GM – FBF – Today’s American Champion event started in 1890, one year after Washington became a state and thirty-eight years after Seattle was established as a city, a small group of African Americans held prayer services in their homes. These prayer services became the Mount Zion Baptist Church. Some of the church founders had been members of the predominantly white congregation of the First Baptist Church. Mount Zion’s founders received assistance from Rev. George T. Burchett, pastor, Deacon John Keith and the members of the First Baptist Church who donated the use of a store at 14th Avenue and East Madison Street for Sunday School and worship services.Prior to 1920, Mount Zion’s members worshiped at several locations including the Peoples Church at 3rd and East Madison (1896), 2nd and Spring (1899), and 9th and Olive (1903).In 1906, Mount Zion’s first building was erected when property was purchased at 11th and Union; it was a one room wooden structure.A pot-bellied stove in the center of the room provided heating; backless benches were used for pews. The Mount Zion church building was later elevated on stilts to create space for a partial basement used primarily as a dining facility and fellowship hall.During the first twenty-two years of the church’s history Mount Zion had many pastors resulting in considerable fluctuation in the church’s membership. The following minister’s served for periods ranging from three months to two years: Reverend R. W. Jennison, Reverend Simons, Reverend J.C. Pegram, Reverend Price, Reverend Eugene Harris, Reverend George Maney, Reverend Gordon McPherson, Reverend Walker, Reverend Wiggins, Reverend R. H. Thomas, Reverend Lyman Smith, Reverend William Hammond, and Reverend William Berry.Today in our History – February 18, 1894 – Mount Zion Baptist Church was organized in Seattle, Washington.Home to the largest African American congregation in the state of Washington, Mount Zion Baptist Church was organized in Seattle on February 18, 1894. Led by Reverend Hesekiah C. Rice, eight founding members initially met in a rented hall on the campus of the University of Washington, which was in what is now downtown Seattle. Although many churches in Seattle were racially integrated during this period, some black parishioners wanted a more expressive environment within which to worship.Mount Zion experienced tremendous instability in its leadership and location between 1894 and 1907. Numerous pastors passed though the church, sometimes as frequently as one each year. In addition, Mount Zion’s address changed no fewer than five times during this period. Finally, a church building was constructed on land purchased at the corner of 11th Avenue and Union Street in 1907. In 1918 the church bought a parcel of land at 19th Avenue and East Madison Street. Construction began in 1920 on the building that still houses Mount Zion today.Church leadership, which had been transient for years, stabilized as well. Mount Zion had just six pastors between 1912 and 1957. They were Reverend W. D. Carter (1912-1925), Reverend J. Sterling Moore (1926-1932), Reverend Taylor M. Davis (1932-1940), Reverend Fountain W. Penick (1940-1942), Reverend F. Benjamin Davis (1942-1954), and Reverend Gil B. Lloyd (1955-1957). Many of these ministers played an active role in the larger community. Rev. Penick was considered an early civil rights activist and Rev. Davis was a candidate for the Seattle City Council in 1946, garnering 27,000 votes in his losing bid, which took place in an era when there were fewer than 3,500 black voters in the city.During World War II Seattle’s African American population grew rapidly as labor shortages forced companies like Boeing to integrate their workforces. The corresponding growth in Mount Zion’s membership made space an issue, and would eventually lead to additions to and redesigns of the original sanctuary.In 1958 Reverend Samuel Berry McKinney became the pastor of Mount Zion, a position he held until 1998. During the 1960s under McKinney’s leadership, Mount Zion became a major force in the local civil rights campaign. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. made his only visit to Seattle in November, 1961 as part of a lecture series sponsored by Mount Zion. On July 1, 1963 Rev. McKinney led 400 marchers from Mt. Zion to Seattle’s City Hall to support an open housing ordinance in Seattle. During a boycott of the Seattle schools in spring of 1966 to protest ongoing racial segregation, over 500 children showed up to attend a ‘Freedom School’ that was being hosted at Mount Zion. Later in the 1960s, McKinney aligned himself with ‘radical’ Black Power elements in Seattle who challenged integration as the primary objective of the black community. In 1975 the church embraced an African-themed redesign. Through McKinney’s tenure, church membership grew from roughly 800 to more than 3,000.Reverend Leslie Braxton was selected as Mount Zion’s Senior Pastor following McKinney’s retirement in 1998. Turmoil within the congregation led to Braxton’s resignation in 2005, and McKinney was unanimously voted to return as pastor on an interim basis. In 2008 Reverend Aaron Williams became Mount Zion Baptist Church’s 24th pastor. Research more about this great American Champion organization and share it with your babies. Make it a champion day!
