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P.G. Lowery

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P.G. Lowery


Perry George (P.G.) Lowery (b. 11 October 1869, Kentucky – 15 December 142, Cleveland, Ohio) was an American cornetist, band leader, and composer.

Lowery was born in the state of Kentucky, and his family settled in Topeka, Kansas, ca. 1880, during the period following the Civil War when many black people emigrated from the southern states. His first musical instruments were the drums and the cornet. In 1887, he went to Boston to attend the Boston Conservatory of Music.

After playing with several small bands, Lowery joined the Band of Darkest America in 1895. He then embarked on a career as a circus and show cornetist and band leader, including engagements with the B.E. Wallace Shows (1893), the Nashville Students Concert Band Company (1894-1898), the Forepaugh and Sells Brothers Circus (1899-1904), and the Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus (1906), among others.

When Merle Evans became bandmaster of the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus in 1919, he asked Lowery to lead the sideshow band, which he did until 1931. (In the early 1900s every circus had an African-American sideshow band and/or minstrel show.) Evans attempted to have him transferred to the big top band, but he was denied because of racial segregation. After leaving the circus in 1931, Lowery toured with several smaller circuses almost until his death in 1942.

His fame as a composer rests solely on his Prince of Decorah galop, which was dedicated to the publisher Benjamin O. Marsh. Fred Jewell dedicated his march, High and Mighty, to Lowery.

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