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Reginald Alexander "Sonnie" Beane (August 31, 1918 – April 14, 1985) was an African American actor, pianist, and composer, who made his stage debut with Ethel Waters in Mamba's Daughters and later became her accompanist and arranger throughout her singing career.
As a young man in New York, Beane studied piano and came to the attention of blues and jazz singer Ethel Waters. Through Waters' influence, Beane became a member of the musician's union. In 1936, after the death of Waters' piano accompanist, Pearl Wright, Beane took over that position. For over 40 years, until Waters' death in 1977, Beane served as her accompanist and arranger.
In 1935, Beane provided piano accompaniment for the was in the original chorus of the first production of the opera, Porgy and Bess. When the production went on tour in January 1936, Beane accompanied it. In 1939, Beane made his Broadway theatrical debut with Ethel Waters in Dorothy and Du Bose Hayward's Mamba's Daugthers. He later played the part of a piano player in William Samoan's Pulitzer-Prize winning play, The Time of Your Life.
He also appeared in ''Foxhole in the Parlor'' and worked in night clubs.
Beane is a recognized musical composer and was a member of the National Association of Negro Musicians and the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP). Beane died at his home in the Bronx in 1985.
by Carl Van Vechten
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