Music

Handel chorus and a cappella choir to perform.

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Wilson Daily Times, 20 December 1940.

The Oleanders Quartette performs.

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Wilson Daily Times, 8 December 1937.

This was probably the Oleander Quartet, comprised of George Boyd, Cecil Murray, Howard Scott, George Hall, and pianist Elijah Lamar, which performed blues and spirituals on radio, mostly as a backup to Leadbelly, the legendary folk and blues singer. (Notably, the group backed him on a recording of “Pick a Bale of Cotton” circa 1935.)

Sepia Serenade.

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Wilson Daily Times, 7 September 1948.

In this Historymakers.org interview, educator/musician/poet Carl W. Hines Jr. spoke of his early musical influences in Wilson: “I discovered rhythm and blues early in my youth and in my hometown, there was one station that played Black music for an hour or two during the day. CPS [Sepia] Serenade was the name of the program, and us teenagers would listen to [Sepia] Serenade during that time, and then we would listen to Nashville, Tennessee, Randy’s Record Mart [WLAC], I don’t know if you know about that, but, this was the days before rock and roll, so, we would listen to Randy’s Record Mart late at night, and we would hear rhythm and blues, the Black music of the day.”

Sepia Serenade was one of two radio shows hosted by Theodore “Ted” Hooker, first on WVOT, then WGTM by the early 1950s. Hooker was Wilson’s first African-American on-air personality, and his one-hour programs were first to showcase “race music.”

The Wilson Chapel Four.

The Wilson Chapel Four, of which there were five, were the first African-American gospel group to perform on local radio station WGTM.

WGTM regularly published its schedule in the Daily Times. Here, the Wilson Chapel Four were slotted in at 8:30 Sunday night.

Wilson Daily Times, 30 August 1941.

Photo courtesy of the Freeman Round House and African-American Museum.

 

The Singing Engineers.

“Billy Rowe’s Note Book” was a regular music column published in the Pittsburgh Courier. In late summer 1943, Edgar T. Rouseau filled in for the vacationing Rowe. Rouseau, with the American Allied Forces “somewhere in the Mediterranean,” shined a spotlight on “sepia bands” whose members were soldiers, including that of the famous Singing Engineers of the all-black 41st Engineer Regiment.

 

Pittsburgh Courier, 11 September 1943.

William Coleman, of Wilson, N.C., plays the alto sax. He is an experienced player who was formerly with Snookum Russell’s Min[illegible], the Frank H. Young Shows and the Carolina Stompers.”

The Carolina Stompers furnish snappy Harlem rhythm.

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Wilson Daily Times, 10 December 1934.

The Carolina Stompers — “ten first class negro musicians rendering the type of music of the Cab Calloway style” — entertained a conference of aviation enthusiasts at Cherry Hotel on 11 December 1934.

Wilson Daily Times, 11 December 1934.

 

A song of adoration.

In 1939, Spencer J. Satchell penned original music and lyrics for an alma mater for Charles H. Darden High School.

—–

We sing a song of adoration, a song full of love and praise,

For the school that is our inspiration, for the place where we spend our high school days

We dedicate our thoughts to thee, thoughts of true love and good will

Loyal students we will always be, as we journey o’er the rugged hills

Dear ol’ Darden High!

We laud thee to the sky, we sing thy name in reverence,

Praise Darden High! Darden High!

We raise our Alma Mater, Darden High!

Although from thee we must part, this song will linger within

Yearning and longing in our hearts, for our Alma Mater we will sing

We strive to do our best, while we proudly sing thy name

May we love, work and be blessed, this is our beloved refrain!

Hartford E. Bess, minister of music.

Wilson Daily Times, 23 July 1934.

Wilson Daily Times, 11 April 1935.

Wilson Daily Times, June 28, 1940.

Wilson Daily Times, 14 May 1949.

——

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 208 Pender Street, widow Minnie Best, 48; and children Hartford, 30, delivery boy for retail dry goods business; Ruth, 27, teacher at Williamston School; James, 23, janitor at Oettinger’s store; and Glenwood, 10, grocery delivery boy.

In 1940, Hartford Eugene Bess was registered for the World War II draft. Per his registration card, he resided at 208 Pender Street; was born 9 September 1910 in Wilson; his contact was his mother Minnie Luevenia Bess; and he worked for David Oettinger, 110 West Nash Street.

On 23 July 1960, Hartford E. Bess, 44, married June Wilkins Manley, 37, in the presence of Ruth G. Bess, Alice B. Mitchell and Nora A. Jones. Baptist minister Talmadge Watkins performed the service.

Wilson Daily Times, 3 December 1988.