ARTIST BIOGRAPHY
James Melvin Lunceford, 6 June 1902,
Fulton, Mississippi, USA, d. 12 July 1947,
Seaside, Oregon, USA. At school in Denver,
Colorado, Lunceford studied under
Wilberforce Whiteman, father of Paul
Whiteman. He later read for a degree in
music at Fisk University, where his studies
included composition, orchestration and
musical theory and he also developed his
precocious ability as a performer on many
instruments although he preferred alto
saxophone. After leaving Fisk, he worked
briefly in New York in bands led by Elmer
Snowden and others before taking up a
teaching post at Manassas High School in
Memphis, Tennessee. He formed a band at
the school which included Moses Allen (bass)
and Jimmy Crawford (drums). Later, Willie
Smith and pianist Eddie Wilcox were added
before Lunceford took the band on tour.
They became very popular and after several
such tours Lunceford decided in 1929 to
make the band his full-time activity. For the
next few years, with the same nucleus of
musicians, he toured and broadcast
throughout the mid-west. In 1933, the band
reached New York and quickly established a
reputation. More broadcasts, national tours
and, eventually, some successful records
made Lunceford’s one of the most popular
black bands of the swing era.
Oldies.com Artist Biography - Harlem Express
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