Today in Music History
A Daily Look at Music History For Violin Students
A Look at What Happened on Today's Date
Long, Long Ago . . . Or Maybe Just Last Year
TODAY IS
July 9
Did You Guess?
Dick Clark hosted the New Year's Eve celebration in which viewers watched the giant ball drop in New York City.
Can You Guess?
For many years Dick Clark hosted American Bandstand.  For many years "America's Oldest Teenager" also had a traditional once-a-year hosting job.  His viewers were usually quite tired the next day.  Can You Guess what event Dick covered?  (I'm sure glad he wasn't dating Cinderella at the time!
Look at the Bottom of the Page for the Answer.
What Else
Happened
Today?
Jester Hairston was born July 9, 1901 in Belews Creek, N.C., but he grew up in Pittsburgh PA. 

Hairston was the grandson of a slave, but generations of his family worked in the steel mills. Through a scholarship from his Baptist church, he enrolled at Massachusetts Agriculture College in 1920 to study Landscape Architecture.

1673 - Johann Rudolf Ahle, German composer, died in Mühlhausen.

1838 -Birth of American composer Philip Paul Bliss in Clearfield County, PA.

1882 - Richard Hageman,  Dutch-American conductor and composer, was born.

1931 - CBS Radio network begins first series of summer symphonic concerts from Lewisohn Stadium in NYC

1956 - Dick Clark made his debut as host of "Bandstand" on a Philadelphia TV station. The name of the show was changed to "American Bandstand" when it went to ABC-TV.

1958 - Johnny Cash signed with Columbia Records

1998 - Janet Jackson set a gross revenue record of $875,000 at the MCI Center in Washington, DC.

2001 - Premiere of Steven Stucky's Three Little Pieces for David. Written for the 65th birthday of conductor David Zinman, with pianist Yefim Bronfman
At M.A.C. Hairston sang in the glee club as well as several choirs in the  area. Money was tight, and he was forced to drop out of school for a time.  But a woman, impressed by his singing, offered to pay for his music education.  Hairston accepted her offer and enrolled in Tufts University.  He graduated in 1929.

Hairston moved to New York City.  There he met Hall Johnson, who was a popular conductor of Negro spirituals.  Hall was also impressed by Hairston's abilities and hired him as his assistant. Hairston's time with Johnson taught him to respect the Negro spiritual both as a spiritual expression and an art form.  Hairston decided to dedicate himself to preserving the music of the slaves and memorializing the conditions that gave birth to it.

Warner Brothers bought Johnson's show,
Green Pastures, in 1935.  Hairston's big break came in 1936, when Russian-born composer and conductor Dmitri Tiomkin asked him to conduct the choir in the film Lost Horizon.  The film ultimately won an Oscar for best score. That collaboration began a 20-year relationship between Tiomkin and Hairston.  The two formed the first integrated choir used in films.  It can be heard in She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, Red River and Land of the Pharaohs.

Hairston also took acting jobs.  Although many of his early parts were not flattering to blacks.  Asked why he would accepts such postions, Hairston later explained, "We had a hard time then fighting for dignity. We had no power. We had to take it, and because we took it the young people today have opportunities."

As Hairston's acting abilities were noticed, his career expanded.  Hairston appeared in The Alamo, To Kill a Mockingbird,  In the Heat of the Night, Lady Sings the Blues, and The Last Tycoon.  But it was Hairston's role in Lilies of the Valley for which many will remember him.  Not only did he compose the song Amen for the film, he dubbed in the singing voice for Sidney Poitier as he sang the song.

Hairston became a much sought-after choral director who composed more than 300 spirituals.

In the 1980's, Hairston became known for playing Elder Rollie Forbes on the NBC sitcom Amen.  Even when Hairston was in his 90s, Hairston continued to conduct choirs.  He also acted as a goodwill ambassador for the U.S. State Department, making international trips.

Jester Hairston died January 18, 2000  in Los Angeles. He was 98.


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Favourite Spirituals for Two Violins - sheet music at www.sheetmusicplus.com
Favourite Spirituals for Two Violins by Sarah Watts. For Violin. duets. Kevin Mayhew Ltd. Sacred. Level: Beginning-Intermediate. Book. Size 9x12. 16 pages. Published by Kevin Mayhew Ltd. (99684)
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