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The Jimmy McDaniels Foundation

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                                                                   The Piano Man

             ….It is after 6:00P.M. in Indianapolis....the nation’s 11th largest city. The cocktail lounges are busy, the supper clubs are beginning to fill, the piano bars feature the sounds of singing and laughter. One question keeps coming up, “Where’s Jimmy? You see there is this great guy, who’s fun and you’ll love his music. Let’s go hear Jimmy.”

Lean in close and listen.

A “musician’s musician,” Jimmy McDaniels was known to some as “The Piano Man,” to others as a soloist and guest conductor of the Indianapolis Symphony, and to many, simply, as the “leader of the band.”

While Jimmy’s musical path was inevitable, this Alabama native and son of a music professor, will be remembered for not only the company he kept - Cab Calloway, Nat King Cole, Mel Torme, Rosemary Clooney, Joe Williams and Lionel Hampton - to name a few; not only for the venues he played, from symphony halls to major supper clubs throughout the United States; not only for the performances he delivered, including the 1989 Bush/Quayle Presidential Inauguration; but also, for his commitment to education, service and mankind.    He was also inducted in the Jazz Hall of Fame’s Class of 1984 along with ten other jazz superstars, including Ella Fitzgerald, and in the Indianapolis Jazz Foundation Hall of Fame Class of 1998.

In his lifetime, Jimmy McDaniels led by example in the classroom, field, profession, stage and community. He excelled as a student at Miles College, the Toledo Bach Conservatory, Indiana University and as an education specialist with the Indianapolis Symphony. McDaniels served his country as aparatrooper with the U.S. Army 82nd Airborne Division and served his profession as a member of the Indianapolis Musicians Union Local #3. This dedicated member of the Indiana Performing Arts Hall of Fame, the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame, Sertoma, 100 Black Men, Tuskegee Airmen and the Kiwanis Club also served as the volunteer organizer of a jazz band at the Pendleton Reformatory. For this achievement, he received the Governor’s Award for outstanding service to the Indiana community. In his lifetime, James “Jimmy” McDaniels truly made a difference.

James “Jimmy” McDaniels was born in 1929 in Vinesville, AL as the second of four sons of music professor Charles A. McDaniel and Mrs. Willie Viola Selden. All of the brothers were saxophonists and learned to play the piano as well. They were required to practice daily and expected to play their saxophones in an annual Christmas carol serenade throughout their neighborhood. Jimmy went on to graduate from Fairfield Industrial H.S., Miles College, and the Toledo Bach Conservatory.  In addition, attending Indiana University for graduate studies in music and psychology, and later teaching a jazz course at Butler University and Indiana University in Special Topics in Music Series -The Roots of Afro-American Jazz in 1981.

Jimmy (Second from the left) with brothers Leroy (First from left), Charles (Second from left), and Braxton (Fourth from the left), and Father (Charles) and Mother (Willie Viola) 

In 1965, Jimmy received the Governor’s Award for outstanding service to the Indiana community for his organization of a jazz band at the Pendleton Reformatory.


In the 1970’s, as an Education Specialist, Jimmy was a soloist and guest conductor with the Indianapolis Symphony.


From 1977 into the 90's, his band performed locally everywhere, including the Indianapolis Museum of Art, the Indianapolis Children's Museum, Beef 'N' Boards, Walker Theater and the Indiana Roof Ballroom.


In Addition, Jimmy McDaniels is the recipient of several Alabama proclamations.  In 1988, he was recognized by Alabama Governor Guy Hunt for his outstanding music career.


Subsequently in November 1993 receiving from both the Fairfield and Birmingham Mayors, Larry Langford and Richard Arrington, Jr., "The Jimmy McDaniels Week" and "The Jimmy McDaniels Day".


One of the citations states, "Jimmy is a person who overcame obstacles to obtain outstanding achievements in the performing arts, but his greatest achievement was as a caring human being".