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Classical Musicians of African Descent

Jester Hairston, conductor/ composer

Jester Hairston

Jester Hairston (1901 - 2000). Born in a time and place where Jim Crow laws prevailed and both the segregation and disenfranchisement of blacks was commonplace, the North Carolina native was born the grandson of slaves.

Despite the systematic economic, educational, and social hurdles he faced, Hairston would go on to graduate as a cum laude music major from Tufts University, attend the famed Juilliard Institute of Music, and eventually become one of the greatest choral music directors of our time. As a composer, conductor, actor and educator, what Jester Hairston left behind was a gift to all people - the love of music.

Learn more about the Jester Hairston Film Project.