Leon Sullivan – civil rights leader Founder of the OIC & human rights activist
As pastor of the Zion Baptist Church in Philadelphia, much of the ministry of Leon H. Sullivan (born 1922) was directed toward improving employment prospects of African Americans. This led to his founding the Opportunities Industrialization Center (O.I.C.) in 1964 in order to impart employment skills to inner city youths.
American civil rights leader Reverend Leon H. Sullivan’s revelation to Fortune magazine that he was undertaking “a bold new venture” to assist the continent of Africa during the 1990s was no startling proposal from this pastor, who has been a life-long social activist. Sullivan, who early in his career accepted the ministry of Zion Baptist Church, which was located in a poor section of north Philadelphia, pioneered the protest concept of economic boycott of stores and companies that do not employ blacks. He created the job-training agency Opportunities Industrialization Center of America Inc., which spawned 75 similar centers throughout the country and trained nearly two million people.
Long an advocate of black entrepreneurship, Sullivan led the members of his church to form Zion Investment Associates, Inc., which in turn developed Progress Aerospace Enterprises, Inc., a company that manufactured aerospace parts and actively created jobs for the unemployed. But he is most famous, perhaps, for devising the Sullivan Principles, a business code by which companies worldwide operating in South Africa enacted equal treatment of black workers – prior to sanctions imposed by the United States in 1987. Upon his retirement from Zion Baptist Church, Sullivan told Fortune that he would shift his focus to the needs of Africa since his “work at the [Zion Baptist] church is done. We finally paid off the
Bill Cosby – Actor, comedian, philanthropist, author
(born July 12, 1937, Philadelphia, Pa., U.S.) U.S. television actor and producer. He worked as a comedian in New York City nightclubs and on tour in the 1960s. In the series I Spy (196568) he became the first black actor to star in a dramatic role on network television. He later frequently appeared on the children’s programs Sesame Street and The Electric Company as well as in several films. He starred in several other television series, most notably The Cosby Show (198492), which became one of the most durable family comedies in the history of television. (SOURCE – ANSWERS.COM)
Julian Abel – architect for Philly Art Museum
Born Julian Francis Abele on April 30, 1881, in Philadelphia, PA; died April 23, 1950
Studied architectural drawing at the Pennsylvania Museum and School of Industrial Art, 1896-98; University of Pennsylvania School of Architecture, BS, 1902; also studied at École des Beaux Arts, Paris, until 1906.
Horace Trumbauer & Associates architectural firm, Philadelphia, PA, began as an assistant, became chief designer, 1903-50.
Julian Abele was the first African-American architect to attain professional acclaim. He enjoyed a long and illustrious career at a prominent Philadelphia firm, and many of the buildings that bear his design stamp have endured to become American landmarks. They include many of the buildings on the campus of Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, as well as the Philadelphia Museum of Art and New York University’s Institute of Fine Arts, originally a private residence and one of Manhattan’s grandest addresses in its day (SOURCE – ANSWERS.COM)
Derrick Pitts – Chief Astronomer Franklin Instititue
Derrick H. Pitts is an American astronomer. He is Chief Astronomer and Planetarium Director for the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He has been named as one of the 50 most important African-Americans in research science. He is the president of the Philadelphia chapter of the Tuskegee Airmen, Inc. He has made numerous television appearances, including shows such as The Colbert Report,The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, and Countdown with Keith Olbermann. He co-hosts a weekly radio discussion program called Skytalk on WHYY-FM.(SOURCE – ANSWERS.COM)
Marian Anderson – Acclaimed contralto singer
Born February 27, 1897, in Philadelphia, Marian Anderson displayed vocal talent as a child, but her family could not afford to pay for formal training. Members of her church congregation raised funds for her to attend a music school for a year, and in 1955 she became the first African American singer to perform as a member of the Metropolitan Opera in New York City. By the late 1930s, Anderson’s voice had made her famous on both sides of the Atlantic. In the United States she was invited by President Roosevelt and his wife Eleanor to perform at the White House, the first African American ever to receive this honor.
Anderson was acclaimed singer whose performance at the Lincoln Memorial in 1939 helped set the stage for the civil rights era. Much of her life would ultimately see her breaking down barriers for African-American performers. In 1955, for example, she became the first African-American singer to perform as a member of the Metropolitan Opera in New York City.