GM – FBF – Today’s American Champion was in the news for speaking his mind. Whenever he came to New Jersey to speak he would ask me to be a part of it by giving a History lesson of unknown Black History facts.I was teaching at Red Bank Regional High School at the time and he had heard about my different teaching methods and came one day to hear me. From 1996 to 1998, I was on the program with him from Newark, Camden, Long Branch, Trenton, Atlantic City or Jersey City. I was never a member of the Nation of Islam but I listened and watched him control the crowed. The U.S. Congress hated him and so did many of the school administrators and parents/guardians also and all that I did was give history lessons. He was a black nationalist leader in the United States who became a prominent figure in the Nation of Islam and later the New Black Panther Party. After a racially inflammatory 1993 speech at Kean College, Muhammad was condemned and removed from his position in the Nation of Islam by Louis Farrakhan. He was also censured by both Houses of the United States Congress. After being removed from the Nation of Islam he served as the National Chairman of the New Black Panther Party until his death in 2001 from a brain aneurysm. Despite the controversy that followed him, he was strong and unapologetic in support of black independence and stated personal practice of anti-miscegenation. Today in our History – February 17, 2001 – Khalid Muhammad (born Harold Moore Jr.; January 12, 1948 – February 17, 2001) died.Khalid Abdul Muhammad was an African-American activist, a one-time member of the Nation of Islam and national chairman of the New Black Panther Party. Muhammad was born Harold Moore Jr. on January 12, 1948, to Harold Moore Sr and Lottie B. Moore in Houston, Texas. Moore’s Aunt, Carrie Moore Vann, raised him while living in Houston where he attended Phyllis Wheatley High School.After graduating from high school in 1966, Moore enrolled in Dillard University in New Orleans, Louisiana to pursue a theological studies degree but he didn’t graduate. While attaining Dillard University in 1970, Moore heard a speech by Louis Abdul Farrakhan who was at the time national representative of Elijah Muhammad, the leader of the Nation of Islam (NOI). After hearing Farrakhan’s speech, Moore joined the Nation of Islam and changed his name to Harold X then to Malik Rushaddin. He eventually became Farrakhan’s protégé helping to bring new recruits to the Nation.Muhammad later received a BA degree from Pepperdine University in Los Angeles, California. In 1978, he was appointed Western Regional Minister of the NOI and leader of Mosque #27 in Los Angeles. In 1983, Farrakhan changed his name to Khalid, after the Islamic general, Khalid Ibn al-Walid. In 1985 at the age of 37, Khalid Muhammad was appointed National spokesman and Representative of Minister Farrakhan. In this role he traveled to NOI mosques throughout the United States and eventually made a trip to Libya and meet its leader, Muammar al-Gaddafi. In 1987, however, a federal court in Atlanta, Georgia convicted Muhammad of mortgage fraud and he was sentenced to nine months in prison. After his released, he became Minister Farrakhan’s national advisor in the NOI.During his time with the Nation of Islam, Muhammad gave controversial speeches which usually attacked whites and especially Jews and homosexuals while calling for black self-empowerment and separation. Despite the controversy, Muhammad remained popular with youth in the African American community and often appeared in hip-hop songs by Public Enemy and Ice Cube. In 1993, during a speaking engagement at Kean College in New Jersey, Muhammad called Jews bloodsuckers and used a racially derogatory word to describe Pope John Paul II. In response, the United States Senate took the unusual step of voting 97-0 to censure him for making the speech. He was also silenced by the Nation of Islam as a minister, a move which prompted him to leave the organization in 1993.Muhammad would continue to make public speeches at universities and once in 1994 appeared on The Phil Donahue Show. On May 29, 1994, former Nation of Islam member James Bess attempted to assassinate Muhammad. He was shot by Bess after making a speech at the University of California, Riverside but survived the attack.In 1998, Muhammad became the national chairman of the New Black Panther Party, a black nationalist organization which modeled itself on the original Black Panther Party founded in Oakland in 1966.During his time with the New Black Panther Party, Muhammad organized the Million Youth March in New York City and led a march in Jasper, Texas protesting the murder of James Byrd by white supremacists. Muhammad remained national chairman of the New Black Panther Party until his death from a brain aneurysm on February 17, 2001. He died in Atlanta, Georgia at the age of 53. He was buried in Ferncliff Cemetery in Westchester County, New York near the grave of Malcolm X. Research more about this great American Champion and share it with your babies. Make it a champion day!
