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Leon Bibb was one of the more prominent African-American folk singers of the 1950s and early '60s, and enjoyed a parallel career as an actor, as well (sometimes under the name Lee Charles). Born Charles Leon Arthello Bibb in Louisville, KY in 1922, he grew up as an admirer of the actor/singer/activist Paul Robeson, the most prominent African-American performer -- in music, theater, or films -- of the '30s and early '40s, and sought to emulate the latter's career. He studied classical singing in New York City, and made his first major theater appearance in the original production of Annie Get Your Gun (1946), starring Ethel Merman, in which he played a waiter; he was also heard and credited on the 1946 cast recording of the show. Bibb later turned toward folk music, and was heard, along with such luminaries as Robert DeCormier, Pete Seeger, and Sonny Terry, on the 1954 album Hootenanny Tonight!, issued by Folkways Records. His work brought him into the orbit of Langston Hughes and other literary and political giants of the '50s left, a fact that subsequently got him blacklisted from many mainstream entertainment outlets, in much the same manner that his idol Robeson -- approaching the twilight of his career in the late '50s -- was banned from most of those same outlets. Bibb's rich baritone voice was too powerful to overlook, however, and he did successfully amass some major credits in the late '50s, sometimes under the name Lee Charles. His late-'50ss credits include the Broadway production of Kurt Weill's Lost in the Stars as well as several recordings under that name; and he also appeared as a member of the Skifflers, in tandem with folk music legend Milt Okun. Following an acclaimed appearance at the Newport Folk Festival in 1959, he was signed to Vanguard Records (which was already a haven for blacklistees such as Robeson and the Weavers), through which he recorded a brace of LPs and even managed to get a single release (a rarity for the label) of "Rocks and Gravel" b/w "Goodnight Irene."
By the early '60s, Bibb was making records for Elektra, Columbia, and Liberty, but by then the folk music revival had crested, and he was increasingly playing to a smaller -- but ever more serious -- audience as the decade wore on. His mid-'60s records included participation in the Verve Folkways double-LP set African-American Poetry Theatre: A Hand Is on the Gate. Bibb later moved to RCA-Victor, where highlights of his work included the album Foment, Ferment, Free . . . Free (1969). He moved to Canada in 1971, and remained even more active in the decades that have followed, both with recording -- his repertory expanding to encompass songwriters such as Leonard Cohen -- and various theatrical productions. He has been especially closely associated with the musical Jacques Brel since the '70s, and began doing pops concerts with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, and has also continued to participate in (and organize) productions devoted to the history of African-American music and culture. In 2002, he and his son Eric Bibb, by then a major artist in his own right, released the duo album A Family Affair.
Leon Bibb (born October 5, 1944, in Butler, Alabama) is an American news anchor for WEWS-TV in Cleveland, OH, and was a member of the BGSU Board of Trustees. Leon Bibb was the first black primetime news anchor in Ohio.
Life and career
Raised in Cleveland's Glenville area, and a graduate of Glenville High School on the city's east side, Bibb’s broadcasting career began during his student days at Bowling Green State University (BGSU). Following graduation, he worked as a newspaper reporter at The Plain Dealer. After a year at WTOL-TV (Toledo), he accepted a news position at WCMH-TV in Columbus.
Prior to joining WEWS-TV, Bibb worked at WKYC-TV as the weekend News Anchor and News Reporter. In 1986, he became Primary News Anchor for the Monday through Friday newscasts.
Leon Bibb anchors the noon newscast at WEWS-TV, as well as hosting a Sunday morning show named Kalediscope, which focuses on urban issues in Cleveland. In the early 2000s, Bibb did a series called Our Hometown, where he focused on a historical sites in the Cleveland area. He is known to take a camera operator to talk about a story in his own perspective, and such stories are now featured on WEWS under the title of "My Ohio".
Accomplishments and awards
Among his many honors are several local Emmy Awards and citations from the Cleveland Press Club for excellence in journalism. Bibb has also received the Distinguished Journalist Award from the Society for Professional Journalists.
Bibb is a member of the following Halls of Fame:Broadcaster's Hall of FameGlenville High School Hall of FameBowling Green State University School of Communications Hall of FameCleveland Press Club Distinguished Journalist awardAssociated Press Ohio Broadcasters Hall of FameCleveland Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame
Bibb has also received several Excellence in Journalism Awards from the Cleveland Press Club and recognized with the Distinguished Journalist Award from the Cleveland Chapter of the Society for Professional Journalists. He also has received an award from his alma mater, Glenville High School. Leon, who is also an U.S. Army veteran, received a Bronze Star for his service during the Vietnam War.
In 1996 Governor George Voinovich appointed Bibb to the Board of Trustees at Bowling Green State University. Leon served as chairman of that Board.
He is also a member of the Alpha Phi Alpha and Sigma Pi Phi Fraternities.
Personal life and interests
During his leisure, Leon continues honing his craft as a wordsmith. He is the writer of short stories and poems, many of which have been published and performed. Bibb, a native of Cleveland, and his wife Marguerite live in Shaker Heights, Ohio, an eastside Cleveland suburb. Their daughters, Jennifer and Alison are grown.