Music and Dance from the Harlem Renaissance - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

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Music and Dance from the Harlem Renaissance

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  1. Music and Dance from the Harlem Renaissance Learning Activity 2C

  2. Jazz: Duke Ellington Born 29 April 1899 in Washington DC, composer, bandleader, and pianist Edward Kennedy ("Duke") Ellington was recognized in his lifetime as one of the greatest jazz composers and performers. Nicknamed "Duke" by a boyhood friend who admired his regal air, the name stuck and became indelibly associated with the finest creations in big band and vocal jazz. Among Ellington's many honors and awards were honorary doctorates from Howard and Yale Universities, membership in the American Institute of Arts and Letters, election as the first jazz musician member of the Royal Music Academy in Stockholm, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Ellington died in 1974 from cancer, at which time his son Mercer took over his band. Next 

  3. Jazz: Duke Ellington This video clip shows Duke Ellington in the studio with his band. Watch carefully, then answer the questions in Part 1 of your packet. Next 

  4. Jazz: Louis Armstrong Armstrong was born in one of the poorest sections of New Orleans on Aug. 4, 1901. "He was a prodigy," says art historian and curator Marc Miller, "a hard-working kid who helped support his mother and sister by working every type of job there was, including going out on street corners at night to sing for coins." At age 7, he bought his first real horn--a cornet. The early 1920s saw Armstrong's popularity explode as he left New Orleans for Chicago to play with "King" Oliver's Creole Jazz Band, and then moved on to New York, where he influenced the Fletcher Henderson Orchestra with improvisation and a new musical vocabulary. His "scat" singing transformed vocal tradition and musicians studied his recordings to hear what a horn could do. It has been said that Armstrong used his horn like a singer's voice and used his voice like a musical instrument. By the '50s, Armstrong was an established international celebrity--an icon to musicians and lovers of jazz--and a genial, infectiously optimistic presence wherever he appeared. His death on July 6, 1971, was front-page news around the world, and more than 25,000 mourners filed past his coffin as he lay in state at the New York National Guard Armory. Next  Smithsonian Institute National Portrait Gallery (2008), retrieved from

  5. Jazz: Louis Armstrong This video clip shows Louis Armstrong singing with Bing Crosby, another famous singer. Watch carefully, then answer the questions in Part 2 of your packet. Next 

  6. Blues: Bessie Smith Bessie Smith earned the title of “Empress of the Blues” by virtue of her forceful vocal delivery and command of the genre. Her singing displayed a soulfully phrased, boldly delivered and nearly definitive grasp of the blues. Smith was born in Chattanooga, Tennessee, in 1894. Like many of her generation, she dreamed of escaping a life of poverty by way of show business. After a decade’s seasoning on the stage, Smith was signed to Columbia Records in 1923. Her first recording - “Down Hearted Blues” b/w “Gulf Coast Blues” - sold an estimated 800,000 copies, firmly establishing her as a major figure in the black record market. On the verge of the Swing Era, Smith died from injuries sustained in an automobile accident outside Clarksdale, Mississippi, in September 1937. She left behind a rich, influential legacy of 160 recordings cut between 1923 and 1933. Next  Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Museum (2008), retrieved from

  7. Blues: Bessie Smith This video clip shows Bessie Smith singing in a bar. Watch carefully, then answer the questions in Part 3 of your packet. Next 

  8. Dance: Lindy Hop In the late 1920's in Harlem  Lindy Hop was breaking out wherever people were partying... But it wasn't until after the opening of the Savoy Ballroom that Lindy Hop got its name and a home. At the Savoy  the Lindy Hop got hotter and hotter, as people danced to the top Big Bands in the land. And it got better and better, as the popular Saturday night competitions pushed  good dancers to greatness. New steps were born every day. The styling got refined and was executed so well that the dance was a joy to watch as well as do. Whitey's Lindy Hoppers, featured in the next video, was formed from the creme de la creme of the Savoy; they were the top dancers in the top ballroom of the Swing Era. With Whitey's entrepreneurial skills, these Harlem youngsters were catapulted into world recognition thru both live performance and film. Their swing dance innovations had permanent impact on the social dance styles of the United States, Europe, Australia, and even Latin America and parts of Africa.   Next  Archive of the Lindy Hop (2008), retrieved from

  9. Dance: Lindy Hop This clip from the film “Hellzapoppin’”, based on a hit Broadway play, showcases Whitey's Lindy Hoppers dancing the most famous and most spectacular Lindy Hop scene ever preserved on film. The dancing was choreographed by Frankie Manning. Watch carefully, then answer the questions in Part 4 of your packet.