeared in music videos for artists such as Michael Jackson, Jay-Z, and also appeared in Madonna's music video, "Erotica", with Ingrid Casares on October 12, 1992. Campbell also co-authored the best-selling novel "Swan" and followed it up with a photography book titled "Naomi." She has also been seen in music videos with Prince.  (mn-tx-wickpedia)

23rd. MAY 

1832  Samuel Sharpe Jamaican national hero hanged. "Daddy" Sharpe was a slave and Baptist preacher, that led a sort of strike that soon developed into the biggest slave rebellion that island would experience. Today the square in Montego Bay where he was hanged is named after him. A stone carving of his profile is show in the PCRL background wallpaper. Read History of Jamaica - Clinton V. Black. (mn-cb)
1871  Black Invention: Improved Smoke Stacks for Trains, Andrew Bell. (sc)
1900  Sgt. W.H.Carney, Civil War hero becomes the first negro receiving Medal of Honour, 37 years after the Battle of Fort Wagner. (tr-iokts)
1944  General Norman Johnson, singer/songwriter with Showmen/Chairmen of Board born in Norfolk, Virginia, USA. Naming a child "General" sure gives him something to live up to! No, not a future military man, a baby named after his dad (General) and his uncle (Norman), thus General Norman Johnson. Norman (as he was known during his younger years) began singing gospel in local Norfolk, Virginia at age 6 and formed a group called the "Humdingers" while in school in 1955. The Humdingers recorded four sides for Atlantic in 1956 that were never released, but that didn't discourage General Johnson, for he had the fever to write and produce. With the help of manager No h Biggs, the Humdingers then General Johnson, Leslie Felton, Milton Wells, Dorsey Knight and his brother Gene, left the Tidewater area of Virginia for a trip to New Orleans. The Humdingers became the Showmen and got a fresh start. Between May of 1961 and April of 1962, the Showmen recorded fifteen songs for Minit Records. The most notable was the song penned by General Johnson with the original tittle "Rock & Roll will Stand" shortened by executives at Minit to "It will Stand." It charted twice, November of 1961 and again in July of 1964. Another song title change/mix up was "39-21-40 Shape" which became "39-21-46." In 1965, General Johnson took his new songs to Philadelphia and New York to find a new label. Three singles were released, and "In Paradise" became a local Philly hit for the Swan label. General Johnson got a call telling him of the fans of the Showmen in the South. The Showmen packed up and moved South to the land of Beach Music! They became highly sought after up and down the eastern seaboard and became Beach Music's hottest band! In 1967, the Showmen recorded their most obscure record, "A Little Bit Of Your Love" for Jokers 3, a label named for a club and booking agency in Greensboro, Ne. In the Idte 60's, the Showmen were invited to Detroit to audition at Lamont Dozier's house for Invictus Records. Management wanted General but not the others. After dealing for awhile with the phenomenal standard "I'll never leave my group," General saw a better opportunity and left the Showmen to begin an association with the former Motown song writing team of Holland-Dozier-Holland. General Johnson's new group, "The Chairman of the Board" was a hit right out of the chute, scoring a #3 "Give Me Just A Little More Time," in < 1970 and as they say "the rest is history," but a continuing history as the Chairmen perform for packed houses and record new product each year! The Showmen continued without General Johnson and disbanded in the early 70's.  (mn-surfside)
1957  Teanager Lymon Record’s in London. Frankie Lymon, lead vocalist with The Teenagers, the vocal quintet that were teenagers. Recorded in London with British producer Norrie Paramor, who would become the producer of dozens of hits for Cliff Richard the following year. Lymon was 13 when 'Why Do Fools Fall In Love' became a British No. 1. Tragically died of a drug overdose in '68, being only 25. (mn-jt)
1967  Junior Waite, with B,ham's reggae band Musical Youth is born. Musical Youth formed in 1979 at Duddeston Manor School, Birmingham, England. This pop / reggae influenced group, featured two sets of brothers, Kelvin and Michael Grant, plus Junior and Patrick Waite. The latter pair's father, Frederick Waite, was a former member of Jamaican group The Techniques, and sang lead with Junior at the start of the group's career in the late 1970s.  (mn-jt-wickpedia)
1968  Mark Wayne Alleyne, 5'11", 13.7 Gloucester cricketer born in Tottenham, London, England. Country Debut: 1968; County cap: 1990; 1000 runs in a season: 6; 50 wickets in a season: 1. (cm-mn)
1975  ‘Moms’ Mabley, U.S.A. comedian dies. Jackie ' Moms ' Mabley (born 19 March 1894, Brevard, North Carolina died at White Plains, New York) was an American comedian. Born Loretta Mary Aiken, Mabley was one of the most successful entertainers of the black vaudeville stage, earning $10,000 a week at Harlem's Apollo Theater at the height of her career. In the 1960s, she become known to a wider white audience, playing Carnegie Hall in 1962, and making a number of mainstream TV appearances in the 1960s. She was billed as "The Funniest Woman in the World," and she tackled topics too edgy for many other comics of the time, including racism. She got away with it courtesy of her persona: onstage she appeared to be a small, bedraggled woman in a housedress and a funny hat, a 1950's version of a 'bag-lady' persona. She added the occasional satirical song to her jokes, and had a minor song hit in the 1960's with a serious plea for peace, "Everything's Gonna Be Alright." One of her regular themes was her romantic preference for handsome young men rather than old, 'washed-up geezers' (as witness one of her album titles: Young Men, Sí - Old Men, No). Her aged and bedraggled appearance, including performing with no teeth, made her stated aspirations all the funnier. (In fact, her lack of many apparent feminine characteristics--plus her cackling, scratchy voice--led to assorted rumors that she was actually a man.) She took her stage name, Jackie Mabley, from an early boyfriend, commenting to Ebony magazine in an interview in the 1970's that he'd taken so much from her, it was the least she could do to take his name. Later she became known as "Moms" because she was indeed "Mom" to many other comedians on the circuit in the 1950's and 60's. She was one of the top women doing standup in her heyday, and recorded more than 20 albums of comedy routines. She appeared in movies, on television, and in clubs. She is buried in Westchester County, NY.  (mn-jt-wickpedia)
1984  Passage To Britain (The West Indians/Black Britons) - Shown on UK CH4 television, part six in a twelve part series looking at the history of immigration to Britain. Includes interviews with Garth Moody (remembering his father Dr Harold Moody and The League of Coloured Peoples), C.L.R. James (remembering Learie Constantine) and actress-turned-social worker Pauline Henriques. (mn-sb)
1985  THE PEOPLES COMMUNITY RADIO LINK formally Radio Star starts broadcasting as Radio Station on 94.2 F.M., and was set up by Cecil Morris. (mn)
1989  John Fashanu's debut for England against Chile at Wembley Stadium.
1997  PCRL starts a daily programme about black achievers, BLACK HEROES PAST AND PRESENT. (A total of 366 episodes were made). The programme continued until 2003.
2012 Hal Jackson, New York radio pioneer dies. (b. 3/11/1914) He was 98. Jackson died in a hospital, said Deon Levingston, vice president and general manager at WBLS, a station owned by Inner City Broadcasting, which Jackson co-founded. Paul Heine, senior editor at Inside Radio, a trade publication, said Jackson "was the godfather of black radio." "His longevity and his breaking down the doors, breaking the color barrier, he really made it possible for African-Americans who followed him to work in the medium," Heine said. Jackson had been on the air as recently as a couple of weeks ago, hosting a Sunday show on WBLS. "His energy was amazing," Levingston said. Heine said Jackson still continued to show up at radio conventions, as well. "He didn't need to do these things," he said. "He was so passionate and so dedicated to the medium." Mayor Michael Bloomberg described Jackson as a "legend." "Hal was not only the first African-American voice on network radio or the first African-American play-by-play sports announcer, but an iconic legend who – during the Civil Rights movement – gave voice to the many who simply did not have one," he said. Jackson began his career in Washington, D.C., as the first African-American play-by-play sports announcer. He moved to New York in the 1950s where he hosted three different radio shows, broadcasting a mix of music and conversation, including jazz and celebrities. Jackson later co-founded the Inner City Broadcasting Corporation, one of the first broadcasting companies wholly owned by African-Americans. The company acquired WBLS, which pioneered the urban contemporary format. Jackson continued to host a program each week on WBLS. In 1995, Jackson became the first African-American to be inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame. (br-mn)

