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Black News and News Makers in History: Jester Joseph Hairston

Black News from Pasadena - Black News and News Makers in History recognizes Jester Hairston this week in Black history.Born Jester Joseph Hairston on July 9, 1901 in North Carolina, Mr. Hairston is famous in numerous areas of the arts.

After he graduated from high school in 1919, Mr. Hairston was educated at Tufts University (1929), Juilliard, and received an honorary Doctorate in Music from the University of Pacific. He was a Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity member. He is well known worldwide. He was a composer, songwriter, conductor, singer and actor—in radio, television and film.

On radio, he played Leroy on the "Amos 'n Andy" show for 15 years. From 1950-52, he played King Moses on "Bold Venture."

He directed the Federal Theatre Project and was assistant conductor of New York's Hall Johnson Choir. He also trained choirs for radio and Broadway musicals.

In 1936, his first contact with Hollywood was in the film "The Green Pastures". He sang with the Hall Johnson Choir in the film. His film credits are numerous and earned him a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

In 1943, he organized his own choir and arranged and conducted film background music and conducted choral groups in high school and colleges.

In 1956, his Christmas song, "Mary's Boy Child" was a Top Ten hit for Harry Belafonte. His more well known compositions include "Poor Man Lazarus," and many gospel songs including "In Dat Great Gittin' Up Mornin'," "Amen," and "Gossip, Gossip." The song "Amen" was used in the 1963 film "Lilies of the Field". Mr. Hairston dubbed the singing voice for Sidney Poitier. The song was also in the 1964 Top Ten hits sung by The Impressions.

Mr. Hairston was a creative, personable man who had a talent not only in his fields, but for engaging and inspiring those around him—including the many concert audiences and choirs he conducted as a guest conductor. In 1961, on behalf of the State Department, he toured Europe. Mr. Hairston died January 18, 2000.

Compiled from Wikipedia and biography.