GM – FBF – Today’s American Champion is mostly celebrated for his rap songs concerning street life & violence. He has been an influential figure for the gangster rap genre. Highly controversial songs such as Cop Killer brought much fame to him. He also pursued a career in acting, his most noteworthy character being that of a police officer on the show, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.Today in our History – February 16, 1958 – Tracy Marrow (AKA) Ice T was born.Tracy Marrow was born on February 16, 1958 in Newark, New Jersey. He spent his early years in Summit, New Jersey living with his parents. His father was a quiet blue collar working man. Although Ice remembers his mother to be a strong & supportive woman in his autobiography, he does not have many memories of her because she passed away following a heart attack when Ice was in third grade. Four years later his father too died of a heart attack leaving Ice alone. He was an only child who lost both his parents very early on in life. Following the death of his father, Ice had to move in with his aunt in South Central Los Angeles. By this time, he was in sixth grade. It was in LA that Ice got his first taste of inner city life.These everyday experiences would later lead to his career as a rapper and give him the integrity and authority to speak up against gang violence. None of his friends took interest in studies, but Ice was different, he secretly ditched his friends to attend school and graduated from high school with good grades.Before becoming a rapping icon, Ice T was enrolled in the United States Army for four years. However, he later returned to Los Angeles where he lived as a self-styled hustler. Crime kept his pockets warm for a while but then he got fed up and when a friend suggested he give rap a chance, Ice abandoned hustling completely. Tracy Marrow became Ice T with the help of Robert Maupin Beck III. Robert’s pen name Iceberg Slim became the inspiration for Marrow’s own name. In 1987, Ice signed with Sire Records and released his debut album, Rhyme Pays a year later. The album went gold. Ice gained more popularity when his theme song featured in the movie Colors. He released two more albums in the 80s becoming the most promising star of the West Coast rap. His 1991 album O.G. Original Gangster played a key role in developing the gangster rap genre.In 1992, Ice released Cop Killer which became the most controversial and talked about song of his career. Ice received plenty of criticism due the provocative lyrics towards police officers. During the course of the next several years, Ice produced a number of groundbreaking Billboard hits.Side by side to his rapping career, Ice was also proving his acting skills on screen. He acted in several films including Trespass, New Jack City, Ricochet and Johnny Mnemonic. Parallel to Hollywood, Ice T also made guest appearances on television and even had his very own reality show on VH1 called Ice T’s Rap School. However, his most memorable performance was that of playing Detective Odafin Tutuola in Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.Ice-T was interviewed for the Cannibal Corpse retrospective documentary Centuries of Torment, as well as appearing in Chris Rock’s 2009 documentary Good Hair, in which he reminisced about going to school in hair curlers.A 2016 advertisement for GEICO features Ice-T behind a lemonade stand run by children. When people ask if it’s Ice-T, the actor yells back, “No, it’s lemonade!”In 2020, Ice-T competed on The Masked Singer spin-off The Masked Dancer where he portrayed “Disco Ball” and was the first to be eliminated.On June 12, 2011, E! reality show Ice Loves Coco debuted. The show is mostly about his relationship with his wife, Nicole “Coco” Austin.• In the Rick and Morty episode “Get Schwifty”, “Ice-T” (voiced by show creator Dan Harmon) is portrayed as secretly being alien royalty exiled to Earth, whose natural shape is revealed to be a letter T made of water. Ice-T reacted on Twitter by saying “This happens with cartoonists after lots of drugs…. Fn Crazy!!”• Stand-up comedian John Mulaney dedicates a long segment on his comedy special New in Town to the humorous expositional nature of Ice-T’s role on Special Victims Unit, saying that his function on the show is to be perpetually amazed by bad things, despite being in a sex crimes unit.Ice cites writer Iceberg Slim and rapper Schoolly D as influences, with Iceberg Slim’s novels guiding his skills as a lyricist. His favorite heavy rock acts are Edgar Winter, Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath.His hip hop albums helped shape gangsta rap, with music journalists tracing works of artists such as Tupac Shakur, Notorious B.I.G., Eminem and N.W.A to “6 in the Mornin'”.A love of rock led Ice to use guitar in his albums, to provide his songs with edge and power, and to make his raps harder. He drew on the fusion of rock and