Horace Wilson

 Horace Wilson - born in Vinton Iowa July 8, 1967.  His parents came from the Bahamas and they were the first Black family to live in Vinton.  He was introduced to art in the 4th grade.  He began learning about painting by stretching and adjusting canvases for Betty Fitzsimmons, who was his 4th grade teacher.  He began working with oils.  His interest in art led him to 3 years of study at Coe College where he studied art, art history, ceramics three-dimensional and photography.  Horace has a passion for painting which appeals to all from the landscape over to painting of people and pets.  He can take subjects from realism into abstract and back again.  He has completed numerous portraits and murals and they are in public and private buildings and homes.
 Horace has designed and created the Linn County logo which represents the rural and urban setting of Linn County                                   


James W. Robinson


Peter Harris

Peter Harris graduated from Washington High School in 1973.  Peter's mother, Lileah, was a child prodigy pianist so he grew up hearing and loving classical music.  His Aunt Betty Jean Furgerson was an avid jazz fan and through her and his Uncle Lee he developed a great love for many forms of jazz, gospel and blues.  Peter started playing in rock bands and developed a serious interest in music theory and composition.  He performed with the Washington High School and Coe College Jazz bands from 10th through 12th grade.  He attended the University of Miami in Coral Gables FL and graduated with a BA in Studio Music and Jazz.  While in school, he performed professionally with a wide array of talents from torch singer Liza Minnelli to jazz great Joe Williams; jazz guitarist Pat Metheny and worked his first jobs with Bruce Hornsby, who later put together Bruce Hornsby and the Range.  After graduating from college, he joined the rock group Blood, Sweat and Tears, and performed throughout the US as well as Asia, South America and Africa.  After his tour with Blood, Sweat and Tears he returned to freelancing but was soon hired by Chuck Mangione, the number one jazz crossover artist in the US and after four years, decided to concentrate less on guitar and more on composing, leaving to pursue a film career in LA.  Peter composed music for his first TV film, a CBS school break special entitled Solder Boys with Bruce Hornsby composing the main theme and Peter composing the rest of the score.  This netted them an Emmy for "Outstanding Achievement in Music Direction and Composition." 

Virgil Powell

Virgil Powell, author of Notable Black Americans, was a local Cedar Rapidian who ________

William D. "Billy"  Davis

 William D "Billy" Davis, born March 5, 1957 graduated from Washington High School June 1975.  He started playing piano at the age of 4 and eventually turned to saxophone a age 7.  Billy started playing professionally while still in high school with a band for school dances and weddings.  He received a full ride academic scholarship to Indiana University in Bloomington Indiana.  Here he honed his musical talents by being taught by the best classical saxophonist, Eugene Rousseau, as well as voice by world renown opera teachers.  After leaving college in 1979, Billy returned to Cedar Rapids joining a group called Madness who later changed their name to Akasha in 1980 and they were signed to the record label "Chrysalis Records" which also had artists like Pat Benatar on the label.  He toured for two years with Akasha opening for such artists as Chicago, Hall and Oates, Eric Clapton, and many more.  He left that group, returning to Cedar Rapids and helped form the group Daugherty, Davis and McPartland, staying with them for 14 years.  While with them, in 1991, they were appointed Ambassadors of Culture for he State of Iowa, by the then Governor Terry Branstad which lead them to travel to the Soviet Union o perform in the southwest region of this country.  He left this group in 1996 and was a guest soloist with the Cedar Rapids Symphony.  Billy has been a saxophonist for hire recording with numerous Iowa artists as well as having his own group called Billy D and Friends performing worldwide for corporate events.  He has performed as a member of the Cedar Rapids Jazz Band performing with national jazz performers such as Ernie Watts, Randy Brecker, Eddie Daniels and Bob Mintzner.  In 2005, Billy worked on an album project called Billy Lee Janey (which later became known as Compact Three) where hey produced an album called "Crazy Eight".  One of the songs on the album "American Dream" was nominated for a Grammy in two categories:  Best Contemporary Jazz Album and Best Popular Instrumental.  Billy states he loves sharing the gift of expression through music!

Charlie J. Morgan

Charlie J Morgan, Sr was born July 7, 1959 in Durant Mississippi.  He moved to Cedar Rapids with his parents in 1961.  At the age of 13, Charlie got his first guitar, but never got into playing the guitar the way he wanted.  Sometime after turning 30 years of age, Charlie started getting serious about his music playing  He started his first band Graveyard Blues Band in 1990 because most of the music he plays is by older or deceased blues men.  Charlie loves all kinds of music - Jazz, Rock, Country, Funk, Disco, Bluegrass, Folk and Gospel.  Blues and Gospel are his favorites.  He feels the music makes you feel good when things are going bad and tough and lifts you up while playing it and listening to it. 

