Born March 28, 1890, Denver, Colorado
Died December 29, 1967, Doylestown, Pennsylvania
In the era of the Stutz Bearcat, the raccoon coat and the hip flask, Mr. Whiteman was the hero of flaming youth.-The New York Times, December 30, 1967
Paul Whiteman, popularly known as "Pops" and the "King of Jazz," was one of the most successful and influential bandleaders of the 1920s and 1930s. After playing the viola for the Denver and San Francisco symphonies, young Whiteman turned to popular music, applying his knowledge of orchestral music to jazz. He was the first bandleader to arrange jazz music instrumentally, as well as the first to feature vocalists, including female soloists. Beginning with his "Experiment in Modern Music" concert in 1924, when he debuted George Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue, Whiteman made jazz respectable. Extremely popular and versatile, Whiteman and his orchestra played not only at prestigious concert halls, but also for private parties, especially those of the rich and famous. Whiteman was also involved in other entertainment media, performing on radio and television programs, appearing in films, providing music for Broadway musicals, and producing many record albums.
Image: Photograph by Maynard Clark, James A. Michener Art Museum , gift of Philip A. and Dianna T. Betsch