Mikell, Francis Eugene, Sr. (1880-1932)

Charlestonian and multi-instrumentalist; graduated from Avery Normal Institute, Tuskegee Institute, Alabama, and South Carolina State College at Orangeburg (now South Carolina State University); graduated from the Aeolian School for Musical Research in New York; a resident of, and taught music at Jenkins Orphanage in late 1890s (Arthur Briggs and cousin Pete Briggs were his students at the orphanage – he also taught Russell Procope, Rudy Powell and Freddy Jenkins); Mikell and music-teacher colleague at the orphanage, P.M. “Hatsie” Logan taught group (rather than private sessions) musicianship classes in traditional reading skills and instrumentation techniques resulting in students and faculty who were skilled as multi-instrumentalists like Mikell himself; he is regarded as one of the most important teachers of music in Who’s Who in Jazz alongside Fess Whatley of Birmingham and Manuel Manetta of New Orleans – in fact, his musical instruction at the Jenkins Orphanage is said to have pre-dated the use of the word jazz at least by a decade; leader of the orphanage bands when they performed at the 1914 Anglo American Exposition in London; prolific composer and cornetist; bandmaster for James Reese Europe and his famous 369th Regimental Band that went to France in 1917 – the band included Jenkins Orphanage Band members Amos Gilliard, Herb Flemming, and Herbert and Stephen Wright; conductor of New York Clef Club Orchestra; sons, Otto and Eugene, Jr. were also professional musicians.

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