Houston Public Library, Houston Metropolitan Research Center

Billy Harper Collection MSS.0376

Descriptive Summary

Creator Harper, Billy
Title: Billy Harper Collection
Dates: 1943-1989
Identification: MSS.0376
Quantity: 1.0 Linear feet, One thin document box
Language: Materials are in English.
Repository: Houston Metropolitan Research Center, Houston Public Library

Biographical Note

Born in Houston in 1943, Billy Harper grew up in a musical, religious family and played saxophone at school. He began singing at the age of 3, mimicking Ella Fitzgerald. Mr. Harper studied at North Texas State, which was renowned for its music department. There, he frequently practiced 8 hours per day. While in Denton, he collaborated with David "Fathead" Neuman, Dewey Redman, and Julius Hemphill. During graduate school, Mr. Harper left for New York, where he worked with Gil Evans and Art Blakely prior to organizing his own quartet.

Scope and Contents

The material in the Billy Harper Collection chronicles Mr. Harper’s musical career from his childhood to 1989. The collection consists of an oral history interview fully transcribed to 32 pages and promotional materials.



The oral history tapes are housed with the Oral History Collection under the numbers OH 464 separate from MSS 376 [the] Billy Harper Collection.
  • Series 1: Oral History Interviews
  • Series 2: Promotional Materials


Access Restrictions


Use Restrictions

Permission to publish or reproduce materials from the Billy Harper Collection must be obtained from the Houston Metropolitan Research Center or the appropriate copyright holder.

Index Terms

Blakely, Art
Campbell, Carl, 1933-1993
Douglass Elementary School (Houston, Tex.)
Evans, Gil, 1912-1988
Harper, Billy
Jack Yates High School (Houston, Tex.)
Morgan, Lee
University of North Texas
African American families—Texas
America—Civilization—African influences
First Ward (Houston, Tex.)
Jazz musicians—Texas—Houston
Musical meter and rhythm
Musicians—New York (State)—New York

Related Material

Billy Harper Oral History, HMRC Oral History Collection, August 27, 1989.

MSS 345 Jimmy Ford Collection

MSS 322 Arnett Cobb Collection

MSS 252 Milton Larkin Collection

MSS 403 Illinois Jacquet Collection

MSS 337 Jewel Brown Collection

MSS 442 Herb Brochstein Collection

MSS 349 I.H. Smalley Collection

MSS 390 Campbell Tolbert Collection

MSS 336 Florence "Bu" Pleasant Collection

MSS 397 Art Foxall Collection

MSS 388 Ed Gerlach Collection

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Billy Harper Collection. MSS 376. Houston Metropolitan Research Center, Houston Public Library.

Acquisition Information

Donated by Billy Harper, August 27, 1989.

Processing Information

Processed by Charles Stephenson and Tammy Jordan. Biographical Note written by Andrew Hempe and Tammy Jordan, 2007.

Detailed Description of the Collection


Oral History Interviews

Box Folder
1 1 Personal interview transcript, August 27, 1989
2 Personal interview transcript (duplicate), August 27, 1989


Promotional Materials

Box Folder
1 3 Press kit materials for the Billy Harper Quintet