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Happy 120th Birthday, Eva Jessye

This is what One This Day In Jazz Age Music says about Eva Jessye, who was born on this day in 1895:

Eva Jessye, an African-American singer, composer, choral director and actress.

She was one of the few musical phenomenons of the twentieth century. She was born Eva Alberta Jessye in Coffeyville, Kansas, near Oklahoma. Her father supported the family as a chicken picker. She was an avid reader as a child. She sang, she wrote her first poem at the age of seven. She won a contest at thirteen. Jessye studied choral music and music theory at the now-defunct Western University in Quindaro, Kansas, graduating in 1914. (Continue Reading…)

The version of the spiritual “I’m a Po’ Lil’ Orphan” above was sung by Marti Newland  at the Church of the Epiphany in New York City in March, 2012. The notes at YouTube say that the arrangement was included in Jessye’s 1927 collection “My Spirituals.” The pianist is Artis Wodehouse. Jessye died in 1992.

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Here’s What’s Here

The Daily Music Break explores every genre of music, from hip hop to opera. It's simple: Boundaries are dumb. It's all good. Here is more about the site and here is our index:

--A Tribe Called Quest to The Dick Hyman Trio (In other words, A to H)

--Indigo Girls to Queen Ida (I to Q)

--Radiohead to ZZ Top (R to Z)

Reading Music

The stories of the great bands and musicians are fascinating. Musicians as a group are brilliant, but often troubled. The combination of creativity and drama makes for great reading.

Here are some books to check out.

Duke Ellington brought class, sophistication and style to jazz which, until that point, was proudly unpolished and raucous. His story is profound. The author, Terry Teachout, also wrote "Pops," the acclaimed bio of Louis Armstrong. Click here or on the image.


What else is there to say? Here is the story behind every song written by The Beatles. Click here or on the image.


The Grateful Dead don't get enough credit for the profound nature of its lyrics. Many of the band's songs are driven by a deep and literate Americana ("I'm Uncle Sam/That's who I am/Been hidin' out/In a rock and roll band" and "Majordomo Billy Bojangles/Sit down and have a drink with me/What's this about Alabama/Keeps comin' back to me?").

David Dodd's exhaustive study tells the story, song by song. Click here or on the image.