Presentation on theme: "Duke Ellington Edward Kennedy “Duke” Ellington was born in Washington D.C. in 1899. He is known for his piano playing, band leading and especially for."— Presentation transcript:
Duke Ellington Edward Kennedy “Duke” Ellington was born in Washington D.C. in 1899. He is known for his piano playing, band leading and especially for being one of America’s greatest composers. Duke Ellington wrote over 3,000 songs and his career lasted over 50 years.
Duke grew up in a loving family. He was very close to his mother. She always encouraged him and made sure he was brought up the right way. From his father, Duke learned manners, proper grammar and a stylish way of talking. Mr. Ellington was an experienced butler who had even worked a the White House for Teddy Roosevelt. Teddy Roosevelt
While he was growing up, Duke was mostly interested in baseball and art. One day, after Duke was accidentally hit in the head with a baseball bat. Mrs. Ellington decided to start Duke on piano lessons. She thought it would be a safer activity. Duke however, didn’t like piano lessons at all, and his parents finally gave up on his music training.
It wasn’t until he was a teenager that Duke became interested in the piano. While washing dishes for his summer job, a waiter invited him to go hear the great ragtime pianist Harvey Brooks, just a little older than Duke. Duke loved his playing and decided to give the piano another chance. Although he got advice from talented local players, he learned to play the piano pretty much on his own.
Around 1917, Duke and some of his friends formed a small band called the Washingtonians. They played at parties, dances and clubs all over Washington, D.C. In 1918, Duke got married. He and his wife and a son, Mercer in 1919.
Duke knew that in order to make it as a musician and support his family, he and his friends would have to go to New York City. New York was where all the great jazz bands were playing. While in NYC, a talented trumpet player named Bubber Miley (who knew a lot about jazz music) joined The Washingtonians. He gave the group a hot new sound and in 1927 Duke’s band was playing in the most famous spot in all of NYC—The Cotton Club. By this time they had changed their name to The Duke Ellington Orchestra.
By 1940 Duke Ellington had one of the most popular bands in the United States. They made radio broadcasts, records and appearances all over the country. Unfortunately, in many cities where Duke played, there were people who were prejudiced against African-Americans. Sometimes Duke and his band had a hard time getting hotel rooms or service in a restaurant.
Duke refused to be treated badly and decided to travel with his band members in their own private train cars. The railroad would leave Duke’s cars parked on an unused track until they were ready to move on. Now Duke and his orchestra could eat, sleep and live comfortably when they arrived in a strange town.
Duke won many honors for his music, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1969. This is the highest award a private citizen can receive in the United States.
Duke’s orchestra enjoyed immense popularity and won over twelve Grammy awards. Then in 1950, people started becoming more interested in new types of music, like rock and roll. Duke’s style of jazz seemed old fashioned.
Duke was disappointed but he never gave up. He continued working and performing and finally in 1956 something happened to put Duke back on top. His band was invited to play the closing music for a jazz festival in Newport, Rhode Island. It was late at night when Duke and his orchestra came on stage. The audience was tired and people were starting to leave. Duke knew they would have to give a spectacular performance to keep everyone’s attention. As Duke’s orchestra began playing, people went wild. They started dancing in the isles and standing on their chair cheering for the band members. One of his saxophonists gave a solo that lasted six minutes. The crowd was so excited by the performance that there was nearly a riot. They loved what they were hearing and the next day the story was in all the newspapers.
After the Newport Jazz Festival, Duke and his orchestra were popular once again and performed all over the world. They remained popular until his death in 1974.