Music Retrospective Project from the AAAHSM
To celebrate the musical history of the shuttered Central High School, the first high school in Fort Wayne, the African/African American Historical Society & Museum of Allen County (AAAHSM) has started the Sounds of Central project, to find the lost music from the school and, in some cases, to record tracks from alumni.
Richard Harris, in his own words:
I started singing at Friendship Baptist Church when I was about nine or ten years old. In junior high school, I entered a lot of the vocal contests; I won most of those. Then I started singing for Central High School in the choir my freshman year. And I did a concert for the entire assembly. In my junior year, I sang for the entire school. I do an impersonation of Nat King Cole; I did a concert with all of [his] songs.
The Sounds of Central recorded Harris performing “May the Good Lord Bless and Keep You.” To listen to Richard Harris’ rendition of “May the Good Lord Bless and Keep You,” hit up the Sounds of Central project’s website: Soundcloud.com/Sounds-of-FW-Central.
I sung the “Halls of Ivy” at our class commencement [in 1966]. Then I went to Indiana University. I made my first recording with the group called The Singing Hoosiers, which is a national group. I was chosen to enter a contest for the All-American College Show. It’s something like the vocal shows that you see here on TV. This was back in the ‘60s and I won that. And one of the prizes was that I got to contract with one of the recording companies in Hollywood so I moved there.
I sang with Capital Records for two years. I sang at the Red Fox club, the Hollywood Brown Derby [restaurant], the [Hollywood] Palladium, and a couple of other places.
I was offered two and a half million dollars for my contract for Capital Records back in the ‘60s. Bu the lifestyle there…I decided to tell them goodbye. It wasn’t worth it. And I’ve been singing here at my churches ever since.
To listen to other Central High School musicians, including Tyrone & the Upsetters and The Counts 5 (with Central High School drummer Ted Brown, Class of 1964), hit up Soundcloud.com/Sounds-of-FW-Central