Pearl Bailey – Famous singer, stage & movie actor
Spirited black singer and actress of stage and screen, Bailey is the daughter of a preacher. She started her performing career at age 15 after winning an amateur contest, then went on to tour as a dancer appeaedr as a singer-dancer with various jazz bands. Her big break came with her debut on Broadway in the musical St. Louis Woman; her performance earned her a “most promising newcomer of 1946” award. Bailey became known for her throaty, sexy voice, down-to-earth personality, and jokey mischievousness. Her screen debut came as a guest star in Variety Girl, in which she sang “Tired,” her first major hit. She eventually appeared in a number of stage and screen musicals, as well as landing several straight roles. In the late ’60s she was awarded a Tony for her work in the title role of the all-black version of Broadway’s Hello Dolly! Bailey hosted her own TV variety show in 1971, but retired from show biz in 1975. Also in 1975, she was named to the U.S. delegation to the U.N. Her autobiography, The Raw Pearl, appeared in 1968. ~ Rovi (SOURCE – ANSWERS.COM)
Kenny Gamble & Leon Huff – Founders of Philadelphia International Records
Kenny Gamble (production, songwriting, vocals; born August 11, 1943), Leon Huff (production, songwriting, keyboards; born April 8, 1942)
Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff were the architects of the Philly Soul sound. Working jointly on songwriting and production, they made Philadelphia the capital of soul music in the Seventies. Gamble and Huff generated a profusion of soulful hits that had a colorblind appeal. They worked with the O’Jays, Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes, the Intruders, the Three Degrees, McFadden & Whitehead, Jerry Butler, Lou Rawls, Dee Dee Sharp, Phyllis Hyman and others. Their biggest hits, topping both the R&B and pop charts, were jazz singer Billy Paul’s “Me and Mrs. Jones”; the O’Jays’ “Love Train”; and the Soul Train theme, “TSOP (The Sound of Philadelphia),” by MFSB Featuring the Three Degrees. All totaled, Gamble and Huff were behind 15 gold singles and 22 gold albums (8 of which went platinum).
The duo launched Philadelphia International Records label in 1971, giving Motown a run for its money – in terms of sales and influence – in the Seventies. Gamble and Huff’s sophisticated sound included glossy orchestrations; guitars that played glistening octaves or rhythmic chords; jazzy vibes and smooth, grooving saxes; and a memorable lead voice atop satiny group harmonies. Many of Gamble and Huff’s best-known songs – such as the O’Jays’ “I Love Music” and Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes’ “The Love I Lost” – were driven by smooth, pulsing disco rhythms. Just as often, Gamble and Huff would write a slow jam topped by a beseeching vocal or rap (such as Teddy Pendergrass’ wrenching lead vocal on the Blue Notes’ “If You Don’t Know Me By Now”). Social commentary and harmony-minded themes frequently found their way into Gamble and Huff’s songwriting, particular for the O’Jays (who scored with “Back Stabbers,” “For the Love of Money” and “Love Train”) (SOURCE – BIOGRAPHY.COM)
Joe Frazier –Heavyweight Boxing champ in the 1970s
Born January 12, 1944, in Beaufort, South Carolina, Joe Frazier was the world heavyweight-boxing champion from February 16, 1970, until January 22, 1973, when boxing great George Foreman beat him. Frazier is perhaps best remembered for his grueling 14-round match against Muhammad Ali in the Philippines, known as the Thrilla in Manila, which Ali won by TKO. Frazier died of liver cancer in 2011. (SOURCE – BIOGRAPHY.COM)
Patti LaBelle – Singer, actress, chef and author
Actress and singer Patti LaBelle is widely regarded as the queen of rock & soul music. She has received acclaim for many of her songs, including “Lady Marmalade,” “When You Talk About Love,” and “New Attitude.” She began her career as part of the Ordettes in 1959, who became The Bluebelles in 1961. Her success as a solo artist started in 1983 when she released her hit album I’m in Love Again.
Born Patricia Louise Holte on May 24, 1944, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to parents Henry Holte, a railroad worker, and Bertha Robinson Holte, a homemaker.
A shy girl, Patricia gained confidence through her singing, which she did every Sunday in the choir of Beulah Baptist Church in southwest Philadelphia. As a teenager, she began singing secular music with friend, Cindy Birdsong. The duo formed the Ordettes in 1959 and, a year later, signed on two more friends, Nona Hendryx and Sarah Dash. As the group experienced increasing success, Patricia’s parents allowed her to leave high school with her friends in order to go on tour.
