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Mon, 10.10.1921

James Condell, Psychologist and Musician born

James Condell

*James Condell was born on this date in 1921. He was a Black psychologist, educator, and musician.

His piano skill from Louisville, Kentucky, got him a scholarship to Kentucky State College.  Since the college band already had a piano player, he took up a new instrument: the guitar. He also began studying psychology and sociology. He served with the U.S. Army Air Corps during WWII. After a year of being a professional musician after the war, he decided to make a career in Academia.

He received further education at Columbia, New York University, and the University of Nebraska. While teaching at Florida A&M, he met his wife, biologist Yvonne Condell. In 1956, the two moved north, first to Grand Forks and then to Fergus Falls, where Yvonne taught at the community college, and James helped kids at the Lakeland Mental Health Association. In 1958, he became the first African American member of Rotary International in Fergus Falls. He and his wife took jobs teaching in Moorhead, MN.

Psychologist Dr. James Condell and his wife, biologist Dr. Yvonne Condell came to teach at Moorhead State College (now Minnesota State University Moorhead) in 1965. The couple played important roles in encouraging Moorhead State's efforts to recruit diverse students and faculty and mentoring those students once they arrived. He served as Professor of Psychology for the next 27 years, including ten as the head of the department, and was a Diplomate of the American Psychological Association, but he never gave up music.

Dr. Condell formed and performed in regional bands and hosted popular public radio jazz programs. Dr. Condell learned Spanish to study Classical guitar at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Madrid. He gained regional recognition as a jazz guitarist, a classical guitarist, an arranger of music, and a jazz scholar. Dr. Condell passed away on September 4, 1998, two weeks after playing his final gig. After his passing, Dr. Yvonne Condell donated her husband's extensive collection of recordings to the University of Missouri – Kansas City. ​

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