From NKAA, Notable Kentucky African Americans Database (main entry)

Lee, Everett, Jr. and Sylvia Olden

(born: 1916) 

Everett Lee (1916- ), from Wheeling, WV, was the first African American to direct a white orchestra, the Louisville Philharmonic in 1953; the audience was integrated. Everett was also the first African American to conduct a Broadway show. He was the husband of Sylvia O. Lee (1917-2004), who was born in Mississippi. She was a pianist and vocal coach, the first African American professional musician at the New York Metropolitan Opera. Sylvia's paternal grandfather, George Olden, had served in the Union Army when he was a teen after running away from slavery at the Oldham Plantation in Oldham County, KY. Her father, Rev. J. C. Olden, was living in Louisville, KY, when he arranged for Everett to conduct the Louisville Philharmonic. For more see "Schiller Institute Dialogue with Sylvia Olden Lee, Pianist and Vocal Coach," 02/07/1998, [reprinted from Fidelio Magazine, vol. 7, issue 1 (Spring 1998)]; and W. M. Cheatham, "Lady Sylvia speaks," Black Music Research Journal, vol. 16, issue 1 (Spring 1996), pp. 183-213.

Kentucky County & Region

Read about Jefferson County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Oldham County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Kentucky Place (Town or City)

Read about Louisville, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Outside Kentucky Place Name


Cited in this Entry

NKAA Entry: Olden, James Clarence "J.C."
NKAA Source: Black music research journal (periodical)

Related Entries Citing this Entry

NKAA Entry:  Militant Church Movement (Louisville, KY)
NKAA Entry:  Olden, James Clarence "J.C."

Cite This NKAA Entry:

“Lee, Everett, Jr. and Sylvia Olden,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed October 25, 2020,

Last modified: 2019-10-14 20:45:09