ABOUT ALBERT MURRAY

Albert Murray (1916-2013) wrote thirteen books, including influential works such as The Omni-Americans, South to a Very Old Place, Train Whistle Guitar, and Stomping the Blues. An innovator in American prose, an iconoclastic social critic (especially with regard to clichés of race relations), a champion and theorist of jazz, a philosopher of art, and a lyrical novelist, Murray is widely regarded as one of the most formidable minds of the late twentieth century. His four-volume modernist künstlerroman about a southern black American musician and writer is a work without comparison, as it presents the black experience from a heroic perspective. He wrote Count Basie’s autobiography, Good Morning Blues, and in 1987 was a co-founder of what became Jazz at Lincoln Center, where he served on the board through 2011.

Murray was born in Nokomis, Alabama and raised in Magazine Point, just north of Mobile. He graduated from Tuskegee Institute in 1939 with a B.S. in Education and returned to teach there in 1940. He served in the Army Air Corps from 1943-1947 and in the U.S. Air Force from 1951-1962, retiring as a Major. Prior to World War II he did graduate work at the University of Michigan, Northwestern University, and the University of Chicago. He earned a master's in English from New York University in 1948 and subsequently studied at the Sorbonne and at Air University. After he began publishing he taught at Colgate University, Barnard College,and Emory University, among other institutions, and lectured widely. He was married to Mozelle Menefee Murray from 1941 until his death in 2013. They lived in Harlem from 1962 on. Their daughter, Michele, danced with the Alvin Ailey Company.

The most comprehensive biographical statement about Murray is the "Chronology" section (by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and Paul Devlin) in Albert Murray: Collected Essays and Memoirs (Library of America #284), co-edited by by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and Paul Devlin.

PHOTO CREDITS
ABOVE: First photograph by Carol Friedman; Albert Murray & Count Basie photograph by Frank Stewart