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Lou Donaldson

Lou Donaldson, alto saxophonist, recording star and entertainer extraordinaire was born in Badin, North Carolina on November 1, 1926. He is the child of parents, Lucy Wallace Donaldson, mother, and Louis Andrew Donaldson, Sr., father. His mother was a first grade teacher at Badin High School, Musical Director at the school, and a concert pianist who was a graduate of Cheney University. His father was a graduate of Livingstone College, an AME Zion minister, and insurance agent. Lou is the second of 4 children, between older sister Margaret and younger sister Elizabeth and brother William, all of whom ended up involved with music. Lou never studied piano because his mother had a switch that she would crack across the fingers when students missed a note. That turned him completely away from being a pianist. When he was about 9 years old, she heard him singing or humming all of the piano etudes that the students played and she took him aside and told him that he had more musical talent than anyone in the family and that he needed to play some type of instrument. She got a clarinet from the Band Director, Leo Gabriel, at the Alcoa Aluminum Plant Band. Although she knew nothing about the clarinet, she taught him basic music and they used the clarinet book to learn the fingerings and how to play the clarinet. Lou mastered the instrument and this ignited his pursuit of a career in music.

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