Monthly Archives: September 2009
In 1925, four students at Booker T. Washington High in Norfolk, Virginia – Henry Owens, Clyde Riddick, Willie “Bill” Johnson, Orlandus Wilson – founded the Gates. It is of interest to know that another group called the Golden Gate Quartet was organized in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1892. In this podcast, I would like to share a negro-spiritual called “Anyhow” by The Golden Jubilee Quartet, song in 1943. Now in the public domain. Please click download to listen to song. Or subscribe to my podcast.
Weegee’s photos from the 1930s and ’40s defined Manhattan as a film noir nightscape of gansters, bums, slumming swells and tenement dwellers.
By Katherine Cole
© 2009 VOA
Mary Travers, the glamorous blond who sang into the middle microphone with folk trio Peter, Paul and Mary, died September 16 at 72 after a long battle with leukemia. Born in 1936, Mary Travers was two years old when her parents moved the family from Kentucky to Greenwich Village in New York City. By the time she was a teenager, Mary was a full-fledged member of the 1950s Village folk scene, though, at the time, she said music was just a hobby, and she had no plans to sing professionally.
That changed in 1961, when Mary met Bob Dylan’s manager, Albert Grossman. Grossman had decided to put together a folk supergroup to rival the chart-topping Kingston Trio. He introduced Travers to Peter Yarrow and Paul Stookey. The story of how the group was formed caused many fellow folk singers to brand Peter, Paul and Mary as “too commercial,” and not “authentic”, but Mary Travers always defended the group’s sound and founding, saying they made the music accessible to everyone. There is no dispute that the trio made folk music popular. Their first album, “Peter, Paul and Mary,” reached Number One shortly after its March 1962 release, and remained at the top of the charts for seven weeks. The album contained two hit singles: “If I Had A Hammer”; and “Lemon Tree.”
“Peter, Paul and Mary everyone loved,” said singer-songwriter Gretchen Peters. “And it’s not that it was ‘watered down’ at all. That’s not why it worked. I’m not exactly sure why it worked, except that Mary’s voice was just a thing of beauty. It was a classically-beautiful voice.” Peters took up the guitar at age 7, and Peter, Paul and Mary songs were the first she learned to play. But it wasn’t just Mary Traver’s voice that attracted Gretchen. The harmony singing was equally important.
“That was a great education, just picking apart who sang what on the albums,” she said. “Because sometimes she actually sang lower than one of the guys, she would sometimes sing lower than Peter. And you’d have to kind of weed out who’s singing what in the harmonies. It was not simple, simple stuff, but it was beautiful.” While the group’s music proved commercially successful, the group did not play it safe when it came to politics. Like Peter Yarrow and Paul Stookey, Mary Travers was quite outspoken in her support of civil rights and the anti-Vietnam war movement. Peter, Paul and Mary performed at the historic 1963 March on Washington, and also took part in the 1965 voting rights marches from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama.
After the group disbanded in 1970, Mary Travers continued to perform at political events around the world. The trio reunited in 1978, intending to perform just one show at a benefit to oppose nuclear power. It was such a success that they continued to perform as a trio until Mary Travers retired in May of this year. It’s no exaggeration to say that Mary Travers and the trio of Peter, Paul and Mary took folk music from the coffeehouse to the mainstream, and helped spread a message of peace and harmony around the world. Their recordings also proved that folk music could be commercially successful. Peter, Paul and Mary’s music won five Grammy Awards and scored six Top Ten hits, eight gold and five platinum albums. They also introduced millions to the music of Bob Dylan, and turned “Blowin’ In The Wind” into an anthem of the 1960s’ protest movement.
VintageNewscast.com has received permission by the author to republish this article.
Copyright © 2009
Mary Travers, one third of the famous 1960s folk music trio Peter, Paul and Mary has died of cancer. She was 72. A publicist for the group says Travers died Wednesday at a Danbury, Connecticut hospital where she was being treated for leukemia. The publicist said she had been battling the disease for a number of years.
Travers and her band mates, Peter Yarrow and Noel Paul Stookey made up one of the most popular American music groups of the 1960s. Peter, Paul and Mary mixed folk music with political activism, promoting civil rights and protesting the U.S. war in Vietnam with such songs “Blowin’ in the Wind,” “If I Had a Hammer” and “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?.”
The group also scored major hits with “Leaving on a Jet Plane,” “Lemon Tree,” and “Puff (The Magic Dragon).” Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.
Jones had his acting career beginnings at the Ramsdell Theatre in Manistee, Michigan. In 1953 he was a stage carpenter. During the 1955 – 1957 seasons he was an actor and stage manager. He performed his first portrayal of Shakespeare’s Othello in this theater in 1955.
His first film role was as a young and trim Lt. Lothar Zogg, the B-52 bombardier in Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb in 1964, which was more famous for the work of Peter Sellers and Slim Pickens. His first big role came with his portrayal of boxer Jack Jefferson in the film version of the Broadway play The Great White Hope, which was based on the life of boxer Jack Johnson. For his role, Jones was nominated Best Actor by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, making him the second African-American male performer (following Sidney Poitier) to receive a nomination.
In 1969, Jones participated in making test films for a proposed children’s television series called Sesame Street; these shorts, combined with animated segments, were shown to groups of children to gauge the effectiveness of the then-groundbreaking Sesame Street format. As cited by production notes included in the DVD release Sesame Street: Old School 1969-1974, the short that had the greatest impact with test audiences was one showing bald-headed Jones counting slowly to ten. This and other segments featuring Jones were eventually aired as part of the Sesame Street series itself when it debuted later in 1969 and Jones is often cited as the first celebrity guest on that series, although a segment with Carol Burnett was the first to actually be broadcast.
In the early 1970s, James appeared with Diahann Carroll in a film called Claudine, the story of a woman who raises her six children alone after two failed marriages and one “almost” marriage. Ruppert, played by Jones, is a garbage man who has deep problems of his own. The couple somehow overcomes each other’s pride and stubbornness and gets married.
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