24th. MAY

1844  Solomon G. Brown, scientific technician, aids Samuel Morse in transmitting the first formal message between two cities by wire. Morse sent the telegraph message "What hath God wrought" (a Bible quotation, Numbers 23:23) from the Supreme Court room in Washington, D.C. to his assistant, Alfred Vail, in Baltimore, Maryland.  (tr-iokts)
1917  Black Invention: Mail Bag Transferring Device, J.C. Jones. (sc)
1938  Prince Buster, reggae singer born. He was one of the early exponents of the Blue Beat sound, who gave us classics like:- The Ten Commandments; Al Capone; One Step Beyond; Judge Dread. Cecil Bustamente Campbell, better known as Prince Buster, is a musician from Kingston, Jamaica and regarded as one of the most important figures in the history of ska and rocksteady music. The records he made on the Blue Beat label in the 1960s inspired several reggae and ska artists. (some books say 28 may) (mn-jt-tr)
1944  Patti La Belle soul singer born. Patti LaBelle (born Patricia Louise Holt on May 24, 1944 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) is a hugely revered African-American R&B/soul singer who fronted two moderately successful groups before rising to stardom as a solo artist in the late 1970s, influencing a new generation of female singers. She is best known for her strong vocals and her signature high-octave vocal belting. She has been largely compared to Aretha Franklin during the 1970s, but her distinguishing vocal range remains unique and recognizable, and she is widely regarded as one of the greatest vocalists of all-time [citation needed]. Her biography "Don't Block the Blessings," remained at the top of the New York Times best seller list for several weeks. In addition, she is also a bestselling cookbook author. (some books say 4 oct.) (mn-jt)
1945  Terry Callier, soul/folk singer born in Chicago, Illinois, USA. He is also a guitarist singer-songwriter from Chicago, Illinois. Callier, a childhood friend of Curtis Mayfield, began recording in 1963 but never reached stardom despite a series of regional hits in the 1960's and 1970's. In 1983, he gained custody of his 12-year-old daughter Sundiata and decided to retire from music to look for a steadier income. He took classes in computer programming and landed a job at the University of Chicago in 1984. He reemerged from obscurity when British DJ's discovered his old recordings and began to play his songs in clubs in the early 1990's. Acid Jazz Records head Eddie Pillar broght Callier to play clubs in Britain beginning in 1991 and he began to make regular trips to play gigs during his vacation time from work. In 1998, Callier began his comeback to recorded music with Timepeace, which won the United Nations' Time For Peace award for outstanding artistic achievement contributing to world peace. Curiously, his colleagues at the University of Chicago never learned of Callier's life as a musician, but after the award the news his secret life as a musician became widely known and subsequently lead to his firing. Callier today is continuing his recording career, having currently released five albums since Timepeace. (mn-cl-wickpedia)
1950  Nat Clifton becomes first black professional basketball player.
1963  Elmore James, hugely influential blues singer and slide guitarist, died in Chicago, Ill, USA. In 1990 he was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. James was born Elmore Brooks in Richland, Mississippi, 50 miles north of Jackson (not to be confused with another Richland just south of Jackson). He began playing as a teen, under the names "Cleanhead" and "Joe Willie James", alongside musicians such as the first Sonny Boy Williamson, Howlin' Wolf, and Robert Johnson. During World War II James joined the United States Navy and was stationed in Guam. Upon his discharge Elmore returned to central Mississippi and eventually settled in Canton. He began recording with Trumpet Records in nearby Jackson in January 1951, first as sideman to the second Sonny Boy Williamson and others, then debuting as a session leader in August with what became his signature song, "Dust My Broom". It was a surprise R&B hit in 1952 and turned James into a star. His "I Believe" was another hit a year later. During the 1950s he recorded for the Bihari Brothers' Flair and Modern labels, as well as for Chess Records. His backing musicians were known as the Broomdusters. In 1959 he began recording what are perhaps his best sides for Bobby Robinson's Fire Records label. These include "The Sky Is Crying" (credited to Elmo James and His Broomdusters), "Stranger Blues", "Look On Yonder Wall", "Done Somebody Wrong", and "Shake Your Moneymaker", all of which are among the most famous of blues recordings. The slide guitar riff from "Dust My Broom" is one of the best-known openings in all of blues. It is essentially the same riff that appears in the recording of the same song by Robert Johnson, but James plays that riff with electric slide guitar. It was even transformed into a doo-wop chorus on Jesse Stone's "Down in the Alley", recorded by The Clovers and Elvis Presley. Stone transcribed the riff as: "Changety changety changety changety chang chang!" (mn-rs)
1967  Heavy D., hefty R&B rapper, from Jamaica; Mount Vernon, New York, USA, real name is Dwight Myers, born today. (mn-ms)
1974  Edward 'Duke' Ellington, dies. He was the greatest composer in the hisory of jazz, and one of the genre's most accomplished bandleaders and pianists. Other bands may have sold more but the Dukes pervasive musical influence and amazing consistency made him easily one of the all-time greats. (hear BHPAP 158) (mn-bmcd-tx) 
2008 Jimmy McGriff dies. (b. James Harrell McGriff Jnr., 3rd April 1936, Germantown, Pennsylvania, U.S.A. ) d. 24th May 2008, Voorhees, New Jersey, U.S.A. Jimmy McGriff has died. He was 72 and was suffering from multiple sclerosis. Jimmy was a master of the Hammond B3 Organ and also played bass, saxophone, drums, vibes and the piano. He played alongside various artists in his career, including Charles Earland, Don Gardner, Arthur Prysock, Junior Parker, Buddy Rich, David 'Fathead' Newman and Carmen McRae. Jimmy learned the piano by the age of five and as a teenager, he had learned to play vibes, alto sax, drums and the bass. After joining the Army, he served as an MP during the Korean War and he later became a police officer in Philadelphia for two years. Later educated by Richard 'Groove' Holmes, they recorded together on two occasions in 1973 for two Groove Merchant records. Jimmy bought his first Hammond B-3 organ in 1956 and studied at New York's Juilliard School of Music. He recorded a series of popular albums for the Sue label between 1962 and 1965 and when producer Sonny Lester started his Solid State record label in 1966, he recruited Jimmy. Jimmy briefly retired from the music industry in 1972, and worked on his horse farm in Connecticut. (soulwalking.co.uk)

