Legendary music producer and arranger H. B. Barnum has worked with an extraordinary cross-spectrum of performers in his long career. Barnum was born Hidle Brown Barnum, Jr., on July 15, 1936, in Houston, Texas. At age four, he won a nationwide talent contest for his singing and piano playing, which launched a film and radio career that included appearances on Amos ‘n’ Andy and The Jack Benny Program. Barnum recorded his first solo album at the age of fourteen as Pee Wee Barnum. He attended Manual Arts High School in Los Angeles, California.
In 1955, Barnum co-founded the short-lived doo-wop group, The Dootones, at the request of Dootone label owner, Dootsie Williams. When the group broke up, he joined another doo-wop group, The Robins. Barnum began producing for The Robins in 1958, and also recorded a single on his own. Barnum had his first major hit as a producer when Dodie Stevens’ “Tan Shoes and Pink Shoelaces” reached the U.S. Top 5 in 1959. Although he recorded three albums during the 1960s – The Record, The Big Voice of Barnum – H. B., That Is, and Everyone Loves H. B. – Barnum, That Is – as well as the hit single “Lost Love,” his work as a producer and an arranger began to outpace his musical career. Barnum’s reputation flourished after he joined Capitol Records, where he often worked in collaboration with producer and longtime friend David Axelrod, forging an innovative orchestral jazz-funk sensibility much copied and sampled in later decades. Barnum has arranged for many notable musicians including Gladys Knight & The Pips, Johnny Bristol, Lamont Dozier, Jimmy Norman, Aretha Franklin, Count Basie, Etta James, Nancy Wilson, Martha Reeves, The Temptations, The Jackson 5, The Marvelettes, O.C. Smith, Frank Sinatra, Lou Rawls, The Supremes, Al Wilson, B.B. King and Puff Daddy. By the mid-1970s, Barnum switched from pop music to television, scoring countless series and specials in addition to composing numerous advertising jingles. He won international awards for his musical compositions for commercials. Barnum has claimed to be responsible for around 100 gold LPs and 160 gold singles.
Beginning in 1967, Barnum has held an annual Thanksgiving dinner for the homeless in his Los Angeles community. In 1981, he founded and began directing H. B. Barnum’s Life Choir, a large well-known gospel group that assists him in helping feed nearly one thousand needy people every Thanksgiving. Barnum has also served as minister of music at St. Paul’s Baptist Church of Los Angeles.
Conductor, musicologist, and producer RICK BENJAMIN has built his exciting and one-of-a-kind career as an “American Music Revivalist” through the discovery and performance of lost and forgotten historic scores. He is a one of the world’s leading experts on 19th and early 20th century African-American music, and his concerts, recordings, and writings on this subject have built widespread interest in this important cultural heritage.
Mr. Benjamin’s odyssey began 1985 when, as a Juilliard undergraduate, he rescued the lost orchestral archives of the legendary Victor phonograph company. This major discovery encompassed nearly four thousand forgotten musical works by hundreds of important American composers, including Scott Joplin, Edward MacDowell, W.C. Handy, James Reese Europe, Victor Herbert, Jerome Kern, and Sousa. In 1988 Mr. Benjamin made his formal conducting debut by bringing some of these treasures to Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall. Highly praised by the New York Times, this concert successfully launched Mr. Benjamin’s unique career.
Today, Rick Benjamin is the leading exponent of “America’s Original Music” – the vibrant sounds of early Broadway, “silent” movies, and vintage dance. He has conducted his special programs of this music across forty-nine states and seven countries, in major venues including the Ravinia Festival, The Kennedy Center, the Smithsonian Institution, Chautauqua, the Kimmel Center, New York’s 92nd Street “Y” and City Center, Austria’s Brucknerhaus, the U.S. Pavilion of the World’s Fair (Seville, Spain), as well as in hundreds of America’s “movie palaces” and historic theaters.
