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Duke Ellington

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FILE - In this Jan. 21, 1967 file photo, band leader Duke Ellington, left, and his big band appear at Bal Pare, in Munich. Ellington was past 70 in 1967, but adventurous and creative as ever. His Grammy-winning album "Far East Suite" drew upon Ellington’s tour of India, Iran and other nearby countries and was among his last collaborations with Billy Strayhorn, who died in May of that year. (AP Photo/Frings, File)

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FILE - This undated file photo released by O&M Co. shows Fantasia Barrino in Broadway's "After Midnight," in New York. Producers of the show said Thursday, March 20, 2014, that the "American Idol" and Grammy Award winner, Barrino, will in May return to the musical celebrating Duke Ellington's years at the Cotton Club nightclub in Harlem. She will have a four-week stand, from May 13-June 8, 2014. (AP Photo/O&M Co., Matthew Murphy, file)

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FILE - This undated file image released by the O&M Co. shows k.d. lang, performing in the musical "After Midnight", at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre in New York. Lang says making her Broadway debut was “a dream come true” and its effects on her music will be “profound.” She took over from Fantasia Barrino as the second star vocalist in "After Midnight," a musical celebrating Duke Ellington's years at the Cotton Club nightclub in Harlem. Her one-month stint ended Sunday, March 9. (AP Photo/ O&M Co; Matthew Murphy)

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FILE - This Sept. 24, 2012 file photo released by Starpix shows Vanessa Williams, a cast member in ABC's "666 Park Avenue," in New York. On Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014, Williams announced after the matinee performance of “After Midnight,” that she has signed up for a stint in the Broadway show celebrating Duke Ellington's years at the Cotton Club nightclub. She will start as a guest vocalist on April 1 and end May 11. (AP Photo/Starpix, Amanda Schwab, File)

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FILE - This Nov. 3, 2013 file photo shows singer k.d. lang at the Broadway opening of "After Midnight" in New York. Lang will take over from Fantasia Barrino as the second star vocalist in "After Midnight," a musical celebrating Duke Ellington's years at the Cotton Club nightclub in Harlem. Lang starts performances Tuesday and will end her run March 9. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP, File)

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Behind many of Americas jazz greats like Duke Ellington, Miles Davis, and Dizzy Gillespie was a great womanMary Lou Williams, an American jazz pianist, composer, arranger, and mentor for the aforementioned musicians.

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The newly renovated Howard Theatre opened a year ago bringing back memories of Duke Ellington, Marvin Gaye and Diana Ross who all played the club when it was a premier entertainment destination. Its amateur night gave young talents such as Ella Fitzgerald and Billy Eckstine their big breaks.

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Arisemma Okrah, 5, drinks a soft drink while playing on the sculpture of Duke Ellington outside the newly renovated Howard Theatre at Monday's "community day." (Barbara L. Sallisbury/The Washington Times)

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Those who frequented the Howard Theatre back in the day are impressed with the newly renovated space. Stars including Duke Ellington, Marvin Gaye and Diana Ross once performed at the club, which many residents remember cutting school for to see the shows. The theater will now offer a full-scale kitchen, bar and, of course, live acts. (Barbara L. Sallisbury/The Washington Times)

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Arisemma Okrah, 5, drinks a soft drink while playing on the sculpture of Duke Ellington outside the newly renovated Howard Theatre in Washington, D.C., on Monday, April 9, 2012. (Barbara L. Salisbury/The Washington Times)

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Edward Kennedy Ellington Jr. and his sister April Ellington, children of the late Duke Ellington, told the crowd gathered for the re-opening of the Howard Theatre that they are excited to see the new theater and know their dad would love it too. The theater, which has a sculpture of Duke Ellington outside of it, officially re-opened on Monday, April 9, 2012. (Barbara L. Salisbury/The Washington Times)

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A newly installed stainless steel statue of D.C. native and jazz legend Duke Ellington sits in front of the redesigned historic Howard Theatre which is set to reopen with a ribbon cutting Monday and an opening night gala on Thursday, Washington, D.C., Thursday, April 5, 2012. (Andrew Harnik/The Washington Times)

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Thomas A. Hart, Jr., a local property owner, left, and Michael Hood of Washington, D.C., second from left, looks at Charles Ramsey's poster design of a newly installed stainless steel statue of D.C. native and jazz legend Duke Ellington with music legends super imposed into it while outside the redesigned historic Howard Theatre which is set to reopen with a ribbon cutting Monday and an opening night gala on Thursday, Washington, D.C., Thursday, April 5, 2012. (Andrew Harnik/The Washington Times)

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Gena Biganzoli of Tulum, Italy, left, checks out a newly installed stainless steel statue of D.C. native and jazz legend Duke Ellington in front of the redesigned historic Howard Theatre which is set to reopen with a ribbon cutting Monday and an opening night gala on Thursday, Washington, D.C., Thursday, April 5, 2012. (Andrew Harnik/The Washington Times)

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LANDMARK: Entertainers such as Ella Fitzgerald, Duke Ellington and Louis Armstrong performed at the Lincoln Theatre during a time when segregation barred patrons from downtown theaters. The venue faces a financial crisis. (T.J. Kirkpatrick/The Washington Times)