25th. MAY        

1919  Madame C.J. Walker, first female African American millionaire, dies. Born in 1869 Sarah Breadlove Walker invented a new way of straightening hair, up till this point black women who wanted to de-kink their hair had to put it on a table and press it with an iron. She laid the foundation of the cosmetics industry among Negroes and spurned personal beautification among black women. (mn-ra-tr-iokts)
1926  Miles Davis, jazz trumpeter, born into a comparatively wealthy middle-class family and both his mother and sister were capable musicians. He was given a trumpet for his thirteenth birthday by his dentist father, who could not have conceived that his gift would set his son on the road to becoming a giant figure in the development of jazz. Notwithstanding his outstanding talent as master of the trumpet, Davis' versatility encompassed fl�gelhorn and keyboards together with a considerable gift as a composer. This extraordinary list of talents earned Davis an unassailable reputation as the greatest leader/catalyst in the history of jazz. d. 28 September 1991, Santa Monica, California, USA. (mn-jt)
1936  Jesse Owens broke five records at the Olympic Games held in Berlin, Germany. Hitler was not amused!  (mn-tx)
1936  Donnie Elbert, soul singer born in New Orleans, grew up in Buffalo, New York. His prolific career began in the 50's with the Vibraharps. His first solo hit was What Can I Do, released in 1959.   but the singer's career was interrupted by a spell in the US Army. Discharged in 1961, recordings for Parkway Records and Checker then followed, before Elbert the labels, Gateway/Upstate, co-founded by Robert Schachner in 1964. His reputation was secured by "Run Little Girl" and "A Little Piece Of Leather", compulsive performances highlighting Elbert's irrepressible falsetto. The latter single became a standard in UK soul clubs when it was released on the Sue label and on the strength of this popularity Elbert went to the UK where he married and settled. The singer pursued his career with several releases, including an album of Otis Redding cover versions, Tribute To A King. Elbert returned to the USA in 1970 although his pounding version of the Supremes' "Where Did Our Love Go?" (1972) was recorded in London. A hit on both sides of the Atlantic, it was followed in 1972 by "I Can't Help Myself", another reworking of a Tamla/Motown Records classic. Elbert's last UK chart entry came with a new, but inferior, version of "A Little Bit Of Leather" (1972), although he continued to appear in the US R&B listings up until 1977. Elbert later moved to Canada where he became an A&R director with PolyGram Records. d. 31/1/87 (1973 interview in the M. Nold archives) (mn-jt)
1956  Sugar Mynott, reggae singer born, Kingston, Jamaica, West Indies. Minott was probably reggae music's brightest hope throughout the early 80s, but his refusal to compromise and turn his back on either his roots or his ghetto companions has marginalized his influence, and he is now a peripheral figure, as opposed to the major force that he arguably deserves to be. (cl)
1963  African Liberation Day. On April 15, 1958, in the city of Accra, Ghana, African leaders and political activists gathered at the first Conference of Independent African States. It was attended by representatives of the governments of Ethiopia, Ghana, Liberia, Libya, Morocco, Sudan, Tunisia, The United Arab Republic (which was the federation of Egypt and Syria) and representatives of the National Liberation Front of Algeria and the Union of the Peoples of Cameroon. This conference was significant in that it represented the first Pan-African Conference held on African soil. The Conference called for the founding of African Freedom Day, a day to “mark each year the onward progress of the liberation movement, and to symbolize the determination of the People of Africa to free themselves from foreign domination and exploitation.” Five years later after the First Conference of Independent African States in the city of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia another historical meeting occurred. On May 25, 1963, leaders of thirty-two independent African States met to form the Organization of African Unity (OAU). By then more than two thirds of the continent had achieved independence from colonial rule. At this historic meeting the date of Africa Freedom Day was changed from April 15 to May 25 and Africa Freedom Day was declared African Liberation Day (ALD).
1965  Sonny Boy Williamson #2 aka Rice Miller and Willie Williamson, blues man dies, Helena, Arkansas, USA. Born on the Sara Jones Plantation near Glendora, Mississippi in Tallahatchie County, Mississippi. The date and year of his birth are a matter of some uncertainty. Miller claimed to have been born on December 5, 1899, but at least one researcher, David Evans, claims to have found census record evidence that he was born around 1912. Miller lived and worked with his sharecropper stepfather, Jim Miller, and mother, Millie Ford, until the early 1930s. Beginning in the 1930s, he traveled around Mississippi and Arkansas and encountered Blind Lemon Jefferson, Big Joe Williams, Elmore James and Robert Lockwood Jr., also known as Junior Lockwood, who would play guitar on his later Chess Records sides. He was also associated with Robert Johnson during this period. Williamson developed his style and raffish stage persona during these years. Willie Dixon recalled seeing Lockwood and Sonny Boy, with an amplified harmonica, in Greenville, Mississippi in the 1930s. He captivated audiences with tricks such as holding his harmonica between his top lip and nose and playing with no hands.  (mn-rs-wickpedia)
