Daisy Kennedy Ellington, born on January 4, 1879, was the mother of pianist Duke Ellington. She married James Edward Ellington and had two children; Duke and Ruth Ellington. She was a family person as she liked spending time with her grandkids, and also her siblings enjoyed spending time at her place since she was the oldest and welcoming.
Daisy Kennedy Ellington had such a significant influence on all Ellington men that they felt the need to preserve her family name and that her son, grandson, and great-grandson, all had Kennedy in their names.
Daisy Ellington was a pianist and liked playing parlor songs. Her husband was a pianist too, but he preferred playing operatic arias. She loved her son Duke, and she found him a piano teacher who took him through lessons. Daisy also surrounded her son with great women to reinforce manners and teach him elegance.
Daisy married James Ellington on January 3, 1898. In her first pregnancy, she lost the baby, and the second one had so many complications; she had gone on an excursion on the Potomac River, but then the boat sunk; this frightened her, and she became phobic could not leave the house.
Daisy’s siblings claimed that she was talkative before getting married but then became depressed once married and remained so for most of her life. The loss of her first pregnancy partly contributed to her depression.
She died in 1935, aged 56.
Daisy Kennedy Ellington’s son was an American jazz pianist, composer, and jazz orchestra leader from 1923 to his death. Duke Ellington lived in New York City in the mid-1920s and gained popularity through his appearances at the Cotton Club Harlem.
With the help of his mother, Daisy, Edward Duke Ellington had a good demeanor and a great dress code; for that, his friends started calling him Duke. Despite taking piano lessons, Daisy son loved baseball, but at 14, after hearing Frank Holiday’s Poolroom pianists, he began loving instruments and took his piano lessons seriously.
Daisy Kennedy’s son built his music career through his job; when his customers asked him to make a dance or party sign, he would ask if they had any musical entertainment, and if they did not have one, he would offer to play for them.
In 1917, he formed the Duke’s Serenaders group. The group did well as they performed for both African American and White audiences. Duke won several Grammy awards throughout his music career and got inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.
In his personal life, Daisy’s son married Edna Thompson, and they had one son, Mercer Kennedy Ellington, who Mildred Dixon raised after he permanently separated from Edna.
Death of Her Son
Daisy Kennedy’s son died aged 75 in May 1974 due to pneumonia and lung cancer complications. Over twelve thousand people attended his funeral at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, and one of the mourners said in her statement that a genius had passed. Duke got buried in the Woodlawn Cemetery in New York City.