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Campbell, Ambrose (1919–2006), musician and bandleader, was born Oladipupo Adekoya Campbell in Lagos, Nigeria, on 19 August 1919, the third of four sons in the family of six children of James, G. M., or Adekoya Campbell, a minister in the West African Episcopal church...

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Cann, Rita Evelyn [performing name Rita Lawrence] (1911–2001), pianist and singer, was born on 24 January 1911 at Heathfield, Box Ridge Avenue, Beddington, Surrey, the elder daughter and eldest of three children of Albert Sam Cann (1871–1930×34), an import–export merchant, and his wife, ...

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Rita Evelyn Cann (1911–2001) by Val Wilmer, 1990 photograph © Val Wilmer

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Desmond Adolphus Dacres (1941–2006) by David Corio, 1985 Getty Images

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Dacres, Desmond Adolphus [known as Desmond Dekker] (1941–2006), singer and songwriter, was born on 16 July 1941 in St Andrew, on the outskirts of Kingston, Jamaica. Little is known about his childhood except that after his mother's early death his father, desiring a proper education for his son, sent him to live with relatives in the quiet country town of ...

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Dickerson, Isaac Perry (1850/1852–1900), singer and preacher, was born into slavery in Wytheville, in south-west Virginia's Appalachian Mountains, probably in July 1850 or in 1852 (sources differ). His formal schooling started as a teenager, following emancipation in 1865, and in Chattanooga, Tennessee, he worked for a Jewish shopkeeper whose son taught him to read and write. In 1867 he enrolled at ...

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Rutling, Thomas (1854–1915), singer, was born in Wilson county, Tennessee, USA, on 24 December 1854, into slavery. His father had either run away or been sold before his birth, and his mother was sold when he was three; the fates of both parents were unknown to him. He and two siblings (an older brother and older sister) moved to a new plantation when their master's daughter married. He began working in the fields when he was eight, but soon became a household servant. In 1865, freed by Union soldiers, he joined his brother and sister in ...