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|Size||About 900 items (4.5 linear feet)|
|Abstract||Orchestra and band leader James Hal Kemp was born in Marion, Ala., on 21 March 1904, son of T. D. Kemp, Sr., and Leila Rush Kemp. He was graduated from Central High School in Charlotte, N.C., and, beginning in 1922, attended the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. Kemp's musical success led to a career as a big band leader that earned him national and international recognition. Correspondence, photographs, clippings, legal documents, sheet music, and recorded music, documenting Hal Kemp's career as a musician and orchestra leader. Also included are many are photographs of Kemp, taken throughout his life, as well as group and individual photographs of various Kemp family members, celebrities, and the Hal Kemp Orchestra. The Addition of January 2000 is 8mm, 16mm, and 35mm film, consisting of home movies that include shots of Hal Kemp and his family, friends, and home.|
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James Hal Kemp, orchestra and band leader, was born in Marion, Ala., on 21 March 1904. He was the son of T. D. Kemp, Sr., and Leila Rush Kemp, a poet. Kemp began his musical training while working at Marion's Bonita Theater, playing piano. After his family moved to Charlotte, N.C., he attended and was graduated from Central High School in that city. While in school, he organized his first dance band, a five-piece combo called the Merrymakers.
In 1922, Kemp entered the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, where he organized a campus band known as the Carolina Club Orchestra. This band performed in Europe during summer vacations. Kemp was active on campus and held memberships in the Musical Club, band, orchestra, glee club, and Delta Sigma Phi and Lambda Phi Epsilon fraternities. He also served as president of Wigue and Masque, the dramatic arts association. During his time at UNC, Kemp also formed a seven-piece combo, the forerunner of his nationally-known orchestra. Members of the combo included Skinnay Ennis, John Scott, and Saxie Dowell.
Kemp never completed his academic pursuits at the University of North Carolina. His musical success, however, soon led to the launching of a professional career that earned him national and international recognition. His orchestra played in New York during the mid 1920s and toured throughout Europe and the United States. In 1932, Kemp married Dallas, Tex., debutante Betsy Slaughter. The couple moved to Shogum Lake, N.J. They had two children: Sally and Hal, Jr.
Hal Kemp was a proficient trumpet, clarinet, and saxophone player. He was recognized for the clean, smooth style in the saxophone and brass sections of his orchestra, as well as his unusual choral arrangements. In addition, he arranged "When the Summer is Gone (How I'll Miss You)," the band's theme song. Other popular tunes recorded by the band included "Got a Date with an Angel," "Lamplight," and "Remember Me."
The band played on a number of radio shows, including Penzoil Parade and Chesterfield Program. Bandleader Kay Kyser credited Kemp with encouraging him to enter the field. Several vocalists also achieved fame with Kemp's band, among them Maxine Gray and Bob Allen. Kemp's band was the first to be featured in a motion picture, Radio City Revels of 1938. In addition, the band was named by Variety magazine as the favorite "sweet-swing" band of 1938 and received the Associated Collegiate Press All-American Musical award for that year.
In 1938, Kemp's marriage to Betsy Slaughter ended in divorce, and he married Martha Stephenson in January 1939. He served as a guest conductor of the Chicago Symphony in 1939, partially fulfilling his secret ambition to be a symphony conductor. An automobile accident cut short his dreams, however. He sustained severe injuries, including a punctured lung, in a head-on collision in Madera, Cal. Kemp developed pneumonia and died 21 December 1940 at the age of 36.
Adapted from "James Hal Kemp" by William B. Allen in the Dictionary of North Carolina Biography (1988).Back to Top
This collection is comprised of correspondence, photographs, clippings, legal documents, sheet music, and recorded music documenting Hal Kemp's career as a musician and band leader. Included are many photographs of Kemp, beginning at age one and continuing throughout his life, as well as group and individual photographs of various Kemp family members,celebrities, and members of the Hal Kemp Orchestra.
The Addition of January 2000 is 8mm, 16mm, and 35mm film, consisting of home movies that include shots of Hal Kemp and his family, friends, and home.
Note that additions have not been integrated with other materials. Researchers should check additions to be sure they have identified all files of interest to them.Back to Top
Primarily letters and telegrams exchanged between Hal Kemp and various family members. These materials document Kemp's travels, accomplishments, and social activities, as well as the orchestra's bookings and performances in the United States and abroad.
Legal documents and correspondence pertaining to matters of Hal Kemp's real property, divorce from his first wife, last will and testament, settling of his estate, and legal agreements concerning the interests of the Kemp children.
