* 1 Early Life
* 2 College
* 3 New York
* 4 Writings
* 5 Notes
* 6 External links
 Early Life
Ellison was born in Oklahoma City, probably in 1913. Ellison's father, a small-business owner and a construction foreman, died when he was three. Many years later, Ellison would find out that his father hoped he would grow up to be a poet, and named him after the great American essayist Ralph Waldo Emerson. Ellison's mother raised him and his brother Herbert, while working as a domestic and nursemaid.
Early in life he became enamored with music, studying trumpet and piano. Ellison lived at a time when several great jazz musicians were in Oklahoma City, so he became immersed in that genre of music as well as the classical composition which he studied in school. Jimmy Rushing would be a particular strong influence; years later he would include the essay "Remembering Jimmy" in his book of criticism Shadow And Act. Music was a constant theme both in his personal life and in his writing.
In 1933, Ellison entered the Tuskegee Institute on a scholarship to study music. Tuskegee's music department was perhaps the most renowned department at the school, headed by the conductor Charles L. Dawson (the Tuskegee choir was invited to play at many prestigious locations throughout the world, including Radio City). Ellison also had the fortune to come... [continues]
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