Ollie L. Powers
(October 11, 1886 – April 14, 1928)
This is my grandfather, who had an extremely active music career in Chicago between 1912 and 1928. One of the best accounts of his life and career appeared in his obituary article in the Chicago Defender, a paper that specialized in the news and events of Chicago’s black community. Ollie L. Powers was of mixed heritage, which in those days meant that he would have been considered black by most white people, even though he must have appeared rather light to most black people! But his musical talent made all who heard him put aside such issues. In his career, he worked with important jazz musicians such as Jimmie Noone, Louis Armstrong, Earl Hines, Johnny St. Cyr, singers such as May Alix and Florence Mills, and as the partner of the noted songwriter & comedian Shelton Brooks---the duo were billed as “Two Dark Clouds of Joy”! (A story told in our family is that Ollie wore blackface and gloves during the performances, but at the very last moment, just as he was leaving the stage, he would remove his glove and wave at the audience with his bare, light-skinned hand!)
Scroll down or click here to see the obituary that appeared in the Chicago Defender, April 21, 1928...
7-21-2020: The original site RedHotJazz.com, which
I linked to extensively when I originally wrote these
pages, has since been discontinued. However, all its
pages have been archived at web.archive.org, and all the
links on this page and in the Bibliographical References
have now been repaired.