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HERB JEFFRIES

 

Born into a theatrical family, Mr. Jeffries began singing in a combo with a neighborhood piano prodigy, performing locally and on radio. When he moved to Chicago, he was discovered by Earl "Fatha" Hines, who invited him to sing at his local shows there. In the late thirties, Herb Jeffries became the first black movie hero, starring as the dashing Bob Blake in such films as Harlem On The Prairie, Two Gun Man From Harlem and Harlem Rides the Range. These successes were followed by The Bronze Buckaroo and, in the forties, Mr. Jeffries became a singing star with the Duke Ellington orchestra. Now, on his new album The Bronze Buckaroo (Rides Again), Mr. Jeffries sings brand-new recordings of his theme song, "I'm A Happy Cowboy", heard in all four of his "horse operas"; "Pay Day Blues" and two new songs he wrote especially for the album are also featured. At 83, Mr. Jeffries continues to perform, recently with the show "Mostly Duke" with Barbara McNair and The Mills Brothers. He also sings with and conducts his 16-piece band and sings with classical orchestras, including those of Santa Barbara, La Mirada and San Antonio.