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Earl Calloway, former arts editor and columnist at Chicago Defender, dies at 87

(August 26, 2014) Earl Calloway, a long time arts and entertainment editor and columnist with the Chicago Defender, died on Wednesday, August 20 at the age of 87. He had been hospitalized for the past few weeks, but the cause of death was not immediately given.

Born on October 4, 1926 in Birmingham, Alabama, Earl Calloway has been a fixture in the world of journalism for more than four decades. He is best known as both the Fine Arts Editor and a columnist for the Chicago Daily Defender, the nation's last black daily newspaper. Calloway joined the staff of the Defender in September 1963, after working as a writer for the Associated Negro Press, Chicago Courier and Negro Press International.

"He was a great promoter of the arts, and he was a brilliant writer and interpreter of cultural events with a particular passion for music and culture," said the Rev. Jesse Jackson. "He was a critical observer of the full spectrum of music, including many of the operatic singers who did not get their popular due."

Calloway graduated from Chicago Musical College of Roosevelt University and pursued special studies at Chicago State University and Governors State University. A talented singer, he performed in operatic productions of "Die Fledermaus," "Carmen," "Aida," "The Ordering of Moses," and Operas of Puccini in cities across the United States.

Calloway organized the annual Black Esthetic Festival (now called Black Creativity) held at Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry.

He was a co-founder of the Fine Arts Academy and was also influential in helping to establish a musical program for the Children and Adolescent Forum. Calloway founded the Philharmonic Youth Choir and Oratorio Society of Shiloh Seventh Day Adventist Church and served as a soloist with the Umbrian Glee Club and The Artist Circle.

He received numerous awards, including Kuumba Workshop Media Award, Charles P. Browning Journalism Award and the Cultural Citizens Foundation for the Performing Arts Lifetime Achievement Award.

Five years ago, Calloway stopped working full time but continued as a contributing columnist at the Defender. In late 2012, health problems forced him to retire.

Services for Earl Calloway will be held on Sunday, Aug. 31 at the Shiloh Seventh-Day Adventist Church, 7000 S. Michigan Ave. Visitation will take place at 1 p.m. and the funeral will be held at 2 p.m. Internment will follow at the Lincoln National Cemetery.

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