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Denver, John (31 December 1943–12 October 1997), singer, songwriter, and environmental activist, was born Henry John Deutschendorf, Jr., in Roswell, New Mexico, the son of Henry John “Dutch” Deutschendorf, an air force pilot, and Erma Swope Deutschendorf. Dutch Deutschendorf's military career forced the family to move often, and John grew up a shy, self-conscious loner with few friends. He began taking guitar lessons when he was eleven, and in high school he used his natural talent for playing and singing to gain popularity. From 1961 to 1964 he studied architecture at Texas Tech University, but he quit school in his junior year and moved to Los Angeles, where he hoped to devote himself full time to a music career. Taking the name “John Denver,” he began playing at small folk clubs in the area with some success. He became a member of the “Backporch Majority,” which played on the back porch of Ledbetter's, a club owned by Randy Sparks of the New Christy Minstrels, a popular folk group. But folk music was in transition at this time, as electric guitars and drums were more often being used, much to the dismay of traditionalists....

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Paul Robeson As Othello. Photograph by Carl Van Vechten, 1944. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-111185).

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Robeson, Paul (09 April 1898–23 January 1976), actor, singer, and civil rights activist, was born Paul Leroy Robeson in Princeton, New Jersey, the son of William Drew Robeson, a Protestant minister, and Maria Louisa Bustill, a schoolteacher. Robeson’s mother died when he was six years old, and he grew up under the influence of a perfectionist father, a former runaway slave who fought in the Union army. During his senior year at the Somerville, New Jersey, high school, he achieved the highest score in a statewide scholarship examination to attend Rutgers College (later Rutgers University). The lone black at Rutgers as a freshman in 1915 and only the third African American to attend the institution, Robeson was an outstanding student and athlete. A varsity debater, he won class prizes for oratory all four years, was elected to Phi Beta Kappa as a junior, was one of four seniors chosen for membership in the Cap and Skull honorary society, and was named class valedictorian. The 6′ 3″, 215-pound Robeson earned twelve varsity letters in four sports (baseball, basketball, football, and track) and was twice named football All-America (1917 and 1918). According to former Yale coach ...