Duke Ellington Facts

Duke Ellington Facts
Duke Ellington was an American jazz musician who composed thousands of musical scores during a career that spanned more than 50 years. He was born Edward Kennedy Ellington on April 29, 1899, in Washington, D.C., to James Edward Ellington and Daisy (Kennedy) Ellington. Both of his parents played the piano, and he began to take piano lessons at the age of seven. He was raised around dignified women who taught him manners and grace, which earned him the nickname 'Duke'. By the age of 15 he had written his first song titled "Soda Fountain Rag", and he was playing professionally by the age of 17. His compositions would go on to be used for the screen, stage, and in songbooks, and he became known as one of the big band jazz originators.
Interesting Duke Ellington Facts:
Duke Ellington was more interested in baseball as a young teen. President Theodore Roosevelt would sometimes watch Duke and his teammates play while riding along on horseback.
Duke Ellington wrote his first song "Soda Fountain Rag" out of inspiration from his job at the time, as a soda jerk.
Duke Ellington was granted an art scholarship to Brooklyn, New York's Pratt Institute, but he chose to play professional ragtime instead.
Duke Ellington was working as a freelance sign-painter beginning in 1917, which gave him the opportunity to pick up gigs playing at various events when customers needed signs for dances and parties.
Duke Ellington's first group was "The Duke's Serenaders", formed in 1917. Their first gig earned him $0.75.
Duke Ellington's first band was popular in both African-American and white crowds, which was rare at the time because of segregation.
Duke moved his career to Harlem and became a part of what would be known as the Harlem Renaissance. His popularity grew and he played in the Exclusive Club and then a four-year gig in the Hollywood Club at 49th and Broadway with Elmer Snowden and his Black Sox Orchestra, which they renamed The Washingtons. In 1924 Duke became the band leader when Snowden left.
In 1927 Duke Ellington and his group began to perform at the Cotton Club. His popularity and recording career continued to grow.
Duke Ellington's talent saw him through the Depression, a time when 90% of artists were dropped by their labels.
Between 1930 and the early 1940s swing music was extremely popular and Duke Ellington was considered one of the greatest jazz musicians of the era.
Unlike many jazz musicians, Duke Ellington was also a composer. He composed not only his own music but music for film, classical compositions, popular music, and religious music.
Duke Ellington led an orchestra from 1923 until 1974. This orchestra is called the Duke Ellington Orchestra today.
Duke Ellington performed and recorded with many other famous musicians including Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, John Coltrane, and Count Bassie.
When Duke Ellington died in 1974, more than 12,000 people attended his funeral.
Duke Ellington has received many honors and awards, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.

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