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James Reese Europe of Mobile, Alabama is known to be the first African-American musician to record music in the United States. Since he was 10 years old, he studied music with the local Marine Corps band before moving to New York with his family in 1904. Europe would find a leadership role with the well-known Clef Club, one of the first of its kind, like an early fraternity, where he would take on the role of president and lead the club’s symphony orchestra.  The prestigious club would take in over $100,000 per year in dues and performance earnings. They would only play music by black composers.

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