Performing Arts

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Art Blakey

Art Blakey

African American jazz drummer Art Blakey (1919-1990) was born in Pittsburgh, Pennyslvania. His mother died soon after he was born and he was raised by a family who were members of the Seventh Day Adventist Church.

Blakey began playing drums in clubs while he was still in his teens and was mentored by Chick Webb (1905-1939).

In 1942 Blakey went to New York. He toured with bands and orchestras before joining the Billy Erkstine band where he played alongside Miles Davis.

He formed his first Jazz Messengers big band in 1948. He then formed a quintet version of the Jazz Messengers in 1954. Various iterations of the Jazz Messengers continued for 35 years and included international tours as well as providing opportunities to play for generations of jazz musicians. Art Blakey was inducted into the Big Band Jazz Hall of Fame in 1982, the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2001 and was awarded a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2005.