Edward Kennedy Ellington, also known as Duke Ellington, was an important part of the Harlem Renaissance and music industry. Ellington’s life was full of opportunities, music, and jazz. Duke lived for his jobs and he died for them too.
Edward Kennedy Ellington was given birth by James Edward and Daisy Ellington on April 29, 1899, in Washington, D.C. Duke was born into a family with mixed religion as his mother was a Methodist and his father a Baptist which caused him an religious upbringing (“Duke Ellington Biography”). Ellington started to find his love for music when he started playing the piano at seven years old. Around the same time was when he earned his nickname “Duke” for his manners and posture. His parents gave birth to his younger sister, Ruth Ellington, when he was sixteen years old. Duke was very fond of baseball to the point that his first ever job was selling peanuts at the Washington Senators baseball games (“Who Is Duke Ellington? Everything You Need to Know”).
Education or Early Professional Careers
Duke had attended Armstrong Technical High School during his teenage years. After that he dropped out of Armstrong Manual Training School, where he was studying commercial arts (“Who Is Duke Ellington? Everything You to Know”). He was even offered an art scholarship at Pratt Institution in Brooklyn but politely declined it for the sake of his career.
Profession Well-Known For
Being mostly known as “a prolific composer” (“Ellington, Duke 1899-1974”), Duke was loved by orchestras and bands for his leadership traits. He was recognized from his piano skills, being a fabulous composer, and bandleader for his orchestra. He created over two thousand songs for just himselfnm
As soon as he started to play songs by himself and with his band at the Cotton Club was when he became more noticable and famous.
Motivation or Inspiration Behind His Work
Both of Duke’s parents were professional pianist who helped and galvanised him as a kid to follow in their footsteps. Ellington had also been encouraged to start his career because of his idols, Willie “the Lion” Smith and James P. Johnson (“7 Things You Might Not Know About Duke Ellington”).
Harlem Renaissance Connection
Ellington was a part of the Harlem Renaissance that occured in 1919 to the mid 1930s. He was involved in the Harlem Renaissance simply due to the fact that, “he was a Jazz artist who played with a big band in popular clubs such as the Cotton club [in Harlem]” (“Duke Ellington Harlem Renaissance”).
According to PBS, “His mother, who also played the piano, oversaw his education, and by the time he was seventeen he began playing professionally” (“Duke Ellington”). When he was nineteen, he married Edna Thompson in 1918 and a year later had a son named Mercer Ellington. He was very proud about his race and where he came from so much to the point that some of his song titles included words that originated from his skin color. Ellington won around twelve Grammy awards and had around fifty years of his career. Sadly, Duke was diagnosed to have lung cancer in 1973 and died a year later for the same reason and a side of pneumonia (“Duke Ellington”). Before his passing, Ellington spoke his last words which were, “ Music is how I live, why I live, and how I will be remembered.”
Duke Ellington had an eventful life as a famous jazz musician and will be remembered as so. He lived out to all expectations set for famous songwriters and singers, but whether he did so or not, Duke will be remembered for a long time to come.