February 2015
Celebrating Black History Month and Jester Hairston

Jester Hairston, 1978Choral conductor Jester Hairston enjoyed a lengthy career in music, film, and television.

The photo opposite was signed to Tiomkin forty-two years after he first met Hairston in Hollywood.

The two met in 1936, during recording sessions for Lost Horizon, and went on to work together on numerous films.

READ: Fascinating Rhythms: Dimitri Tiomkin, African American Music, and Early Jazz

To Dimitri Tiomkin it was always about the music and he knew he could rely on Hairston.

Tiomkin said of Hairston, “There are many choirs and choirmasters in Hollywood and they all compete like crazy. But Jester’s work for me and for people like John Ford, Frank Capra, and Anatole Litvak has been so impressive that I, at least, prefer only to work with Hairston. I know that he can get music from his singers.”

There are more photographs of Hairston in our Photo Gallery (click on Photo Gallery above then select “Jester Hairston” from the left sidebar tag cloud), including a recently identified one featured in our “Behind the Photograph” series.

READ: Behind the photograph: Hairston and Tiomkin

The inscription on the photograph below conveys Hairston’s appreciation for Tiomkin, “Thank you, Maestro, for all you did for me in Hollywood,” signed Jester Hairston, December 20, 1977.

Jester Hairston, 1977



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