Adderly, "Cannonball"
(1928 – 1975)

Julian "Cannonball"Adderly was born in Tallahassee. He became a well-known jazz musician who played the saxophone. He and his brother, Nat (1931 – 2000) – also a jazz performer – played with some of the best jazz musicians of their time.

Anderson, Marian
(1897 – 1993)

Ms. Anderson was born in Philadelphia, PA. Members of her community were so impressed with her voice; they contributed money so she could study music. In 1925, she traveled to Europe. She returned to the US 10 years later, but continued to encounter racial prejudice. First lady, Eleanor Roosevelt arranged for Marian to perform at the Lincoln Memorial. Her voice was broadcast on the radio as well. In 1955, she became the first African-American to perform at the Metropolitan Opera.

Armstrong, Louis
(1901 – 1971)

Louis Armstrong was born in New Orleans. He is known as the Founding Father of Jazz because he performed before so many people. During his career, he performed all over the world – sometimes putting on 300 concerts per year. He appeared in 30 motion pictures and composed countless songs.

Charles, Ray
(1930 - )

Ray Charles was born in Georgia, but grew up in Greenville, Florida. He became a famous piano player and singer. He helped develop "soul music"by combining gospel, jazz, and rhythm and blues. He started his career in the late 1940s. Charles was known for his ability to convey emotion with his voice. He toured extensively, released numerous albums, and won 10 Grammy Awards.

Dorsey, Thomas A.
(1899 – 1993)

Thomas Dorsey wrote hymns. He used a combination of work songs, hollers, cries, spirituals, blues, and jazz, to develop black gospel music. He is often called the "Father of Gospel."

Jackson, Mahalia
(1911 – 1972)

Mahalia Jackson was gospel music’s first superstar. Her popularity extended across racial lines. She had an expressive contralto voice that many performers have tried to copy. She was born in New Orleans and first sang in the Plymouth Rock Baptist Church Choir when she was only 4 years old.

Johnson, Woodrow Wilson "Buddy"
(1915 - 1977)

Born in Darlington, SC, Buddy started playing the piano when he was only 4 years old. He was known for his work in rhythm and blues. He was first recorded in 1939 and had his own orchestra by 1941. He wrote and arranged several pieces that became national hits.

King, Riley "B.B."
(1936 - )

Born in Memphis, TN. He began performing for tips on the streets of Memphis in the 1940s. He played gospel and blues. He has been called the Ambassador of blues and is known for his outstanding skills playing the guitar He has performed for audiences all over the world and, in 2002, is still actively touring. He has performed in Tallahassee numerous times.

Smith, Bessie
(1894 – 1937)

Bessie Smith was one of the first jazz and blues singers to be recorded. She was known as "The Empress of the Blues." Ms. Smith started performing about 1912 and had her own show in Atlantic City, NJ by 1920. She moved to New York and was signed to a recording contract by Columbia Records. By 1929, the Blues were losing popularity and her career started to falter. She still continued to sing, appearing in the movie St Louis Blues (which contains the only known images of her singing) and appearing at Harlem’s Apollo Theater. She was making a comeback at Carnegie Hall when she was killed in a car crash in Mississippi. Columbia Records has reissued all her original recordings.

Steele, Rev. C. K.
(1914 – 1980)

Born Charles Kenzie Steele in West Virginia, Rev. Steele moved to Tallahassee in 1951 to pastor at Bethel Baptist Church. He served as the president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and was a personal friend of Dr. Martin Luther King. Steele led the Tallahassee bus boycott and was a major, local civil rights activist. A monument to him stands in the Tallahassee Bus Terminal Plaza, which is named in his honor.