1981  Roy Brown, R&B singer/pianio player, dies, Los Angeles, Calif, USA. Roy Brown (10 September 1925–25 May 1981) was a blues musician who brought a soul singing style (from gospel music) to the emerging genre of rock and roll. Born in New Orleans, Louisiana, Brown started as a gospel singer, but after a move to Los Angeles, California some time in the 1940s, and a brief period spent as a professional boxer in the welterweight category, he won a singing contest in 1945 covering a song by Bing Crosby. In 1946 Brown moved to Galveston, Texas, where he sang in a club. His numbers included "Good Rocking Tonight". He returned to New Orleans in 1947. Brown failed to interest Wynonie Harris in "Good Rocking Tonight", but got an introduction to the president of Deluxe Records, who signed him. The song reached no. 13 on Billboard's R&B charts (but was eclipsed by Harris' cover of it). Brown and his band were spectacular performers, with the kind of crowd-pleasing stage histrionics for which Little Richard would soon be famous. Unfortunately, tastes changed and Brown could not keep up. The decline of his fortunes coincided with his successfully winning a lawsuit against King Records for unpaid royalties in 1952, one of the few African-American musicians to do so in the 1950s. This has led some, such as author Nick Tosches (in his book Unsung Heroes of Rock 'n' Roll, which contains a chapter on Brown) to believe that Brown may have been blacklisted. His popularity waned during the second half of the 1950s, but he sporadically managed to find work through the 1960s until the 1970s, when compilation LPs of his old work brought about a minor revival of interest. From 1980 until his death he enjoyed considerable popularity. Shortly before his death he was on a major upswing, performing at the Whisky A Go-Go in West Hollywood, California and headlining the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival during the spring of 1981. (wickpedia)
1995  South Africa beat Australia 27-18 in the opening match of the rugby cup. (held in South Africa) (mn-tx)
2006  Desmond Dekker dies at home in Surrey U.K. from a sudden heart attack. He was the first reggae artist to chart a hit in the UK in 1969 with 'Isrealites'. He was born Desmond Adolphus Dacres in Kingston and was orphaned as a teenager. Dekker began working as a welder, singing around his workplace while his co-workers encouraged him. In 1961 he auditioned for Coxsone Dodd (Studio One) and Duke Reid (Treasure Isle). Neither were impressed by his talents and the young man moved on to Leslie Kong's Beverley record label where he auditioned before Derrick Morgan, then the label's biggest star. (mn-wickpedia)
26th. MAY       
1799  Alexander S. Pushkin, Russia's greatest poet, born. He was the grandson of Abram Hannibal (BHPAP 004), the transplanted African who achieved greatness in the armies of the Czars. Pushkins's poetry is still widely read in Russia and, despite the passing years, holds front rank in the land of Tolstoy and Dostoevski. (hear BHPAP 125) (mn-ra)
1939  Oscar Toney, Jnr., soul singer born, in Selma, Alabama, USA. He recorded some soulful sides for Bell Records in the late '60s that will forever etch him into soul music lovers' memories. The emotive singer born May 26, 1939, in Selma, AL, was raised in Columbus, GA. He sung gospel in church and high school with a group he called the Sensational Melodies of Joy. After high school he ventured into secular music with the Searchers waxing "Wow Wow Baby" b/w "Ooo-Wee" on Class Records in 1958. They kept searching doing local and regional gigs and in 1961 cut a final recording, "Yvonne" b/w "Little Wanda," on Max Records. Like the first, the public and radio stations ignored it and the Searchers disbanded. Three years later Toney soloed with "Can It All Be Love," produced by Bobby Smith in Macon, GA, but released on Cincinnati's King Records; it too went unnoticed.   (mn-cl)
1948  Lloyd Parks, reggae artist born, Walton Gardends, Jamaica, West Indies. A renowned singer and bass player.  (mn-cl)
1958  'Baby Face' Leroy, drummer/guitarist/singer, dies, Chicago. (mn-rc)
1977  Billy Powell, founder/singer with The O'Jays dies. They sang together as a gospel group before forming the Triumphs in 1958. This doo-wop influenced quintet began to be popular in their hometown of Canton, Ohio. They then recorded as the Mascots before taking the name O'Jays after a Cleveland DJ, Eddie O'Jay, had given them considerable help and advise. Having signed with Imperial in 1960 their first hit was Lonely Drifter. (mn-cl-jt) (other TXT says 24/4/76)
2013 Clarence Burke Jr. dies (The Stairsteps, aka Five Stairsteps & Cubie). (b. Clarence Newton Burke Jnr., 25th May 1949, Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A. d. 26th May 2013, Marietta, Georgia, U.S.A. Clarence Burke, member of the Stairsteps family, and later, the group the Invisible Man’s Band, has died. He was 64. The cause of Clarence’s passing is, currently, unknown. Clarence and his siblings attended John Marshall Harlan High School in Chicago. His brothers and sister are James Burke, Kenneth (Keni) Burke, Dennis Burke and Alohe Jean Burke.
Circa 1968, his 5 year old baby brother Cubie Burke was added to the group, but later left the ensemble during 1969.  His father, Clarence Burke Sr., was a detective in the Chicago Police Department.  The Stairsteps lived nearby Fred Cash of the Impressions, who took them under his wing and brought them to the attention of Curtis Mayfield. (soulwalking)