hip hop by Rick Rubin-produced acts such as Beastie Boys, Run-DMC and LL Cool J, who featured rock samples in their songs.Body Count – whose 1992 debut album Ice described as a “rock album with a rap mentality” – is described as paving the way for the success of rap rock fusions by acts like Kid Rock and Limp Bizkit. However, Ice-T states that the band’s style does not fuse the two genres, and that Body Count is solely a rock band.In Hip Hop Connection, Ice listed his favourite rap albums: 10. Beastie Boys, Licensed to Ill 9. Eric B. & Rakim, Paid in Full 8. N.W.A, Straight Outta Compton 7. Wu-Tang Clan, Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) 6. The Notorious B.I.G., Ready to Die 5. Dr. Dre, The Chronic 4. Boogie Down Productions, Criminal Minded 3. Ultramagnetic MCs, Critical Beatdown 2. Public Enemy, It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back 1. Run-DMC, Run-DMC.On March 20, 1976, Marrow’s high school girlfriend Adrienne gave birth to their daughter LeTesha Marrow, and they continued attending high school while raising her. While filming Breakin’ in 1984, he met his second girlfriend Darlene Ortiz, who was at the club where the film was shot.They began a relationship and Ortiz was featured on the covers of Rhyme Pays and Power. Ice-T and Ortiz had son Ice Tracy Marrow, Jr. on Nov. 23, 1991.Ice-T married swimsuit model Nicole “Coco Marie” Austin in January 2002. In celebration of their impending 9th wedding anniversary, the couple renewed their wedding vows on June 4, 2011. As of 2006, they owned a penthouse apartment in North Bergen, New Jersey. In 2012, they were building a five-bedroom house in Edgewater, New Jersey, that was expected to be completed by the end of the year. In 2015, the couple had their first child together, daughter Chanel.During the popularity of Public Enemy, Ice-T was closely associated with the band and his recordings of the time showed a similar political viewpoint. He was referred to as “The Soldier of the Highest Degree” in the booklet for Fear of a Black Planet and mentioned on the track “Leave This Off Your Fuckin’ Charts”. He also collaborated with fellow anti-censorship campaigner Jello Biafra on his album The Iceberg/Freedom of Speech… Just Watch What You Say!.On June 5, 2008, Ice-T joked that he would be voting for John McCain in the 2008 American elections, speculating that his past affiliation with Body Count could hurt Barack Obama’s chances if he endorsed him, so he would choose instead to ruin John McCain’s campaign by saying he supported him. Research more about this great American Champion and share it with your babies. Make it a champion day!
AUTOMOTIVE HISTORY – FEBRUARY 15, 2002 – The Last Plymouth ProwlerIn 1993, as a followup to the Dodge Viper, Chrysler rolled out the Plymouth Prowler concept car. With a design influenced in part by famed hot rod builder Chip Foose, the car received enough consumer attention that it was put into production in 1997. The first production Prowlers featured a 214 hp V6 linked to an automatic transmission. In 1999, after a one year hiatus, the car returned with an upgraded 253 hp V6 and a semi-auto 4 speed. The car remained in production as a Plymouth until the brand was shuttered in 2001, at which point the car was rebadged as a Chrysler until the last one left the assembly line on this day in 2002. All together, 11,702 Prowlers were manufactured.Make it a champion day!
GM – FBF – Today’s American Champion was an American lawyer and jurist from Baltimore, Maryland. Cole was also a member of the Maryland State Senate and the first African-American ever elected to the Maryland Senate and the first African-American to serve on the Maryland Court of Appeals.Today in our History – February 14, 1999 – Harry A. Cole dies.Born in Washington, D.C., Cole was one of five children. His father died while he was an infant and his mother moved the family back to Baltimore where she had grown up. Cole attended Baltimore public schools and graduated from Douglass High School, He then attended and graduated as class valedictorian from Morgan State College with an A.B. in 1943. Immediately after college, Cole joined the U.S. Army where he was commissioned as a 1st Lieutenant in the Quartermaster Corps. He received an honorable discharge in 1946. Cole resumed his education and went on to the University of Maryland Law School where he earned an LL.B. in 1949. He was admitted to the Maryland Bar in 1949. Associate Judge, Municipal Court of Baltimore City, 1967. Associate Judge, Supreme Bench of Baltimore City (now Circuit Court), 1967-77. Associate Judge, Maryland Court of Appeals, 1977-91.Cole married the former Doris Freeland in 1958; three daughters: Susan, Harriette and Stephanie. He died of pneumonia at Church Home, Baltimore, Maryland on February 14, 1999. Research more about this great American Champion and share it with your babies. Make it a champion day!
