Duke Ellington

Composer, Pianist, and American Legend of the 1920's

Early Life

Duke Ellington was born Edward Kennedy Ellington in Washington D.C. At a young age, his mother surrounded him with dignified women so he would learn manners and respect. because of his mannerisms that mimicked royalty, his childhood friends nicknamed him Duke. The name stuck.


Ellington moved from D.C. to Harlem early in his career. Ellington moved to the Hollywood Club for four years. After a fire, it reopened as the Kentucky Club. He then made Irving Mills his manager, giving him 45% of his profits. Ellington recorded many titles. He and his band then auditioned to be the next Cotton Club band. They got the job and wowed white and wealthy visitors to the club. Duke Ellington's music was broadcast on radio to the nation. Later, Ellington was in two movies: Black and Tan and Check and Double Check.

Later Career

During the Great Depression, many recording companies dropped most of their artists. Duke Ellington and his band stayed though. They worked with Ivie Anderson in one of his most famous songs "It Don't Mean A Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing)".
Duke Ellington: It Don't Mean a Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing)

"It Don't Mean a Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing)"

This famous song was recorded during the Great Depression when many record companies dropped most of their artists. However, Duke Ellington and his band made this song with Ivie Anderson. It was significant they did this because not only is the song good, they made it during a time when not many people could afford to buy it. This song has been remade over the years, and Ellington even performed the song with Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald.

Similar Artists and the Legend of the Duke

Duke Ellington was an inspiration for many young African Americans. He was a part of the Harlem Renaissance, and showed talent doesn't discriminate. Throughout his whole life, he was doing what he loved: making music. He was loved by Americans and people in other countries. Ellington was a pioneer of jazz. He will always be remembered for his contributions to music. His last words were "Music is how I live, why I live and how I will be remembered."

Duke Ellington may be one-of-a-kind, but there are some artists today that are similar to him. Kanye West is similar to Duke Ellington because Kanye West has been making music for a long time, but he is also well know all over the U.S. and the world because, like Duke Ellington, he is talented. Kanye West has won 21 Grammy Awards and has released three albums that Rolling Stone ranked in "500 of the Greatest Albums of All Time". Kanye West may be African American, very talented, and has been making music for a long time, but he is different from Duke Ellington in a few ways. He makes hip-hip and R&B music. He also isn't as respectful and polite as Duke Ellington. Kanye's ego is huge. Duke Ellington was always kind, and showed respect to all.