1917 – 1995
Who was Ulysses Kay?
Kay, the nephew of the classic jazz musician King Oliver, studied piano, violin and saxophone. Kay attended the University of Arizona where he was encouraged by the African-American composer William Grant Still. He went for graduate work to the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York, and there worked under Howard Hanson and Bernard Rogers.
After a stint as a musician in the United States Navy during the World War II, Ulysses Kay studied at Columbia University under Otto Luening with the assistance of a grant from the Julius Rosenwald Fund. In addition to this prize, Kay received a series of five other significant awards in the year following his discharge from the Navy including the Alice M. Ditson Fellowship, a grant from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, an award from the American Composers and American Broadcasting Company, a $500 award from the third annual George Gershwin Memorial Contest for "A Short Overture," and a $700 award from the American Composers Alliance for his "Suite for Orchestra."