GM – FBF – Today’s American Champion was the first black floor member and floor broker in the New York Stock Exchange.Today in our History – February 13, 1970 – Joseph L. Searles III is the first black person permitted to trade on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.“It’s a personal challenge to me as a Black man to become part of the economic mainstream of this country,” said Joseph L. Searles, III, a multi-faceted man whose legacy encompassed a passion for education, sports, politics and business.Raised in Fort Hood, Texas, Searles exhibited an early love for sports, playing on a battalion team when he was young. In his adolescence, when Killeen High School first integrated, he became its first Black player. This would become one of many firsts in his lifetime.His athletic interest continued into college, where at Kansas State University he earned an undergraduate degree in political science while playing football. With his eyes set on more education, he attended George Washington University and obtained a law degree. But, he staved off entry into the traditional work force to pursue professional football with the New York Giants, joining the team for a salary of $14,000 a year, during an era where a revolution in social norms made way for many African-Americans to be included in fields and arenas where they once weren’t.In 1967, he ended his sports career with the Giants and switched gears, employing his knowledge of law and politics by working as an aide to New York City Mayor, John Lindsay. While there, he became a protégé of Lindsay’s, making strides towards his goal of impacting the economic mainstream with two gubernatorial appointments as Chairman and Director of the New York Mortgage Agency, an agency providing low interest mortgages to low and moderate first-time home buyers.Searles managed municipal housing issues valued at more $600 million while tenured there, a true commitment positively impacting New York residents in the sixties with dreams of home ownership.Building upon a first by Clarence B. Jones— the first Black NewYork Stock Exchange member—it was Searles’ small stint as the first Black trader on the actual floor in 1970 that propelled him into history. Others took notice. Just one year later, in 1971, the exchange admitted its first Black-owned member firm, Daniels & Bell, Inc. founded by Travers Bell and Willie E. Daniels.The Black-owned Harlem Securities became a NYSE member firm later that year. Daniels & Bells underwrote securities for up and coming minority-owned businesses for upwards of $15 million until the late 1980s. But after the death of co-founder, Travers, the company declined on Wall Street and lost NYSE membership, eventually closing in 1994.However, Searles still wanted to make a broader impact than just on the floor of the exchange. So, with a bear market upon the economy, he left the “Big Board” (as the NYSE is called), continuing his career in finance working for Manufacturers Hanover Trust Co. (MHTC), a large bank that would later become a subsidiary by the corporation of the same name. The bank merged into Chemical Banking Corporation for $1.9 million in 1991.Searles followed his time at MHTC, by joining investment firm Newburger Loeb and Co. as a floor partner and broker. Searles continued to build his legacy, serving his community by choosing management positions which allowed him to leverage his responsibilities with strong urban initiatives as deputy commissioner of the New York Economic Development Administration. He also held a senior position at the Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation and the Center for Advocacy Research and Planning, and as the first chairman of the 125th Business Improvement District in Harlem.Searles’ legacy is rich, and as multifaceted as him, leaving an indelible mark on the financial urban legacy of Black Americans in New York and beyond. Research more about this great American Champion and share it with your babies. Make it a champion day!
GM – FBF – Today’s American Champion was an American gospel composer, singer, pianist, arranger and choral organizer, helped launch the careers of many other gospel artists through her group, The Roberta Martin Singers. Today in our History – February 12, 1907 – Roberta Evelyn Martin (February 12, 1907 – January 18, 1969) was born.In the liner notes to the 1979 album The Best of the Roberta Martin Singers, gospel music historian Clayton Hannah wrote, “Although Thomas A. Dorsey is credited as the originator of gospel music, and Mahalia Jackson received the highest acclaim, Roberta Martin unequivocally made the greatest contribution.She created and left a dynasty of gospel singers and a portfolio of unduplicated gospel music.” Indeed, the sound Martin created defined an entire era in the story of gospel, and profoundly influenced the musicians who have carried the gospel torch into its more recent days.Roberta Martin was born Roberta Evelyn Winston on February 12, 1907, in Helena, Arkansas, a Mississippi River Delta town with a rich and colorful musical history. She was one of six children of Anna and William Winston. As a toddler, Martin would pick out melodies on the piano, and she began taking piano lessons with her oldest brother’s wife at age six. Her early piano instruction was entirely in the classical repertoire; she never heard the inspirational music now known as “gospel” until years later.When she was eight years old, her family moved north, settling first in Cairo, Illinois, then in Chicago two years later. At Chicago’s Wendell Phillips High School, Martin continued to study piano with the school’s choral director, Mildred Bryant Jones. She also began performing regularly at Sunday school and church events. After graduating from Phillips, she began studying music at Northwestern University in nearby Evanston, Illinois, with the hope of launching a career as a concert pianist.Began as Accompanist in 1930sIn 1931 Martin was hired as accompanist for the Young People’s Choir of Ebenezer Baptist