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John and Devra Hall Levy Collection

Performer:
Lincoln, Abbey, 1930 -  Search this
Adderly, Nat, 1931-  Search this
Wilson, Nancy, 1937-  Search this
Mbulu, Letta  Search this
Adderley, Cannonball  Search this
Montgomery, Wes, 1925-1968  Search this
Horn, Shirley, 1934-  Search this
Donor:
Levy, Devra Hall  Search this
Creator:
Levy, John, 1912-2012  Search this
Extent:
23.6 Cubic feet (96 boxes)
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Financial records
Interviews
Press releases
Schedules
Contracts
Correspondence
Itineraries
Articles
Scrapbooks
Business records
Videotapes
Audiotapes
Professional papers
Photographs
Date:
1916-2010, undated
Scope and Contents:
The collection documents Levy's short career as a musician, his longer career as a manager, and the careers of some of his clients. The client most well represented in the collection is Nancy Wilson, with recordings, photographs, correspondence, financial statements, and contracts included. Papers relating to other clients include business records such as ledgers, scheduling information, itineraries, and contracts; publicity materials such as articles, press kits, photographs, and videotapes; personal correspondence; photographs; oral history interviews; scrapbook pages; recordings, some commercial and some non-commercial; and miscellany. The non-commercial recordings feature artists including Nancy Wilson, Cannonball Adderley, Nat Adderly, Abbey Lincoln, Wes Montgomery, Shirley Horn, Letta Mbulu, and others. Also included are some of Wes Montgomery's music manuscripts.
Arrangement:
The collection is arranged into six series.

Series 1: Personal Papers, 1916-2010, undated

Series 2: Business Records, 1957-2007, undated Series 3: Photographic Materials, 1963-2002, undated

Series 4: Artist Files, 1942-2001-05-12

Series 5: Joe Williams, 1962-2007, undated

Series 6: Nancy Wilson, 1959-2008, undated
Biographical / Historical:
John Levy was a renowned leading representative of jazz musicians and was the first African American to work in the music industry as a personal manager. Born in 1912 in New Orleans, Louisiana his family moved to Chicago when he was six. By the early 1940s he had begun playing bass in jazz bands around town. In 1944, Levy left Chicago with the Stuff Smith Trio to play an extended engagement at the Onyx Club on New York City's 52nd Street. Over the next years, he played and recorded with many jazz notables, including Ben Webster, Buddy Rich, Errol Garner, Rex Stewart, Milt Jackson, and Billy Taylor, as well as with Billie Holiday at her comeback performance at Carnegie Hall in 1948. In 1949, blind pianist George Shearing hired Levy for his own group and as they toured the country, Levy gradually took on the role of road manager. By 1951, Levy stopped performing to become the group's full-time manager, making history as the first African American manager of a major musical group, and establishing the career he would continue for the next fifty years.

Levy's client roster included many major artists, including Nat and Cannonball Adderley, Betty Carter, Roberta Flack, Herbie Hancock, Shirley Horn, Freddie Hubbard, Ahmad Jamal, Ramsey Lewis, Abbey Lincoln, Herbie Mann, Wes Montgomery, Carol Sloane, Joe Williams, and Nancy Wilson, as well as Arsenio Hall (the only comedian he has managed among some one hundred entertainers). In recognition of his achievements, Levy has received numerous awards, including induction into the International Jazz Hall of Fame (1997), receiving a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Los Angeles Jazz Society (2002), and being named a National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master (2006). His autobiography, Men, Women, and Girl Singers: My Life as a Musician Turned Talent Manager, written with his wife Devra Hall, was published in 2001 and expanded into a photograph book, Strollin': A Jazz Life through John Levy's Personal Lens, released in 2008 on the occasion of his 96th birthday. Levy died in 2012 at the age of ninety-nine in Altadena, California.
Related Materials:
Bobby Short Papers
Provenance:
Donated to the Archives Center in 2011 by Devra Hall Levy.
Restrictions:
Collection is open for research.
Rights:
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
Topic:
Musicians -- United States  Search this
Jazz musicians -- United States  Search this
Music trade -- 20th century -- United States  Search this
Music -- 20th century -- United States  Search this
Jazz -- 20th century -- United States  Search this
African American musicians  Search this
Sound recordings -- Album covers  Search this
Sound recordings -- Jazz -- 1930-1990 -- United States  Search this
Genre/Form:
Financial records -- 20th century
Interviews
Press releases
Schedules
Contracts
Correspondence -- 20th century
Itineraries
Articles
Scrapbooks
Business records -- 20th century
Videotapes
Audiotapes
Professional papers -- 20th century
Photographs -- 20th century
Citation:
John and Devra Hall Levy Collection, Archives Center, National Museum of American History.
Identifier:
NMAH.AC.1221
See more items in:
John and Devra Hall Levy Collection
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
GUID:
https://n2t.net/ark:/65665/ep81a6961c7-0d9e-40c9-b6b1-bc87a35c9187
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-nmah-ac-1221

