Musician’s Musician for Life

Posted on Sep 04 by Nick Mann
about Mrs. C.C. Mann a.k.a Mama Mann

Mama Mann bore six sons including my father, the only one in the family who wasn’t a professional musician. Mama Mann raised her boys alone and taught all of them music. In fact, she taught piano to countless students in Atlanta, Georgia; New York City, and Washington, DC until her death at age 91 in the 1980s. On the left in the photo is Mama Mann on the piano. On the right in the photo, standing at the podium, is the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. speaking at a conference of Christian women in NYC sometime in 1967. Dr. King was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee the following year. My grandmother wrote a book entitled: “Anyone can Learn to Play the Piano,” and she truly believed this. She evented a system for counting 16th notes out loud that I’ve only heard other teachers use in the last several decades, but she taught it to me in the 1950s. Her eldest son, Lawrence was famous as a Minister of Music in Atlanta, Georgia until his death. Her next son, William, was perhaps the best classical soloist on the piano in the family. Her next son, Levi, toured on the standup bass with the Lucky Millender orchestra in the 1930s and 1940s and then held down the house bandleader gig for over twenty years at the famous Twenty Grand club in Detroit, Michigan until his death. Howard was the next in line. He was a professor at the Julliard School of Music in NYC as well as Minister of Music at the Convent Avenue Baptist Church in Harlem. Howard penned the classic gospel hymn “Teach Us To Pray.” Her next son, Marion (my dad) was the only non-professional musician. He went on to achieve the rank of Brigadier General in the US Army Medical Corps as a reservist, while rising to become Dean of the College of Medicine at Howard University. The baby of the family, John Wesley, taught music in the New York City public School System for about forty years.