| || || |
| || || |
| || || |
On April 4th, 1913, pioneering blues guitarist, singer, songwriter, Chess Records recording mogul, Library Of Congress-documented musician, harmonica player-and the man coined ‘The Father Of Modern Chicago Blues’-Muddy Waters (McKinley Morganfield) was born in Issaquena County, Mississippi. ‘Mud’ (as he was called by fellow blues musicians) was a very influential artist, who helped shape the sound of modern Rock ‘n’ Roll-via the British Invasion bands that frequently covered his songs. He’s one of the few bluesmen to perform at jazz festivals (Newport 1960), rock concerts (throughout the 70's & 80's), be inducted into The Rock 'n' Roll Hall Of Fame, win eight Grammys, have his image commemorated on a USPS stamp, and perform with The Rolling Stones (who also covered his songs). In addition, four of his songs were honored by The Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall Of Fame (500 Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll). These are just some of the honors he’s received, or rather earned.
Muddy was to the blues, what Miles Davis was to jazz-or Aretha Franklin to soul. He’s one of those musicians that everyone has heard, and/or owns at least one of his tunes. He was inspired by Son House & Robert Johnson. He gained artistic insight from the spirituals he sang in church, and the work songs he sang in the sharecropping fields of Mississippi. His grandmother raised him, and named him Muddy because he loved to play in the mud near Deer Creek. He performed on William Howard Stovall’s plantation; and made his recording debut in 1941 (via Alan Lomax's documentation of Country Blues-for The Library Of Congress). After he made a second recording in 1942, he headed north to Chicago where his career took off. Muddy Waters was 70 when he passed away.
On April 4th, 1928, seminal poet, dancer, novelist, actress, civil rights activist, writer, spoken word artist, mother-and the woman known as ‘Miss Calypso’-Maya Angelou (Marguerite Annie Johnson) was born in St. Louis, Missouri. Her older brother Bailey Jr. gave her the nickname Maya when they were young. She moved around a lot as a child, from St. Louis to Stamps, Arkansas, where she saw and experienced the economic and ethnic disparities of the rural south. After she moved back to St. Louis, she was sexually assaulted by her mother’s boyfriend and didn’t speak for five years. The tragedy of her brother being jailed, and murdered, for telling her family about the assault rendered her mute. Her grandmother, who was a school teacher named Bertha Flowers, didn’t believe that Angelou was ‘slow’.
The teacher would read all types of literature to her (James Weldon Johnson, Anne Spencer, Edgar Allan Poe, Frances Harper, Charles Dickens, Jessie Fauset, and William Shakespeare). An interest in writing was sparked, while her grandmother’s conversations coaxed her to speak (age 13). She’s noted as saying once she started talking again, she never stopped. Maya worked as a street car conductor in San Francisco during her mid teens, and after she graduated from high school, she had a son named Clyde (Guy Johnson). In the early 1950's, she danced with Alvin Ailey (Al & Rita). She also married a Greek man named Tosh Angelos. She kept the name, but slightly modified it to Angelou. Shortly after, she started singing Calypso-and became highly successful at it. During the late 1950's, she began writing, and joined The Harlem Writers Guild. She was 86 at the time of her passing.
On April 4th, 1972, neo soul superstar, poet, writer, actress, singer, songwriter, and model-Jill Scott was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She appeared in several films and TV shows, had her own HBO series, and has a lengthy discography of hits. She was raised in North Philly, was a Jehovah’s Witness, and had a somewhat strict upbringing. Jill attended an all girls high school, before enrolling at Temple University-majoring in secondary education. She decided teaching wasn’t her thing, during her junior year of college, and dropped out. She did retain her love for writing, however, and began performing spoken word at local open mics.
Ahmir ?Questlove of The Roots heard her, and brought her to the studio to help pen the chorus for their hit single You Got Me in 1999. She also sang live with the band at several gigs. Her reputation swelled, leading to her collaborating with Common, Erykah Badu, DJ Jazzy Jeff, Eric Benet, and others. She began to work on her acting skills around that same time, as a featured actress in the musical Rent while on tour in Canada. In 2000 she released her debut LP-Who Is Jill Scott? Words and Sounds Vol. 1 on Hidden Beach Recordings. She started compiling her poetry shorty after her album dropped, and by 2005, had released both another LP and a book of poems called The Moments, The Minutes, The Hours. Jill has made music with the likes of George Benson, Lupe Fiasco, Doug E. Fresh, Anthony Hamilton, and more. This two time Grammy Winner is 47 today.
HONORABLE MENTION: On April 4th, 2009, The Rock 'n' Roll Hall Of Fame held its 25th Annual Induction Ceremony in Cleveland, Ohio. The inductees for the class of ’09 included Little Anthony & The Imperials, Jeff Beck, Metallica, Bobby Womack, and RUN DMC. The latter being the first to overtly merge rock breaks with hip hop lyrics. Before RUN DMC, rockers and rappers weren’t collaborating at all.
On April 4th, 1973, R&B singer, actress, songwriter and author Kelly (Cherelle) Price was born in Queens, NY. Price has been nominated for a Grammy nine times-which displays the magnitude of her popularity. She started off in the church, and got her big break during rehearsals for the 1992 Grammy Awards. She was working, and wasn’t really active in the music game. Some people heard her singing, introduced her to Tommy Mottola (Sony/Columbia Records CEO); and he hired her as a backup singer for George Michael, Mariah Carey, and Whitney Houston. She dropped her debut LP Soul Of A Woman in 1998 (Island Records). She’s 46 today.
On April 4th, 1968, we lost the civil rights icon, preacher, public speaker, non-violent protest advocate, and Noble Peace Prize winner-The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He was assassinated for condemning The Vietnam War and publicly denouncing economic inequalities-irregardless of ethnicity or culture. By calling out the status quo in this way, he directly challenged their grip on society. At the time, society was very fragmented, and beyond fractured. Dr. King managed to bring the underprivileged people in America together-under one common cause-equality. He was just 39 when he was killed.
On April 4th, 1939, innovative African jazz musician, singer, anti-apartheid activist, bandleader, trumpeter, composer, songwriter, cornet player, arranger, trombonist, producer and flugelhorn player-Hugh (Ramapolo) Masekela was born in Witbank, South Africa. TOV covered the artist’s death in the January 23rd post, please refer to it for more information. The three time Grammy-Nominated musician is best known for his 1968 hit Grazing In The Grass. Hugh was one of the first jazz musicians from Africa to achieve international success before the 1970's. He recorded more than 50 LPs between 1962 & 2016. He was 78 when he passed in 2018.
For more information on any musician or event reviewed in posts, or for additional information on The Wandering Eyes Blog overall, use the search bar and search the artist or event using keywords. It’s like a Google search for the site. A myriad of information, covering several topics exists on this site going back to 2013 when it was created. PEACE