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Wayman A. Carver papers

 Collection — Box: 1-2, OS 1-6
Identifier: 0000-0000-0000-0029

Scope and contents

Wayman A. Carver (b. 1905 d. 1967), jazz musician and music educator, achieved acclaim for his virtuosity and artistry as a flutist during his tenure from 1934-39 with Chick Webb and his Orchestra. In the series “Giants of Jazz” (International Musician April 1963), Leonard Feather credits Wayman Carver as being internationally recognized as the first and only jazz musician to play the flute during the decade of the 1930s.

Wayman Carver, a graduate of the class of 1929, is among the most notable alumni of Clark College (now Clark Atlanta University). Carver was an outstanding student and assisted with instruction and band direction. A highlight of his school performances was playing flute during the recital of the world-renowned soprano Madame Lillian Evanti. He also organized a jazz band, “The Collegians,” comprised of local musicians and students from Clark University and Morehouse College. They performed at social functions around the city. After graduation Carver headed for New York where he played and recorded with a number of musicians and organized his own jazz bands, competing with the top musicians of the day including Duke Ellington.

Carver joined Chick Webb and his Orchestra in 1934 and played clarinet, flute and saxophone. He also played flute as a member of Webb’s interior ensemble, affectionately called the “Little Chicks.” During Carver’s tenure with the orchestra, he composed “All’s Fair at the World’s Fair” and “Swingin on the Reservation,” and wrote the arrangement for “Spinning the Web.” After Webb’s death in 1939, Ella Fitzgerald took leadership of the band, and Carver continued with the orchestra through 1941. Easing away from full-time performing in 1940, Carver established a music accessory shop in Harlem.

In 1942, Carver, his wife Joyce and daughter Avis moved to Atlanta where he accepted a faculty position in the music department at his alma mater, Clark College. As an associate professor, Carver distinguished himself as an outstanding music educator and band director. Under his direction, the musical concerts attracted a wide audience and overflowing crowds from the Atlanta community. He continued to compose music and among his compositions is the school’s fight song, “Hail Roaring Panthers,” that the university band continues to perform today. While teaching, Carver completed a graduate program receiving the degree of Master of Music Education from Vander Cook College of Music, Chicago, Illinois. Carver also shared his talents with the Atlanta community. He was a president of AFL-CIO Musicians Local 462 and band conductor for their summer concerts in the parks. He organized the first bands in Atlanta public elementary schools and some of his former students became band directors in the Atlanta public schools.

Carver served on the Clark faculty for twenty-five years and was held in high esteem by his colleagues and students. The Clark College students dedicated the 1952 yearbook to Carver, and the college presented him a trophy and plaque in appreciation of his contributions.

This small collection of papers provides a glimpse into the life and accomplishments of Wayman A. Carver. The papers were donated by Carver’s daughter, Avis Carver Turner. There are news articles and programs documenting his activities and achievements. Copies of some of the music he composed and documents related to copyright and royalties are among the papers. Of note are photographs of Carver as a member of the Chick Webb and Ella Fitzgerald orchestras, as band director at Clark College, and as a student at Clark University and Vander Cook College. Also there are autographed photographs of jazz musicians, bands, orchestras, singers, and dancers including Benny Carter, Dizzy Gillespie, Peg Leg Bates, and the Nicholas Brothers.


  • Creation: 1927 - 2001


Rights statement

All materials in this collection are either protected by copyright and/or are the property of the Robert W. Woodruff Library of the Atlanta University Center, Inc., and/or the copyright holder as appropriate. For more information, please contact

Biographical timeline

1905 December 25
Born in Portsmouth, VA, second of eight children of Wayman Alexander and Catherine Carver
Attended Haven Music Conservatory, Meridian, MS
Moved to New York City to pursue career as a professional musician, formed his own jazz bands and recorded with other musicians including Dave Nelson, Elmer Snowden, and Spike Hughes.
Married his college sweetheart, Savannah Joyce Sinkler (b. 1905 d. 1994)
1931 Feb. 17
Daughter, Avis Joyce Carver born
Joined the Benny Carter Orchestra
Played with Chick Webb and his Orchestra (after Webb's death in 1939 the band continued as Ella Fitzgerald and her Orchestra)
Established a music accessory business, Carver's Music Center, in New York City
Served on the faculty of Music Department at his alma mater, Clark College, Atlanta, GA (now Clark Atlanta University)
1943, 1944, 1946
Took summer classes at Julliard School of Music, New York City
Received Master of Music Education from Vander Cook College of Music, Chicago, IL
1967 May 6
Died of brain cancer, buried in Southview Cemetery, Atlanta, GA


2 Linear feet

Language of Materials



This collection is arranged into five sub series: 1. Personal Papers; 2. Organizational Affiliation; 3. Music by Wayman Carver 4. Photographs; and 5. Oversize and Fragile Items.

Related archival materials

Materials related to the Wayman A. Carver papers can be found in the Countee Cullen-Harold Jackman Memorial Collection.



Wayman A. Carver Papers, 1927-2001
Finding aid prepared by Karen Jefferson, 2003 October.
2003 October
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Robert W. Woodruff Library of the Atlanta University Center, Inc. Repository


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