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Thompson, Oscar (10 October 1887–03 July 1945), music critic, author, and lecturer, was born Oscar Lee Thompson in Crawfordsville, Indiana, one of two surviving sons of Will Henry Thompson, a merchant, and Ida Lee, an amateur musician. Educated in the private Academy of Dramatic Arts near his hometown, Thompson received a certificate in piano and voice and as a young adult intended to pursue a career as a singer. After a few marginally successful engagements on the concert platform in Indiana and Illinois in 1912, he redirected his career toward music criticism after being engaged as a part-time reviewer by a local newspaper. In 1914 he married Janviere Maybin in Tacoma, Washington; they had four children. He continued to write music, drama, and book reviews until 1917, when he enlisted in the U.S. Army....

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Verrett, Shirley (31 May 1931–5 Nov. 2010), opera singer, recitalist, and educator, was born in New Orleans, the second of six children of Leon and Elvira Verrett. Her parents had been among the growing number of African Americans who had converted to Seventh-Day Adventism, and the Verrett children were raised in a restrictive religious environment. Verrett’s earliest musical training came from her father, who wanted her to become a concert recitalist in the tradition of ...