Prince Rogers Nelson

Prince Rogers Nelson

African-American Prince Rogers Nelson, better known simply as Prince, was a music icon who could play 12 different instruments.

Prince Rogers Nelson
Prince Rogers Nelson

Prince released his debut album, ‘For You‘, at the age of 19.  His second album, ‘Prince’, went platinum and was followed by ‘Dirty Mind’, ‘Controversy’ and ‘1999‘.  In he released ‘Purple Rain’, which served as the soundtrack to his film debut of the same name.  It was immensely popular and sealed him as one of the most unique and gifted musicians of this age.  He played all the instruments on his first five albums and did a majority of the vocals on them. His musical range and style were popular and “Little Red Corvette” was also among the first videos by a black performer to be played regularly on MTV.

Prince penned 15 albums in all; sold over 100 million records worldwide, making him one of the best-selling artists of all time; on seven Grammy Awards; won a Golden Globe Award; won an Academy Award; was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004;  in 2006 Prince received a Webby Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of his “visionary” use of the Internet; and was ranked number 27 on Rolling Stones’ list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time. The ‘Purple Rain’ album is ranked 72nd in Rolling Stones’ 500 Greatest Albums of All Time and is also included on the list of Time magazine’s All-Time 100 Albums. The ‘Purple Rain’ album sold more than 13 million copies in the US and spent 24 consecutive weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart. The film won Prince an Academy Award for Best Original Song Score.

Fiercely independent, and determined to own his brand and control its direction, he held tight rein over his music, not allowing it on regular social media outlets or streaming outlets. This meant that the only real way to own a Prince song or record, was to buy it. Prince formed the band The Time and they released four albums.  His backup band was called the Revolution whose members later went on to solo music careers.  Prince penned songs for other artists including Madonna and Terence Campbell.

But perhaps the best part of Prince was the one he shared with people behind the scenes.  He helped so many people who were less fortunate than he, was compassionate and caring to many around him, and inspired many to make a difference in the situations around him.  When Trayvon Martin was killed, he donated money to the family. He helped many communities in times of need and poured money into disadvantaged youth. Prince was the inspiration behind Yes We Code, his current project helping bring tech education to communities of color. “We started Yes We Code because of Trayvon Martin,” Jones explained. “Prince said, ‘No, listen. A black kid wearing a hoodie might be seen as a thug; a white kid wearing a hoodie might be seen as a Silicon Valley genius. Let’s teach the black kids how to be like Mark Zuckerberg.’ Out of that observation, we built a whole organization.” (Source: http://www.cnn.com/video/api/embed.html#/video/tv/2016/04/21/van-jones-remembers-music-legend-prince.cnn

Tom Morello

Tom Morello

Kenyan-American Thomas Baptist Morello, better known as Tom Morello, is a Grammy Award-winning American guitarist best known for his tenure with the bands Rage Against the Machine and Audioslave, and as the acoustic artist, The Nightwatchman.

Tom Morello (Photo by Imeh Akpanudosen/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA – SEPTEMBER 06: Guitarist Tom Morello performs onstage during ‘Rock Out!’ at Ford Theatre on September 6, 2013 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Imeh Akpanudosen/Getty Images)

He was featured as one of 20 guitarists in Rolling Stone magazine’s “The Top 20 New Guitarists” article.

An outspoken political activist, he is also ranked #40 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time” and is featured in the video game ‘Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock’ as a “guitar boss”. Morello played on a number of soundtracks, including Spawn (1997), Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby (2006), Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story, Spider-Man (2002), The A-Team, Battleship and  Pacific Rim in 2013. He was credited as “Additional Electric Guitar” in the 2008 superhero movie Iron Man and played a terrorist. He also appears in the movie Berkeley (2005). He also collaborated with John Debney for the score of Iron Man 2.

Interestingly, Tom Morello is the son of Ngethe Njoroge  who was a Mau Mau guerrilla and revolutionary. Morello’s great-uncle, Jomo Kenyatta, was the first elected president in Kenya. His mother, Mary Morello, who is part Irish and part Italian, is a founder of Parents for Rock and Rap, an anti-censorship group.

The man has a discography list that reads like a book sowe will let you read all about him on Wikipedia.

Regina Carter

Regina Carter

African-American Regina Carter began studying violin at the age of 4, but could play the piano by ear at the age of 2. She also studied tap and ballet.

Regina Carter
Regina Carter

As a teenager, she played in the youth division of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. In high school, Carter performed with the Detroit Civic Orchestra and played in a pop-funk group named Brainstorm.

