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Bus Brown collection

Identifier: NCC-0013

Scope and Contents

These materials primarily document the part of musician Bus Brown's life spent in Durham. Audiovisual materials consist of audio recordings of The Storyteller, Bus Brown's only published album; a video recording titled "Bus Brown, the Storyteller," and five tapes from a potential documentary, with interviews of Bus Brown by Frankie Alexander and Melva Fager Okun.Papers include several programs from performances and events at which Brown appeared, newspaper articles about him and the jazz scene in Durham, logs of what is on some of the tapes in the collection, and several photos of Brown and his friends. Captions for photos are transcribed from the photos or from accompanying notes.


  • 1966-2007, undated

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

There are no restrictions on the use of this material except where previously copyrighted material is concerned. It is the responsibility of the researcher to obtain all permissions.

Biographical / Historical

Jazz musician Woodrow "Bus" Brown was born in Baltimore in 1907, and was friends with fellow Baltimore native Billie Holiday, who was born in 1915. In 1932 he left for New York City, where he reconnected with Billie Holiday and became friends with other jazz pioneers. He and his stepbrother, Baby Laurence, formed the Harlem Highlanders with four other musicians. With them he traveled through the U.S. and Europe in the 1940s and 1950s. Brown moved to Durham in the 1980s to work on the television series “Yusuf and Friends” with Brother Yusuf Salim, and decided to stay to share his music and the jazz tradition with the younger generation. Brown performed throughout the Triangle with Brother Yusuf and jazz vocalist Frankie Alexander. He recorded The Storyteller in 1982, and was awarded the Artist Fellowship for Jazz from the North Carolina Arts Council in 1986, the first time it was ever given. He moved back to Baltimore in 1994, where he died at age 99 on February 14, 2007.


1 Linear Feet (2 record boxes)

Language of Materials


Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

Audiovisual materials must be reformatted before access is granted. Contact staff for more information.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Frankie Alexander

Related Materials

Yusuf Salim Collection (NCC.0012)

Finding Aid for the Bus Brown Collection
Holly Withrow
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Edition statement
Holly Withrow
  • Gift Agreement

Repository Details

Part of the North Carolina Collection Repository

300 N. Roxboro Street
Durham NC 27701 United States