Felix Grant

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Felix Grant
Birth name Felix E. Grant
Born 1918 (1918)
Died 1993 (aged 74–75)
Genres Jazz, bossa nova, reggae
Occupations Disc jockey
Years active 1945–1993
Website Felix E. Grant Jazz Archives

Felix E. Grant (1918–1993) was a disk jockey who specialized in jazz during a long career (1945 to 1993) in radio and television in Washington, D.C.; primarily on station WMAL, the local ABC affiliate. In addition to playing records, he was distinguished for his many interviews with performers. Many of those interviews were recorded and are now retained in the Felix E. Grant Jazz Archives, housed at the University of the District of Columbia. The collection also includes many other materials collected by Grant during his nearly 50 year career on the radio.

Grant is also generally accepted as the person who introduced Brazilian music (primarily bossa nova) to United States performers and listeners.[1]

Grant is responsible for discovering Duke Ellington's birthplace (2129 Ward Pl., NW). Although the original house had been demolished, Grant began efforts to mark the site in 1987. A bronze plaque was placed on the building occupying the birth site along with a sign: the "Duke Ellington Building." Duke Ellington's son Mercer attended the dedication on Ellington's birthday in 1989. Grant was also responsible for renaming Western High School, Duke Ellington High School (now Duke Ellington School of the Arts) and for renaming the Calvert Street Bridge the Duke Ellington Bridge (1974). Documents in support of these events can be found in the Felix E. Grant Digital Collection.

His other credits included Brazil's highest award, the Order of the Southern Cross; recognition from the DC government, including plaques, proclamations, and the designation of Felix Grant Day in 1985; and the naming for him of a music-radio library at the University of Jamaica. He was chairman of the Brazilian-American Cultural Institute and president of Partners of Brasília. He established the Felix E. Grant Scholarship Fund at UDC.

Archives[edit]

The Felix E. Grant Jazz Archives are maintained by the Jazz Studies Program, College of Arts and Sciences, and the Learning Resources Division at the University of the District of Columbia. The majority of the holdings are commercially issued LPs (approx. 45,000) and CDs (10,000) in addition to reel-to-reel tapes, audio cassettes, 45s and 78s. Books, periodicals, photographs, and other paper materials complement the commercially-issued sound recordings. The Felix E. Grant Digital Collection gives a sampling of the types of materials housed in the Archives. Some standouts are:

  1. Felix Grant's interviews of radio personalities which include jazz giants such as - Cannonball Adderley, Cab Calloway, Monty Alexander, Art Farmer, Johnny Hartman, Jimmy Rushing, Sonny Stitt, as well as those with more local flavor such as Barnee Breeskin, author of "Hail to the Redskins"; Tommy Gwaltney, original owner of Blues Alley and Shep Allen, manager of the Howard Theater - in addition to Brazilian artists such as João Gilberto, Dorival Caymmi, Tania Maria and Leny Andrade, Flora Purim and Airto. He has also interviewed historians and archivists like Thornton 'Tony' Hagert of Vernacular Music Research.[2]
  2. Lorton Reformatory Jazz Festival. Lorton was once the location of a jazz festival featuring some of the top names in jazz Ella Fitzgerald, Count Basie, Nancy Wilson, Oscar Peterson, Ray Brown. A commemorative booklet and rare photographs can be viewed.
  3. Duke Ellington

Cataloging of holdings is ongoing.

References[edit]

  1. ^ McGowan, C.; Pessamba, R. (1991). The Billboard Book of Brazilian Music. Guinness. p. 8. 
  2. ^ Hagert, Tony (July 17, 1974). Radio Interviews. Interview with Felix Grant. (registration required)

External links[edit]