Oral History Interviews

Roy Brooks: Drumist 1938-2005

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Not a drummer, but a drumist Growing up in a Detroit with pianos in every house, Roy Brooks found the beginnings of his self-described purpose: to create a musical truth. Though Brooks received guidance from several of his more well-known contemporaries — Dizzy Gillespie and John Coltrane among them — he chose to forge his […]

Kenn Cox: Guerilla Jam Master 1940-2008

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There Was Music Everywhere Detroit native Kenn Cox (born November 8, 1940) was a jazz pianist, composer, mentor, leader, and performer. In this oral history, Coxx describes his upbringing of being raised in the Detroit area as a young musician. He cites major influences such as pianists Horace Silver and Hampton Hawes, as well as […]

Barbara Martin

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“As my grandma said whenever we did something of accomplishment, whenever she was very proud of us she would say, ‘I feel right rich.’ … I liked it when my grandma said that about me. If we don’t maintain this heritage all the connections of our musical ancestry then… we won’t have that feeling. As one who has had it, I don’t want generations to come, not to.”

Alma Smith: The Countess 1922-2012

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The Countess of Detroit Alma Smith (Born Mary Alma Foster, Montgomery, Alabama) was an established singer, composer, record label owner, educator, pianist, and vibraphonist based out of Detroit. Her talents took her on many national and international tours, as well as performances with several revered musicians in a number of well-known jazz and blues clubs. […]