Duke Ellington

Born in Washington, D.C., Edward Kennedy "Duke" Ellington rose to fame at Harlem's Cotton Club in the late 1920s. His career as a musician, composer, and bandleader spanned more than 50 years. Among his many compositions are hundreds of short pieces and more ambitious extended works, including operas, ballets, musicals, concert pieces (such as "Black, Brown and Beige"), and the "Sacred Concerts." He was decorated with numerous awards and honors, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom—presented by President Nixon in 1969. Browse additional information related to Duke Ellington from across the Smithsonian and in the Archives Center at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History.