Alabama Jazz Hall of Famer has had distinguished career as performer, educator and writer


Willie Ruff

DR. WILLIE RUFF, THE RECENTLY RETIRED YALE SCHOOL OF MUSIC PROFESSOR and founder of the Duke Ellington Fellowship at Yale, is a musician, writer and educator of wide-ranging interests and influences. Ruff was born and raised in Sheffield, Alabama, a city across the river from Florence, Alabama, the birthplace of W. C. Handy, the “father of the blues.” As a six-year-old second grader, Ruff met Handy and was excited to shake his hand, many years later he became one of the founders of the W. C. Handy Music Festival in Florence, Alabama. In 1991, Ruff published…


For eight years, AT&T has produced the African American History Calendar to honor individuals who have excelled in various occupations, spearheaded civic and social movements, and dedicated their time and resources to improve the quality of life in our communities.

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