Clippings from a wide variety of regional and national magazines and newspapers that covered the professional life and career of Hal Kemp with his orchestra.
Literary and scholarly writings addressing musical topics and Hal Kemp's contributions to music.
Writings on symphonic music, musicians, and musical conductors in America. Included is a copy of Kemp's essay, "Let's Face the Music," 10 June 1940.
Writings about the life and accomplishments of Hal Kemp. Items include a copy of the script of "Radio City Revels" and a portion of a biographical manuscript by Kemp's mother, Leila Rush Kemp, who was a poet.
Material relating to the Big Band music era in America. Items examine the emergence of major bands, performers, and musical traditions, such as "Swing" and "Sweet." Included are short biographies of Hal Kemp and many others.
Materials pertaining to Hal Kemp's musical renderings.
Music by Hal Kemp and featuring the Hal Kemp Orchestra, including copies of "When the Summer is Gone (How I'll Miss You)," "The Chestnut Tree," performance and album brochures, and "Hal Kemp Programs."
Record albums (78s) from the "Hal Kemp Memorial Album: Eight of Hal's Best Loved Recordings" series. Included are "Got a Date With an Angel," "Remember Me?" "Whispers in the Dark," and "Lamplight."
Audio cassettes of Hal Kemp's musical selections, 1920s-1940s, and excerpts used in movie shorts and slide presentations. Included are material from some of Kemp's early recordings and rare 78s, selections featured on New York City radio shows, and a rough tape of a proposed album.
Arrangement: by subject groupings and volume number.
Individual and group photographs of Hal Kemp, members of the Kemp family (his parents, children from the first marriage, and his wives), and Hal Kemp Orchestra. There are photographs of Kemp as a toddler, an adolescent, a college student at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, and as orchestra leader.
Enlarged print of Hal Kemp's Carolina Club orchestra with explanatory text.
Correspondence, newspaper clippings, writings, publications, sheet music, pictures of Hal Kemp, and home movies of Hal Kemp's family and friends. Note that, while this addition has not been integrated into the original deposit, it has been arranged according to the organization scheme of the previously deposited materials.
Correspondence, including several telegrams to Kemp regarding his automobile accident; a letter to Martha Stephenson Kemp on the death of Kemp; and a letter written by Kemp, 2 December 1940, informing his insurance agent about the purchase of a new car.
Clippings from magazines and newspapers covering the personal life and professional career of Hal Kemp with his orchestra. Also included are three professionally prepared albums of newspaper clippings, identified by date and periodical, with printed photographs and articles about Hal Kemp and his orchestra from newspapers throughout the country.
Draft of the essay "Lets Face the Music," written on the back of a piece of Hotel Blackhawk stationary.
Music magazines and other items featuring Kemp.
Photographs of Hal Kemp, his orchestra, and Kemp with individuals and groups. Many are MCA publicity photographs and carry the name of Weissman Studios in Beverly Hills, Calif. Among them are pictures of Kemp with Spencer Tracy, Judy Garland, Dorothy Lamour, Peter Lawford, Jackie Cooper, Jack Benny, Maria Montez, Herbert Marshall, Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, and Kemp's wife, Martha Stephenson Kemp.
Hal Kemp's home movies from the 1930s. These films document the last years of his life and perhaps his last musical performances. The films include footage of his first wife Margaret Elizabeth and children, Sally and Hal Jr. Most of the film seems to be have been shot by Kemp and consists of scenes of his family, friends, and home. There are a few shots that feature Kemp interacting with his family and Kemp performing with and conducting his band. Included are 8mm, 16mm, 35mm films. Most are black-and-white films, but films F4923/5, F4923/13, and F4923/14 are in color. Films vary in length from 50 to 100 feet.
Film titles are based on the content of the container notes or content of the films. See folder 40 for photocopies of the original 8mm containers, several of which include hand-written notes. These notes are difficult to read, but, when legible, are quoted below in the film descriptions.
Footage of nude woman, may have been Betsy Slaughter. 8mm black-and-white.
Footage of a man waving, a dog, a man with a baby and a young blonde girl. Note on container: "Charlie and Mal, Raleigh, NC June 1935, Teddy [?] Mrs. K, Charlotte." 8mm black-and-white.
Footage of a crowd at a New Year's Eve party. Includes shots of the guests, brief shots of a band, and the focus is on a table of young men and women. 16mm black-and-white.
Footage of a crowd at a New Year's Eve party. Also includes shots of the orchestra, people dancing and drinking, and shots of Hal Kemp leading the orchestra. Additionally there are shots of Hal Kemp and the audience singing from the perspective of someone filming from within the orchestra. 16mm black-and-white.
