Music

Sun Ra

Born 22 May 1914. Died 30 May 1993.
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Jez Nelson meets Sun Ra

Jez Nelson reflects on his interview with the jazz musician and composer Sun Ra in 1990.

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Biography

Sun Ra (born Herman Poole Blount, legal name Le Sony'r Ra; May 22, 1914 – May 30, 1993) was a prolific jazz composer, bandleader, piano and synthesizer player, poet and philosopher known for his "cosmic philosophy," musical compositions and performances. He was born in Birmingham, Alabama. He is a 1979 inductee of the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame.

Controversial because of his eclectic music and unorthodox lifestyle, and claiming that he was of the "Angel Race," and not from Earth but from Saturn, Sun Ra developed a complex persona, using "cosmic" philosophies and lyrical poetry that made him a pioneer of afrofuturism. He preached awareness and peace above all. He abandoned his birth name and took on the name and persona of Sun Ra (Ra being the Egyptian God of the Sun), and used several other names throughout his career, including Le Sonra and Sonny Lee. Sun Ra denied any connection with his birth name, saying "That's an imaginary person, never existed … Any name that I use other than Ra is a pseudonym."

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