1. Lena Mason, a Black minister, poet, and songwriter. Mason’s most well known poem is called “A Negro In It.” This was written in response to the assassination of President William McKinley in 1901.
2. Mary Lou Williams (Mary Elfrieda Scruggs), Pianist and Composer, an accomplished arranger and composer and a music educator in her later years. In 1957, she formed Mary Records, becoming the first woman to establish a record company. Williams wrote and arranged for such bandleaders as Duke Ellington and Benny Goodman, and she was friend, mentor, and teacher to Thelonious Monk, Charlie Parker,Miles Davis, Tadd Dameron, Dizzy Gillespie, and many others.
3. Robert Johnson, King of the Delta (The Most Famous) Bluesman, blues singer and musician. His landmark recordings from 1936–1937 display a combination of singing, guitar skills, and songwriting talent that have influenced later generations of musicians. Johnson’s shadowy, poorly documented life and death at age 27 have given rise to much legend, including a Faustian myth. As an itinerant performer who played mostly on street corners, in juke joints, and at Saturday night dances, Johnson enjoyed little commercial success or public recognition in his lifetime.
His records sold poorly during his lifetime, and it was only after the first reissue of his recordings on LP in 1961 that his work reached a wider audience. Johnson is now recognized as a master of the blues, particularly of the Delta blues style. He is credited by many rock musicians as an important influence. Johnson was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as an “Early Influence” in their first induction ceremony in 1986.
4. Sonny Liston, Professional Boxer, became world heavyweight champion in 1962 by knocking out Floyd Patterson in the first round. Liston was one of the most powerful punchers and jabbers in the history of boxing. He was number 15 on Ring Magazine’s list of 100 greatest punchers of all time.
5. Philip Bailey, Vocalist (Earth Wind and Fire), Bailey found fame by sharing the lead vocals on EWF songs with EWF-founder Maurice White. Bailey is most famous for his falsetto and sung lead on such songs as “Devotion”, “Keep Your Head to the Sky”, “Reasons”, “Fantasy ” and “I’ve Had Enough”.
Bailey is currently the on-stage leader of Earth, Wind & Fire, along with bassist Verdine White, vocalist/percussionist Ralph Johnson and vocalist/percussionist B. David Whitworth.
For the past ten years or so, in live duet performances, Bailey will sing his (falsetto) part, then switch smoothly to the vocal part which was originally sung by Maurice White, showing off his vocal prowess and versatility.
6. Lovie Smith, head coach of the Chicago Bears professional football team of the NFL. Smith has been to the Super Bowl twice, as the defensive coordinator for the 2001 Saint Louis Rams and as the head coach for the Chicago Bears in 2006.
1. Norman (“Turkey”) Stearnes was born in Nashville, TN, in 1901. He was a center fielder in the Negro Leagues. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2000.