Art&Seek presents This Week in Texas Music History. Every week, we’ll spotlight a different moment and the musician who made it. This Week in Texas Music History, we’ll celebrate an educator whose legacy continues to resonate across the state.
You can also hear This Week in Texas Music History on Sunday at precisely 6:04 p.m. on KERA radio. But subscribe to the podcast so you won’t miss an episode. And our thanks to KUT public radio in Austin for helping us bring this segment to you. And if you’re a music lover, be sure to check out Track by Track, the bi-weekly podcast from Paul Slavens, host of KXT’s The Paul Slavens Show, heard Sunday night’s at 8.
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Portia Pittman was born on June 6, 1883, in Tuskegee, Ala. The daughter of African-American educator Booker T. Washington, she studied music in New England and in Europe. In 1913, Pittman moved to Dallas, where she taught at Booker T. Washington High School. While there, she helped transform the school choir into one of the most highly-respected student ensembles in the state.
Portia Pittman returned to Tuskegee in 1928. However, her work at Booker T. Washington High School in Dallas dramatically enhanced its music education program and helped produce such notable artists as Norah Jones, Edie Brickell and Erykah Badu.
Next time on This Week in Texas Music History, we’ll meet “the other George Jones” of Texas music.