For Black History Month we’re turning the spotlight on several prominent black musicians both past and present whose contributions helped put Austin music on the map. KUT reporter DaLyah Jones produced these profiles for KUTX with help from Clay Shorkey of The Texas Music Museum.
Gloria Jean Brown-Manor
Born in La Grange in 1941, guitarist Gloria Jean Brown-Manor would later be heard alongside artists like blues and soul artist Johnny Taylor, guitarist and singer Freddie King and the Southern soul singer Joe Tex. She was inspired to play the guitar by her father who was a vocalist and guitarist that performed at country suppers in the area. Jean and her father played gigs five nights a week by the time she was 14 years old. At 15 she married and moved to Austin with her husband where they performed together at the historic Victory Grill and Charlie’s Playhouse. By the late 50s she began a band by the name of Jean and the Rollettes. Jean played lead guitar. The band played in clubs in Austin, Corpus Christi, San Antonio and Fort Hood. The band performed until Jean’s retirement in the early 1980s. She later passed away in 1999. Jean’s leadership and musical background made her and the Rolletes a beloved token in the musically rich and historical treasure trove known as East Austin. Some of Jean’s unreleased music can be found in the Sonobeat Records archives.
– DaLyah Jones, KUTX News