Essay on Biography of Edward Kennedy Ellington

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Biography of Edward Kennedy Ellington

“I’m just an up and coming musician struggling to find another new note.”

-Duke Ellington

Edward Kennedy Ellington was born April 29th 1899 in Washington, DC. From an early age, Ellington was instilled with solid, conservative morals. He was taught to pride himself and his family and to achieve to the utmost of his dreams. At such a crucial time in the history of the African American, there was a struggle to be accepted and to fit into the American culture that so far had not embraced them. This held true for Ellington’s family. As Ellington said of his father, he always “acted as though he had money, whether he had it or not.”[1] This sentiment and
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Not only was Ellington raised in a refined and proper manner, he was also exposed to luxuries unimaginable to most lower class black families of the time. They would receive china and silverware, clothes and anything else naturally only gently used. If it were not for this, it would probably be impossible for the Ellington’s to own a piano, let alone two of them!

Ellington’s family was “part of a social group whose morals were steadfastly Victorian and often puritanical in outlook…Ellington was encouraged to become an achiever, and was taught pride in his race and a duty to represent it well.” [3] The attitude and confidence that his family possessed is what led Ellington on the path that he took. The steadfast belief and faith that his family had in him is what encouraged Ellington to continue on and to persevere in life.

Piano lessons did not go well in Ellington’s early life. He was uninterested in the hobby and as he said, “I missed more lessons than I took…After all, baseball, football, track and athletics were what real he-men were identified with”.[4] It was not until several years later, while working in a hotel down at the Jersey shore that someone suggested Ellington stop in Philadelphia on the way home to hear a pianist by the name of Harvey Brooks. Brooks was around the same age as Ellington and seeing another pianist