Christian, Charlie

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.
Save to active project

Christian, Charlie

Charlie Christian (Charles Henry Christian), 1916–42, African-American jazz guitarist, b. Bonham, Tex. The son of a singer-guitarist father and pianist mother, he grew up in Oklahoma City, where he began playing professionally at 15. By 1937, Christian had begun to play an electrically amplified guitar, and he soon transformed it into a staple of the jazz ensemble, elevating it from a largely rhythm-section role into a full-fledged solo instrument. In 1939 he jammed with Benny Goodman, who hired him on the spot; as a member of the Goodman Sextet he soon became one of America's best-known jazz guitarists. An inventive improviser, Christian had a uniquely clean, fluid sound, produced in hornlike solos often played on a single string. Essentially a swing player, he also was one of the pioneers of bop, experimenting with the form in legendary sessions at Minton's Playhouse in Harlem. In 1941 Christian contracted tuberculosis and the following year he died, ending a brief but brilliant career at age 25.

See biography by P. Broadbent (1996); G. D. Rhodes, dir., Solo Flight (video documentary, 1997).

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Christian, Charlie
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?