1965 May 5

Duke Ellington Denied Pulitzer Prize


The Pulitzer Prize Advisory Board rejected the recommendation of its Music Jury that jazz great Duke Ellington be awarded a Special Citation. The music community was outraged at the denial of the award to the widely recognized musical giant, who many music critics regarded as “beyond category,” and the racism that appeared to underlie the denial.

No African-American won the Pulitzer Prize in Music until Wynton Marsalis in 1997, thirty-two years later.

See Duke Ellington’s 1941 “We, Too, Sing America,” on February 12, 1941.

Duke’s response: “Fate is being kind to me. Fate doesn’t want me to be too famous too young.” (He was 66 years old at the time.)

See and hear Duke “Take the A Train”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cb2w2m1JmCY

Learn more: John Hasse, Beyond Category: The Life and Genius of Duke Ellington (1993)

Check out the official Duke Ellington web site:  http://www.dukeellington.com/

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