27th. MAY      

1885  Lulu Fleming, born into slavery, graduates as valedictorian from Shaw University, USA. (tr-iokts)
1935  Ramsey Lewis, piano player born in Chicago began studying the keyboards at the age of six. After an impressive childhood and  adolescence, during which his prodigious talent won his scholarships and plaudits galore, he formed the Ramsey Lewis Trio in 1956. Working  as a piano/bass/drums unit, the threesome spent a decade building their reputation in the field of jazz. First hit record was The In Crowd in 1965. (some books say 27/3/35) (mn-jt)
1936  Louis Gossett Jr, actor and winner of both Oscar and Emmy Awards is born in Brooklyn, USA. He was born in the Coney Island section of Brooklyn and attended Abraham Lincoln High School, where he was class president and an academic and athletic achiever. A sports injury left him with no choice but to take an acting class, and at 16 he made his stage debut in the school's production of You Can't Take It With You. After high school, he attended New York University, where he was a star basketball player. (wickpedia)
1942  Dorie Miller, a messman, awarded the Navy Cross for his heroic deeds at Pearl Harbour. Born in Waco, Texas, he enlisted in the Navy in 1939, and was made a mess attendant at a time when African Americans were not able to serve in combat capacities aboard ships. He gradually rose through the ranks to the level of Cook, Third Class. Originally assigned to USS Pyro, in January 1940 he transferred to USS West Virginia (BB-48), where he became the ship's heavyweight boxing champ. He served briefly on Nevada (BB-36) (July 1940), then was back on the West Virginia, and there in December 1941, at the time of the Japanese attack. (wickpedia)
1949  James Mitchell, singer with The Detroit Emeralds born. (mn-jt)   The group was formed in Little Rock, Arkansas, USA, by the Tilmon brothers; Abrim, Ivory, Cleophus and Raymond. The Emerald’s first hit came in 1968 when Show Time reached the US R&B Top 30. By the time Do Me Right (1971) reached the Soul Top 10, the line up had been reduced to a trio of Abrim, Ivory and mutual friend James Mitchell who was born in Perry, Florida. (mn-cl)
1998  Ragga FM becomes London's first legal regga radio station, broadcasting to the world via the Internet (a computer/phone network) for a trial period of one month on www.tnab.com. (mn-echos)
2001  Doctah X. from London's pirate radio station, Genesis FM is Pilot's guest on an extended talk-back show. He tries to convince listeners of the non-existence of a god and that religion is the root of all 'black' problems today.  (mn)
2011 Gil Scott Heron, poet singer dies in New York. He rejected the media portrayal of him as the ‘godfather of rap’, it’s perhaps easy to see why. Scott-Heron is best known for his groundbreaking spoken word piece The Revolution Will Not Be Televised, a three-minute call to action for the disenfranchised black youth of 1970s America. Saturated with contemporary political and pop cultural references and shot through with an acerbic wit, it sets out to wrench its audience from the cultural opiates of mass media news, sitcoms and, above all, advertising: ‘You will not have to worry about a dove in your bedroom, a tiger in your tank, or the giant in your toilet bowl The revolution will not go better with Coke, The revolution will not fight the germs that may cause bad breath, The revolution will put you in the driver’s seat.’ (mn)
2016 Marshall Jones musician dies. b. Marshall Eugene Jones (a.k.a. Marshall ‘Rock’ Jones), 1st January 1941, Dayton, Ohio, U.S.A. d. 27th May 2016, Houston, Texas, U.S.A. The Ohio Players bassist, Marshall Jones, has died. Marshall was 75. Marshall had been battling stage 4 cancer and had, also, suffered a recent stroke. In recent years, Marshall had been in retirement in Jamestown. Marshall was the Ohio Players bassist between 1959 (under the name of the Ohio Untouchables) until 1984. The Ohio Players C.V. included several hits including ‘Fire’, ‘Love Rollercoaster’, ‘Heaven Must Be Like This’, ‘Funky Worm’, ‘Skin Tight, ‘Honey’, ‘Who’d She Coo?’ and ‘Sweet Sticky Thing’. After leaving the Ohio Players in the early '80s, Marshall performed with various blues bands and opened a music studio on Salem Avenue in Dayton.  Members of The Ohio Players continue to be involved in the community through donations of time and money to local parks, schools, churches and other worthy charities. (soulwalking)