The Ordettes, with Patricia as the lead vocalist, signed with Newtown Records in 1961. The company changed the group’s name to The Bluebelles, from which Patti took her new stage name, LaBelle, French for “The Beautiful.” In their first year at Newtown, they recorded their debut single “I Sold My Heart to the Junkman.” The song became an instant gold record and a No. 1 hit. (SOURCE – BIOGRAPHY.COM)
Will Smith – Rap, TV and Movie star
Will Smith was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on September 25, 1968. At 16, Smith met a DJ at a party. The pair became friends, and the rapping duo DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince was born. In 1990, Smith moved into acting with his role in the TV show The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air. in 1992 Smith crossed over into movies. He has been starring in popular films ever since.
Born Willard Christopher Smith Jr., to mother Caroline, a school board employee, and father Willard C. Smith, the owner of a refrigeration company. His middle class upbringing saw him attend the strict—and Catholic—Overbrook High School, despite his family’s observation of the Baptist faith.
His West Philadelphia neighborhood was a melting pot of cultures where Orthodox Jews co-existed with a large Muslim population. Smith was a good student whose charming personality and quick tongue were renowned for getting him out of trouble, a trait for which he soon gained the nickname “Prince.”
Smith began rapping at age 12, emulating heroes like Grandmaster Flash but tingeing his rhymes with a comedic element that would later become his trademark. At 16, Smith met a DJ at a party by the name of Jeff Townes. The pair became friends, and the duo DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince was born. (SOURCE – BIOGRAPHY.COM)
Wilt Chamberlain – Arguably, the greatest pro basketball center
Wilt Chamberlin was born on August 21, 1936, in Philadelphia, PA. Known as “Wilt the Stilt” for his 7′ 1″ frame, Chamberlin was a Harlem Globetrotter then joined the Philadelphia Warriors. He achieved an average of 30.1 points per game over his career, and holds the record for the most points scored in one game. Chamberlain was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1978. He died in 1999.
Professional basketball player, businessman, author. Born August 21, 1936, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Known as “Wilt the Stilt” and the “Big Dipper,” Wilt Chamberlain was one of the greatest basketball players of all time. He scored more than 30,000 points during his professional career.
Chamberlain was a standout player at Overbrook High School in Philadelphia. He played on the school’s varsity team for three years, scoring more than 2,200 points in total. Standing at 6-feet 11-inches, Chamberlain physically dominated other players. He eventually reached his full height of a staggering 7-feet 1-inch tall. Many of his nicknames were derived from his stature. He hated being called “the Stilt,” which came from a local reporter covering high school athletics. But Chamberlain didn’t mind “Dipper” or “Big Dipper,” a nickname given to him by friends because he had to duck his head down when passing through a doorframe. (SOURCE – BIOGRAPHY.COM)
GRAMMY-nominated producer and BMI’s 2012 Producer of the Year
If you’ve been rockin’ to the beats behind Drake and Nicki Minaj, then you’re already a fan of Philly 360˚ Creative Ambassador and super producer Pop Wansel. When we first found out that he was the son of legendary (and heavily sampled) Philly producer and arranger Dexter Wansel who was a part of The Sound of Philadelphia, we knew he and his production partner Oak were destined to make hits. Not only has this hitmaker been topping the charts Nicki and Drake, but also with Trey Songz, Busta Rhymes, Lil Wayne, Kelly Rowland and Britney Spears, to name a few.
And, in September 2012, he took home the Producer of the Year award from BMI’s Urban Music Awards.
We can’t wait to see what this up and comer has in store for us as he takes the sound of Philly into a new era!
DJ Jazzy Jeff
GRAMMY Award-winning DJ and producer
Jeff Townes, also known as DJ Jazzy Jeff, is a world renowned DJ and GRAMMY Award winning producer who has represented his hometown of Philadelphia in everything that he does. In the early stages of his career, he was most notably part of a hip-hop duo DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince. Jeff also began his own production company A Touch of Jazz, which became the hotbed of the Philadelphia soul movement that included the talents of Jill Scott, Musiq Soulchild and Floetry, to name a few. Today, Jeff continues to set the bar as a major DJ and producer.
GRAMMY Award-winning hip-hop band
The Roots, Grammy Award winners, became the iconic hip-hop band of this decade on the strength of their genre-bending live instrumentation and forward-reaching lyrical brilliance. Alongside founders ?uestlove and Black Thought, the lineup includes Damon Bryson, Frank Knuckles, Captain Kirk, Owen Biddle and James Poyser. Embodying the very spirit and creative spark of the city, they have long been Philly’s favorite sons.
This soulstress and South Philly native is a favorite in the Philadelphia music scene. She got her start touring with Will Smith and DJ Jazzy Jeff, and has since been featured on tracks with Jill Scott, Musiq Soulchild, Anthony Hamilton, to name a few. More recently, Carol released her debut solo album Moments Like This.