4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs

We Won the Gong Show

“The African American Musicians Heritage Foundation was formed to recognize the life and legacy of local African-American jazz musicians,” says Hollis Hassell. “It’s a part of the dynamic ministry,” he says, “of the Church of Christ of San Diego.”

Hassell, a drummer and a singer, is 87. He was president of the AAMHF from 2002 to 2009.

Fro Brigham was the first inductee in 2000. “And Walter Fuller…those two,” says Hassell. “And then each year, you know, we select one or more African-American musicians who have displayed ongoing musicianship and leadership in the San Diego community. That person — or persons — is inducted into the Hall of Fame.” Along with the honor, “You get a little trophy,” he says.

This year’s inductees are blues guitarist Tomcat Courtney, Eddie Ellis, and jazz singer Deejha Marie Pope.

“John Kearse,” says Deejha Marie, “called me and said that I was being inducted into the AAMHF, and I was, like, me?”

John Kearse is the Foundation’s acting president and secretary. He is also a deacon at the Church of Christ. He says that the selection process is made via ballots that are sent out to previous inductees as well as area musicians. A panel of AAMHF officers totals the ballots.

“Then, we ask for a bio — who they are, what they did. We take all of that into consideration,” Kearse says, “before we make our decision.”

Lead vocalist in Sue Palmer’s Motel Swing Orchestra for nearly a decade, Pope says her professional career was launched years ago after she and her all-vocal group Pieces sang their way to victory on a now-defunct network television game show.

“We won The Gong Show. I still have the trophy at my house.”

On December 12, Pope, Ellis, and Courtney were inducted in a ceremony at the Elementary Institute of Science in San Diego and joined an artist roster of honorees that includes local luminaries Hollis Gentry, Jimmie and Jeannie Cheatham, Cynthia Hammond, Barbara Jamerson, Charles McPherson, James Moody, Jesse Davis, and dozens more.

“I used to go sit in their audiences,” Pope says, “and just, like, dream of being up onstage with them.… I feel like I’ve accomplished something in my life.”

Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all

Previous article

What Lefty’s Cheesesteaks gets right

It’s not local, and it’s not Lefty’s Chicago. But it is ribeye…

“The African American Musicians Heritage Foundation was formed to recognize the life and legacy of local African-American jazz musicians,” says Hollis Hassell. “It’s a part of the dynamic ministry,” he says, “of the Church of Christ of San Diego.”

Hassell, a drummer and a singer, is 87. He was president of the AAMHF from 2002 to 2009.

Fro Brigham was the first inductee in 2000. “And Walter Fuller…those two,” says Hassell. “And then each year, you know, we select one or more African-American musicians who have displayed ongoing musicianship and leadership in the San Diego community. That person — or persons — is inducted into the Hall of Fame.” Along with the honor, “You get a little trophy,” he says.

This year’s inductees are blues guitarist Tomcat Courtney, Eddie Ellis, and jazz singer Deejha Marie Pope.

“John Kearse,” says Deejha Marie, “called me and said that I was being inducted into the AAMHF, and I was, like, me?”

John Kearse is the Foundation’s acting president and secretary. He is also a deacon at the Church of Christ. He says that the selection process is made via ballots that are sent out to previous inductees as well as area musicians. A panel of AAMHF officers totals the ballots.

“Then, we ask for a bio — who they are, what they did. We take all of that into consideration,” Kearse says, “before we make our decision.”

Lead vocalist in Sue Palmer’s Motel Swing Orchestra for nearly a decade, Pope says her professional career was launched years ago after she and her all-vocal group Pieces sang their way to victory on a now-defunct network television game show.

“We won The Gong Show. I still have the trophy at my house.”

On December 12, Pope, Ellis, and Courtney were inducted in a ceremony at the Elementary Institute of Science in San Diego and joined an artist roster of honorees that includes local luminaries Hollis Gentry, Jimmie and Jeannie Cheatham, Cynthia Hammond, Barbara Jamerson, Charles McPherson, James Moody, Jesse Davis, and dozens more.

“I used to go sit in their audiences,” Pope says, “and just, like, dream of being up onstage with them.… I feel like I’ve accomplished something in my life.”

Sponsored
Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

Last of the summer surfers

“Maybe if you keep your hands straight ahead and your head down, you won’t look like a sheep giving birth.”
Next Article

Sun will rise from a point on the horizon due east

Fall officially begins
Comments
0

Be the first to leave a comment.

Sign in to comment

Sign in

Ask a Hipster — Advice you didn't know you needed Big Screen — Movie commentary Blurt — Music's inside track Booze News — San Diego spirits Classical Music — Immortal beauty Classifieds — Free and easy Cover Stories — Front-page features Drinks All Around — Bartenders' drink recipes Excerpts — Literary and spiritual excerpts Feast! — Food & drink reviews Feature Stories — Local news & stories From the Archives — Spotlight on the past Golden Dreams — Talk of the town Letters — Our inbox [email protected] — Local movie buffs share favorites Movie Reviews — Our critics' picks and pans Musician Interviews — Up close with local artists Neighborhood News from Stringers — Hyperlocal news News Ticker — News & politics Obermeyer — San Diego politics illustrated Outdoors — Weekly changes in flora and fauna Overheard in San Diego — Eavesdropping illustrated Poetry — The old and the new Reader Travel — Travel section built by travelers Reading — The hunt for intellectuals Roam-O-Rama — SoCal's best hiking/biking trails San Diego Beer — Inside San Diego suds SD on the QT — Almost factual news Sheep and Goats — Places of worship Special Issues — The best of Street Style — San Diego streets have style Surf Diego — Real stories from those braving the waves Tin Fork — Silver spoon alternative Under the Radar — Matt Potter's undercover work Unforgettable — Long-ago San Diego Unreal Estate — San Diego's priciest pads Your Week — Daily event picks
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
Close