Home Equipping Leaders African American Celebrating Black History Month #8

Celebrating Black History Month #8

Edward V. Bonnemere (1921-1996), African American and Roman Catholic, enjoyed a rich and varied musical career that included teaching music for thirty-five years in the New York City public schools, retiring in January 1984. He also performed as a jazz pianist, church musician, and music composer. Much of his sacred music is in the jazz idiom and he was a pioneer in introducing the world to jazz liturgical music.

In 1976-77, he composed his first jazz Mass for St. Charles Roman Catholic Church in New York City. From 1966-83, he played piano for jazz vespers at St. Peter's Lutheran Church and served as organist at St. Mark's Roman Catholic Church in New York City. New York's Cardinal Cooke presented Bonnemere with two awards for his musical efforts, according to his wife Cleo, "one from the Black Catholics, the other through the Handmaids of Mary."

With a band and a choir, Bonnemere gave workshops in Connecticut and North Carolina and elsewhere in his post-retirement years. Edward and Cleo Bonnemere lived in Teaneck, New Jersey, where he died in 1996 and she in 1997. He is the composer of the music for "Rule of Life," musical setting of the well-known Wesley aphorism, Worship & Song, no. 3117.

Also see the Hymn Study, "Rule of Life."