Footage of what appears to be a family picnic. Includes shots of man with a baby boy, man and woman with the baby, the baby playing, and adults sitting in rocking chairs outside of a house. Note on container: "June 10, 1935 Family [?]Charlotte, NC." 8mm black-and-white.
Footage of people on a yacht in what appears to be the East River in New York City, N.Y., includes shots of the Brooklyn Bridge, and the men and women on boat. Also includes shots of Hal Kemp with his wife. 8mm Color
Footage of Hal Kemp with multiple children, possibly his nieces and nephews, and shots of Carolina Realty Co. in Charlotte, N.C. There are also shots of a baby and a little girl, possibly Hal Kemp's children, Hal Jr. and Sally, and shots of the baby in a carriage. Note on container: "Charlotte, Teddy, Dun [?], Kemps, Tippy, Sally, Betsy, Abby[?]." 8mm black-and-white.
Footage of a Sally Kemp outside with Hal Kemp. Includes shots of blimp in sky and shots of a little boy, possibly Hal Jr., in a sand box. Note on container: "Sally, Tippy, Charlotte [?]Teddy [?]" 8mm black-and-white.
Footage of men in a car, includes shots of Hal Kemp and shots of fish swimming and a fisherman. Also includes shots of men marching in military uniforms. Note on container: "May '35, Road Trip, Fish at Belfort, Annapolis." 8mm black-and-white.
Footage of men and women swimming and diving, speed boats, a man water-skiing, and a man and his dog diving from a diving board. Note on container: "Mike Fee, Grand Rapids, Mich, Dog Dive, Summer 1935." 8mm black-and-white.
Footage of a professional tennis match. Includes shots of the audience, the press, and a trophy ceremony. 8mm black-and-white.
Footage of what appears to be the New York City, N.Y. skyline during the day and at night, includes shots of advertisements for Hotel Picadilly, Paramount Hotel, Spearmint Gum. Note on container: "Astor Roof." 8mm black-and-white.
Footage of what appears to be the Kemp family outside. Includes shots of a toddler, Kemp's son Hal Jr., walking around with a stuffed bunny outside of a house with adults. Half of the film is out of focus but this footage appears to be of a woman practicing her golf swing. 16mm black-and-white.
Footage of an award ceremony. Includes shots of Hal Kemp receiving an award at a reception, shots of Hal Kemp accepting the award and posing for the press. Also includes shots of a show on stage and shots of Hal Kemp performing with his orchestra. This includes shots of Kemp dancing and playing clarinet and saxophone. Additionaly there are shots of Hal Kemp leading the orchestra from the perspective of someone filming from within the orchestra. Note on container: "Miri Mayfair." 16mm black-and-white.
Kemp home, Kemp family, African American woman and girl, 1936 #04923, Subseries: "8. Films, 1934-1937. " F-4923/18
Footage of Hal Kemp and the exterior of a house. Includes shots of men and women outside, Kemp's family, and two little girls with an older African American woman. Additionally there are shots of airplanes and a African-American girl running outside. 16mm black-and-white.
Footage of children, Sally Kemp and Hal Kemp Jr., playing. Includes shots of the interior of the house and the children playing together with a train set and dolls. 16mm Color
Footage of the interior and exterior of a house. Includes shots of what appear to be the Kemp family with their dogs outside, Hal Kemp playing with children outside, daughter, Sally and son, Hal Jr. 16mm Color
Footage of the exterior of a house and what appears to be the Kemp family playing in an underground pool. Also includes shots of dogs, shots of Hal Kemp with dogs, and shots of the yard and garden. 16mm black-and-white.
35mm Positive Print Optical Soundtrack Reels #1,2,4 and black-and-white. Silent Print Reel #3.
35mm Preservation Negative Optical Soundtrack Reels #1,2,4 and black-and-white. Optical Preservation Duplicate Negative Reel #3. Preservation Master Film.
Items separated include oversize papers (1/OP-4923), photographs (P-4923/1-20), oversize photographs (OP-P-4923/1-13), photograph albums/scrapbooks (PA-4923/1-5), newspaper clipping scrapbooks (S-4923/1-3), audio cassettes (C-4923/1-40), films (F-4923/1-20), and record albums (D-4923/1-4).Back to Top
Processed by Teresa Church, November 1998.
Encoded by Teresa Church, November 1998
Finding aid updated in October 2000 by James M. Roth.
Finding aid updated in October 2010 by Sarah A. Arnold.
Additions have not been integrated with other materials. Researchers should check additions to be sure they have identified all files of interest to them.Back to Top