Duke Ellington.: A Small Person Can Make A Big Change

1117 words - 4 pages

All around the world music has changed many people’s lives. Whether it is in Spanish, Chinese or English, music always has a meaning for someone. Sometimes it’s the lyrics and sometimes it is the artist who sings the songs. One person who has impacted people’s lives with his music was Edward Kennedy Ellington, also known as Duke Ellington. He passed on not only his music, but the values and self-confidence from his music and how Washington shaped him. Duke Ellington’s upbringing has affected his music which in turn impacted a lot of people all around the world during the 1900’s.
During Ellington’s childhood, he was surrounded by music. In turn, he became a very famous African American musician. Duke Ellington was born on April 29, 1899. He grew up in Washington, D.C. When he turned seven, he started taking piano lessons from Henry Grant. On the website it says that he confessed that he did not take to the piano childhood; he wanted to play baseball instead (Public Broadcasting Service). His mother played piano and wanted him to also. Growing up he hung out at the Howard Theater. PBS said “He fell in love with the rolling style and the chatty worldliness of itinerant piano players, whose style he combined with that of the “academic” pianists mushroomed during World War I.” His first song was written when he was 16 years old (Public Broadcasting Service). As time grew Ellington had his own “four-piece combo.” Later Ellington started a band called “The Washingtonians”. They played in the regular broadcasts on NBC. They quickly grew popular. During tours he always visited his parents and often saw his aunts, uncles and cousins (Public Broadcasting Service). He never lost contact with home, where his music began.
Although the Civil Rights Movement gave equal rights to African Americans; blacks and whites were still often segregated. Plessy vs. Ferguson forced segregation in 1896. This then encouraged “separate but equal." Public schools, restaurants, and even recreation areas were segregated. During the 1900’s music was beginning to grow faster and faster. Every day it got harder to segregate people at concerts because there were so many who came. Many concerts were just for white people, but some did allow African Americans to sit in the balcony. Then in other places it would be the other way around with white people in the balcony. Some musicians would hold two different shows; one for black people and another for white people. Lloyd Price, an African American musician, held concerts that were separated. Duke Ellington’s concerts were segregated for the majority of the time. It usually depended on the where the concert was located. For example, Duke Ellington performed at the Cotton Club; located in Harlem, New York. This was a whites-only establishment even when many black musicians performed there. He also performed at Carnegie Hall. This was only for African Americans (Hall History, Rose Museum, and Archives). When people would go to the store...

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