Robert Greenberg

Historian, Composer, Pianist, Speaker, Author

Music History Monday: The Garden State Hall of Fame

Map of New Jersey
“The Garden State” (having been born in Brooklyn, New York, I grew up in Willingboro, New Jersey, just northeast of 75° latitude and 40° longitude

December 12 is a crazy day in American jazz and popular music history, a day that saw the births of five – count ‘em, five – significant musicians, three of whom have something very special in common.

Let us first recognize the birthdays of the two jazz/pop musicians who do not share this special commonality.

Joe Williams (1918-1999)
Joe Williams (1918-1999)

We start with a big, happy birthday to the jazz singer Joe Williams, who was born on December 12, 1918, 104 years ago today.  Born Joseph Goreed, he came into this world in Cordele, Georgia, and left it on March 29, 1999, in Las Vegas at the age of 80.  Big Joe had a gorgeous, warm baritone voice that was as smooth as a peeled onion.  Long associated with Count Basie (1904-1984) and his big band, Williams sings one of his trademark songs – Alright, Okay, You Win – with the Basie Band in the link below, recorded circa 1970.

Sheila E. (born 1957)
Sheila E. (born 1957)

Another big, happy birthday to the singer, drummer, and percussionist Sheila E. (“E” for Escovedo), who was born right here in Oakland, California, on December 12, 1957, 65 years ago today.  Sheila Escovedo came by her musical bona fides honestly.  Her father is the Latin jazz percussionist Peter (“Pete”) Escovedo (born in 1935 in the San Francisco Bay Area city of Pittsburg, California), and her Godfather was the great American Latin, Afro-Cuban, and mambo musician, songwriter, bandleader, and record producer Tito Puente (1923-2000).  She is a singer of talent and a killer-fine drummer.  The link below dates to 1987, with Sheila E. playing a knockout drum solo with her frequent collaborator, Prince.

And now, three more birthday babies, all with something special in common beyond the shared date of their births, and that is their roots (or “ruts”, as it might be locally pronounced) in the great Garden State of New Jersey! …

Continue Reading, and listen without interruption, only on Patreon!

Become a Patron!

Listen and Subscribe to the Music History Monday Podcast

Robert Greenberg Courses On Sale Now