Betty's History

Quote & Titles

"Over my head, I hear music in the air. There must be a God somewhere."
Betty accepted this quote as her creed. Music was her life. She lived it, expressed it, expanded it, and above all, shared it.

Betty Jackson King
Composer, Choral Director, Educator, Keyboard Artist, Lecturer, & Publisher

Talent Growth

When the family moved to Chicago, Betty grew in faith and her music always reflected this. She earned
her B.A. in piano and master's degree in composition from the Chicago Musical College of Roosevelt University. Her thesis for her master's, the opera, "Saul of Tarsus," was an expression of her faith. She developed this abiding faith from her father, the Reverend Frederick D. Jackson, who was always a staunch supporter and wrote the libretto for each of her three religious operas.

Betty and her sister, Catherine Jackson Adams, often heard Negro spirituals being sung at a Southern Christian Institute near Vicksburg, Mississippi, where her mother, Gertrude Jackson Taylor, taught music. These spirituals so influenced Betty that much of her music repertoire in later life included arrangements of these spirituals.

Shared Talent

Betty shared her talents with young people. Firstly, she shared her talents as a teacher in the Chicago public school system and the Laboratory School, University of Chicago, The Pre-Professional Choral Ensemble, and later, as a professor at Dillard University in New Orleans, Louisiana. She also served as a mentor to many youth desirous of pursuing a musical career.

Betty Jackson King - African American Composer in Chicago, IL

She was a composer, musician, and arranger, to name a few of her gifts. She organized and directed the singing ensemble The Betty Jackson King Artists who performed throughout the Chicago area. As a church musician, she is remembered by several Chicago choirs such as Quinn Chapel A.M.E. Church, United Church of Christ's Chancel Choir, and the Congregational Church of Park Manor.

It was at the Congregational Church of Park Manor that she met the Reverend Dr. William Faulkner who was instrumental in her move from Dillard University to Wildwood, New Jersey. In 1969, she integrated the Wildwood Public School teaching staff.

Nationally Known

At Wildwood, she established herself as a prominent teacher and a nationally-known composer, lecturer, and performing musician. She was the director of the Wildwood High School Choir and the King Singers. Betty was also an active member of the Wildwood Independent Business Community Association.

Betty also shared her talents with the community. At an early age, she was fully involved in her family's Jacksonian Community Center. This center, dedicated to the welfare and training of young people, offered music and dance lessons, as well as educational and spiritual experiences. As a member of the Jacksonian Trio and the Imperial Opera Company, Betty not only toured the country with her mother and sister, but she also performed at various Chicago public schools as well.

Many great artists such as opera star Kathleen Battle have performed Betty's spiritual arrangements. Miss Battle performed "Ride-Up in The Chariot" in a Concert of Spirituals at New York's Carnegie Hall™ in 1990. The Carnegie Hall concert was recorded live and has been released on CD and VHS cassette by Deutsche Grammophon. Miss Battle also performed this arrangement in 1991 on the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, which was telecast on NBC™.

Spiritual Arrangements

Betty's arrangements of "Calvary, It's me, O Lord," and the "Art Song" or "Springtime" were recorded in 1994 by Videmus™ on Watch and Pray, Spirituals and Art Songs, by African-American Women Composers, released by Koch™ International Classics. 

Also, the CD "Let It Shine" in 1994 by Laura English-Robinson, a soprano, and Walter Buff, a pianist, features Betty's spiritual arrangement of "Ride Up In the Chariot." Currently there are three CDs containing various instrumental and spiritual selections of Betty's collection to be recorded within the next year.

Awards & Recognitions

Betty received numerous awards including the Teaching Recognition Award from the former governor of New Jersey, Governor Thomas Kean. She is also a past president of the National Association of Negro Musicians, Inc. She is listed in:
• Who's Who in American Black Women in the Arts and Social Sciences
• International Who's Who in Music
• International Dictionary of Black Composers
• African-American Art Song-Alliance
• Feminist Theory & Music 4: Abstracts
• Black American Music- Past & Present
• Volume II by Hildred Roach
• Choral Music by Afro-American Composers-a Selected Annotated Bibliography Compiled by Evelyn Davidson White

Contact us today in Chicago, Illinois, to discover more about this African American composer.