- Michael Cogswell
Kyser, Kay (18 June 1906–23 July 1985), bandleader, was born James King Kern Kyser in Rocky Mount, North Carolina, the son of Paul B. Kyser and Emily Royster Howell, both pharmacists. During his school years Kyser displayed an outgoing nature that foreshadowed his future career. In his senior year of high school he was class president, a cheerleader, coach of the junior varsity football team, editor of the yearbook, and a member of several academic clubs. Entering the University of North Carolina in 1924 to study law, he again was active as a cheerleader and as an impresario for campus musical productions. In 1926 he began to lead a band of six college musicians. Kyser, who never learned to read music or to play an instrument, functioned as a master of ceremonies. The band was a commercial success, largely because of Kyser’s showmanship, and during the next two years the group performed at dozens of college dances throughout the South and Midwest. After graduating in 1928 with a B.A., he completely devoted his time to leading the band....