Skip to main content

Calvin Lampley oral history, 2002 August 14

 File — Multiple Containers
[Aviary] Calvin Lampley oral history, 2002 August 14
[Aviary] Calvin Lampley oral history, 2002 August 14

Scope and Contents

From the Series:

Oral histories were conducted by archives staff and by student interviewers. Most oral histories in this series include a transcript and an audio recording on cassette. Some files may contain related information about the subject.


  • Creation: 2002 August 14

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for use. Contact for more information.

Biographical / Historical

Producer, composer, and musician Calvin Douglas Lampley was often referred to as one of the most influential men in the record industry. Born in Dunn, North Carolina, in 1924, Lampley earned his B.S. from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University. In 1943 he enrolled in the black-only 364th Infantry. After serving in the army, Lampley used the GI Bill to move to New York and attend the Juilliard School of Music, where he studied piano with Irwin Freundlich and composition with Richard Franko Goldman. He graduated in 1949 with his artist diploma in piano. Lampley soon escalated to a prestigious standing in the music community, making his Carnegie Hall debut in 1953.

He was later hired as a tape and music editor by Columbia’s Masterworks label, quickly rising through the ranks and taking a job as George Avakian’s assistant. Lampley moved on from Columbia to work at Warner Brothers, RCA Victor, and Prestige. Throughout his career in the record industry, Lampley worked with some of the most iconic jazz and popular musicians of the time, including Leonard Bernstein, Miles Davis, Louis Armstrong, Dave Brubeck, Erroll Garner, Victor Borge, Arthur Godfrey, Mahalia Jackson, Liberace, Johnny Mathis, Duke Ellington, Nina Simone, Judy Garland, Art Blakey, Horace Silver, Gil Evans, Pat Martino, Sonny Stitt, Frank Foster, Johnny Hammond Smith and countless others.

Lampley moved to Baltimore in 1968 to attend the Peabody Conservatory of Music where he received his master of music in composition. While at Peabody, Lampley was named the director of the institute's first jazz ensemble, becoming the first full-time African-American faculty member. He then took a teaching job at Morgan State University in 1971 where he taught piano and composition for nearly 20 years.

Lampley was also a classical music critic on Maryland Public Television’s The Critics' Place, and as host of WCBM-AM’s Peabody Presents. Lampley also wrote compositions for television and released his own album of band arrangements in 1959. Lampley died in 2006.


From the Collection: 4.87 Cubic Feet (17 boxes)

Language of Materials

From the Collection: English


A record producer, composer, pianist, critic, and educator, Cal Lampley taught at the Peabody Conservatory and Morgan State University for many years in the 1970s and 1980s after working in the record industry. Interview with Elizabeth Schaaf.

Related Materials

Additional materials in the Cal Lampley papers, PIMS.0027.

Physical Description

Low audio levels on source media.


  • TypeCollection

Repository Details

Part of the Peabody Archives Repository

Peabody Institute
1 E. Mount Vernon Place
Baltimore MD 21202 USA