28th. MAY        

Miss P., X-PCRL presenter's birthday. (mn-dp) 
1851  Sojourner Truth, freedom fighter, attends Women's Rights Convention.
1910  T-Bone Walker, blues-man, born Aaron Thibeaux Walker.  A teenage friend was Charlie Christian. Walker had a great influence in the blues as Christian had in Jazz. He was responsible for a generation taking up the guitar. After his win in a Cab Callaway amateur contest in 1930 he toured heavily and worked hard the rest of his life. He wrote the popular song Stormy Monday.  (d. 16/3/75 rs) (mn-dc-jt)
1938  Prince Buster, reggae singer born Buster Campbell. He was named after Alexandra Bustamante. Began his career as a boxer, ended up being Coxone's minder on the Downbeat system. He later had his own record shop, sound system and record labels. Responsible for 'Oh Carolina', with vocals by the Folk's Brothers. He's released 100's of records but his talking style ones were the most popular. (some books say 24 May) (mn-jt)
1939  Freddie North, soul singer born in Nashville, Tennessee, USA. Nashville vocalist Freddie North was a prolific disc jockey on WLAC during the years that it was a premier R&B radio station. North also worked in sales and promotion for Nashboro Records, a prominent gospel label. He moved into the performing end in 1971, cutting some singles for Mankind. "She's All I Got" was a Top 10 hit in 1971, while the follow-up, "You And Me Together Forever," made it to #26. ~ Ron Wynn, All Music Guide (mn-cl)
1940  Dr. Betty Shabazz, Malcolm X's wife, born. First known as the widow of Malcolm X, who was assassinated in 1965, Shabazz is herself an activist in social and heath issues affecting African-Americans. After earning her nursing degree, she went on to recieve an M.A. in public health administration. On 1/6/97 Malcolm, 12-year-old grandson of the late Malcolm X is charged with juvenile equivalent to attempted murder and  arson. Betty Shabazz, 63, she had died from burns sustained in the fire. (mn-ss)
1944  Gladys Knight, soul singer born in Atlanta, Georgia, USA. Her group Pips were formed in 1952, first recorded on Brunswick in 1958, later Vee Jay, Maxx, Huntom, Fury, Motown, Buddah and CBS. Biggest U.K. hit was The Way We Were/Try To Remember reached N0.4 and in chart for 15 weeks in 1975. (mn)      
1961  Drama '61 (The Big Pride) - Transmitted by ITV television. One of the first plays written for television by black dramatist Syvia Wynter. In 1997 a copy of this play was restored by the National Television and Film Archive and shown as part of the National Film Theatre's 'Popular Television in the 1960s' season tx 17/6/97. (mn-sb)
1968  Chubb Rock, rapper born Richard Simpson, Jamaica, WI. The cousin of Hitman Howie Tee, with whom he collaborated at the beginning of his career, Simpson moved to New York at an early age. A rap colossus, his ample frame and smooth style has seen him compared with Barry White. He started his own band in New York, but after dropping out of medical college elected to set out on a solo career. The first results of this were a debut album that sank without trace. A remixed version of "Caught Up" secured the public's interest, however, and introduced them to And The Winner Is ..., on which humour and reflections on urban violence sat side by side. By the dawn of the 90s interest in Rock had escalated to the point at which he was achieving regular Billboard hits with singles such as "Treat 'Em Right", "Ya Bad Chubbs" and "Just The Two Of Us", but he fell from commercial grace following the release of The One. Rock remained quiet for several years, although in the interim his production team the Trackmasterz rose to prominence in hip-hop circles. The Mind was his 1997 comeback, but despite the rapper gaining critical respect for his endearing lyrical style the album's sound was too old school to make much of an impact.  (mn-jf-music.us)
1981  Mary Lou Williams, Jazz pianist dies in Durham, N.C., USA. Born Mary Elfreda Scruggs, May 8, 1910. A child prodigy, Mary played in public from the age of six, by her teens she was playing the piano professionally. At 16 she married sax player John Williams and played in his band. Her arrangements were used by Earl Fatha Hines, Tommy Dorsey, Louis Armstrong and Benny Goodman. Her importance to jazz was recognised towards the end of her life when she was honoured in several universities. ( tr-iokts)
1983  Schoolkids Top UK Chart. New Edition, a teenage vocal quintet from Boston, Massachusetts, reached No.1 in Britain with 'Candy Girl'. The group had been groomed by Maurice Starr to fill the gap left by The Jackson Five. Later group members Bobby Brown (who married Whitney Houston in 1991) and Ralf Tresvant went on to solo success. (mn-jt)
