Henry Blankenship

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Blankenship's star on the Alabama Walk of Fame

Henry Otto Blankenship (born March 5, 1926 in Russellville, Arkansas; died February 10, 1994) was a jazz trumpeter and tenor vocalist.

Blankenship's parents were minstrel show performers. He grew up traveling with them and learning to perform as part of the act. He attended school in Birmingham and graduated from Parker High School. He continued his study of embalming at a vocational college and also attended classes at the Booker T. Washington Business College and the Hampton, Virginia in Hampton, Virginia. As a musician, Blankenship played in support of Erskine Hawkins, Amos Gordon, Lou Rawls and Lionel Hampton.

He spent 11 years in the U.S. Navy and served during World War II. After the war, he formed a group called "The Honeydrippers" before returning to Birmingham. He also played with other bands, including Joe Alexander's, the Ray Thompkins Quintet, and later the Birmingham Heritage Band. Blankenship worked for 25 years with Acme Uniform Rental before retiring.

Blankenship was part of the 1981 class of the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame and later served on the hall's board of trustees.

He achieved some success with his 1983 recording of "I've Only Myself to Blame", which was written for him by Sammy and Betty Lowe, and which he also recorded with the Birmingham Heritage Band. His career was cited as an inspiration for the opening of Jazzi's on 3rd. He was honored with a star on the Alabama Walk of Fame, right outside Jazzi's, on July 1, 2023.

Blankenship also provided his voice to narrate exhibits at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute. Blankenship died in 1994 and is buried at Carver Memorial Gardens in Minor.


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