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Bey, Chief, 1977 January 25

 Item — Multiple Containers

Scope and Contents

Chief Bey lectured at the University of Connecticut on 1/25/1977 (2015-0002/RR103).

RR 103 Percussionist and member of the Howard Roberts Chorale, Bey presents on African music with an emphasis on African percussion.


  • Creation: 1977 January 25

Conditions Governing Access

Links to digitized content are included in the finding aid.

Biographical / Historical

James Hawthorne Bey, educator, composer, arranger, percussionist, and acclaimed folklorist was born 17 April 1913 in Yamassee, South Carolina, United States. He began to study dance and percussion with Isame Andrews; studied African drum making and performance (1930s); enlisted in the military, serving in the United Stated Navy where he had the rank of Mate First Class

Bey's interest in African culture led him to the Moorish Science Temple and after joining he changed his name to Bey; Eva Jessye engaged him as a cast member for the international tour of Porgy and Bess (1953); his career as a performer continued to blossom during the 1960s, taking him to premier jazz and concert venues throughout the United States. He performed on twenty-three recordings under five different names (Baba Hawthorne Bey, Chief Bey, Chief James Hawthorne Bey, Hawthorne Bey, and James Bey) (1958-1998).

He was engaged with a number of dance companies such as the Alvin Ailey Dance Theatre, Charles Moore Dance Company, and the Syvilla Fort Dance Company; performed extensively with Pearl Primus; organized a music group named Egbe Ife (Society of Love); became an initiated priest of Sango (1976); established Ile Omo Olofi, a religious house.

Throughout the 1960s Bey appeared on such albums as At the Village Gate (1961), African Beat, (1962), albums with Harry Belafonte and Pharoah Saunders, and many others.

Bey was also involved in a small handful of films and musicals, and was in the cast of the Broadway musical Raisin (1973-1975), where Bey played an African drummer. In the 1990s Bey taught the shekere, a West African percussion instrument, at the Griot Institute in Brooklyn. Bey died on April 8, 2004, in New York, New York.

[African American National Biography, accessed April 24, 2015, via Oxford African American Studies Center database / /]


1 Reels (Magnetic tape audio recording ) : RR 103 1 reel, 00:55:59; tape speed 3¾ IPS; track position ½-Track Mono; Substrate: Polyester.

Language of Materials

From the Series: English