1. William “Count” Basie, was a jazz pianist, organist, bandleader, and composer. Basie led his jazz orchestra almost continuously for nearly 50 years. Many notable musicians came to prominence under his direction, including tenor saxophonists Lester Young and Herschel Evans, trumpeters Buck Clayton and Harry “Sweets” Edison and singers Jimmy Rushing and Joe Williams. Basie’s theme songs were “One O’Clock Jump” and “April In Paris”.
2. Savannah Churchill, was a successful singer of pop, jazz, and blues music in the 1940s and 1950s. Born Savannah Valentine to Creole parents, she was raised in Brooklyn, and started singing in 1941 to support her family after her husband David Churchill was killed in a car accident. Her first recordings, including the risqué “Fat Meat Is Good Meat”, were issued on Beacon Records in 1942. These were followed the next year by recordings on Capitol with the Benny Carter Orchestra, including her first hit “Hurry, Hurry”.In 1945 she signed with Manor Records, and that year “Daddy Daddy” reached # 3 on the R&B chart. Two years later she had her only R&B # 1 with “I Want To Be Loved (But Only By You)”, which topped the charts for eight weeks. The record was billed as being with vocal group The Sentimentalists, who soon renamed themselves The Four Tunes. Subsequent recordings with The Four Tunes, including “Time Out For Tears” (# 10 R&B, # 24 pop) and “I Want To Cry”, both in 1948, were also successful.
3. Art Farmer, jazz trumpeter and flugelhornplayer. He also played flumpet, a trumpet/flugelhorn combination designed for him by David Monette. His identical twin brother, Addison Farmer, was a bassist.
4. Melvin Van Peebles Sr, Famed Actor- Director, writer, dramatist. Multi-talented father of famed director/actor Mario Van Peebles, is most famous as the director and writer of the revolutionary cult classic “Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song” (1971), which hailed a new era of African-American centered films. Three decades after the film’s success, Mario directed, scripted and starred in the acclaimed “How to Get the Man’s Foot Outta Your Ass” (2003), which told the story of the making of his dad’s landmark movie. Starting out painting portraits in Mexico, he worked in theater in Holland and made his first feature length film, “The Story of a Three-Day Pass” (1968), while living in France, where he also began writing novels and released his first record, “Brer Soul” (1969). The movie received a major prize at the San Francisco Film Festival and became his Hollywood calling card. He created the movie after making his U.S. debut with “The Watermelon Man” (1970). Van Peebles also wrote the successful Broadway “Don’t Play Us Cheap” (1972), scripted “Panther”(1995), a controversial film about the Black Panther Party which is directed by and starred Mario, wrote and helmed the award-winning “Conte du ventre plein, Le/Bellyful” (2000). Recently, he wrote the screenplay and directed “Confessionsofa Ex-Doofus-ItchyFooted Mutha” (2008) and won a Daytime Emmy Award after writing the teleplay for “The Day They Came to Arrest the Book”, a presentation of “CBS Schoolbreak Specials” in 1987. As an actor, Van Peebles appeared with Mario in the short-lived series “Sonny Spoon” (1987-1990), “Identity Crisis” (1989), “Posse” (1993), directed by Mario, and the Jonathan Kesselman “The Hebrew Hammer” (2003). TV audiences recently recognized him playing Melvin Woods in an episode of “All My Children” (2008).
5. Wilton Norman “Wilt” Chamberlain, was a professional NBA basketball player for the Philadelphia/San Francisco Warriors, the Philadelphia 76ers and the Los Angeles Lakers; he also played for the Harlem Globetrotters prior to playing in the NBA. The 7 foot 1 inch Chamberlain weighed 250 lbs as a rookie before bulking up to 275 lb and eventually over 300 lb with the Lakers. He played the center position and is considered by his contemporaries as one of the greatest and most dominant players in the history of the NBA.
6. Clarence Williams III, is an actor. His first major acting role was as Lincoln B. Hayes on Aaron Spelling’s TV series The Mod Squad. He has guest-starred in television shows such as Hill Street Blues, Miami Vice, The Highwayman, Twin Peaks, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Burn Notice, Everybody Hates Chris, and in a recurring role as Philby Cross in the Mystery Woman movie series on the Hallmark Channel. He has appeared in feature films such as Life, Sugar Hill, The Cool World, Deep Cover, Tales from the Hood, Half-Baked, Hoodlum, I’m Gonna Get You Sucka, The Legend of 1900, and Purple Rain. He also played a supportive role as George Wallace’s fictional African-American butler and caretaker in the 1997 TNT TV Movie George Wallace.
7. Loretta Devine, is a film and television actress known for her roles on Boston Public, Grey’s Anatomy, and Eli Stone. She also provided her voice for the stop motion animated television series The PJs. Devine is a five-time NAACP Image Award winner.
8. Kim Sledge, Singer, Member of Sister Sledge (We Are Family), Sister Sledge is an American musical group from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, formed in 1972 and consisting of four sisters: Kim Sledge (born August 21, 1958), Debbie Sledge (born July 9, 1954), Joni Sledge (born September 13, 1956), and Kathy Sledge(born January 6, 1959).All the sisters are granddaughters of the former opera singer Viola Williams. The sisters used to perform under the name of ‘Mrs. Williams’ Grandchildren’.