Arts/Entertainment Spotlights

Arts/Entertainment Spotlights

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Duke Ellington


Edward Kennedy "Duke" Ellington was born on April 29,1899. Both of Ellington's parents were pianists and he began taking lessons at the age of seven. He was given the nickname "Duke" because of his easy grace and dapper dress. In 1914, he wrote his first composition "Soda Fountain Rag". In 1927, Ellington, along with his eleven piece group, landed a regular booking at Harlem's Cotton Club. Due to weekly broadcast from the Cotton Club, Ellington gained a national profile as an American composer, pianist and band leader of orchestras. In 1929 Ellington's film work began. He appeared in the movie Black and Tan, in which he played a hero, "Duke". He also appeared in other films such as Amos 'n' Andy and Check and Double Check. Ellington worked on scoring for other film soundtracks, in particular Anatomy of a Murder and Paris Blues. Ellington was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize for Music in 1965 but was turned down. He was awarded the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1966. Duke Ellington died on May 24, 1974. He was awarded a Special Pulitzer Prize in 1999.

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