Personal Papers

Collection Performer:
Lincoln, Abbey, 1930 -  Search this
Adderly, Nat, 1931-  Search this
Wilson, Nancy, 1937-  Search this
Mbulu, Letta  Search this
Adderley, Cannonball  Search this
Montgomery, Wes, 1925-1968  Search this
Horn, Shirley, 1934-  Search this
Collection Donor:
Levy, Devra Hall  Search this
Collection Creator:
Levy, John, 1912-2012  Search this
Type:
Archival materials
Date:
1916-2010, undated
Scope and Contents:
Materials primarily document John Levy as a musician, but also include his early life and career as a manager. The materials spans from 1916 through 2010 and includes photographs, scrapbook pages, newspaper clippings, typed and handwritten notes, correspondence, interview transcripts, and VHS tapes. The materials are separated into two subseries: Subseries 1.1: Biographical and Professional Materials, and Subseries 1.2: Men, Women, and Girl Singers: My Life as a Musician Turned Talent Manager.
Collection Restrictions:
Collection is open for research.
Collection Rights:
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
Collection Citation:
John and Devra Hall Levy Collection, Archives Center, National Museum of American History.
Identifier:
NMAH.AC.1221, Series 1
See more items in:
John and Devra Hall Levy Collection
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
GUID:
https://n2t.net/ark:/65665/ep8b36e8b91-538f-49e0-b950-ef1895f446da
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-nmah-ac-1221-ref515

Biographical and Professional Materials

Collection Performer:
Lincoln, Abbey, 1930 -  Search this
Adderly, Nat, 1931-  Search this
Wilson, Nancy, 1937-  Search this
Mbulu, Letta  Search this
Adderley, Cannonball  Search this
Montgomery, Wes, 1925-1968  Search this
Horn, Shirley, 1934-  Search this
Collection Donor:
Levy, Devra Hall  Search this
Collection Creator:
Levy, John, 1912-2012  Search this
Type:
Archival materials
Date:
1916-2010, undated
Scope and Contents:
Materials consists of John Levy's personal papers relating to his early life, his time as a musician, and various events in his management career. The materials are dated 1916-2010, with the bulk of the materials falling between the 1940s and early 2000s. The folders are arranged chronologically with undated material at the end. Early materials include childhood photographs and Levy's grammar school certificate. Photographs, scrapbook pages, programs, and one VHS tape document Levy's career as a musician in Chicago in the 1940s, particularly his role as a bassist in the Stuff Smith Trio. Newspaper clippings and magazine articles cover Levy's musicianship and his later management career. Other papers include correspondence, typed and handwritten notes, and undated photographs. Materials from Levy's later career and life in the 1990s-2000s consist of event programs, awards and certificates, and VHS tapes.
Collection Restrictions:
Collection is open for research.
Collection Rights:
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
Collection Citation:
John and Devra Hall Levy Collection, Archives Center, National Museum of American History.
Identifier:
NMAH.AC.1221, Subseries 1.1
See more items in:
John and Devra Hall Levy Collection
John and Devra Hall Levy Collection / Series 1: Personal Papers
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
GUID:
https://n2t.net/ark:/65665/ep858cf158a-e7b4-41db-b2ef-17e2214fd126
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-nmah-ac-1221-ref516

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