Mildred Hemmons Carter & the Tuskegee Airmen Legacy

Mildred Hemmons Carter

(September 14, 1921 – October 26, 2011)

Mildred Hemmons was born on September 14, 1921 in Benson, Alabama.  She graduated high school at age 15 and went on to earn her Business degree by age of 19 at Tuskegee Institute. She applied for the Civilian Pilot Training Program to pursue her interest in flying. She is considered part of the Tuskegee Airmen Legacy as the first female pilot to join the Alabama state’s Civil Air Patrol Squadron in 1942. Though a skilled pilot and a pioneer, she was unable to soar to her full potential as a fighter pilot during World War II.

“I did the next best thing. I married a fighter pilot.” 

Mildred (Hemmons) married Col. Herbert E.Carter in August of 1942. Col. Herbert E.Carter, was one of the 33 original Tuskegee Airmen pilots.  Their mid-air courtship began with mile-high dates doing what they both loved (flying side by side)… a love affair that lasted 68 years of marriage until her passing.

Mildred H. Carter

Photo Credit: (l) Alabama Aviator (r) Robert Johnson/CNN

More about her: 70th commemoration and The Carter Legacy.

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Paul Revere Williams, Architect

Paul R. Williams

Architect to the Stars

Paul Revere Williams, FAIA (February 18, 1894 – January 23, 1980) was a Los Angeles-based, American architect. He practiced largely in Southern California and designed the homes of numerous stars including Frank Sinatra, Lucille Ball/Desi Arnaz, Lon Chaney, and Charles Correll. He also designed many public and private buildings.  From Wikipedia

Paul Revere Williams, Architect. Photo: http://www.paulrwilliamsproject.org

Paul R. Williams (l) and Arthur Froehlich (r) Photo: http://www.paulrwilliamsproject.org

Saks Fifth Avenue in Beverly Hills, CA – Architect, Paul Revere Williams

Photo: Maynard Parker, Huntington Library

For more on Paul Williams’ and his legacy, please visit http://www.paulrwilliamsproject.org/ .

Anne Lowe: The Woman Behind The Dress

A woman’s power lies in her ability to create

Jackie Kennedy chose New York designer Ann Lowe to create the Perfect Gown for her Special Day.

 photo: Jacqueline Bouvier-Kennedy’s Wedding dress designed by Ann Lowe, stands on display at Kennedy Library in Boston

The Dress, cited as one of the memorable bridal gowns of all time, was made from approximately 50 feet of ivory silk taffeta. 

photo: Ann Lowe, Designer

Little is known about the woman who led a quiet life yet made her mark in her ability to ‘create’.

Anne Lowe (born Anne Cole Lowe, 1898-1981) was an African-American fashion designer who designed the wedding dress for Jacqueline Bouvier when she married John F. Kennedy.

She was born in Clayton, Alabama[1] the great granddaughter of a slave and plantation owner[2]

She married in 1912 at age 14 and enrolled in a fashion school in New York City in 1917. After graduation she opened a salon in Tampa, Florida before returning to New York in 1928 where she worked on commission for stores such as Chez Sonia. In 1946 she designed the dress that Olivia de Havilland wore to accept the Academy Award for Best Actress for To Each His Own (film) — although the name on the dress was Sonia Rosenberg.[2]

She designed for various upper crust New Yorkers including the ivory-silk-taffeta wedding dress for Jacqueline Kennedy in 1953.

She worked her later years at Saks Fifth Avenue where she was featured in a 1960 advertisement.[2]

Felled by glaucoma she lost an eye but continued to design through 1960 for Madeline Couture and briefly operated Ann Lowe Originals on Madison Avenue in New York.

Source: Wikipedia

Harlem Renaissance Elegance

A’Leila Bundles, author of “On Her Own Ground: The Life and Times of Madam CJ Walker” shares pictures of her grandmother on the day of her wedding. 

Twentieth Century elegance in all its splendor! The story behind the photos is a great read!

photo: Bride, Mae Walker, Wedding Day, 1923

All Photos: www.aleliabundles.com and www.madamcjwalker.com

We recommend  the book “On Her Own Ground: The Life and Times of Madam CJ Walker” by A’Leila Bundles

For more information about the A’Lelia Bundles, visit her websites at www.aleliabundles.com and www.madamcjwalker.com. She also is on Facebook at A’Lelia Bundles and at Madam Walker/A’Lelia Walker Family Archives.

