Duke Ellington

The Harlem Renaissance (Rebecca Schwartz)

Biography on Duke Ellington

Duke Ellington was born on April 29, 1899, in Washington D.C. Ellington was a pianist, Conductor and Songwriter. He started studying piano at seven years old. He wrote his first composition at the age of 15. Although he got an art scholarship, he followed his passion of music by playing professionally at 17 years old. In the 1920s, he performed in Broadway nightclubs. He was the bandleader. Ellington found musicians with unique playing styles. He made hundreds of recordings with his bands, appeared in films and on the radio. He also was able to tour Europe. In the 1940s, he became very famous because he composed lots of amazing work. Ellington earned 12 Grammy awards from 1959 to 2000 (nine while he was alive). Ellington died when he was 75 years old, on May 24, 1974.
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Major Contributions

Duke Ellington was representative of the Harlem Renaissance. He was involved in the great migrations. Also, black clubs became a focal point of American music activity. For example, the Cotton Club, where Duke and many others played, had many black performers with great talent. He was part of being a black performer for a white audience.

Duke Ellington - Mini Bio