Fletcher Henderson was not just any ordinary jazz musician. He was an intriguing pioneer in the jazz world creating and arranging music that no one in the United States had ever heard before. His sensations spread all across the country and he quickly became one of the most popular musicians during his time. Henderson was an American pianist, bandleader, arranger and composer, and contributed to the expansion of big band jazz and swing music. He was a creative black musician and his impact was infinite. Many people knew him as "Smack" Henderson where he adopted this nickname during his college years playing baseball because he used to smack the ball out of the park apparently. Fletcher is one of the most significant arrangers and bandleaders in jazz history, and helped link the gap between the jazz and swing era.
Fletcher Henderson was born James Fletcher Hamilton Henderson, Jr. on December 18, 1897 in Cuthbert, Georgia. His father, Fletcher H. Henderson Sr. was born in 1857 and died in 1943. Henderson Sr. was a supporting father to his son and was the principal of Howard Normal Randolph School from 1880 until 1942. Henderson graduated from Atlanta University in 1920. Not long after graduation, Fletcher moved to New York City to attend Columbia University for a master's degree in chemistry. However, because he was black his job opportunities were limited, so he turned to music to make a living.
Henderson soon found work demonstrating sheet music for W.C. Handy's music publishing company. He left that company to become a manager at the Black Swan Recording Company, and organized a band to support Blues singer Ethel Waters. Black Swan was a new label and Henderson took advantage of this opportunity to gain experience. He was the recording director for them from 1921–1923.
In 1922, Fletcher formed his own jazz band and helped develop the blueprint behind swing music with the smooth sound of his orchestra. They performed at...