For the past thirty years Rick Benjamin has been Artistic Director and pianist of the Paragon Ragtime Orchestra (PRO), the noted repertory ensemble that he founded at The Juilliard School. PRO tours year-round and has recorded seventeen critically acclaimed and Billboard-charted albums. PRO’s concerts of the music by African-American composers have been widely acclaimed, as has its continuing Black Manhattan series of recordings for the New World label. Recently Mr. Benjamin was honored to receive three major critic’s awards for his box set recording of Scott Joplin’s opera Treemonisha: Gramophone’s “Editor’s Choice,” BBC Music’s “Opera of the Month,” and Sterophile’s “Record of the Month.”
In addition to his work with PRO, Rick Benjamin has also conducted his own historical programs with the Irish National Orchestra (Dublin), Denmark's Aalborg and Aarhus Symfoniorkesters, the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, the Iceland Symphony Orchestra, the Virginia Symphony, Olympia Symphony (Washington State), the Anchorage Symphony (Alaska), Chamber Music Hawaii, and other innovative ensembles.
Away from the concert stage, Rick Benjamin’s melding of outstanding scholarship with superb musicianship has made him a sought-after resource for both the entertainment industry and academia. He has lectured at more than a hundred universities, and his historic recreations have been heard around the world in the productions of the Walt Disney Company, PBS-Television, HBO (Boardwalk Empire), Turner Classic Movies, the FX Channel (American Horror Story) and more. (Website: www.rickbenjamin.com)
Dr. Isrea Butler holds degrees in trombone performance from the Eastman School of Music (BM and MM) and Rutgers University (DMA). His teachers include John Marcellus, Ralph Sauer, George Roberts, Tom Ervin, Michael Powell, Weston Sprott, He has played all four chairs in the world famous Count Basie Orchestra and with many of the top jazz ensembles. In addition to orchestras and jazz ensembles he has played 8 different NYC Broadway productions. He is currently the Music Department Chair at North Carolina Central University and Full Professor of Music. Dr. Butler was recently the Director of Bands and music program coordinaor at The University of Maryland Eastern Shore. He was also the Director of Jazz Studies and Low Brass at the University of Mary from 2013-2014. From 2012-2013 he was Visiting Assistant Professor of Music at Jackson State University from 2012-2013, where he taught trombone and conducted the University Brass Ensemble, The award-wining Jazz Combo and taught Graduate Music History. He has also taught at the Eastman School of Music, Juilliard’s MAP and Rutgers University. His students have gone on to perform, teach and study at graduate school at Indiana University, Berklee, UNI, Rutgers, Eastman and Montclair.
As a conductor Dr. Butler has been the conductor of the UMES Wind Ensemble, HBCU Trombone Choir, Associate Conductor of the Brighton Symphony and Eastman Trombone Choir and Brass Guild. He studied conducting with Brad Lubman, William Weinert, Mark Scatterday and Kynan Johns. While in NYC he was a frequent performer on numerous Broadway shows and many other prestigious musical performances. He has toured, recorded and performed with many of the country’s leading jazz orchestras including Cab Calloway, Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Lionel Hampton, Mingus Big Band, Glenn Miller, Birdland Big Band and Jimmy Heath. Orchestra. Also at home playing classical music he has performed with the Gateways Festival Orchestra, Orchestra of St. Lukes, Rochester Philharmonic, Buffalo Philharmonic. Dr .Butler is a Conn-Selmer clinician and performing artist.
Edward A. Greene, a native of West Palm Beach, Florida, and a retired United States Chief Warrant Officer, achieved an extensive performance career in the U.S. Army Band Program as a Saxophonist. After his commission as a Warrant Officer Bandmaster in 1975, Chief Green assumed command of the 399th Army Band at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. Subsequent assignments include the 8th Army Band in Seoul, Korea; the 1st Cavalry Division Band at Fort Hood, Texas, and the 1st Army Band at Fort Meade, Maryland. For his final assignment, Mr. Greene served as Adjutant and Associate Bandmaster of the Unites States Army Field Band, Fort Meade, Maryland. The Field Band is the official touring ensemble for the US Army. Mr. Greene is presently the Associate Director of the Washington Redskins Marching Band and the Executive Director of the Opportunities Industrialization Center (OIC) of Anne Arundel County, MD.