Sydney Wingfield

Sydney Wingfield was born January 23, 1944. He is an accomplished organist, pianist, and singer of Rhythm and Blues and Jazz. As a young man, Syd was a part of a group called "Preferred Stock" and later joined the Steve Miller Band. Although he lives in Florida, he still visits and takes the time to perform in Cedar Rapids at least once a month in the Piano Lounge at 222 2nd Ave SE, which was the old Merchants National Bank building in the lower level.

Fred Hardiman

Fred Hardiman was born February 19, 1939 and received his BSA degree a Drake University in Des Moines Iowa.  His art career started in high school Ffbut really took off in earnest while attending Drake.  He began his studies to become a teacher but circumstances directed his path to Art and sculpting.  Fred took no formal art classes until college.  He has works that he did for Ducks Unlimited.  Much of his work consists of animals - correct, not abstract, although he has done some abstract art.  Fred worked for Rockwell Collins for 30 years as a Commercial Artist until his retirement.

Sterling L. Miller

 Sterling L. Miller was born January 11, 1932. Sterling's talent for artistry was first recognized in high school. He attended the University of Iowa and created scenery for the Drama department. Sterling's Art Professor was world renown and the professor did much to encourage his art career. After graduating from the University of Iowa, Sterling entered the Air Force and then moved to the Bahamas. While living in the Bahamas, he became quite well known and received many awards and citations from the Prime Minister. He also taught at a Bahamian Middle School and he continues to work in his home. He has had paintings at the African American Museum Gift Shop.

Marcus Perkins

Marcus Perkins, born June 17, 1954, is a talented musician who plays bass guitar and sings vocals.  He has performed solo and has been affiliated with a group called Mean Street and the Hell Horns.  Marcus has performed during Juneteenth at the African American Museum and can sometimes be seen playing at Noelridge Park during summer for their concert under the stars. 


PSALMS was a five-member African American gospel group from Cedar Rapids Iowa.  They were formed in 1988 out of a love to sing rich Gospel music.  The members are: front - Michael Cole; siblings Allen Bell, the late Sharilyn Bell, Sandy (Bell) Reed, and their cousin, Paul Tillman on the right.  They perform quartet-style (4 part harmony with a lead) as well as contemporary, spirituals, and hymns for family reunions, festivals and benefits.  Their musical director/arranger, Ron Teague, joined the group in 1992.  The parents of several in the group sang in the renowned Zionettes  and their aunt is the famous composer, Doris Akers, of many of the gospel songs they sing.    Psalms is acknowledged by all its members as "Sharilyn's baby".  Ron writes and arranges some  of the music the group sings.  Rehearsals start with the melody, then parts are added and finally the words; a process that can take about 3 weeks.  What is most important about their music is to sing with feeling and understanding; to put the spiritual element and the life experience into the music.  Psalms was a featured group at the Smithsonian's 1996 Festival of American Folk life, the Sesquicentennial Festival of Iowa Folk life and the 2001 Festival of Iowa Folk life.

 Barbara Johnson Elam 

In Barbara Elam's role as Community Relations Coordinator. she works to promote a heritage that represents a spiritual, emotional and social legacy. Barbara describes music as "food for the soul " She is a well known soloist in Cedar Rapids, having sung for countless functions throughout the years.
Barb S. Elam is a long time resident of Cedar Rapids who has been active in her community while enjoying a variety of employment opportunities. Barbara was employed for many years as a Loan Officcer at Merchants Bank. She also worked for 14 years as a Truant Officer for the Cedar Rapids School system. Ms. Elam was hired by Governor Harold Hughes to develop jobs for the hard to employ. In this capacity she developed numerous jobs at Collins Radio and other local companies. Ms Elam has served on many boards and committees. She has served as a United Way coach who worked with businesses and individuals to assist their annual fund raising efforts Under the United Way umbrella she initiated and organized the traditional annual Martin Luther King luncheon now in place . For the past eight years Barbara has lent her singing talent as a regular participant at the Follies. Barbara sang the National Anthem at the ESPN Boxing Tournament and continues to sing at weddings, funerals and in various church choirs.


