Nothing will motivate a man to move forward faster than knowing what's behind Him.


1. Justin Holland,  Composer, Guitarist & Teacher, Cleveland’s First African American Professional.

2.  Maria Fearing, Born in slavery near Gainesville, Alabama . She worked as a house servant in the home of William and Amanda Winston. After the end of slavery, she learned to read and write at the age of 33. She went on to graduate from the Freedman’s Bureau School in Talladega, Alabama and qualified as a teacher. After a successful career as a teacher in Anniston, she accompanied William Henry Sheppard to Africa in 1894 as a Presbyterian missionary.

3.  Erskine Hawkins, a trumpet player and big band leader from Birmingham, Alabama, dubbed “The 20th Century Gabriel”. He is most remembered for composing the jazz standard “Tuxedo Junction” (1939) with saxophonist and arranger Bill Johnson. The song became a popular hit during World War II, rising to #7 nationally (version by the Erskine Hawkins Orchestra) and to #1 nationally (version by the Glenn Miller Orchestra). Vocalists who were featured with Erskine’s orchestra include Ida James, Delores Brown and Della Reese. Hawkins was named after Alabama industrialist Erskine Ramsay.

4.  Spottiswood W. Robinson, representative of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, dean of the Howard University Law School, member of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, and appointed by President Lyndon B. Johnson, U.S. Circuit Judge of the D.C. Circuit

5.  Dorothea Towles Church, the first successful black fashion model in Paris.

6. Bobby Hebb (Robert Von Hebb), songwriter, best known for his writing and 1966 recording of “Sunny”.

7.  Dobie Gray, singer and songwriter, whose musical career has spanned soul, country, pop and musical theater. His hit records included “The ‘In’ Crowd” in 1965, and “Drift Away”, which was one of the biggest hits of 1973, sold over one million copies, and remains a staple of radio airplay.

8.  Brenton Wood, singer and songwriter, best known for his two 1967 hit singles: “The Oogum Boogum Song” and “Just Gimme a Little Sign”.

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