THE CRISP SISTERS [vocal duo] - Margaret "Mara" Crisp and Dorothy Crisp were born into a musical family in Springfield, IL. Margaret, the elder of the two, began singing with her father's band, the John Crisp Trio, at the age of seven. Her four brothers were taught how to play a variety of instruments by their father who organized two separate family bands, one around his oldest son and one around his youngest. Booked by the legendary Bubbles Holloway, Mara and Dorothy came to Columbus in 1964-65 and began working with Hank Marr, Rusty Bryant, and Lonnie Woods as The Crisp Sisters. Among the national acts they appeared with were The Temptations, James Brown, Sam Cooke, B.B. King, and Aretha Franklin, just to name a few. When Dorothy left to marry and raise a family, Mara continued as a solo artist. She remained active in the local scene, working with Chick-A-Dee and Chick-A-Doo, for example, as well as working such well-known clubs as the 20 Grand in Detroit. After a time, Dorothy rejoined her to perform for fundraisers for the homeless and a women's self-help center. Mara has remained an active singer with her church choir and is artistic advisor to her daughter, Lady Xtreme, a Christian hip-hop performer. Margaret passed away on 08/30/2010.
WILBUR E. CRIST [music director] - Born in Middletown on March 14, 1904, Wilbur E. Crist studied with Frank Simon who picked him to be the cornet soloist with the highly regarded Armco Concert Band. While still a high school, he conducted a "church orchestra." However, he acquired much of his formal training at Capital University and the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music. For 11 summers, Wilbur studied conducting with Pierre Moteux, director of the San Francisco Symphony. Although he was called to the chaplaincy in the US Navy, he chose to make music his profession. In 1924, while still a student at Capital, Wilbur became conductor of the concert band, the oldest musical organization on campus. He took over as director of the Capital University Glee Club two years later from President Mees. Upon completion of his seminary degree, he became fulltime director of the school band, orchestra, and Men's Glee Club. He continued as director of all three organizations until his retirement in 1970. When the Conservatory of Music celebrated its 50th anniversary in 1968, Wilbur was one of four people awarded bronze medallions in recognition of their long service. He enjoyed long tenures as choir director of the Christ Lutheran Church and Broad Street Methodist Church, as well as the Grant Hospital Nurses Chorus. He inaugurated and conducted the Columbus Concert Band, a professional organization of Central Ohio musicians and popularized the trumpet trio. He passed away on December 13, 1976.
SONNY CURTIS[pedal steel guitar] - Born in Chillicothe, Ohio, Sonny Curtis "hated" the sound of the steel guitar up until just before he graduated from high school. Then a friend introduced him to recordings by a steel guitarist named Jerry Byrd. Sonny became fascinated by the mechanical aspects of the instrument and asked for one as a graduation present. While he gave up lessons after a few months, he continued to teach himself in an effort to get the "Nashville Sound." His first professional gig was backing Bobby Bare. He then started working local clubs with Donny Young who was to become better known as Johnny Paycheck. Sonny made a few demo tapes at a friend's house, one of which made its way to the legendary George Jones. Before long, he was invited to join George's backing band, The Jones Boys. His first job with the band was on the Jimmy Dean television show. Sonny traveled with George from 1964 until George's marriage to Tammy Wynette in 1969. His steel guitar is heard on all of George's recordings during this period. Sonny then traveled with George and Tammy until 1975 when they divorced. At this point, he continued working with Tammy until 1980. During these years, Sonny's travels took him to all 50 states and 15 foreign countries.
ROBERT EVERHART[trumpet] - Bob Everhart was born in Columbus to a musical family. Bob's father, Dr. Robert Everhart, had a 35-piece big band for over 50 years. After starting on drums then moving to the piano, Bob found his true musical love at age 10: the trumpet. He took lessons from the late Ziggy Coyle, joined his father's band, and also played with Dave Wheeler's Lab Band. Graduating from Linden-McKinley High School, he attended the Ohio State University, performing in the OSU marching and jazz bands. In 1966, he left college to go on the road with Americana Brass, a take-off of the popular Tijuana Brass. For six years, he traveled with the band across the United States, Mexico, Canada, the British West Indies, Germany, and Switzerland. In 1972, he left the group to tour with Holiday on Ice for two years as lead trumpet. Settling down in Columbus, Bob continued playing with the Bruno Masdea Big Band and the Chuck Selby Orchestra. He also worked with Les Elgart, Buddy Morrow, the Jerry Kaye Orchestra and the Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra. In 1978, Bob and his cousin, Larry Everhart, started a pop/rock band, Energy, which lasted for 20 years. Bob joined the Columbus Jazz Orchestra in 1983. Bob also plays lead trumpet with Street Players, a popular party band.
