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Sun Ra

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May 22, 1914 - May 30, 1993

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Sun Ra's "Arkestra" perform at the 1988 "Live Under the Sky Festival" in Tokyo, Japan.

Herman Poole Blount, the artist later known as Sun Ra, was born in Birmingham, Alabama and had a deep interest in music that began at an early age.

Able to sight read and compose music on piano by the age of eleven his musical growth was further assisted by exposure to famous jazz artists traveling through his home town including Fats Waller, Duke Ellington, and Fletcher Henderson.

During his teens he developed his ear for music to the point that he could transcribe entire big band performances simply by hearing them.

In 1934 Sun Ra began his professionally career co-directing an assembly with a former teacher named Ethel Harper, after her departure from the group it became known as the "Sonny Blount Orchestra."

Following a year of deep musical study while attending the Alabama Agriculture and Mechanical University on scholarship, Ra's path would be forever altered in 1937 by his claimed visitation to the planet Saturn during a deep meditation.

After this experience he reformed his band and by 1946 had relocated to Chicago where he made his recording debut that year with singer Wynonie Harris on the single "Dig This Boogie/Lightning Struck the Poorhouse."

Sun Ra would form his "Arkestra" during the early 1960s in New York and moved their home base to the Germantown section of Philadelphia before touring Europe and the West Coast late in the decade.

Ra's 'Space Music' is beyond category and was among the first examples of collective free form improvisation.



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