Music & Melody: Black Music Month Indianapolis Spotlight was originally published on wtlcfm.com
1. Wes Montgomery
We will always remember Jon Leslie “Wes” Montgomery, a jazz guitarist, coming out of Indy who was claimed to be one of the most influential guitarists in the twentieth century. Despite the fact that he couldn’t read music, he was able to touch people’s lives with his talent.
2. Freddie Hubbard
It all started at Arsenal Tech High School for Freddie Hubbard where he played the mellophone and trumpet in their band. He attended Butler University and studied what is now called the Jordan College of Arts. With a solid resume of his performance experience, at age 20, he moved to New York and was able to play alongside many well-known jazz performers including artists Quincy Jones, Sonny Rollins, and Slide Hampton. He reached the peak of his success in the 1970s and then later on he started his own jazz group. In 2006, the National Endowment for the Arts gave Hubbard the highest honor which was the NEA Jazz Masters award. He will always be remembered for his undeniable talent.
3. J. J. Johnson
JJ Johnson was not just a trombonist, but he was also a composer and arranger. In fact, he was one of the first to engage in bebop. But before he played the trombone, he started playing the piano at the age of 9 years old and then started playing the trombone at 14. When it came to big bands, he worked with Clarence Love, Snookum Russell, and Lester Young. Later on in his musical career going solo, Johnson began leading his own touring worldwide. To know that there is a lot of musical talent that played a special part in jazz, should make a Hoosier proud.
4. David Baker
David Baker will forever and always be well-known on Indiana University-Bloomington’s Jacobs School Music because he not only was a composer, but he also was a conductor, musician, educator, a professor of Jazz studies, but he founded the jazz studies program. He is someone you should know and remember. He used his knowledge and wanted others to know what he knew as well too.
5. Toy Factory
This group brings you upbeat music with a variety of genres of music including gospel, soul, and a hint of country. They tour all around Indy and statewide doing live shows. They offer bookings for weddings and other special occasions. They bring a good vibe whenever you hear their unique sound.
6. Slide Hampton
It was already predestined for Hampton to be a part of the world of jazz music because, by the time he was 12, he was already touring with his father in the Hampton Band, led by his father as a trombonist. Not only that, he had encountered other influential Indianapolis natives Wes Montgomery and JJ Johnson along the way to his own success. At the age of 20, he was already performing at the Carnegie Hall with the Lionel Hampton band. His reputation grew quickly and worked with a great number of bands. He, later on, became a music director for a multitude of orchestras. As much experience that he has under his belt, he most definitely holds a strong will to the jazz community.
7. The Ink Spots
It has to be safe to say that the 1930s and 1940s were a prime era for jazz music whether it be for vocalists or instrumentalists. This 4-voice vocal became international during this time, and has produced music that included rock and roll, rhythm and blues, and doo-wop. By 1969, this distinguished male jazz group was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Vocal Group Hall of Fame 30 years later.
8. Alaina Renae
This musical artist has made her debut in 2016 with her first album in November that year. As she is still pursuing her dream, since then she has debuted #4 on the Billboard Heartseekers Charts. You can find her music on all streaming platforms.
Before Kenny “Babyface” became the iconic artist that is, as a teenager he was involved in the 1970’s soul group named Manchild. Before their short-lived music success a group, they released a small hit titled “Especially for You”
10. After 7
A favorite all-male R&B group that still has music that is cherished to this day are brothers Melvin and Kevon Edmonds, the founders, and Keith Mitchell. Son of Melvin Edmonds, Jason Edmonds joined later with Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds producing and writing for the group. It was founded in 1987, but even though their musical career as a group was not long, they still have hits that will forever be embraced and loved by fans.
11. Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds
Babyface attended North Central High School and writing songs as a young teenager was his way of expressing his emotions growing up. Babyface not only has his own hits, but he is literally the man behind most of a lot of R&B songs that we all know and love by artists we know and love. A perfect example would be Bobby Brown’s “Every Little Step.” Well, Babyface wrote “Every Little Step.” Kenny was a singer, songwriter, and record producer and when it came to producing there was no doubt that the song would come out as a hit. It is noted that he has written 26 number one hits over the course of his musical career and has 12 Grammy Awards.