A Guide to the Florence "Bu" Pleasant Collection, 1911-1989
Florence “Bu” Pleasant was born on July 23, 1933 to Atlee and Euleh Chapman. Her father, a politician and businessman, owned a chain of liquor stores and a dance hall, where a teenaged Pleasant played piano with musicians such as Nat King Cole, Big Joe Turner, T-Bone Walker, and Count Basie. She graduated from a Catholic, San Antonio boarding school and won a music scholarship to Xavier College in Louisiana. However, she dropped out of school after only two years, married, had a child, and was widowed in quick succession. She then played piano for Arnett Cobb and his Mobb, touring with them for several years, mostly on the east coast. In 1954, her father was shot and killed by her mother during a domestic dispute. Pleasant returned home for the funeral, but left to continue her music career, losing touch with the rest of her family. Her brother tracked her down in 1956 and asked her to move to San Francisco to help care for their mother who still remained in a state of shock. Pleasant moved to the west coast, where she survived a near fatal car accident. In 1958 she moved back to the east coast, taught herself the organ, and played in clubs around New Jersey through the 1960s. In the late 1970s she moved back to Corpus Christi and remarried. In 1988 she was inducted into the Texas Jazz Archives. Pleasant continued to play the piano regularly in piano bars throughout the 1980s until her death in 1989 at 55, of emphysema and bone cancer.
Scrapbooks, photos, clippings, and a diary comprise the Florence “Bu” Pleasant Collection, 1911-1989, which documents Corpus Christi born pianist Bu Pleasant and her family. The collection consists primarily of photographs of Pleasant’s family as well as two family scrapbooks. The collection also contains some postcards, her aunt’s diary, a notebook belonging to her aunt, and a high school diploma.
Florence "Bu" Pleasant Collection, 1911-1989, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin.
This collection was processed by Megan Mummey, August 2009.
Detailed Description of the Papers