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African American Composers  

A guide on the history of African American Composers
Last Updated: Jan 16, 2015 URL: http://libguides.nccuslis.org/content.php?pid=645043 Print Guide RSS UpdatesEmail Alerts

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Composers

Terence Blanchard

Florence Beatrice Price

 

Biographies

Terence Blanchard

Terence Blanchard is a jazz trumpeter, bandleader, composer and arranger.  Since he emerged on the scene in 1980 with the Lionel Hampton Orchestra and then shortly thereafter with Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers, Blanchard has been a leading artist in jazz.  In the 90s, Blanchard became a leader in his own right, recording for the Columbia label, performing on the soundtracks to Spike Lee's Do the Right Thing and Mo' Better Blues, and composing the music for Lee's film Jungle Fever.  Blanchard has written the score for every Spike Lee film since 1991, including Malcolm X, Clockers, Summer of Sam, 25th Hour, Inside Man, and the Hurricane Katrina documentary When the Levees Broke for HBO. With over 40 scores to his credit, Blanchard is one of the most sought-after jazz musicians to ever compose for film.

Florence Beatrice Price

Florence Beatrice Price was an award-winning pianist and composer who became the first African-American woman to have her work performed by a major symphony.  She went on to attend the New England Conservatory of Music and would eventually settle in Chicago.  There,her award-winning "Symphony in E Minor" was performed by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, paving the way for more of her work to be commissioned by orchestras both domestically and abroad. Over the years, luminaries like Marian Anderson and Leontyne Price sang her compositions as well.  Marian Anderson sang Price's arrangement of the spiritual "My Soul's Been Anchored in de Lord" during the famous Easter Sunday recital at the Lincoln Memorial in 1939. Price also set Langston Hughes's poem, "Song to the Dark Virgin," to music, which was performed by Anderson to great acclaim.

 

Julia Perry

Julia Amanda Perry was an African American composer in Neo-classical style who was born in Lexington, Kentucky in 1924. She wrote in all the forms: symphonies, operas, concertos, band works, chamber ensembles, piano pieces, and songs.  Her best-known compositions were Stabat Mater (1951) for contralto and string orchestra; Homunculus C. F. (1960) for piano, harp, and percussion; Homage to Vivaldi for symphony orchestra; and the opera The Cask of Amontillado, which was first staged at Columbia University in 1954.

 

Thomas Dorsey

Thomas A. Dorsey, often called the Father of Gospel Music, migrated from Atlanta to Chicago where he attended Chicago School of Composition and Arranging.  Dorsey soon began composing sacred songs and took a job as director of music at New Hope Baptist Church on Chicago's South Side.  In 1931, Dorsey experienced great personal tragedy twice: the death in childbirth of both his wife and newborn son devastated him. Out of that tragedy he wrote the song for which he is best known, "Precious Lord," which has been translated into 50 languages and recorded with success by gospel and secular music.

 

Composers

Julia Perry


 Thomas Dorsey

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