1. Ma Rainey (Gertrude Rainey), one of the earliest known American professional blues singers and one of the first generation of such singers to record. She was billed as The Mother of the Blues. She did much to develop and popularize the form and was an important influence on younger blues women, such as Bessie Smith, and their careers.
2. William Levi Dawson, first African American to chair a regular House of Representatives committee. Became one of Chicago’s most influential politicians, serving as an elected representative and a political power broker in that city. In this way, he parallels the rising significance of African Americans in Democratic politics of the twentieth century. Three years after he graduated magna cum laude from Fisk University (1912), studied law at Northwestern University; once finished, entered politics.
3. Johnny Shines, blues musician, one of the last of the original Delta blues-men who had traveled and performed with Robert Johnson and whose style, in large part, remained untouched by more modern blues sounds. Over the years Shines was repeatedly asked to tell Johnson stories, play Johnson songs, and work out on guitar what only Johnson himself was capable of playing. Somewhat reluctantly, Johnny became one of the carriers of the Johnson legacy.
4. Maurice Williams, had his first experience with music in the church, where his mother and sister both performed. By the time he was six, Williams was performing regularly there. With his childhood friend Earl Gainey, Williams formed the gospel group ‘The Junior Harmonizers‘, but as rock and roll and doo-wop became their primary interest, the Junior Harmonizers changed their name to ‘The Royal Charms‘. The band changed its name to The Gladiolas in 1957 and The Excellos in 1958, before finally settling on “The Zodiacs” in 1959. In the spring of 1959, Maurice Williams and the Zodiacs performed at the University of South Carolina in Columbia, South Carolina. Around that time, the group split and reformed. The members were Williams, Gatson, Wiley Bennett, and Charles Thomas. Later, Little Willie Morrow and Albert Hill were added. One month later, in the early summer of 1959, the band recorded in a Quonset Hut on Shakespeare Road in Columbia. The recording engineer, Homer Fesperman, recorded several tracks that the band had hoped would fetch them a hit. One of the last tracks that they recorded that day was “Stay,” a song that Williams had written a couple of weeks before.
After taking the demo of “Stay” to Al Silver at Herald Records in New York City, the song was pressed and released in early 1960. “Stay” is the shortest recording ever to reach number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the United States (1:39, though the label read 1:50). Later versions of “Stay” by The Four Seasons (1964) and Jackson Browne(1978) also reached the Top 20, each selling over one million copies in the United States alone. The inclusion of “Stay” on the soundtrack to the film Dirty Dancing in 1987 led to the song selling more records than it had during its original release.
5. Curt Wilkerson (Curtis Vernon Wilkerson), made his Major League debut on September 10, 1983 for the Texas Rangers. In 1984, his rookie year, he hit .248 with 1 home run and 26 RBI. Wilkerson played for the Texas Rangers, Chicago Cubs, Pittsburgh Pirates and Kansas City Royals over the course of his 11 year career.
6. T-Boz, Rapp (Tionne Tenese Watkins), Rapp Artist, Actress, song-writer, and a member of the group TLC.
7 . Marianne Raigipcien Jean-Baptiste actress and singer of Antiguan and St. Lucian heritage.