January 27

On January 27, 1991, Whitney Houston sang the National Anthem prior to Super Bowl XXV at Tampa Stadium on January 27, 1991 in Tampa, Florida, considered to one of the best Super Bowl National Anthem singing performances ever. Photographed by George Rose/Getty Images

Julius Lester (born January 27, 1939) was a faculty member at UMass Amherst for 32 years, first in the department of  Afro-American Studies and later in the Judaic and Near Eastern Studies department, as well as teaching courses in comparative literature, English, and history. He is the author of 44 books, including his first, an instructional book on how to play the 12-string guitar, co-authored with Pete Seeger, and is a regular essayist for The New York Times, The Boston Globe, Village Voice, The New Republic, and other publications. As a member of SNCC he was the chief photographer, and his images have been displayed in the civil rights exhibit at the Smithsonian Institution as well as in solo exhibitions. He has also hosted radio and television shows in New York City and recorded two albums of traditional and original songs for Vanguard Records.


Will Marion Cook (born William Mercer Cook, January 27, 1869 – July 19, 1944) was a composer and arranger who had studied at the Oberlin Conservatory and the National Conservatory of Music as well as under Antonín Dvořák while in Europe. He is probably best known for his popular songs and Broadway musicals, such as Clorindy, or The Origin of the Cake Walk and In Dahomey. He was the son of Howard Law School dean John Hartwell Cook and the father of diplomat Will Mercer Cook.

Frederick Douglass "Fritz" Pollard (January 27, 1894 – May 11, 1986) was one of the first two players, along with Bobby Marshall, in the National Football League during the 1920 season, and the following year Pollard was named player-coach, making him the first African American coach as well. In 1926 all nine of the black players in the NFL were removed from the league at the end of the season. Pollard also coached Lincoln University's football team during the 1918 to 1920 seasons and served as athletic director of the school's World War I era Students' Army Training Corps. In the 1930s, he founded his own professional football team, the Brown Bombers. The Depression ended the Brown Bombers’ run in 1938, and he went on to other ventures, including a talent agency, tax consulting and film and music production.
Elmore James (January 27, 1918 – May 24, 1963) was an American guitarist, singer, songwriter, and band leader. He was known as King of the slide guitar but was also noted for his use of loud amplification and his stirring voice. He was strongly influenced by Robert Johnson, Kokomo Arnold and Tampa Red, recording several of Tampa Red's songs and using two of Tampa Red's former band two musicians in his own backing band, the Broomdusters.

John H. Cross Jr. (January 27, 1925 – November 15, 2007) was best known as the pastor of the 16th Street Baptist Church, an African American Baptist congregation in Birmingham, Alabama, at the time of church's racially motivated bombing in 1963. The bombing, which ripped through the church and killed four young girls, became a rallying cry for the Civil Rights Movement and propelled the problems of racial segregation in The South into the national spotlight. Cross spent much of the rest of his life working for racial reconciliation in the South.

Bobby "Blue" Bland (born Robert Calvin Brooks, January 27, 1930 - June 23, 2013) sang with Eddie Fisher while serving in the U.S. Army and began his professional career as part of Johnny Ace's revue on Beale Street and the Chitlin' Circuit. His first solo success was with the 1957 R&B chart no. 1 hit "Farther Up the Road", which also reached no. 43 on the Billboard Hot 100, followed by "I Pity the Fool", "Turn On Your Love Light",  "Call It Stormy Monday (But Tuesday Is Just as Bad)", and"That's The Way Love Is" in the early 1960s. He began recording for ABC Records in the 1970s, putting out the successful albums His California Album and Dreamer, and was inducted into the  Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1992.

Billy "White Shoes" Johnson (born January 27, 1952) was a kickoff returner and wide receiver for the NFL Houston Oilers and Atlanta Falcons from 1974 through 1988. He was a fan favorite and one of the first players to display elaborate celebrations in the end zone. He was the only player selected to the National Football League 75th Anniversary All-Time Team not in the Hall of Fame.

Ronald E. Richardson (January 27, 1952 – April 5, 1995) was an actor and operatic baritone who began his career in the mid 1970s appearing in regional theater and opera productions. He appeared in several Broadway musicals from 1978-1993, arguably best known for his Tony Award and Drama Desk Award-winning performance of Jim in the 1985 Broadway musical Big River.


On January 27, 1961, Leontyne Price debuted at the Metropolitan Opera as Leonora in Verdi’s Il Trovatore where she received a 42-minute ovation, one of the longest in the Met’s history. She has 15 Grammys for voice recordings, the Presidential Medal of Freedom (1964), the Kennedy Center Honors (1980), and the National Medal of Arts (1985). Although Price wasn’t the first African American to perform at the Metropolitan Opera, she was the first to sing many different roles at the Met and to build an opera career in the US and in Europe.

On January 27, 1972, Mahalia Jackson passed away in Chicago. Her funeral at the Greater Salem Baptist Church saw 50,000 people view her glass and mahogany coffin in tribute; 6,000 people attended her funeral. Coretta Scott King eulogized Ms. Jackson along with Reverend Leon Jenkins and then Mayor Richard Daley. Sammy Davis Jr. and Ella Fitzgerald attended her funeral. The soon-to-be Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin closed the funeral with her rendition of “Precious Lord, Take My Hand.”

On January 27, 1984, Michael Jackson suffered second-degree burns during a pyrotechnics stunt filmed for a Pepsi-Cola commercial. Jackson underwent treatment to hide the scars on his scalp, and had his third rhinoplasty shortly afterward.

Photo Gallery

January 27, 1958: Following a near fatal plane ride Little Richard gives up rock and roll (don't worry, he'll be back) and enrolls in Oakwood College, a school for African-Americans run by the Seventh Day Adventist so he can get his degree in divinity.

Sade poses on January 27, 1984. Photo by B. Gomer, Getty Images

Stevie Wonder and singer Whitney Houston attending 13th Annual American Music Awards on January 27, 1986 at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, California

Michelle Obama, January 27, 2010
Photo Gallery

Norman Washington Manley Ousts Jamaican Leader William Alexander Bustamante for Prime Minister Post - Jet Magazine, January 27, 1955

Jet Magazine, January, 27, 1977 — Roots — The miniseries, based on Alex Haley's novel, originally aired over eight consecutive nights (January 23-30, 1977) on ABC.

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