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Sun Ra (born Herman Poole Blount, legal name Le Sony'r Ra;<ref>Szwed, p. 83.</ref> May 22, 1914 – May 30, 1993) was an American jazz composer, bandleader, piano and synthesizer player, poet and philosopher known for his "cosmic philosophy," prolific musical output, and unconventional performances. He was inducted into the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame in 1979.

Controversial<ref>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }}</ref> because of his eclectic music and unorthodox lifestyle, and claiming that he was of the "Angel Race", and not from Earth but from Saturn, Sun Ra developed a complex persona, using "cosmic" philosophies and lyrical poetry that made him a pioneer of afrofuturism. He preached awareness and peace above all. He abandoned his birth name and took on the name and persona of Sun Ra (Ra being the Egyptian God of the Sun), and used several other names throughout his career, including Le Sonra and Sonny Lee.<ref name=watrous>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=news }}</ref> Sun Ra denied any connection with his birth name, saying "That's an imaginary person, never existed... Any name that I use other than Ra is a pseudonym."<ref>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }}</ref>

From the mid-1950s to his death, Sun Ra led "The Arkestra", an ensemble with an ever-changing name and flexible line-up, although certain core members remained with the group through its various incarnations (Marshal Allen, John Gilmore, June Tyson, and others). It was by turns called "The Solar Myth Arkestra", "His Cosmo Discipline Arkestra", the "Blue Universe Arkestra", "Myth Science Arkestra", "The Jet Set Omniverse Arkestra", and many other variations. Sun Ra asserted that the ever-changing name of his ensemble reflected the ever-changing nature of his music. His mainstream success was limited, but Sun Ra was a prolific recording artist and frequent live performer. His music ranged from keyboard solos to big bands of over 30 musicians and touched on virtually the entire history of jazz, from ragtime to swing music, from bebop to free jazz. He also used free improvisation and was one of the early musicians to make extensive use of electronic keyboards.<ref>Szwed (1999): according to author Norman Mailer writing in 1956, quoted on page 154: "a friend took me to hear a jazz musician named Sun Ra who played 'space music'." According to Sun Ra himself, also in 1956, quoted on page 384: "When I say space music, I'm dealing with the void, because that is of space too... So I leave the word space open, like space is supposed to be." On page 247, in an interview, Sun Ra stated "sometimes when I'm playing for a band, playing space music... I'm using ordinary instruments, but actually I'm using them in a manner... transforming certain ideas over into a language which the world can understand."</ref>


Sun Ra sections
Intro  Biography  The Arkestra  Music  Philosophy  Filmography  Bibliography  Discography  Notes  References  External links  

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