Duke Ellington is considered to be one of the greatest figures in the history of American music. Edward Kennedy 'Duke' Ellington was born in Washington D.C. on April 29, 1899.
His parents were James Edward and Daisy Kennedy Ellington. They raised Duke as an only child, until his sister, Ruth, was born when Duke was sixteen years old.
Duke, even as a teenager, had a great talent for music. In the beginning of his musical life, Duke began to take a promising interest in a new type of music that would later be called jazz. Choosing to base his career on a new idea may not have been smart, but Duke did take this chance and in turn became one of the most famous musicians in America.
Duke's first job was at a government office. He was a clerk who received the minimum wage and was barely getting by. He would arrange dance bands for weddings and parties for extra money.
His mother taught him how to play the piano. Sometimes he put this knowledge to use and played at a few of the dance parties and weddings.
After Duke's first job, he became more interested in painting and the arts. For a few years he painted public posters. Duke then decided to put together his own band. At this point in his life things started to change for the better for Duke, but not for long. In those days, this new music was just beginning to develop and would later be given the name of jazz. In that time it was considered to be low and vulgar because it was music that grew directly out of the Black culture. In those early years, segregation was at one of its all time worst points in history. I think that is...