Left to Rt- Willa Mae Brown, Leola Anders, LeEtta Harrison Reed,
Marion Moody, Nellie Bell
Seated is Irene Griggs (Pianist)

Henry Leo Dawson


Edith Atkinson

Edith L (Reed) Atkinson - May 24, 1919 - June 9, 2000 - was born in Davenport Iowa. The youngest of 8 children, her family moved to Cedar Rapids when she was a toddler. Edith studied voice for 14 years and from 1935-1944 she performed with her brothers, Wallace and Cecil Reed, in a group they called the Gold Flashes Dance Trio. In 1939, Edith enrolled at Coe College where she studied foreign languages to further develop her operatic phrasing. She sang in 8 different languages and entertained throughout the Midwest. Edith was a classically trained singer. In 1943, she had a radio show on WMT where she sang requests and also performed for such celebrities as Nat King Cole during the dinner hour. Upon her retirement from Collins Radio (now known as Rockwell Collins) in 1981, she continued to teach people about African American history through her music. In 1997, Edith received a Woman of the Year award in celebration of Linn County Women's Equality Day.


DELETTES 1960   Sharon Wilson Edwards, MaryAnn Whitney Backstrom
Nedra Phillips, Darlene Turner Blakey, Delores "DD" Gibson Davis

Rahlan Kay Gibson
Rahlan Kay Gibson
   Sometimes you get all you are going to from an album after just one listen.  And sometimes it takes a few spins around the turn table or passes through the mp3 player queue..
The first time the editor popped in Cedar Rapids -based hip hop artist's most recent album "Now You Know", she was listening, but not too closely, just sort of enjoying the music.,  About halfway through the album she realized something was different, The first half of the CD is what you might expect to hear from a hip hop artist, including songs such as "Gurl, I Want You, "and the title track "Now You Know" but as you near the end of the CD, the lyrics become deeper, such as the track "Come Home" which begins with the line "Jesus is callling , oh sinner, come home. There are other hints of Kay's faith in the earlier songs as well.  As a result, the CD is one that parents can listen to without worriyng about kids overhearing. The lyrics are clean, without reference to violence or profanity
October 2011

     Left Front: Martha Carter - Co Founder                                  Right Front:-  Betty Daniels Founder
          2nd Row:  L-R   Shaunte' Brooks           Demetrich Brooks                 Xavier Carter
          Back Row L-R:  Roland Gibson             John Edwards, Jr                   Ruben Ginger

                                  BLUE RHYTHM KINGS
Blue Rhythm Kings under the direction of Cecil Brewton  played in Cedar Rapids, Mason City and other surrounding cities.
Trombone:  Naman Hickey;  Banjo:  Attorney Booker Richmond;  Drum: Vincent Shepherd
Piano: "Chops" Rice; Trumpet: Jimmy "Shorty" Backstrom;  Alto Sax: Cecil Brewton
Sax: Freddie Perkins, Jr; Sax Johnny Jones

Radio: KOJC-FM radio broadcast from 1972-1992 in Cedar Rapids.  It was the first and only African-American-owned radio station in the city.  It was sponsored by the Oak Hill-Jackson commun;ity.
1978- Residents of the Oak Hill area would soon have their own FM radio station according to the Gazette..  The station was the result of a four-year effort to establish a low-power black-oriented radio station on the city's southeast side.
  One of the originators of the project, Robert Love, said the station started as a sort of dream in 1974.   The board members obtained donated equipment and space from area businesses..   A $7,500 grant from the Task Force on Self Development of People and the Presbytery of East Iowa helped the fledgling operation meet much of its estimated  first-year expenses.  The purpose of the station was to facilitate communication within the black community and between racial and ethnic groups in the cityboard planned to broadcast 12 hours a day, seven days a week.  In addition to providing ethnic and cultural enrichment, the board hoped the station KOJC-FM would allow teens to gain training as technicians.
  Love said the birth of the station had truly been a community effort.  Other board members involved in the project were Nelson Evans, vice president; Robert Irwin,  pictured, board treasurer   and Agnes Love board secretary.

Lovar Davis Kidd

Lovar Davis Kidd, 32 has reached a new career high on the road with the second  national tour of the 2008 Tony-winning musical "In the Heights."
   This was the furthest thing from his mind during his football playing days at CR Washington School in the mid 1990's, but through the footwork he learned in show choirs and dance classes at the U of Ia, he was hooked on taking his natural athleticism from field to stage.
   So far, Kidd- known as L.D. to family and  friends has traveled 27 cities.  He's home now in Cedar Rapids and will meet in Chicago to perform  at the Oriental Theatre.
                                                       Gazette 12/28/2012

Sheila Cutchlow