Bobby Sanabria is a seven time Grammy nominated drummer, percussionist, composer, arranger, conductor, producer, educator, film-maker, bandleader, and multi-cultural warrior. He has performed and recorded with such legends as Dizzy Gillespie, Tito Puente, Mongo Santamaría, Paquito D’Rivera, Ray Barretto, Candido, Henry Threadgill, Larry Harlow, and the Godfather of Afro-Cuban jazz, Mario Bauzá. His first big band recording, Live & in Clave!!! was nominated for a mainstream Grammy in 2001 bringing Mr. Sanabria worldwide acclaim for his revolutionary forward thinking vision while being built on a bedrock of tradition. His 2008 Grammy nominated, Big Band Urban Folktales was the first Latin jazz recording to ever reach #1 in the national Jazz Week charts. In 2009 the Afro-Cuban Jazz Orchestra he directs at the Manhattan School of Music was nominated for a Latin Grammy for its tribute to Mario Bauzá and Machito for Kenya Revisited Live!!!, a reworking of the music for Machito’s greatest album, Kenya, on its 50thanniversary. In 2011 The recording Tito Puente Masterworks Live!!! by the same orchestra was nominated for Latin Jazz Grammy by the Latin Grammys. Mr. Sanabria’s 2012 recording, inspired by the writings of Mexican author Octavio Paz, is entitled MULTIVERSE and features his incredible 19 piece big band. DRUM! Magazine named him Percussionist of the Year in 2005; and he was also named 2011 Percussionist of the Year by the Jazz Journalists Association. This South Bronx native of Puerto Rican parentage is a 2006 inductee into the Bronx Walk of Fame where he has a street named after him on the borough’s Grand Concourse. He holds a BM from the Berklee College of Music and is on the faculty of the New School and the Manhattan School of Music where he conducts Afro-Cuban Jazz Big Bands at both schools. He is associate producer of the TV documentaries, The Palladium: Where Mambo Was King shown on BRAVO, winner of the IMAGINE award for Best TV documentary of 2003; and PBS’ From Mambo to Hip Hop: A South Bronx Tale, ALMA Award winner for Best TV Documentary in 2006.
Mr. Sanabria was a consultant and featured in the 4 hour documentary LATIN MUSIC USA which aired on PBS in 2009. In 2010 his big band performed their own music and then accompanied Ruben Blades and Larry Harlow shattering the attendance record at NYC’s Lincoln Center by performing to a crowd of 20,000. In 2013 Mr. Sanabria was recently honored by Associate Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor and the Dream Big Foundation for his community activism, leadership and work in the South Bronx with children; and he is currently the Co-Artistic Director of the Bronx Music Heritage Center
Kelvin W. Washington is a native of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He received both his undergraduate and graduate degrees in Instrumental Music Education from Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He is currently a Doctoral candidate at the American Conservatory of Music in Hammond, Indiana.
Mr. Washington began his teaching career at Livonia High School in Louisiana. He later moved to Detroit, Michigan where he was appointed Director of Bands at Nolan Middle School and McKenzie High School in 1987. In 1989, he accepted the position of Chief Arranger and Assistant Director of Bands at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, where he was later appointed Director of Bands.
Now in his twentieth year as the Conductor for the Howard University Concert Band and Associate Director of Bands, Kelvin Washington has served as clinician and adjudicator for a number of school music programs and festivals. As a professional instrumentalist, Mr. Washington has toured within the United States, Canada, Poland, England and Scotland.
In addition to his university responsibilities, Mr. Washington is a highly regarded Orchestra Director and Arranger for church ministries throughout the Washington, DC metropolitan area. He is married to Dianna Washington (Duckett) of Washington, DC and they have a daughter - SuMayah Flousell Washington.