Harry P. Guy Gets a Headstone
do these Detroiters have in common: Todd Rhodes, Willie Anderson, Tommy
Flanagan, Harold McKinney and Harry P. Guy? Right you are they
were all great pianists. And it's easy to find biographical information
on all of them except one: Harry P. Guy.
Guy (1870-1950) was a pioneer Ragtime artist, composer
and arranger. He served as Minister of Music at St. Matthew's Episcopal
Church in Detroit for twelve years and while there was instrumental
in starting a boy's choir and the first African American Music
Academy in Detroit. Indeed it is storied that the great Don Redmond
came to Detroit specifically to play with Guy. He was also an activist
and, along with his contemporaries Fred Stone and Ben Shook, started
the first Musicians Union in Detroit.
Oddly, Guy's music is seldom if ever performed, and he lies in
an unmarked grave in Detroit's Elmwood Cemetary.
Fifty-three years after his death, however, a group
of citizens spearheaded by The Societie of the Culturally Concerned
are coming together to place a headstone on Maestro Guy's grave
and to commemorate his important, though unsung, life. Saturday, October
11, 2003, the headstone will be unveiled at Elmwood Cemetery with a
short program, replete with Processional & Recessional led by The
Gabriel Traditional New Orleans Band.
Later that afternoon at 1 p.m. a buffet reception
will be held at Bert's on Broadway, 1315 Broadway at Gratiot in
Detroit. Pianists Michael Montgomery and Taslimah Bey will perform the
music of Mr. Guy and his contemporaries.
If you want to take part in this long overdue commemoration,
please make a reservation by October 8 by calling 313-393-3044. Tickets
for the Reception are $25.00 per person.