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Name that Kansan! - January 20, 2012

Q: This native Kansan made it big on Broadway as a choral director. A singer, actress, composer, author and poet... she began organizing choral groups in Coffeyville, Kan., before she was even a teenager! What’s the name of this woman who led a nationally-celebrated choir?


Miss-Eva-Jessye KSHS(

A: Eva Jessye (who was born on this date – January 20 - in 1895!)

Eleanor-Roosevelt-and-Eva-Jessye KSHSEva Jessye is acknowledged by many as the first African-American woman to win international distinction as a director of a professional choral group. Born in 1895, Jessye spent part of her life in Coffeyville, Caney, Iola and Pittsburg, Kan.


Among her many accomplishments was working as the choral trainer for the original Broadway production of Porgy & Bess. She and her choir also marched for Civil Rights with Dr. Martin Luther King in 1963.

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