2000  African professor Dr. Charles Ssali talks on PCRL about his AIDS cure. In Uganda alone he has treated 18,000 AIDS sufferers with an 80% success rate. His Mariandina capsules are non-toxic natural, herbal nutritional booster, popular now in various countries. (North London Enterprises London N17 8WJ Tel: 020 8808 1464) (mn)
2013 Marvin Junoir. (The Dells) Singer dies aged 77. Junior died from kidney failure and had a weak heart, his son Marvin Junior Jr. told Chicago’s ABC7 TV. He says his father died surrounded by family in his home in Harvey around 3:15 pm on Wednesday afternoon. Information on the illness of the singer was first posted online in a  May 23, 2013 report in the Soulful Detroit blog. The report also mentioned that another member of The Dells, Mr. Chuck Barksdale, was also very ill.2(013

29th. MAY

Islamic New Year  
1854  Lydia Flood Jackson, civil rights activist, initiates the first school for black children in Sacramento, Ca.
1899  Black Invention: Lawn Mower, John Albert Burr. (sc)
1943  Sylvia Robinson singer/songwriter/producer/arranger born in New Jersey, USA. As half of Micky & Sylvia she had a Million Seller in the 50's with 'Love Is Strange'. She's co-founder of All-Platinum Records and founder of the Sugarhill Label, that put out 'Rappers Delight' by Sugarhill Gang in '78, the first rap hit!. (mn-rt)
1956  Latoya Jackson, Jacko's sister born in Gary, Indiana, USA. As a member of the singing Jackson family, LaToya served her apprenticeship as a backing vocalist to the Jacksons group along with her sisters, Rebbie and Janet Jackson. LaToya embarked on a solo career in 1980, signing to the Polydor Records label. Despite the family connection, LaToya's solo career found difficulty in emulating the success of her younger sister Janet; her highest single chart position was with the US number 56, "Heart Don't Lie" (1984) on her new label, Private I/Epic. A later label change to RCA Records did not alter her fortunes. She later exacerbated family relations with a nude spread in Playboy magazine, a somewhat scurrilous autobiography in 1991, and by refusing to sanction the 1992 ABC mini-series The Jacksons: An American Dream. Driven on by her manager/husband Jack Gordon, her sporadic recording career nevertheless failed to cash in on the attention. A multi-million dollar contract to appear at the Moulin Rouge in Paris ended acrimoniously after only four months in summer 1992. Much more successful was the release of her Playboy video two years later. Further misguided career choices included a Nashville-recorded country album and a selection of Motown covers recorded in Scandinavia. Jackson divorced Jack Gordon in 1997 and began patching up relations with her estranged family. She settled down in Las Vegas to begin a new career. (mn-cl-music.us)
1956  Larry Blackmon, singer with Cameo is born in New York. In addition to fronting Cameo as lead singer, song-writer and producer, he also formed Atlanta Artist Records in the early 80's and worked with artists including Cashflow & Barbara Mitchell. (mn-jt)
1973  Tom Bradley becomes the first African American mayor of Los Angeles, California, USA. (tr-iokts)
1975  Melanie Brown (aka Scary Spice) born in Leeds, England. (nationmaster)
1997  Cops Stop Driver 34 Times.  Read the headline in the national Daily Star newspaper. Yes it's about our Cee Jay - he's now suing West Midlands Police for pointless 'stop and searches' 
1998  Orando Anderson, the man initially named by Californian police as the killer of rapper Tupac Shakur, was himself killed in a gang related shoot-out.
2005  Oscar Brown, Jr. dies. The multi-talented Oscar Brown, Jr. wrote several classic pieces, including the lyrics to "Dat Dere," "Work Song," "Watermelon Man," and "The Entertainer" (the latter a bittersweet biography of Scott Joplin); and the compositions "Signifyin' Monkey" and "But I Was Cool." An important social commentator and playwright. (billboard)
2009 US music producer Phil Spector has been jailed for at least 19 years for murdering an actress in 2003. The producer, 69, famed for his Wall of Sound recording technique, was last month found guilty of shooting Lana Clarkson at his California home. Spector had pleaded not guilty to the second-degree murder during the five-month retrial in Los Angeles. His lawyers said he would appeal. Ms Clarkson was best known for her role in 1985 cult film Barbarian Queen.  On Friday, Spector was given a sentence of 15 years to life for second-degree murder and an additional four years for personal use of a gun.  The presiding judge at the court in Los Angeles said Spector must serve at least 19 years before being eligible for parole - by which time he will be 88 years old. Spector was given a retrial after the jury in his original trial failed to reach a unanimous decision in 2007. (bbc)

