Tuskegee Airman Jams To Coltrane And Ellington

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During World War II, Roscoe Brown served with the Tuskegee Airmen, the U.S. military's first black fighter pilots. Recently, he worked as a consultant on the film, "Red Tails," depicting their story. As part of Tell Me More's series, In Your Ear, Brown offers up his personal play list.


Now it's time for the occasional segment we call In You Ear. That's where we ask some of our guests what they're listening to these days. Today, we're going to hear some music that inspires Roscoe Brown. During World War II, he served with the Tuskegee Airmen, America's first black fighter pilots. We spoke with him earlier this year when the movie "Red Tails" was released. "Red Tails" was based on the story of the Tuskegee Airmen. And here are some of the songs he listens to.


ROSCOE BROWN: I'm Dr. Roscoe Brown, Tuskegee Airmen. I come from the generation where we listened to good jazz music. And I'm from New York, and probably my most favorite song is "Take The 'A' Train" by Duke Ellington, because I used to ride the A train from 145th Street down to West 4th Street where I was going to school at NYU.



JOHNNY HARTMAN: (Singing) I used to visit all the very gay places, those come-what-may places where one relaxes on the axis of the wheel of life.

BROWN: On my iPhone, I have John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman, who was a friend of mine, singing "Lush Life."


HARTMAN: (Singing) Life is lonely again, and only last year everything seemed so sure.

BROWN: That's right on my cell phone, and whenever I want to cool out, I listen to that because Johnny Hartman had that beautiful voice and the tenor of John Coltrane right behind it.


HARTMAN: (Singing) I live a lush life in some small dive. And there I'll be, while I rot with the rest of those whose lives are lonely, too.


NAT KING COLE: (Singing) Unforgettable, that's what you are.

BROWN: And my third song is "Unforgettable," the one with Nat Cole and his daughter Natalie Cole. It goes back in the days when I first got married, and that was one of my favorite songs. And then when Natalie picks it up around the '90s and does that cut in there, it's really a beautiful, heartwarming song. And that's the kind of music I like to listen to, and it always brings me good feelings.


NATALIE COLE: (Singing) That's how you'll stay.

NAT KING COLE AND NATALIE COLE: (Singing) That's why darling, it's incredible that someone so unforgettable things that I am unforgettable, too.

MARTIN: That was former Tuskegee Airmen Roscoe Brown, telling us what's playing in his ear. To hear our previous conversation with him, please go to our website. Go to, click on the Programs tab, and then on TELL ME MORE.

And that's our program for today. I'm Michel Martin, and this is TELL ME MORE, from NPR News. Let's talk more tomorrow.

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