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Stanley Crouch was born on this date in 1945. He was a Black music critic, syndicated columnist, and novelist.
Born in Los Angeles, Crouch began writing at the age of eight through the encouragement of his mother. He also became active in the American Civil Rights movement while in junior high school. After graduating from high school, he attended two junior colleges in the Los Angeles area. While studying at the East Los Angeles Junior College, Crouch worked for a poverty program in East Los Angeles, teaching a literacy class.
Witnessing the 1965 Watts Riot radicalized Crouch and he became a Black Nationalist. From 1965 to 1967, Crouch was an actor playwright in the Studio Watts Company. While there, the writings of Ralph Ellison and Albert Murray became major influences in Crouch's thinking. He turned away from the Black Nationalist movement, finding it too reactionary.
Crouch taught at Claremont College in California from 1968 to 1975 before moving to New York City. There, he lived along with tenor saxophonist David Murray in a loft above an East Village club called the Tin Palace. While working as a drummer, Crouch conducted the booking for an avant-garde jazz series at the club, as well as organizing occasional concert events at the Ladies' Fort. Since the early 1980s, Crouch has become critical of the more progressive forms of jazz and has been an ardent proselytizer for the music of Wynton Marsalis.
Crouch has written articles for the New York Daily News and for magazines such as New Yorker, The New Republic, and Esquire. He is the author of three collections of essays: "Notes of a Hanging Judge" (1990), "The All-American Skin Game; or, The Decoy of Race: The Long and Short of It, 1990-1994" (1995), and "Always in Pursuit: Fresh American Perspectives, 1995-1997" (1998). He has also written, "Don't the Moon Look Lonesome: A Novel in Blues and Swing" (2000).
In recent years, Crouch has also been a fierce critic of rap and hip-hop music, citing their lack of musical qualities and their promotion of criminal lifestyles, and degrading attitudes toward women. With this viewpoint, he has defended Bill Cosby's 2004 remarks and praised a women's group at Spelman College for speaking out against those same qualities. Several of his syndicated columns have been dedicated to these subjects. He was the President of the Louis Armstrong Educational Foundation.
Stanley Crouch, the lauded and fiery jazz critic died on September 16, 2020. According to an announcement by his wife, Gloria Nixon-Crouch, he died at the Calvary Hospital in New York following nearly a decade of serious health issues.
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