Church, where she worked under the guidance of Thomas A. Dorsey and Theodore Frye. Dorsey and Frye would go on to become mentors of a sort to Martin, helping establish her as a leading practitioner of gospel in the early phase of her career. She had still never heard gospel music up to this time; her work at the church consisted of traditional hymns and spirituals, religious choral music, and secular songs. In 1933 Martin finally heard gospel music for the first time when gospel pioneer Bertha Wise and her group came to perform at the Ebenezer Baptist Church. It proved to be a life changing experience. Dorsey and Frye, who were as impressed as Martin was by the Wise ensemble’s performance, convinced Martin that gospel was the way to go for music in church, and later that year the Martin-Frye Quartet was formed. The group, an all-male vocal ensemble, originally consisted of Eugene Smith, Robert Anderson, Willie Webb, and Norsalus McKissick, with Martin accompanying them on piano and contributing the occasional vocal solo. Other early members included James Lawrence and Romance Watson. The Quartet was renamed the Roberta Martin Singers in 1936.In 1939 Martin became a businessperson, launching the Roberta Martin Studio of Music. One of the Studio’s primary functions was as publisher of Martin’s original compositions, and it soon became one of the largest publishers of gospel music in Chicago. Over the next several years, Martin and her ensemble essentially defined the sound we now know as “gospel.” In the mid-1940s, Martin changed the formula by adding women to the group, the first being Bessie Folk and Delois Barrett Campbell, becoming the first prominent small gospel ensemble to include both male and female voices. By creating a mixed-gender group, Martin forged a distinct sound that successfully melded the ranges and textures of male and female voices. They were able to produce more complex and subtle harmonies than gospel audiences were accustomed to hearing in the past. This effect was further supported by Martin’s piano prowess, which because of her advanced classical piano training was more sophisticated than the accompaniment behind most gospel groups.Established Classic Gospel Sound in 1940sThe sound created by the Roberta Martin Singers stood out in other ways as well. Author Anthony Heilbut, in his liner notes for a 1973 Martin album, described the sound as combining “the Baptist moan of her Arkansas childhood with the Dorsey bounce, the sanctified church’s syncopation, and a smidgeon of semiclassical pretension.” This blend gave rise to what has come to be called classic gospel music. More than a sound, however, Martin and her group introduced a school, or approach, to religious music that laid the foundation for the development of a musical genre that was then in its infancy. The wide range of voices available created opportunities for innovative voicings and harmonies. Martin taught her singers to sing slightly behind the beat, creating a subtle “swing” to the timing. She preached a smooth, nuanced style with varied dynamics and dramatic surges of power. While her arrangements featured close harmonies that showcased a skilled blending of voices, Martin was also interested in highlighting the unique identity of each individual voice, allowing the singers to express themselves with semi-improvised freedom at times.These elements were then bound together by Martin’s piano accompaniment. Martin essentially invented gospel piano playing; there was no standard gospel piano style or technique before she came along, though gospel scholar Bil Carpenter has written in the on-line All Music Guide that she copied her style from blind pianist Arizona Dranes.The style she pioneered incorporated rhythmic octaves played with the left hand underpinning complex, colorful chord progressions, played in less rigid rhythmic patterns with right. This foundation provided the perfect backdrop for the group’s rich vocal harmonies. But rather than merely providing that backdrop, the piano part was integral to the vocals, responding to and interplaying with the melodic lines and vocal counterpoints. The piano also set the mood for the song, with introductory licks, often played while a narrator provided verbal setup. Horace Clarence Boyer wrote in his chapter of the book We’ll Understand Better By and By that “Roberta Martin played gospel with the nuances of a Horowitz, the inventions of an Ellington, and the power of an Erroll Garner, all the while playing ‘straight from the church’.”Demand for performances by the Roberta Martin Singers was strong throughout the 1940s and onward, and they were among the most often recorded gospel groups in the country. During the 1940s, they recorded on the Apollo label. Much of this early material was later reissued by Kenwood Records on the 1979 album The Roberta Martin Singers: The Old Ship of Zion. In 1947 Martin married James Austin. The couple had one child, son Leonard Austin. Martin continued to sing, play piano, and travel with the Roberta Martin Singers through the late 1940s. Around that time, she decided to stop performing regularly with the group in order to concentrate her attention on music composition and arrangement, and to tend to the operation of her music publishing business. Martin’s role as accompanist was taken on by Lucy Smith Collier, whose style was similar to Martin’s and therefore did not disrupt the unique sound the group had established over the years.Recorded Gospel Classics in 1950s and 1960sThe Roberta Martin Singers’ heyday lasted from about the mid-1950s to the mid-1960s, after Martin herself had already stopped performing with the group. During this period, the group’s mos Today in our History – February 12, 1907 – Roberta Evelyn Martin (February 12, 1907 – January 18, 1969) was born.t prolific, the Singers appeared on the Savoy label, recording many of Martin’s most famous and enduring compositions. Research more about this great American Champion and share it with your babies. Make it a champion day!
