Book Blows Horn for African-American Music
Patton, Charlie, The Florida Times Union
Byline: Charlie Patton
Not long after he became chairman of the music department at the University of North Florida, Lenard Bowie decided to teach a course on the history of African-American music.
His problem was that he couldn't find a good, comprehensive textbook, Bowie remembered.
His friend, William Brown, an opera singer and UNF professor, suggested a solution: "Why don't you write your own book, Bowie?"
And so that summer, Bowie began working on his manuscript, expecting to finish it in a year or two. Now, 23 years later, "African American Musical Heritage 1600-Present," subtitled "An appreciation, historical summary, and introduction to music fundamentals," has finally been published.
"I didn't think it would ever happen," Bowie, now 74, said during a recent interview.
Bowie got his start in music as a high school student in Big Sandy, Texas. He had three old brothers who all played horns in the marching band. When he got to high school, Bowie, who had a flair for bass lines, planned to take up the tuba. The band director had a different idea.
"He said he needed trumpet players," Bowie remembered.
So he took up the trumpet. At first, he wasn't good enough to play with the varsity band. But his girlfriend got to ride on the varsity band's bus, and Bowie was determined to ride with her. So he practiced fanatically until he could join her on the bus.
That eventually paid off in a band scholarship to Florida A&M. After A&M, he earned three advanced degrees, a master's from the Manhattan School of Music and both a master's and a doctorate from Yale University. …