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date: 21 April 2021

Humes, Helenlocked

(23 June 1909–13 September 1981)
  • Barry Kernfeld

Extract

Humes, Helen (23 June 1909–13 September 1981), jazz, blues, and rhythm-and-blues singer, was born in Louisville, Kentucky, the daughter of John Henry Humes, a railroad worker who became one of the first African-American attorneys in Louisville and then worked in real estate, and Emma Johnson, a schoolteacher. “Well, I was born June 23, 1909, but I put it June 23, 1913. And everybody that’s been writing books and things, they got 1913,” Humes explained to Helen Oakley Dance. Her mother sang in a Baptist church choir and played piano at home. Humes sang with her mother and then took piano lessons as well. At Central High School her classmates included jazz trombonist ...

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