Leroy Jenkins


Leroy Jenkins (March 11, 1932 – February 24, 2007) was an American composer and violinist/violist.

Jenkins was born in Chicago, Illinois, United States. As a youth, he lived with his sister, his mother, two aunts, his grandmother, and, on occasions, a boarder, in a three-bedroom apartment. Jenkins was immersed in music from an early age, and recalled listening to Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, and singers such as Billy Eckstine and Louis Jordan. When Jenkins was around eight years old, one of his aunts brought home a boyfriend who played the violin. After hearing him play a difficult Hungarian dance, Jenkins begged his mother for a violin, and was given a red, half-size Montgomery Ward violin that cost twenty-five dollars. He began taking lessons, and was soon heard at St. Luke’s Baptist Church, where he was frequently accompanied on piano by Ruth Jones, later known as Dinah Washington. Jenkins eventually joined the church choir and orchestra, and performed on the violin at church banquets, teas, and social events.