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The Uncrowned King of SwingFletcher Henderson and Big Band Jazz$
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Jeffrey Magee

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780195090222

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2008

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195090222.001.0001

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A New Negro from the Old South

A New Negro from the Old South

(p.12) 1. A New Negro from the Old South
The Uncrowned King of Swing

Jeffrey Magee

Oxford University Press

Henderson came to New York City in 1920 on the threshold of the Harlem Renaissance, an era in which the “New Negro”, as defined by writer Alain Locke, would create a new era of African American history through education and sophisticated new works in the arts and culture. Henderson's education and middle-class background reflect the values of his father, an educator and church official widely known in Georgia. Atlanta University, from which Henderson graduated in 1920, further shaped his values and helped him establish connections. Henderson moved to New York later that year, as cultural change engendered new opportunities for African Americans. Henderson's initial forays into the New York music world included plugging songs for W. C. Handy and Harry Pace, serving as music director for the race record label Black Swan, and recording and touring with blues singer Ethel Waters. The latter two experiences led Henderson closer to jazz, as he made many recordings accompanying the most popular blues singers, and as he became associated with musicians who would serve as his sidemen in future bands.

Keywords:   New Negro, W. C. Handy, Harry Pace, Ethel Waters, W. E. B. DuBois, blues, Black Swan, Harlem Renaissance, race records

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