Materials created and collected by and about Jester Hairston, and administrative materials related to Hairston's centennial
celebration. Materials include manuscripts, music and lyrics, articles, and administrative files.
Jester Hairston was an actor, composer, song writer, arranger, choral conductor, Goodwill Ambassador for the United States,
and an expert on Spirituals. He is best known as an actor for his roles in the television sitcom "Amen" and radio and television
version of "Amos n Andy." As a song writer he is best known for the song "Amen" which he wrote and recorded for the film "Lilies
of the Valley", but over his life he composed over 300 other Spirituals, and was the choral director for Hollywood's first
He was born in Belews Creek, North Carolina, the grandson of a slave, and was raised in Pittsburgh. He enrolled in college
in 1920 at Massachusetts Agriculture to study Landscape Architecture, and though he did not finish a degree at that time,
he was later awarded a honorary Doctorate in 1972, and given the Distinguished Alumnus Award from the Department of Music
and Dance in 1992. After leaving Massachusetts he attended and graduated from Tufts University 1928, and studied music at
the Juliard School. In addition to his work with choirs and spirituals in the United States, he performed folk music and spirituals
all over the world in the 1960s as a Goodwill Ambassador. He died in Los Angeles at the age of 98 in the year 2000, is buried
in Inglewood, California, and has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
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