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On the 14th of February 1946, a talented artist was born to the Hines family. Gregory Hines started dancing with his older brother Maurice at the age of barely three years. Approximately two years after that, the Hines siblings made professional appearances in nightclubs across the country. Aside from the fact that the Hines brothers came from a family of performers, they were also practically exposed to tap dancing legends at that time namely Honi Coles, Sandman Sims, the Nicholas Brothers, and Teddy Hale, watching them at the backstage of Apollo Theatre.
Gregory’s career in tap dancing went on for a while with his brother and dad as they had international tours and show exposures on “The Tonight Show. ” Little did he know that his next decisions would lead him to a long, exciting ride in his artistic growth. Gregory and his brother had relational and professional tensions that have piled up and, coupled with the declining interest of the public for tap dancing, the artist decided to leave his dancing group in 1973 to move to California.
There, he formed the jazz-rock band called Severance.
He was the band’s songwriter, guitarist, and singer. His band split up before the end of the 70’s though and Gregory has to return to New York and resume on his dancing career. The Hines brothers got reunited to do a tribute to American ragtime composer and pianist, Eubie Blake in a production entitled, Eubie! This opened an opportunity for Gregory to get a Tony Award nomination.
Several nominations would follow suit for his performances in Comin’ Uptown (1979) and Sophisticated Ladies (1981). Hines also conquered the television world, which proved his versatility in acting.
This earned him film credits having appeared in History of the World: Part I (1981), The Cotton Club (1984), and White Nights (1985). It was in television that Gregory’s talent was first recognized with an Emmy Award for his television feature, Gregory Hines: Tap Dance in America.
Then comes the next highlight to his career—a Tony Award at last! Hines portrayed the older version of Jelly Roll Morton on a Broadway show entitled Jelly’s Last Jam. In this show, he co-starred with Sammy Davis Jr. , his idol in the field.
He has looked up to this great entertainer so much that when the latter was dying of throat cancer, he was there to visit. During the funeral of Sammy, Gregory spoke on how he felt like his idol believes that he can continue on from where Davis has left off.
Gregory Hines continued to be active in the entertainment industry from the stage, to television, to music, and even to film directing. His latest works would include an LP entitled, Gregory Hines, which was produced by no less than Luther Vandross.
He also had television appearances in the popular contemporary comedy, Will and Grace. However, like all others, good things come to an end. Gregory Hines died in 2003 at the early age of 57.
With his death caused by liver cancer, he was then engaged to Negrita Jayde.
Tragic it may seem, but the bright side to it is, Gregory has not left this world colorless and meaningless. An article quote says it all: “Gregory Hines, the genial, suave dancer, singer and actor who for many personified the art of classical tap in the 1980’s and 90’s . . . ”
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