May 30, 1927|
Denison, Texas, U.S.
As a child, Bryant was a member of the choir in a Baptist church. When her brother Fred joined the military, he left his trumpet, which she learned how to play. In high school she played trumpet in the marching band. She turned down down scholarships from Oberlin Conservatory and Bennett College to attend Prairie View College in Houston, where she was a member of the Prairie View Coeds jazz band. The band toured in Texas and performed at the Apollo Theater in New York City in 1944. Her father got a job in Los Angeles, and she transferred to UCLA.
Bryant heard bebop for the first time on Central Avenue. She became a member of the Sweethearts of Rhythm, a female jazz band, and dropped out of school. Dizzy Gillespie became her mentor and provided her with work. She joined the black female jazz band the Queens of Swing as a drummer, and went on tour with the band. In 1948 Bryant married Joe Stone, a bassist who played with R&B bands. They started a family, and she continued to perform while pregnant and as a young mother.
The Queens of Swing performed on television in 1951 as The Hollywood Sepia Tones in a half-hour variety program. They were the first women's jazz group to appear on television. After six weeks the show was dropped due to lack of a sponsor. During filming Bryant was about seven months pregnant. After her daughter's birth she was called onto Ada Leonard's all-girl orchestra show; however she only stayed for a week after calls demanding to "get that nigger off there." In 1954 she briefly moved to New York because she had lost inspiration from playing in bands.
Bryant recorded her first and only album, Gal with a Horn, in 1957 before returning to the life of a traveling musician. She worked often at clubs in Chicago and Denver. In Las Vegas she performed with Louis Armstrong and Harry James. She toured with singer Billy Williams and accompanied him on The Ed Sullivan Show. During the 1960s and 1970s, she toured around the world with her brother Mel, who was a singer, and they had a TV show in Australia. In 1989 Bryant became the first female jazz musician to tour in the Soviet Union after being invited by Mikhail Gorbachev. After a heart attack and quadruple bypass surgery in 1996, she began to give lectures on college campuses about the history of jazz. In 2002, she received the Mary Lou Williams Women in Jazz Award from the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. Two years later a documentary about her was released.
In an interview with JazzTimes, Bryant said, "Nobody ever told me, 'You can't play the trumpet, you're a girl.' Not when I got started in high school and not when I came out to L.A. My father told me, 'It's going to be a challenge, but if you're going to do it, I'm behind you all the way.' And he was."
- Gal with a Horn (1957)
References and sources
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- Ankeny, Jason. "Clora Bryant". AllMusic. Retrieved 28 November 2017.
- (Isoardi p. 362)
- (Kernodle 2010, 563).
- "Hot Violinist is TV Hit in Los Angeles". Google Books. Jet magazine/Johnson Publishing Company. 24 April 1952. p. 62. Retrieved 3 June 2013.
- Staff of The New York Times, (5 June 2003). The New York Times Television Reviews 2000. Taylor & Francis. pp. 372–. ISBN 978-0-203-50830-5. Retrieved 3 June 2013.
- Heckman, Don (1 May 2007). "Clora Bryant: Trumpetiste Extraordinaire". JazzTimes. Retrieved 28 November 2017.
- "Clora Bryant | Album Discography". AllMusic. Retrieved 28 November 2017.
- Bryant, Clora, eds.; et al. (1998). Central Avenue Sounds: Jazz in Los Angeles. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. pp. 342–68. ISBN 978-0-520-22098-0. OCLC 37361632.
- Enstice, Wayne; Stockhouse, Janis (2004). Jazzwomen: Conversations with Twenty-One Musicians. Bloomington, IN: University of Indiana Press. pp. 33–46. ISBN 978-0-253-01014-8. OCLC 301489382.
- Fleet, S. Clora Bryant. The Girls in the Band – The Official Site of the Music Documentary. Thegirlsintheband.com. Retrieved 7 March 2017.
- Placksin, S. (1982). American Women in Jazz: 1900 to the Present: Their Words, Lives, and Music. S.l.: Wideview Books.
- Price, E., Kernodle, T., & Maxile, H. (2011). Encyclopedia of African American Music (1st ed.) Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO.
- Wagner, D. (1992). "She's Still Got the Chops: Jazz: Trumpet player Clora Bryant lost her baby grand in the riots and two of her horns are in the pawnshop. But she's still as lively as her music..." Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 7 March 2017.
- Stein, Danica L. (1998). "Clora Bryant: Gender Issues in the Career of a West Coast Jazz Musician". In DjeDje, Jacqueline Cogdell; Meadows, Eddie S. California Soul: Music of African Americans in the West. University of California Press. pp. 277–293. ISBN 978-0-520-20628-1. OCLC 42855007.
- Tucker, Sherrie, Swing Shift: All-Girl Bands of the 1940s, Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 2000. ISBN 978-0-822-32485-0 OCLC 42397506
- Central Avenue Sounds: Clora Bryant. Interviewed by Stephen L. Isoardi, Department of Special Collections, University of California, Los Angeles.
- Interview with Clora Bryant, part of Central Avenue Sounds Oral History Project, Center for Oral History Research, UCLA Library Special Collections, University of California, Los Angeles.
- Clora Bryant Interview NAMM Oral History Library (2003)