Where: Elmwood Cemetery (The Lord’s Chapel & Graveside)
Refreshments Will Be Served & Special Tribute Performed
Contact: Ron Herd II/R2C2H2 Tha Artivist
--Legendary Memphis Educator And Syndicated Columnist Nat D. Williams
-- Legendary Swing Band Leader Glenn Miller
On June 6, 1902, a music genius was born. Please join us on June 6, 2009, as we honor the memory of one of Memphis’ unsung heroes on his birthday: Music & Education Giant Jimmie Lunceford.
Jimmie Lunceford was the first high school band director in Memphis City Schools History. He started the first high school band at Manassas High School with no money, but with a lot of determination. Jimmie Lunceford through his pioneering efforts also started the first jazz studies program in U.S. public schools history. He eventually selected nine of his best music students and several college friends from Fisk University to form arguably the greatest jazz swing band of the 1930s and 1940s.
The Jimmie Lunceford Orchestra eventually took over as the house band at the legendary Cotton Club where they literally became household names due to live regular national broadcasts from that venue. They also became the most popular act at the world famous Apollo Theatre for 10 straight years. Jimmie Lunceford was also a movie star (orchestra performed in “Blues In The Night” and also in a 1936 film short) and his songs appeared in numerous popular cartoons as well.
He owned and flew his own airplanes at a time when African Americans were not even allowed to attend flight schools in the U.S. Jimmie Lunceford was also a philanthropist. He gave large sums of money to start music education programs throughout the country to keep kids out of trouble and in school. He was truly a man ‘of’ as well as ‘ahead’ of his times.
Unfortunately, Jimmie died under ‘mysterious circumstances’ at the peak of his career
on July 12, 1947, while signing autographs in Seaside, Oregon. He was only 45 years old. His funerals were attended by thousands in both New York and Memphis. Unfortunately, Jimmie Lunceford and his legacy it seems has laid forgotten about in historic Elmwood Cemetery in South Memphis for 60 plus years…Until now…
View the ‘Real Talk With Tha Artivist’ Memphis Comcast Cable TV Special, “And Rhythm Was His Business…Jimmie Lunceford: Memphis Music Legend” in three parts online…