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Brown, Cleo(patra)

chicago pianist jazz piano

Brown, Cleo(patra) jazz pianist, singer; b. Meridian, Miss., Dec. 8, 1909; d. Denver, Colo., April 15, 1995. She was a creative two-handed pianist who was admired by Dave Brubeck, but whose singing overshadowed her instrumental ability. Her brother, Everett, was a pianist; their father was the pastor of the Pilgrim Baptist Church in Meridan. In 1919 when the family moved to Chicago, Cleo studied music and began playing piano for a touring show. During the late 1920s she played several residencies in and around Chicago, and also gigged with various bands. In 1932, while playing and singing in a local rumba band, she was signed by Texas Guiñan and began appearing regularly on Chicago radio programs. She then had her own series on WABC, led her own group at Three Deuces, Chicago, made extensive recordings, and appeared regularly in N.Y. and Hollywood during the late 1930s. After working as a piano teacher, she was taken seriously ill and was in a Calif, sanatorium from late 1940 until 1942. In the late 1940s, she moved to Los Angeles, making her last jazz recording in 1949. In 1973, she settled in Denver, where she found religion and focussed on writing and performing hymns and gospel material under the name of C. Patra Brown. She made a late-life appearance on Marian McPartland’s Piano Jazz series in 1987.

Brown, Clifford (Brownie) [next] [back] Brown, Christina - Overview, Personal Life, Career Details, Chronology: Christina Brown, Social and Economic Impact

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