1. Claude A. Barnett, a 1906 graduate of Tuskegee Institute, founder of the Associated Negro Press, the first and only Black news wire services in the US.
2. Jon Hendricks, is a jazz lyricist and singer. He is considered one of the originators of vocalese, which adds lyrics to existing instrumental songs and replaces many instruments with vocalists (such as the big band arrangements of Duke Ellington and Count Basie).
After serving in the Army during World War II, Hendricks went home to attend University of Toledo as a pre-law major, courtesy of the G.I. Bill. Just when he was about to enter the graduate law program, the G.I. benefits ran out, and he realized he would have to chart a different course. Recalling that Charlie Parker had, at a stop in Toledo two years prior, encouraged him to come to New York and look him up, Hendricks moved there and began his singing career.
3. Riley B. King, known by the stage name B.B. King, is a blues guitarist and singer-songwriter (The thrill is gone)
4. Little Willie Littlefield, piano, vocals / Rhythm and Blues, Boogie Woogie, Blues, Jazz, Ballads. He began his career as a recording artist at the age of 16 for Eddie’s Records in Houston. His first recording “Little Willie’s Boogie” was a hit in Texas. In Houston Willie recorded 8 tracks for Eddie’s Records and Freedom Records in 1948/1949.
While in Houston, word reached the Bihari brothers (owners of the Modern-label in Los Angeles) about a teenage wonderboy pianist who was currently breaking up at the Eldorado Ballroom. Before leaving Houston Jules Bihari had already inked a contract, recorded Littlefield’s first side “It’s Midnight” and arranged for Littlefield to come to the West Coast.
When Littlefield arrived in L.A.later that month “It’s Midnight” was a big hit (peaked at 3) in the chards nationwide and he was booked in L.A.’s Melody Club and in Johnny Otis’ famous Barrelhouse in Watts. He was an overnight sensation.
5. BIlly Boy Arnold, blues harmonica player, singer and songwriter. Born in Chicago, he began playing harmonica as a child, and in 1948 received informal lessons from John Lee “Sonny Boy” Williamson. Arnold made his recording debut in 1952 with “Hello Stranger” on the small Cool label, the record company giving him the nickname “Billy Boy”. In the early 1950s, he joined forces with street musician Bo Diddley and played harmonica on the March 2, 1955 recording of the Bo Diddley song “I’m a Man” released by Checker Records. Arnold signed a solo recording contract with Vee-Jay Records, recording the originals of “I Wish You Would” and “I Ain’t Got You”. Both were later covered by other artist.
6. Betty Kelly, R&B Singer (Martha Reeves and The Vandellas), Born in Attalla, Alabama, Kelly’s family moved to Detroit, Michigan when Kelly was a child. Like many children growing up in the city, Kelly found herself aspiring for a career in music. In 1961, she joined Motown singing group The Velvelettes. Kelly was not part of the group when the band had a hit with “Needle in a Haystack”, which became a hit in 1965. A year before, Kelly was recruited by Motown president Berry Gordy to replace departed Martha and the Vandellas member Annette Beard as a member of the group led by Martha Reeves and featuring Rosalind Ashford.
7. Henry Louis Gates, Jr., literary critic, educator, scholar, writer, editor, and public intellectual. He was the first African American to receive the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Fellowship. He has received numerous honorary degrees and awards for his teaching, research, and development of academic institutions to study black culture. In 2002, Gates was selected to give the Jefferson Lecture, in recognition of his “distinguished intellectual achievement in the humanities.”
Gates has hosted several PBS television miniseries, including the history and travel program Wonders of the African World and the biographical African American Lives and Faces of America. Gates sits on the boards of many notable arts, cultural, and research institutions. He serves as the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor at Harvard University, where he is director of the W. E. B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research.
8. Earl Klugh, smooth jazz crossover jazz jazz fusion guitarist and composer.
At the age of 13, Klugh was captivated by the guitar playing of Chet Atkins when Atkins made an appearance on the Perry Como Show. Klugh was a performing guest on several of Atkins’ albums. Atkins, reciprocating as well, joined Earl on his Magic In Your Eyes album. Klugh also appeared with Chet Atkins on several television programs, including Hee Haw and a 1994 TV special entitled “Read my Licks”. Klugh was also influenced by Bob James, Ray Parker Jr, Wes Montgomery and Laurindo Almeida. His sound is a blend of these jazz, pop and rhythm and blues influences, forming a potpourri of sweet contemporary music original to only him.
Klugh’s first recording, at age 15, was on Yusef Lateef’s Suite 16. He played on George Benson’s White Rabbit album and two years later, in 1973, joined his touring band.
For their album One on One, Klugh and Bob James received a Grammy award for Best Pop Instrumental Performance of 1981. He has since received 12 Grammy nods, millions of record and CD sales, and continues touring worldwide to this day.
9. Tim Raines, nicknamed “Rock”, is a former professional baseball player. He played as a left fielder in Major League Baseball for six teams from 1979 to 2002 and was best known for his 13 seasons with the Montreal Expos. He is regarded as one of the best leadoff hitters and base runners in baseball history.
10. Mel Hall, is a former professional baseball player who played in Major League Baseball from 1981 to 1996 with the Chicago Cubs, Cleveland Indians, New York Yankees, and San Francisco Giants. He also played in Japan from 1993-1995. He primarily played as an outfielder.
11. Musiq (Taalib Johnson), is a R&B/soul singer songwriter whose style blends contemporary R&B, soul, funk, alternative, blues, jazz, some gospel influences and hip hop.
12. Kyla Pratt, Actress (One On One), She began acting at age 8, appearing in commercials for an interactive computer game and Nike. Pratt made her television debut in 1995 when she appeared as Mindy in Barney & Friends, then in an episode of Walker, Texas Ranger. The following year, she guest starred in an episode of Friends, followed by roles in Smart Guy, Sister, Sister, Family Matters, Lizzie McGuire, Moesha, The Parent Trap, and The Parkers.