GM – FBF – Today’s American Champion was noted as the first female preacher, adds value in the purpose of women to be in a church. Born into a free black family, Lee quickly learned how sinful slavery truly is. At a time period of segregation and unequal privilege, Richard Allen gave her the opportunity for her voice to be heard. Going up against racial and gender issues, she found her home and ability to let her voice be heard at the African Methodist Episcopal Church, in 1819. She was part of the Second Great Awakening. She was also the first African American woman to have an autobiography published in the United States.Today in our History – February 11, 1783 – Jarena Lee (February 11, 1783 – February 3, 1864) was born.A Christian Voice . Despite the limitations of being both a woman and an African American, Jarena Lee became an important religious voice in early national America. She struggled successfully to become one of the first female preachers in the United States. She later recorded her experiences in one of the first African American spiritual autobiographies to be written, a memoir still in print today.Conversion. Jarena Lee was born in southern New Jersey in 1783. Unlike most African Americans of her day, she did not experience slavery directly, although she was removed from her parents at a young age. She considered herself “born again” after a conversion experience in 1804, and the development of her spirituality became central to her life from that point on. For many years she struggled with the implications of this experience, at times feeling deep, almost suicidal, despair, and at other times feeling that she was approaching the state of “sanctification,” a sense of being always graced by God. By this time Lee had moved to Philadelphia.She became a member of Richard Allen’s Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church. One Sunday she stood up in church and interrupted a visiting male minister to witness to Jesus’ saving action in her own life, a step taken by few American women, black or white, before her.Public Preaching . In 1811 Lee went even further. She told Allen she had been called by God to preach to others. Allen discouraged Lee from pursuing this path, and for a time she took his advice. She married another minister, Joseph Lee, and moved with him to his church just outside Philadelphia. The Lees had two children, but Jarena was soon left a widow and returned to Philadelphia. In 1819 she stood up again in Bethel Church and interrupted the minister. On this occasion, rather than speak of her own experience, she gave her own interpretation of the day’s Bible text, a further assertion of her spiritual authority. Richard Allen encouraged her this time and sanctioned her new vocation. Lee then became an itinerant revivalist, traveling up and down the East Coast and as far west as Ohio, seeking converts everywhere.In 1827 alone Lee traveled more than two thousand miles and preached 180 times. She spread her message even further with the 1836 publication of The Life and Religious Experience of Jarena Lee, A Coloured Lady, Giving an Account of Her Call to Preach the Gospel. The Methodist Church complained about the quality of the writing in this work and refused Lee’s request for sponsorship for a later edition. Despite her race and lack of education, she raised the necessary money from other sources and oversaw the work herself, bringing out the new version in 1849. Unfortunately, nothing is known of Lee’s life after the late 1840s. Research more about this great American Champion and share it with your babies. Make it a champion day!
GM – FBF – Today’s American Champion story starts like this: one day in early February 1886, Frank Carl Bedke, a 41-year-old Prussian- born cattleman, mortally wounded 30-year old black Mormon sheepherder Gobo Fango while the latter was tending his woollies in southern Idaho Territory. At least two accounts of the shooting exist, but unanswered questions remain 125 years later. One account comes from Oakley Justice of the Peace Claus Herman Karlson, who transcribed Fango’s version of the story from the victim’s deathbed. Herman E. Bedke, a grandson of the shooter, provided the second account in the 1970s.Today in our History – February 10, 1886 – GOBO FANGO DIED.Gobo Fango was born in the Eastern Cape Colony in what is now South Africa around 1855, just before the beginning of the eighth of the nine Xhosa Wars (Cape Frontier Wars) against British and Boer settlers. Fango was a member of the Gcaleka tribe, a sub-group of the Xhosa peoples. These frontier wars brought poverty and privation to the Xhosa people forcing his starving mother to abandon him at the age of three, leaving him in the crotch of a tree where he was found by the sons of Henry and Ruth Talbot, English-speaking settlers on the Cape Frontier. They claimed him and raised him as an indentured servant. Two years later, in 1857, the Talbot family was baptized by Latter Day Saint (LDS) missionaries. Shortly afterwards the Talbots sold their belongings and made preparations for the migration to Utah Territory. On February 20, 1861, they boarded the ship Race Horse, bound for Boston, Massachusetts and from there took a train to Chicago, Illinois. Arriving in Chicago on the eve of the Civil War, abolitionists accused the Talbots of bringing a slave across the free states, forcing them to hide the six-year-old under a passenger’s skirts until the search ended.The Talbot family continued west through Iowa and to Florence, Nebraska Territory and outfitted wagons for their remaining trek to Utah. They