1. Ma Rainey (Gertrude Bridget) Known as the”Mother of the Blues,” “Ma” Rainey was born in Columbus, Ga. She made her stage debut at the Columbus Opera House in 1900 in a talent show called “The Bunch of Blackberries”. She made her first recording in 1923 and her last on Dec 28, 1928.
2. Jimmy McGriff, Jazz organist, hard bop and soul-jazz organist and organ trio bandleader who developed a distinctive style of playing the Hammond B-3 organ.
3. Philippe Wynne, R&B Artist, lead singer in the group, The Spinners (a role he shared with fellow group member Bobby Smith), Wynne scored notable hits such as “How Could I Let You Get Away”, “The Rubberband Man”, “One of a Kind (Love Affair)”, “I’ll Be Around”, “Mighty Love”, “Could It Be I’m Falling in Love”, and “Then Came You” (with Dionne Warwick). After leaving The Spinners.
4. Gary George Pettis, the current first base coach of the Texas Rangers. Prior to coaching, he spent eleven seasons as a center fielder in Major League Baseball.
Pettis was selected in the 6th round of the 1979 draft by the Angels, and played minor league baseball for the Salinas Spurs of the class “A” California League in 1980, then the Holyoke Millers of the double “A” Eastern League in 1981. In 1982, Pettis was promoted to the California Angels, where he played the first six seasons of his career.
After the 1987 season, Pettis went on to play two seasons with the Detroit Tigers, 1988 through the following season of 1989. After two years with Detroit, Pettis joined the Texas Rangers for two seasons 1990-91. Pettis finished his career in the major leagues in 1992. The 1992 season saw Pettis play for two different teams. After leaving the Texas Rangers, Pettis joined the San Diego Padres for the 1992 season but ended that season back in Detroit with the Tigers.
During his career, Pettis consistently hit for low averages and was known for striking out often, but he performed extremely well on defense, earning five Gold Glove Awards. He was noted for making many spectacular leaping or diving catches, depriving hitters of home runs or base hits, and was known in baseball circles as “The man who made center field look easy”. Additionally, he was a prolific base runner and had five seasons where he stole over 40 bases. Pettis held the Angels’ club record for stolen bases for nearly 20 years, until it was broken by Chone Figgins on July 15, 2007. Pettis was tagged as “Pac Man” Pettis by a local radio station listener call-in contest in 1986, referring to his unusual speed in the outfield and ability to chase down opponents’ hits.
On his 1985 Topps baseball card, the person posing in the picture is not Pettis, and is in fact a picture of his younger brother.
5. Edward Regan “Eddie” Murphy, stand-up comedian, actor, writer, singer, director, comedian, andmusician. The box office take from Murphy’s films makes him the second highest grossing actor in the United States. He was a regular cast member on Saturday Night Live from 1980 to 1984, and has worked as a stand-up comedian. He was ranked #10 on Comedy Central’s list of the 100 Greatest Stand-ups of All Time.
He has received Golden Globe Award nominations for his performances in 48 Hrs, Beverly Hills Cop series, Trading Places, and The Nutty Professor. In 2007, he won the Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor for his portrayal of soul singer James “Thunder” Early in Dreamgirls, and received a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for the same role.
Murphy’s work as a voice actor includes Thurgood Stubbs in The PJs, Donkey in the Shrek series and the dragon Mushu in Disney’s Mulan. In some of his films, he plays multiple roles in addition to his main character, intended as a tribute to one of his idols Peter Sellers, who played multiple roles in Dr. Strangelove and elsewhere. Murphy has played multiple roles in Coming to America, Wes Craven’s Vampire In Brooklyn, the Nutty Professor films (where he played the title role in two incarnations, plus his father, brother, mother, and grandmother),Bowfinger, and 2007’s Norbit.
6. DeShawn Stevenson, professional basketball player, shooting guard for the Dallas Mavericks of the NBA. Before his NBA career, he originally committed to play at the University of Kansas, but decided to enter the NBA directly from Washington Union High School in his hometown of Fresno, California, and was picked by the Utah Jazz with the 23rd selection of the 2000 NBA Draft. He is well known for his defense and his athleticism.
7. Leona Louise Lewis, pop and R&B singer, songwriter. Lewis rose to fame in 2006 as the winner of the third series of the British television series The X Factor.