Undine Smith Moore: The Dean of Black Woman Composers

Undine Smith Moore was known as the “Dean of Black Woman Composers,” and she was a talented composer and music educator.  Undine was born in 1904 in Jarratt, Virginia to James William Smith and Hardie Turnbull Smith. Undine grew up in a musical household. She started learning piano from Lillian Allen Darden when she was …

William Grant Still: The Dean of African-American Classical Composers

William Grant Still was known as the “Dean of African-American Classical Composers.” He had a renowned career as a composer who broke many racial barriers in classical music.  Still was born on May 11, 1895, in Woodville, Mississippi. He was raised in Little Rock, Arkansas where he started his music education with violin lessons at …

William Dawson: Choral Composer

William Levi Dawson was born on September 26, 1899, in Anniston, Alabama. At age 13, he ran away from home and studied music at the historically Black school, the Tuskegee Institute under Booker T. Washington. He was part of the school’s band and orchestra, and he composed music for the Tuskegee Singers. William worked as …

Hazel Scott: Piano Prodigy and Civil Rights Activist

Hazel Scott was a child prodigy classically trained on the piano. She was known as the “Darling of Café Society,” which was an integrated nightclub in Greenwich Village, New York. Hazel was born on June 11, 1920 in Port of Spain, Trinidad. Her father, R. Thomas Scott, was a West African Scholar and her mother, Alma Long …

Introduction to Margaret Bonds

Margaret Bonds was born on March 3, 1913 in Chicago, Illinois. Her father was a physician, and her mother was a piano teacher and church choral director. Margaret’s mother started teaching her piano at a very young age. When Margaret was 8 years old, she started studying at the Coleridge-Taylor Music School. (Remember Samuel …