 30th. MAY        

1899  Black Invention: Automatic Fishing Device, George Cook. (sc)
1903  Poet Countee Cullen is born in New York City, USA. (1903-1946)
What is Africa to me:
Copper sun or scarlet sea,
Jungle star or jungle track,
Strong bronzed men or regal black
Women from whose loins I sprang
When the birds of Eden sang? 
           (Pub: New York, Harper & Bros, 1929)
His poem on lynching, The Black Christ, is an example of the classic  style applied to a racial theme, might be noted in concluding lines of Black Majesty, a poem about the Haitian revolutionists, Henri Christophe, Desalinises, and Toussaint L' Overture. (hear BHPAP 130)
1955  Dooley Wilson, pianist in the film Casablanca with Humphrey Bogart.  Play it again Sam dies. (mn-jt)
1965  Vivian Malone is the first African American to graduate from the University of Alabama, USA. (tr-iokts)
31st. MAY        
1931  Shirley Verett, soprano best known for her role in Carmen, is born.(tr-iokts)
1939  Charles Miller, sax player with War is born on Olathe, Kansas. The groups first album was All Day Music in 1972. (mn-j
1955  U.S. Supreme Court orders school integration "with all deliberate speed".
1965  Lisa I'anson (presenter/dj) born. A British DJ and presenter. She presented her own radio show on BBC Radio 1 from 1994 until 1998, when she was sacked for clubbing in Ibiza, and subsequently not turning up for her radio show which was being broadcast from the island. She has also done television presenting and narrating on programmes such as the BBC's Top of the Pops and ITV's Club Reps.  Until 2003 she presented a radio show on BBC London 94.9. In 2005, she took part in the third series of Celebrity Big Brother, she was the third person to be evicted when she left in a surprise eviction on Wednesday 19 January. She has since become the voiceover on the revived Family Fortunes, hosted by Vernon Kay.  (nationmaster)
19__ [Kid Frost, hard core Latin rapper from L.A.; Panama; Guam; Costa Rica; Equidor; Bolivia, born today. 
1977  June Sapong (uk presenter) born. (nationmaster)
1983  Reggie Yates (uk actor/presenter) born at Archway, London. (nationmaster)
2000  Johnny Taylor, soul singer dies of a heart attack. Born May 5, 1938, was one of the great soul stylists of them all. His unique sense of phrasing and sence of vocal rhythm, built into a gospal tenor that could surge from Sam Cook-like smoothness to a scratchy bluesy growl in a flash, set him apart from his pears. (mn-cw-echoes)
2006  Lula Mae Hardaway dies. b.11th January 1930, Eufaula, Alabama, U.S.A. d. Los Angeles, California, U.S.A. Lula Mae Hardaway, mother of singer Stevie Wonder, has died. She was 76.  Stevie Wonder's publicist Shelley Selover related to the media. She did not know the cause of death. Lula is credited as a co-writer on several of Stevie Wonder's songs, including the hits 'I Was Made to Love Her' and 'Signed, Sealed, Delivered I'm Yours'. His mother negotiated his first contract. The family moved to Los Angeles in 1975. Lula was born on the 11th of January 1930, to a sharecropper in Eufaula, Alabama. Her life was marked by poverty and abuse, according to interviews she gave for a 2002 biography, 'Blind Faith'. On 13th May 1951, Lula Mae Hardaway gave birth to Steveland Morris in Saginaw, Michigan. Placed on an incubator immediately after his birth, he was reported to have been given too much oxygen, causing Stevie to suffer permanent blindness. This wan't the case, however. Stevie was suffering from a condition called Retinopathy of Prematurity (R.O.P.). Consequently, Stevie's mother was too afraid to let him out of the house. Pretty much housebound, he spent much of his time learning instruments, thus, by the age of seven, Stevie had mastered the piano, and by nine the drums and harmonica. (soulwalking)

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