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As the greatest artists of recording music descend upon Los Angeles for the annual Grammy awards, we spotlight William “Count” Basie as a part of Black History Month.

“Count” Basie is one of the most influential Jazz musicians of all time. This New Jersey native began his musical career on the Vaudeville circuit, which brought him to Kansas City, Chicago, and St. Louis.

Basie was also well known for leading big band jazz orchestras and working with such legends as Billie Holiday, and appearing in classic films like Cinderfella, Blazing Saddles and Hit Parade of 1943. 

Basie became the first African-American Male to win a Grammy award. At the first annual award show, Basie won the first ever award for Best Jazz Performance, Group and Best Performance by a Dance Band in 1958.

Four of Basie’s recordings are enshrined in the Grammy Hall Of Fame including “One O’ Clock Jump,” “April In Paris,” “Everyday (I Have The Blues),” and “Lester Leaps In.” On May 23, 1985, William “Count” Basie was presented, posthumously, with the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Ronald Reagan and was inducted in to the New Jersey Hall Of Fame in 2009.

To check out some photos of this great man in Black History, hit the slides down below.

Photo: Biography

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