Felix Grant

Felix Grant

Felix Grant (1918–1993) was a disk jockey who specialized in jazz during a long career (1945 to 1993) on the radio and television in Washington, D.C., United States; primarily on station WMAL, the local ABC affiliate. In addition to playing records, he was distinguished for his many interviews with performers. Many of those interviews were recorded and are now retained in the Felix E. Grant Jazz Archives, housed at the University of the District of Columbia. The collection also includes many other materials collected by Grant during his nearly 50 year career on the radio. “Access to the digital AUDIO files in this collection is restricted to registered patrons in good standing of institutions that are members of the Washington Research Library Consortium.” Guest access can be granted to researchers by e-mailing the curator.

Grant is also generally accepted as the person who introduced Brazilian music (primarily bossa nova) to the US community of performers and listeners. See, for example, C. McGowan and R. Pessamba, "The Billboard Book of Brazilian Music, page 8, published by Guinness, 1991.

Grant is responsible for discovering Duke Ellington's birthplace (2129 Ward Pl., NW). Although the original house had been demolished, Grant began efforts to mark the site in 1987. A bronze plaque was placed on the building occupying the birth site along with a sign: the "Duke Ellington Building." Duke Ellington's son Mercer attended the dedication on Ellington's birthday in 1989. Grant was also responsible for renaming Western High School, Duke Ellington High School (now Duke Ellington School of the Arts) and for renaming the Calvert Street Bridge the Duke Ellington Bridge (1974). Documents in support of these events can be found in the Felix E. Grant Digital Collection.

His other credits included Brazil's highest award, the Order of the Southern Cross; recognition from the DC government, including plaques, proclamations, and the designation of Felix Grant Day in 1985; and the naming for him of a music-radio library at the University of Jamaica. He was chairman of the Brazilian-American Cultural Institute and president of Partners of Brasilia. He established the Felix E. Grant Scholarship Fund at UDC.


The Felix E. Grant Jazz Archives are maintained by the Jazz Studies Program, College of Arts and Sciences, and the Learning Resources Division at the University of the District of Columbia. The majority of the holdings are commercially issued LPs (approx. 45,000) and CDs (10,000) in addition to reel-to-reel tapes, audio cassettes, 45s and 78s. Books, periodicals, photographs, and other paper materials complement the commercially issued sound recordings. The Felix E. Grant Digital Collection gives a sampling of the types of materials housed in the Archives. Some standouts are:
#Felix Grant’s interviews of radio personalities which include jazz giants such as - Cannonball Adderley, Cab Calloway, Monty Alexander, Art Farmer, Johnny Hartman, Jimmy Rushing, Sonny Stitt, as well as those with more local flavor such as Barnee Breeskin, author of “Hail to the Redskins”; Tommy Gwaltney, original owner of Blues Alley and Shep Allen, manager of the Howard Theater - in addition to Brazilian artists such as Joao Gilberto, Dorival Caymmi, Tania Maria and Leny Andrade, Flora Purim and Airto. Users outside of the Washington Research Library Consortium apply for a guest ID through a form on the website to listen.
#Lorton Reformatory Jazz Festival. Lorton was once the location of a jazz festival featuring some of the top names in jazz Ella Fitzgerald, Count Basie, Nancy Wilson, Oscar Peterson, Ray Brown. A commemorative booklet and rare photographs can be viewed.
#Duke EllingtonFelix Grant was responsible for finding the birthplace of Duke Ellington and placing a commemorative plaque there. The original home had been demolished but the building in its place was renamed the Duke Ellington Building. Prior to this discovery Felix Grant was responsible for the naming of the Duke Ellington bridge and instrumental in the renaming of Western High School the Duke Ellington School For the Arts.

Cataloging of holdings is ongoing.

External links

* [http://www.carloslyra.com/ingles/txt_releases.asp?id=3 @ Carlos Lyra Official Site] - Article about the 1965 album of Carlos Lyra and Paul Winter, The Sound of Ipanema.
* [http://www.aladin.wrlc.org/dl/collection/hdr?grant Felix E. Grant Collection] - online images from the University of the District of Columbia
* http://www.eagle-wing.net/GoodWords/Thoughts/WHFS.shtml
* [http://www.lrdudc.wrlc.org/jazzhome.html Felix E. Grant Jazz Archives]
* [http://www.lrdudc.wrlc.org/jazzinterviews.html Felix E. Grant Radio Interviews List]
* [http://biblioteca.universia.net/ficha.do?id=36186213 Jazz Archives in the United States by Michael Fitzgerald]

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