In addition to taking violin lessons, she also took viola, oboe, and choir lessons.
In December 2001, Regina Carter became the first non-classical musician to play Niccolo Paganini’s highly guarded, handcrafted Guarneri violin , an instrument that dates back to 1743 and is counted among the most precious items in classical music history. Carter was invited to play after the incidents of the September 11 attacks as a gesture of solidarity.

She was both the first jazz musician and first African-American to play the instrument. She used it to record 2003’s ‘Paganini: After a Dream’, an homage to the musician who first owned it that incorporated bop and Latin-inspired arrangements reflecting the violin’s 260-year-old history.

Regina Carter was awarded a MacArthur Fellows Program grant, also known as a “genius grant,” in September 2006. The award includes a grant of $500,000 over five years.

Her latest album, ‘Southern Comfort‘ has her taking her audience on a journey through her family history as it explores the folk music of the south.

Learn more about her on her official website and on Twitter.

Hazel Scott

Hazel Scott

Trinidadian Hazel Scott was a jazz and classical pianist and singer; she also performed as herself in several films. She was prominent as a jazz singer throughout the 1930s and 1940s. In 1950, she became the first woman of color to have her own TV show, The Hazel Scott Show, featuring a variety of entertainment. To evade the political persecution of artists in the McCarthy era, Scott moved to Paris in the late 1950s and performed in France, not returning to the United States until 1967.

Hazel Scott age 3 or 4
Hazel Scott age 3 or 4

Scott was awarded scholarships to study classical piano at the Juilliard School from the age of eight. As a teenager, she performed piano and trumpet with her mother’s “Alma Long Scott” all-girl jazz band, which sometimes featured Lil Hardin Armstrong. By the age of 16, Hazel Scott regularly performed for radio programs for the Mutual Broadcasting System, gaining a reputation as the “hot classicist”. In the mid-1930s, she also performed at the Roseland Dance Hall with the Count Basie Orchestra. Her early musical theatre appearances in New York included the Cotton Club Revue of 1938, Sing Out the News and The Priorities of 1942.

Throughout the 1930s and 1940s, Scott performed jazz, blues, ballads, popular (Broadway songs and boogie-woogie) and classical music in various nightclubs. From 1939 to 1943 she was a leading attraction at both the downtown and uptown branches of Café Society. Her performances created national prestige for the practice of “swinging the classics”. By 1945, Scott was earning $75,000 ($985,813 today) a year.

In addition to Lena Horne, Scott was one of the first Afro-Caribbean women to garner respectable roles in major Hollywood pictures. She performed as herself in several features, notably ‘I Dood It’ (MGM 1943), ‘Broadway Rhythm‘ (MGM 1944), with Lena Horne and in the otherwise all-white cast ‘The Heat’s On‘ (Columbia 1943), ‘Something to Shout About’ (Columbia 1943), and ‘Rhapsody in Blue’ (Warner Bros 1945). In the 1940s, in addition to her film appearances, Scott was featured in Café Society’s ‘From Bach to Boogie-Woogie’ concerts in 1941 and 1943 at Carnegie Hall.

She was the first Afro-Caribbean to have her own television show, The Hazel Scott Show, which premiered on the DuMont Television Network on July 3, 1950. Variety reported that “Hazel Scott has a neat little show in this modest package”, its “most engaging element” being Scott herself.

Scott continued to play occasionally in nightclubs, while also appearing in daytime television until the year of her death. She made her television acting debut in 1973, on the ABC daytime soap opera ‘One Life to Live‘, performing a wedding song at the nuptials of her “onscreen cousin”, Carla Gray Hall, portrayed by Ellen Holly.

Jason Derulo

Jason Derulo

Haitian-American Jason Derulo spent his youth studying opera, theater and ballet, as well as different musical genres.

Jason Derulo
Jason Derulo

This talented young man has written for Lil Wayne, Pitbull, Cassie, Diddy, Grant Goan, Danity Kane, Donnie Klang, and Sean Kingston.

He has won 4 music awards and been nominated for an additional 15. He is a dancer, choreographer and rapper.

His single “Talk Dirty” (ft. 2 Chainz) is his most successful track to date having sold over 5 million singles throughout the world, and has garnered over 200 million views on YouTube. Other hit singles include “Whatcha Say,” “In My Head,” “Ridin’ Solo,” “Don’t Wanna Go Home”and “It Girl.”

Derulo suffered a severe neck injury that required rehabilitation in 2012. It helped focus him and he went on to release a new album in 2013. To learn more about him, and keep up with his events and tours, visit his official website or follow him on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.