Guide to the John and Devra Hall Levy Collection

Summary
Collection ID:
NMAH.AC.1221
Creators:
Lincoln, Abbey, 1930 -
Adderly, Nat, 1931-
Wilson, Nancy, 1937-
Mbulu, Letta
Levy, Devra Hall
Adderley, Cannonball
Montgomery, Wes, 1925-1968
Levy, John, 1912-2012
Horn, Shirley, 1934-
Dates:
1916-2010, undated
Languages:
English
Physical Description:
23.6 Cubic feet
96 boxes
Repository:

Scope and Contents
Scope and Contents
The collection documents Levy's short career as a musician, his longer career as a manager, and the careers of some of his clients. The client most well represented in the collection is Nancy Wilson, with recordings, photographs, correspondence, financial statements, and contracts included. Papers relating to other clients include business records such as ledgers, scheduling information, itineraries, and contracts; publicity materials such as articles, press kits, photographs, and videotapes; personal correspondence; photographs; oral history interviews; scrapbook pages; recordings, some commercial and some non-commercial; and miscellany. The non-commercial recordings feature artists including Nancy Wilson, Cannonball Adderley, Nat Adderly, Abbey Lincoln, Wes Montgomery, Shirley Horn, Letta Mbulu, and others. Also included are some of Wes Montgomery's music manuscripts.

Arrangement
Arrangement
The collection is arranged into six series.
Series 1: Personal Papers, 1916-2010, undated
Series 2: Business Records, 1957-2007, undated Series 3: Photographic Materials, 1963-2002, undated
Series 4: Artist Files, 1942-2001-05-12
Series 5: Joe Williams, 1962-2007, undated
Series 6: Nancy Wilson, 1959-2008, undated

Biographical / Historical
Biographical / Historical
John Levy (1912--) is renowned as a leading representative of jazz musicians and as the first African American to work in the music industry as a personal manager. Born in New Orleans, his family moved to Chicago when he was six. By the early 1940s he had begun playing bass in jazz bands around town. In 1944, Levy left Chicago with the Stuff Smith Trio to play an extended engagement at the Onyx club on New York City's 52nd Street. Over the next years, he played and recorded with many jazz notables, including Ben Webster, Buddy Rich, Errol Garner, Rex Stewart, Milt Jackson, and Billy Taylor, as well as with Billie Holiday at her comeback performance at Carnegie Hall in 1948. In 1949, blind pianist George Shearing hired Levy for his own group and as they toured the country, Levy gradually took on the role of road manager. By 1951, Levy stopped performing to become the group's full-time manager, making history as the first African American manager of a major musical group, and establishing the career he would continue for the next fifty years.
Levy's client roster included many major artists, including Nat and Cannonball Adderley, Betty Carter, Roberta Flack, Herbie Hancock, Shirley Horn, Freddie Hubbard, Ahmad Jamal, Ramsey Lewis, Abbey Lincoln, Herbie Mann, Wes Montgomery, Carol Sloane, Joe Williams, and Nancy Wilson, as well as Arsenio Hall (the only comedian he has managed among some 100 entertainers). In recognition of his achievements, Levy has received numerous awards, including induction into the International Jazz Hall of Fame (1997), receiving a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Los Angeles Jazz Society (2002), and being named a National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master (2006). His autobiography, Men, Women, and Girl Singers: My Life as a Musician Turned Talent Manager, written with his wife Devra Hall, was published in 2001 and expanded into a photo book, Strollin': A Jazz Life through John Levy's Personal Lens, released in 2008 on the occasion of his 96th birthday.

Administration
Processing Information
The collection was processed by Jack Barral (intern), Lauren Finkle (intern), Sarah Gediman (intern), Caroline Kleiner (intern), Abigail Phelps (intern), Erin Wiebe (intern), and Vanessa Broussard Simmons, archivist
Author
Vanessa Broussard-Simmons, Jack Barral, Lauren Finkle, Caroline Kleiner, Abigail Phelps, and Erin Wiebe
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Donated to the Archives Center in 2011 by Devra Hall Levy.

Using the Collection
Preferred Citation
John and Devra Hall Levy Collection, Archives Center, National Museum of American History.
Conditions Governing Use
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
Conditions Governing Access
Collection is open for research.

Related Materials
Bobby Short Papers

Keywords
Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
Financial records -- 20th century Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Musicians -- United States Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Jazz musicians -- United States Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Interviews Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Press releases Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Schedules Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Music trade -- 20th century -- United States Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Contracts Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Correspondence -- 20th century Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Itineraries Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Articles Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Music -- 20th century -- United States Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Scrapbooks Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Business records -- 20th century Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Videotapes Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Jazz -- 20th century -- United States Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Audiotapes Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Professional papers -- 20th century Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
African American musicians Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Photographs -- 20th century Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Sound recordings -- Album covers Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Sound recordings -- Jazz -- 1930-1990 -- United States Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid

Repository Contact
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
P.O. Box 37012
Suite 1100, MRC 601
Washington, D.C. 20013-7012
archivescenter@si.edu
http://americanhistory.si.edu/archives