Duke Ellington

Masonic Biographies

Duke Ellington

Born: Wednesday, 29 March 1899
Died: Friday, 24 May 1974

Duke Ellington is one of the greats of American Jazz. Born in 1899, Duke was born amidst the worst of Jim Crow. Nonetheless he would go on to shine brightly as one of the most prominent American musicians in history. Helping him along the way was his association with Prince Hall Freemasonry, where he was a member of Social Lodge #1 in Washington D.C.

Duke got his start composing by ear, before he even learned to read sheet music. His genius for music was readily apparent, and before long, he had his own jazz band. By the 1930’s he was a sensation throughout the country, and after World War II he was touring Europe, and performing for the president. He was widely acclaimed as a Jazz musician, but personally rejected labels, prefering to be referred to as an American Musician.

Duke would go on to have a resounding legacy of creativity, the first major movie soundtrack that wasn’t tied to an orchestra playing on screen, a redefiner and influences of Jazz music, and African American music generally, and a cultural icon for the emerging American pop culture. His great achievements were achieved in fraternity with other Black Masons active in the music scene, shaping and forging a new era in music.

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