Joe Lee Wilson

 

Featured Inductee

Joe Lee Wilson was born on December 22, 1935 in Bristow, Oklahoma, and grew up on his parent's farm there.  He had vivid memories of African-American cowboys and rodeos and was very proud of his Creek Indian identity, which influenced his writing and performing.  Inspired to sing by listening to Louis Jordan and Nat Cole on the radio, he met and befriended the great jazz singer Eddie Jefferson after moving to California at the age of 15.  He frequented the jazz clubs of first Los Angeles and then San Francisco, where he was working with top musicians by the late 1950's.  Wilson had spent years in Los Angeles studying classical voice and jazz at Conservatory and L.A. Community College and was working frequently in California and Mexico, so when Ernestine Anderson invited him to New York in 1960 he was ready.

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