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Condell, James F. (October 10, 1921-September 4, 1998)



  • Existence: October 10, 1921 - September 4, 1998


James Franklin Condell, the second son of Dr. Charles Homer Condell and Mrs. Mary Jane Fielding Condell, was born October 10, 1921, in Louisville, Kentucky, where he grew up. At an early age, he developed a keen interest in music, especially music as played by the big bands of the era. As a young child, he listened for hours to the radio broadcasts featuring bands that played in the famous hotels around the country.

At age 14 he played his first job with a local band in Louisville. He played piano and was in great demand because he knew dozens of tunes, and he was reliable, always arriving early to set up to play for the evening. Upon graduation from high school, he was awarded a music scholarship to study at Kentucky State College in Frankfort, Kentucky. Because there was another piano player on scholarship in the band, James took up guitar and played for four years with the "Kentucky State Collegians," the official college band. Upon graduation in 1942, he enrolled in a Signal Corps Course and, upon completion of the course, was drafted into the United States Army Air Corp and served from 1943-1946.

As a sociology major in college, James debated whether he wanted to pursue an academic course or to pursue a career in music. After his discharge from the Army in 1946, he spent a year in Nashville, Tennessee, playing in a house band of a nightclub. After a year as a professional musician, James decided to prepare for an academic career, with music as his avocation. He earned a Master's Degree from Columbia University in 1948 and began an academic career at Maryland State College, serving as Dean of Men and Director of the Men's Glee Club. He returned to New York in 1949 to pursue doctoral studies. While studying at New York University, he was offered a position at Florida A and M University in Tallahassee. He was a member of the faculty for six years.

After earning a doctorate at the University of Nebraska, he served as a clinical psychologist for seven years at mental health institutions in Fergus Falls, Minnesota. He missed the classroom and the company of young, inquiring minds, so he decided to return to the academic world by accepting a position as Professor of Psychology at Minnesota State University in Moorhead. He served for 27 years, 10 years as Chair of the Psychology Department.

Always deeply involved in music, he studied classical guitar for two years at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Madrid, Spain. While living in Madrid, he connected with jazz musicians and played with some of the leading jazz musicians, both Spanish and American musicians living in Spain, as well as visiting American musicians playing in local clubs.

Upon his retirement from Minnesota State University in 1992, he devoted all of his time to music, writing and arranging charts for local musicians, as well as playing in local groups. For 13 years, he produced and hosted "Condell's Corner," a weekly jazz program on KDSU, North Dakota State University's Public Radio Station in Fargo, His audience was wide, reaching the entire Red River Valley in Minnesota and North Dakota, and parts of South Dakota, Montana, and Canada. He played his last engagement two weeks before his death on September 4, 1998.

Dr. James Condell and Dr. Yvonne C. Condell, Professor Emerita of Biology at Minnesota State University, were married for 46 years. She survived him.

Found in 1 Collection or Record:

James F. Condell Collection

Identifier: MS-0048
Scope and Contents The James F. Condell Collection was gifted to LaBudde Special Collections and Marr Sound Archives by Dr. Yvonne C. Condell, wife of the late Dr. James F. Condell. The collection focuses on Condell’s longtime interest and scholarly pursuits in the field of jazz from 1980-1998, although some items date back to his time in Spain in the early 1970s.Included in the manuscript collection is information on his radio programs, A Little Jazz Music and Condell’s Corner, which aired on KCCM...
Dates: 1930s - 2014