arrived in Salt Lake City on September 13, 1861 and eventually settled in Kaysville, Utah, where Fango worked as a farm laborer for the Talbots. Because he slept in a shed, his feet were frozen, forcing him to walk with a limp for the rest of his life.When Fango was a teenager, the Talbots sold him to the Lewis Whitesides family even though he was officially freed at the age of seven when the U.S. Congress abolished slavery and indentured servitude in all U.S. territories including Utah. Fango was sold again (illegally) to Ruth Whitesides Hunter and brought to Grantsville where he helped with the family’s sheep herding. By the early 1880s he had settled in the Goose Creek Valley in Idaho Territory. By this point Fango was free of any obligations to others and ran his own sheep herding ranch.The longstanding region-wide rivalry between cattlemen and sheep herders eventually involved Fango when in 1886 cattlemen in Goose Creek issued an edict demanding the departure of all sheepmen from the valley. When cowman Frank Bedke accused Fango of trespassing on land reserved for cattle grazing, Fango asked for evidence of Bedke’s ownership of the land. Bedke, in response, shot Fango. Mortally wounded, Fango crawled to a farmhouse where he dictated his will, leaving money to several members of the Hunter family, to the Salt Lake LDS Temple fund, and to the “needy poor people.”Bedke was brought up on charges of murder, but the jury could not reach a unanimous verdict. In a second trial, the jury found that Bedke had killed Gobo Fango in an act of self-defense, and he was acquitted.Gobo Fango came to the western United States because of the Talbots’ Mormon conversion, and his story has been used in multiple ways (often inaccurately) to teach faith. In fact, there is no record that he was baptized. Those who believe he was lovingly “adopted” presume that he had been baptized. The fact that he apparently hadn’t been indicates that his story is actually one of slavery, re-cast as one of a white family tenderly caring for an abandoned black boy. Fango’s grave in the Oakley, Idaho, cemetery is marked simply: “Gobo Fango, died February 10, 1886, 30 years old.”Research more about this great American Champion and share it with your babies. Make it a champion day!
GM – FBF – Today’s American Champion is an American singer and songwriter whose smooth style influenced rhythm and blues. Today in our History – February 9, Barbara Ann Lewis was born.Lewis was born in Salem, Michigan, United States. She was writing and recording by her teens with record producer Ollie McLaughlin, a black DJ at Ann Arbor radio station WHRV, now WAAM.Lewis’ first single release in 1962, the uptempo “My Heart Went Do Dat Da,” did not chart nationally, but was a local hit in the Detroit, Michigan area. She wrote all of the songs on her debut LP, including the hit “Hello Stranger” which reached No. 3 on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart, and featured extensive use of the Hammond organ.Lewis had moderate follow-up hits with “Straighten Up Your Heart” (#43) and her original “Puppy Love” (#38) before Bert Berns produced her million-seller “Baby I’m Yours” (U.S. #11), written by Van McCoy. Berns also produced the followup “Make Me Your Baby” (U.S. #11) which had originally been recorded by the Pixies Three, and Lewis’ final Top 40 hit “Make Me Belong to You” (#28 in 1966), written by Chip Taylor and Billy Vera. On August 8, 1969, together with actress Joanna Pettet, Lewis had lunch at the house of Sharon Tate in Benedict Canyon, Los Angeles, a few hours before Tate’s murder there during the night that followed.At the end of the decade, she released a grittier-sounding album on Stax Records.Over the next decade, a number of other artists had success with Lewis’ songs. Her own composition “Hello Stranger” — which had been remade in 1966 by the Capitols — was a regional hit in 1973 as remade by Fire & Rain and in 1977 Yvonne Elliman’s version reached the US Top 20 and the UK Singles Chart Top 30: Elliman’s version also topped the US Easy Listening chart for four weeks. In 1985 Carrie Lucas’ remake of “Hello Stranger” was a Top 20 R&B hit and in 2004 Queen Latifah remade “Hello Stranger” for her The Dana Owens Album.Lewis had dropped out of public view for years after her career slowed in the 1960s.It was only after Elliman’s hit in 1977 that she was tracked down by Casey Kasem for his AT40 show on 6-4-77. According to Casey nobody knew where she ended up, including her agent who did not even know how to send her checks for the Elliman recording of her song. According to Kasem she was hoping to be rediscovered in Michigan when he found her.”Baby I’m Yours” charted in versions by country singer Jody Miller and Debby Boone (the B-side of her single “God Knows”). In Canada, Suzanne Stevens had a hit in 1975 with a disco version of “Make Me Your Baby”. Cover versions of her songs continue into the new millennium with the Arctic Monkeys including a version of “Baby I’m Yours” as a B-side to their 2006 single “Leave Before the Lights Come On”.In 1995, Lewis’ “Baby I’m Yours” was featured on the soundtrack for the film The Bridges of Madison County, and in 2016 “Hello Stranger” was featured on the soundtrack for the film Moonlight. She received the Pioneer Award from the Rhythm and Blues Foundation in 1999.In 2016, Barbara Lewis was inducted into the Michigan Rock and Roll Legends Hall of Fame. Health issues forced Lewis to retire from singing in 2017. Research more about this great American Champion and share it with your babies. Make it a champion day!