Prompted by the oil crisis of the 1970s, there was a period of time where wind power in the United States briefly flourished. Unfortunately, oil prices around the world dropped, and with it, funding for research into renewable energy was cut. By the mid-1980s, any interest in wind energy as a large-scale source of energy had all but disappeared in the United States. While the drop in oil prices may have been the death knell, the development of wind power also suffered from inefficient technologies, insufficient power generation, and high production and operating costs. Thankfully, many of these challenges have since been overcome. While wind power is by no means completely eco-friendly, it is still one of the best alternatives available to the world. It is time to critically re-examine the objections which prevailed over three decades ago and decide if they still are valid.
Edward Kennedy Ellington was born in Washington in 1899, just three years after the creation of several very racist laws were created in the United States. Despite the external pressure to underperform, Ellington's mother, Daisy, always encouraged her son to do his best: nothing else was acceptable. While this seems trivial, it is not. Ellington's mother was a constant reminder, throughout his childhood and beyond, that he was equal to any white man and he should never see himself in any other light. This freed him from accepting the black stereotype of the time and allowed him to dream grand dreams.
His father, J.E, would also make a mark on his young son's character. Having worked as a butler among the elite of Washington, J.E decided to raise his family in style. As a butler, he was often offered incomplete sets of fine dinnerware as well as silver cutlery, which he would bring back to his house for his own family to dine with. Ellington's father taught his son the finer points of etiquette and style. The confidence bestowed upon him by his mother and the suave manner of dress and behavior inherited from his father would earn Edward his world famous nickname: Duke.
His parents gave Ellington another major gift-a childhood filled with many different types of music. His father played 'cultivated' operas, as well as arranging popular songs with a group of friends, always by ear. On the other hand, Daisy had learned how to read music. She mostly played parlor songs and ragtime pieces, but so sweetly that her son would cry when he heard them. Daisy also regularly took her son to church, where he grew up listening to traditional hymns as well as spirituals. Growing up with so much variety in music surely would have taught the young Duke to appreciate elements of all of them.
Two things of importance happened in Ellington's life when he was about fourteen. First, he started to illegally slip into Holliday's poolroom. This would have allowed Ellington to listen to a number of different piano styles. The second event of note during Ellington's fourteenth year was the composition of his first piece of music. When he was approximately seven, Daisy sent Ellington to start formal piano lessons, but the young boy had no interest in them. Thankfully, the summer he was fourteen he heard Harvey Brooks. Ellington would later describe the experience: "I cannot tell you what that music did to me. He was swinging, and he had a tremendous left hand, and when I got home, I had a real yearning to play. I hadn't been able to get myself off the ground before, but after hearing him I said to myself, 'Man, you're just going to have to do it.' "
While piano music had caught his attention, it was hard for the fledgling musician. He could not read music, so he used the only method he could to learn the piano: his ears. Fortunately, during those first few months of playing, Ellington found he could not perform as well as the musicians he listened to at parties. Therefore, his only recourse was to make up his own tunes. Later on that summer, when Ellington caught a cold, he worked out his first composition using some popular tunes he knew and the rhythm he used at his job jerking sodas: "Soda Fountain Rag".
The next six years were a time of amazing growth for Ellington. He began to broaden his fan base, created a band, got married, and most importantly, learned some elements of reading music. Almost as soon as he started high school, he started being invited to play at many of his peer's parties and dances. His popularity taught him that he needed to become a more rounded musician, so he became acquainted with Oliver 'Doc' Perry. Perry not only helped Ellington with his reading, but would also let him play at some of his own engagements when Perry was double booked, exposing Ellington to a wider audience. While still in high school, Ellington started to draw other musicians to himself, and before he turned 19, he had a band: the Duke's Serenaders.
Within a few months of forming the band, he had earned enough money to move out of his parent's house and start advertising in the local telephone book. It was not long before the Duke's Serenaders began to play at embassies and local mansions, entertaining the elite of Washington. Two months after Ellington turned twenty, he married his sweetheart, Edna Thompson, who had been studying to become a music teacher. Edna continued Ellington's education in the realm of sheet music, but Ellington felt the need for more, so he went to a neighbor of his, Henry Grant, to teach him how to harmonize. Later, Grant would recall that, "harmonizing a simple melody was always an experiment in color with Duke; it was always important to him to create a sound that 'rang,' as he put it, either because it was mellifluous, exquisitely concordant, or because it was bizarre, challengingly discordant." Ellington's fame was increasing, and with it, the need to not only be an excellent listener and musician, but to have the musical education to back it up.
Within a few months of forming the band, he had earned enough money to move out of his parent's house and start advertising in the local telephone book. It was not long before the Duke's Serenaders began to play at embassies and local mansions, entertaining the elite of Washington. Two months after Ellington turned twenty, he married his sweetheart, Edna Thompson, who had been studying to become a music teacher. Edna continued Ellington's education in the realm of sheet music, but Ellington felt the need for more, so he went to a neighbor of his, Henry Grant, to teach him how to harmonize. Later, Grant would recall that, "harmonizing a simple melody was always an experiment in color with Duke; it was always important to him to create a sound that 'rang,' as he put it, either because it was mellifluous, exquisitely concordant, or because it was bizarre, challengingly discordant. Ellington's fame was increasing, and with it, the need to not only be an excellent listener and musician, but to have the musical education to back it up.
During the summer of 1923, Ellington travelled to New York City with some of his friends, They joined a band, and landed a job at the Exclusive Club. Suddenly earning a steady income, Ellington decided to branch out by selling some of his own compositions to Broadway. While at first his works were generally ignored, Ellington plowed ahead, and by October, "Blind Man's Bluff" was copyrighted. In August, an initial radio broadcast accompanying a blues singer did not amount to much, but around a month later the group Ellington was playing with, The Washingtonians, was being regularly broadcast on the radio, and even written about. James 'Bubber' Miley had also joined the band and, with his rougher addition, Ellington was firmly entrenched in the land of hot jazz. By the end of the year 1923, the twenty-four year old Ellington had secured a place for himself in New York, but more importantly, the foundation had been laid for the rest of his music to come.
Born into a black family during some of the worst years in African-American history, Ellington overcame the color boundary with the help of his parents, who also introduced him to the vast world of music. Soon he was not only composing his own music, but also hungering after more ways to improve, which eventually lead him to listen to many famous pianists. Once established in New York, the only thing left for Ellington was to explore the world of jazz he was helping to define. Throughout his life, he would combine what he heard in the world around him with his experience. This enabled him to write, in the very soul of jazz philosophy, pieces of music that would impress and inspire people for generations.