THE FALCONSaka THE LYRICS aka THE VALLEJOS- [vocal group] One of the best doo-wop groups from Columbus, The Vallejos were composed of East High School students with the exception of Kynne Winston from Central. The other members were Paul Jackson, Ben "Pete" Caldwell, Barry Austin, Bart Chatman, and Dwayne Haddock. He was recruited to replace an earlier member who left due to personal differences. They were in direct competition with such other local groups as the Five Hearts and The Symbols. When Dick Clark's Cavalcade of Stars appeared at Vet's Memorial in 1956, they landed a spot on the bill along with Fats Domino, Little Richard, Frankie Avalon, The Flamingos, The Moonglows, The Turbans, The Clovers, etc. Soon, they were signed to recording contract with Chess/Checker. However, after seven months of waiting around, they jumped at the chance to record with Vee-Jay. For their first release, "Come On Home" b/w "Stop," they were called The Lyrics. But for their second, "My Only Love" b/w "Now That It's Over," their name was changed to The Falcons in order to kick off the Falcon label. The Falcons made their Chicago debut at the Regal Theater with Al Benson's show during Christmas week, 1957. Their song, "My Only Love," later resurfaced in the movie Rocky II.
JIM FLUKE [bass] - Born in Ashland, Jim Fluke joined the musician's union at 14 and was a five time trombone player with the Ohio State Fair Boys Band. While attending Bowling Green State University, he fronted the band at the student union for two years. He moved to Columbus in 1961 to attend graduate school and wound up playing six nights a week for nearly five years. He learned the bass while playing the Desert Inn with Sonia Modes, then landed a six nights a week gig at the Olentangy Inn with Marion Prather. He led the band at the Boat House, then worked the Neil House with Danny Mann and the Deshler with Cozy Cole. While running the band at the Sands, he also led jam sessions at the Magic Lamp. Jim played Max's Steak House with Karen Fanta, before working with five bands in a row at the Desert Inn, including his own. He was in the house band at Tommy Heinrich's Steak House, moved to the lounge with Charlie Pickens, then Joe Dunlap's at Benny Klein's. Other gigs included weekends with Dick Stein, Tom Battenberg, Jerry Wolfe, Geoff Tyus, Chuz Alfred, Rusty Bryant, Jim Johnson, and many others.
STEVE GENTELINE [baritone sax] - Steve Genteline was born in Columbus, Ohio. With his mother's encouragement, he picked up a soprano saxophone, a gift from his uncle, and soon was performing in front of the PTA. At 15, he landed his first gig with the Dave Wheeler Jazz Quintet. Upon graduating from Whitehall Yearling High School, he went to Capital University, earning a Bachelor of Music degree in clarinet and saxophone performance. While still in college, Steve began performing with the Jerry Kaye Orchestra, the Columbus Symphony, and the pit orchestra for the Kenley Players Theatre. From 1967-1969, Steve was a member of the Al Waslohn Orchestra, the house band for such popular live television programs as Spook Beckman and Nick Clooney. He also joined the Army Reserves, and played in the 338th Army Band at Fort Hayes for seven years. In 1969, Steve became a saxophone instructor and jazz band director at Otterbein College. He also received his teaching certificate from Otterbein, and in 1975, left the college to pursue his teaching career for Columbus Public Schools. He taught instrumental music for 26 years until his retirement in 2001. Steve joined the Columbus Jazz Orchestra in 1974, accompanying them on their tours of Spain and Denmark.
JIM LUELLEN[piano] - A dancer since the age of three, Jim Luellen started piano at five and before he left elementary school was taking six different music lessons a week, in addition to teaching dance to 32 kids on Saturdays. While in junior high, Jim the leader of a Dixieland band of 12-14 years olds who played the Ohio State Fair a month after they organized. During a performance, Jim would switch from piano to clarinet, trumpet, sax, guitar, trombone, and, finally, top it all of with a little tap dance. This group evolved into The Novelaires. The Novelaires rehearsed at Jim's home every Sunday afternoon for three hours, with breaks to go swimming or play basketball. Due to their association with the well-known agent John Moore, the band's reputation grew through radio and TV appearances, jobs at Danny Deeds' Maramor, etc. As a consequence, they were booked for a two week stint in the Roaring Twenties Room at the Deshler Hilton Hotel in downtown Columbus, where they were to alternate with Bobby Hackett's band (which included one-time Columbusite Vic Dickenson). Over the years, Jim has led various musical combos. He was Michelle Horsefield-Carney's longtime accompanist.
GARY MCKAIG[trombone] - Born and raised in Los Angeles, Gary was first exposed to jazz at the famous Lighthouse in Hermosa Beach, where he heard the likes of Frank Rosalino, Victor Feldman, Oscar Peterson, and others. As a high school junior, he sat in with the bands of Stan Kenton, Claude Gordon, and Doc Severinson. While in the Navy for four years, he continued to play trombone, preparing his to play in a number of L.A. show bands. He was in the backing band for the A&M recording group, Sister's Love. He also performed overseas on a USO tour, entertaining troops during the Vietnam War. For more than 20 years, he has been playing lead trombone with the Rick Brunetto Big Band. His long-time dream was to put together a group of 5 trombones. When he met Herb Harrison who agreed to write the arrangements for the group, Bone-A-Fide Swing was born. With vocalists Kelly Crum and Kelly McClenon, they worked the Dolphin Lounge every week for two years. He has also gigged with many local bands, one of the highlights being a job with Chuz Alfred backing the Four Freshmen.