Duke Ellington

The LEGENDARY Duke Ellington

Edward Kennedy “Duke” Ellington (April 29, 1899 – May 24, 1974) was an American composer, pianist, and big band leader. Ellington wrote over 1,000 compositions. In the words of Bob Blumenthal of The Boston Globe “In the century since his birth, there has been no greater composer, American or otherwise, than Edward Kennedy Ellington.”[1]

A major figure in the history of jazz, Ellington’s music stretched into various other genres, including blues, gospel, film scores, popular, and classical. His career spanned more than 50 years and included leading his orchestra, composing an inexhaustible songbook, scoring for movies, composing stage musicals, and world tours. Several of his instrumental works were adapted into songs that became standards. Due to his inventive use of the orchestra, or big band, and thanks to his eloquence and extraordinary charisma, he is generally considered to have elevated the perception of jazz to an art form on a par with other traditional genres of music. His reputation increased after his death and the Pulitzer Prize Board bestowed on him a special posthumous honor in 1999.[2]

Ellington called his music “American Music” rather than jazz, and liked to describe those who impressed him as “beyond category.”[3] These included many of the musicians who were members of his orchestra, some of whom are considered among the best in jazz in their own right, but it was Ellington who melded them into one of the most well-known jazz orchestral units in the history of jazz. He often composed specifically for the style and skills of these individuals, such as “Jeep’s Blues” for Johnny Hodges, “Concerto for Cootie” for Cootie Williams, which later became “Do Nothing Till You Hear from Me” with Bob Russell’s lyrics, and “The Mooche” for Tricky Sam Nanton and Bubber Miley. He also recorded songs written by his bandsmen, such as Juan Tizol’s “Caravan” and “Perdido” which brought the ‘Spanish Tinge’ to big-band jazz. Several members of the orchestra remained there for several decades. After 1941, he frequently collaborated with composer-arranger-pianist Billy Strayhorn, whom he called his “writing and arranging companion.”[4] Ellington recorded for many American record companies, and appeared in several films.

Ellington led his band from 1923 until his death in 1974. His son Mercer Ellington, who had already been handling all administrative aspects of his father’s business for several decades, led the band until his own death in 1996. At that point, the original band dissolved. Paul Ellington, Mercer’s youngest son and executor of the Duke Ellington estate,[5] kept the Duke Ellington Orchestra going from Mercer’s death onwards.

We highly recommend the book Music is My Mistress…

This book allows a glimpse into the elegance and influence of his Genius. A Must for the Jazz Enthusiast.

Betty Carter

photo: http://www.bettycarter.org

Betty Carter (born Lillie Mae Jones, May 16, 1929 – September 26, 1998) was an American Jazz singer renown for her captivating voice and vocal style. She will always be remembered.

 To learn more about this extraordinary woman go to http://www.bettycarter.org

A sound so unique it was considered as specific as her own fingerprint, Betty Carter’s voice is still thought of today more as a musical instrument then it ever was as a set of vocal cords. “Ms Carter is one of the very few jazz vocalists who can be counted on to approach the familiar from a totally unexpected, sometimes revelatory point of view.” The New York Times

“A free jazz voice; she had a floating quality that haunted me.” Ray Charles

“The greatest pure jazz singer.” Sarah Vaughan

My Favorite Betty Carter Song:

Look What I Got

(Song Lyrics from Album Look What I Got)

To have his love is all that a girl could want

To hold him close is heaven

To watch the sun come up each day

With joy I took a chance and there he was

For me

He took my hand and said will you be my wife

Fantasy had come true and now

My world is sweet and nice and smooth

For he is all I’ll ever need

In life

Look what I got to kiss every night now

Look what I got to hold hands in the park with

I got a man

Our love is strong

Because we both understand

That we must work together

To make this marriage work

With grace, with care

Somehow its gonna be wonderful

Wonderful, Ohhh…

Look what I got

At Christmas, I got love

I got love

I got love

Lena Horne

Today we lost a Legend.

(June 30, 1917 – May 9, 2010)

Lena Mary Calhoun Horne  was an American singer, actress, civil rights activist and dancer.

Horne joined the chorus of the Cotton Club at the age of sixteen and became a nightclub performer before moving to Hollywood, where she had small parts in numerous movies, and more substantial parts in the films Cabin in the Sky and Stormy Weather. Due to the Red Scare and her left-leaning political views, Horne found herself blacklisted and unable to get work in Hollywood.

Returning to her roots as a nightclub performer, Horne took part in the March on Washington in August 1963, and continued to work as a performer, both in nightclubs and on television, while releasing well-received record albums. She announced her retirement in March 1980, but the next year starred in a one-woman show, Lena Horne: The Lady and Her Music, which ran for more than three hundred performances on Broadway and earned her numerous awards and accolades. She continued recording and performing sporadically into the 1990s, disappearing from the public eye in 2000. (source: wikipedia)