Monday, February 4, 2008

Black History: First African-American Male Grammy Winner

Who was the first African-American male to win a Grammy? Give up?

William “Count” Basie. I hate to admit this myself, but even I didn't know that.

William “Count” Basie, (1904-1984) was a New Jersey native who found his talents in the piano. Taught how to play the organ by Fats Wheeler, by the age of 20 Basie toured with the Keith Circuit, Columbia Burlesque, and the Theater Owners Bookers Association Vaudeville circuits.

While playing with the Bennie Moten band in Kansas City, Basie was dubbed “Count” by an emcee who figured that there was already a King of swing,

Basie later formed his own band and their music was characterized by his trademark “jumping beat” and his piano style. By the mid 1950’s Basie and his orchestra worked with Billie Holiday, Jimmy Rushing, Big Joe Turner, Tony Bennett, Sammy Davis Jr. and Frank Sinatra to name a few.

Basie and his orchestra were one of the biggest poplar bands in the U.S. during the 1940’s and 1950’s producing many hits including one you may know "One O'Clock Jump." Long after swing fizzled away, Basie still continued to perform and record until his death in 1984.

And that is an SC look back into the past.

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