LEONARD NELSON NAPPER, SR [choir director] - Leonard Nelson Napper, Sr., was born in Columbus on July 15, 1917, and died in his hometown on January 31, 2005. While still a student at East High School, Leonard took home top honors at a vocal competition in Cleveland. He then attended the Sherwood Conservatory of Music in Chicago, Virginia Union College in Richmond, and graduated from Ohio State with a degree in social work. After a stint as psychiatric social worker, Leonard took a job as artistic director for the Columbus Metropolitan Area Community Action Organization (CMACAO). When the Paul Laurence Dunbar Cultural Arts Center was opened in December 1971, Leonard was picked to head it. The center, located in a building on land owned by Capital University and Columbus Academy, quickly became a "magnet for Columbus artists" to quote Anna Bishop. The Paul Laurence Dunbar Concert Choir, of which he was the founder and assistant director, soon followed. With a repertoire selected from the works of African-American composers (spirituals, gospel tunes, and classic songs) such as Zenobia Perry, The Dunbar Concert Choir served as musical ambassadors, performing throughout Ohio. Even after the center was destroyed by fire in 1979, the choir continued. A concert baritone recitalist, Leonard performed throughout the south and the Midwest. He also served as choir director at Shiloh Baptist Church.
BECKY OGDEN [educator] - A career music educator, concert producer, and festival planner, not to mention the owner of the Columbus Music Hall, Becky Rogge Ogden continues to develop connections between the arts and audiences of all ages. The founder of the Worthington Folk Festival, a member of the performing group Friends of Old Time Music, and an original member of the Orange Johnson House Singers, Becky formerly taught at Colonial Hills Elementary School. During this time, she developed and published a new system for teaching music to educators. She has also developed pre-concert study materials for the Columbus Jazz Orchestra and Columbus Symphony Orchestra student concerts. In collaboration with Terry Waldo, she created It's a Grand Old Vaudeville Show. In recognition of her work in the arts, she has received a service award from the Columbus Symphony Orchestra and was also honored by the Arts Foundation of Olde Towne East. Becky also developed the "Jazz for Kids" school program with working jazz musicians to present concerts for kindergarten to 3rd graders.
CHET SOURS [piano/organ] - Originally from Warren, Chester "Chet" Sours graduated from Warren Harding High School and Ohio State University (after attending both Kent and Youngstown State). He started on the piano at age 6 and also studied the Hammond B-3 organ for a time. At 14, he started playing professionally with a local dance band. Arriving in Columbus in 1949, he started college, only to have his education interrupted by the Korean War. In 1956, Chet returned to Ohio State and played around the Columbus area until 1959. Chet worked with Hall-of-Famers Madam Rose Brown, Ola Hanson, Chuz Alfred, and Jim Gary, among others. He then went on the road with Jack Yaeger. Booked by Artists Corporation of America, they traveled throughout the south, eventually settling in Miami. One of his best gigs came out about when he was heard by Fred Crane, the highly regarded pianist and baritone sax player for the Al Belletto Band who got him an audition for the same hotel he played in. Chet landed the job playing opposite Crane. Although he officially "retired' for 25 years, he started up again 15 years ago, working down in Florida with the likes of Vince Evans and Jack Gorham.
TERRY WALDO [piano/vocals] - Terry Waldo is considered one of America's premier performers and presenters of Ragtime and Early Jazz. A protégé of the legendary Eubie Blake, Terry has played countless New York jazz venues, including Carnegie Hall, where he played three concerts. He has produced and starred in nine different musical revues at New York's renowned jazz nightery, Michael's Pub, where he also worked with Woody Allen. Terry produced a popular radio series for NPR called This Is Ragtime and authored an award-winning book by the same title. He has been the music director for a number of theatrical shows in New York City, including Mr. Jelly Lord (based on the life of Jelly Roll Morton), Down Hearted Blues: Bessie Smith, and Heliotrope Bouquet. He has composed scores for both film and theater, including the soundtrack for a new PBS documentary, Storyville: The Naked Dance. In January 1999 Terry's own show, Shake That Thing, opened at the Queens Theater in the Park in New York City. He was the featured pianist and actor in the musical Mae West. He is composer and music director for the sequel to Sugar Babies called Scandals. His wide-ranging talents were showcased in his own one-man show, Eubie & Me. Terry has produced over 40 albums under his own name and performed and composed for hundreds of TV programs, including Ken Burns' PBS documentary, Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson. Of course, at all began here in Columbus with Terry's band, the Fungus Five + 2, which appeared on the Ted Mack Original Amateur Hour in 1962.