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Campbell A. "Skeets" Tolbert
Campbell A. “Skeets” Tolbert started playing alto saxophone and clarinet with the University Band at Johnson C. Smith University in North Carolina. Later, he left medical school and went to New York in 1932 where he began working as a musician and studying music at Columbia and Julliard.
After formal training he became a skilled arranger and composer. While in New York, he performed at the Cotton Club and formed his own band in Greenwich Village, the Gentlemen of Swing. The band gained popularity after recording their song “WPA”, a humorous commentary of the Works Progress Administration.
After World War II, Mr. Tolbert went back to North Carolina to teach high school band. In 1948, he was asked to join the faculty of Texas Southern University. Tolbert was instrumental in starting a black local musicians union in Houston in 1950, and was president for that union from 1950 to 1965.