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Thursday, February 5, 2015

Joya Sherrill's legacy exemplies positive image

Sherrill's photo as featured in "A Century Of Negro Progress Exposition" booklet in 1963.
After singing with Duke Ellington's show "My People" in the 1960s, Joya Sherrill became one of the first African American women to host a children's television program.

Born on August 20, 1924 in Bayonne, New Jersey, Sherrill woke up from her dream of becoming a writer and began a musical career singing with The Duke Ellington Orchestra when she was 17. In 1956, Sherrill played in A Drum Is a Woman, a musical allegory in which her character, Madam Zajj, melds Jazz and Bebop.

Leaving Ellington, she toured Russia with Benny Goodman's Band and later became a TV personality in New York. In one episode of her Time For Joya show which aired in the early 1970s, she told children, "You can't please everybody, but you have to decide what the right thing is to do." In the 1980s, she hosted another children's show in the Middle East. Past episodes of her series have been uploaded to YouTube to be viewed by a new generation.

Sherrill died of cancer in 2010.

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