Celebrating Black History Month: February 15

15 Feb

Honoring Billy Strayhorn

Today I would like to honor and pay tribute to Billy Strayhorn.  Strayhorn is best known for being jazz musician and composer who worked closely with Duke Ellington. Most people recognize two of my favorites, Lush Life, and of course Take the “A” Train. Strayhorn’s collaboration with Ellington was somewhat peculiar. Ellington was somewhat of a father figure for Strayhorn and by his own admission took a great deal of credit for Strayhorn’s work, “Strayhorn does a lot of the work but I get to take the bows.” Something some people may not know was the role Strayhorn played in the Civil Rights movement. He was a close friend of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and arranged and conducted “King Fought the Battle of ‘Bam'” for the Ellington Orchestra in 1963 for the historical revue My People, dedicated to Dr. King. What is also remarkable and admirable is that Strayhorn was openly gay at a time when being both black and gay could have easily gotten him killed. To learn more about Billy Strayhorn, click here. This is a special birthday post for my husband Robert, who loves Billy Strayhorn.

4 Responses to “Celebrating Black History Month: February 15”

  1. rhulshofschmidt February 15, 2011 at 6:48 am #

    Thank you for the lovely birthday post, wonderful husband!
    Strayhorn was amazing and sadly overlooked in his day.
    Two other wonderful versions of Lush Life (one of the best jazz compositions ever) from Nancy Wilson and Nat ‘King’ Cole.

  2. webwordwarrior February 15, 2011 at 8:09 am #

    Happy Birthday, Robert & Billy. Lush Life is a great song but I didn’t know anything about its composer. Thanks for another informative post, Michael.

  3. webwordwarrior February 15, 2011 at 8:10 am #

    Ooops. Didn’t read carefully. Maybe it isn’t Strayhorn’s birthday? Great to learn about him nonetheless. He had a wonderful name for jazz, too!

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  1. Music Posts from The Solipsistic Me « Music and Meaning: The RBHS Jukebox - April 9, 2011

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