Stanley Crouch was born December 14, 1945 in Los Angeles, California. He attended East Los Angeles and Southwest junior colleges but has no degrees. From 1965 to 1967, he worked as an actor and a playwright under the direction of Jayne Cortez in both Studio Watts and the Watts Repertory Theatre Company. Performing in community theaters and on college campuses, the theater troupes toured Northern and Southern California. From 1968 to 1975, he taught at the Claremont Colleges, first as poet-in-residence at Pitzer, then as the first full-time faculty member of the Black Studies Center, and finally in a joint appointment to the BSC and the English Department of Pomona College. While in Claremont, Crouch wrote and directed ten plays.
In the fall of 1975, Crouch moved to New York City and was soon writing for The Village Voice and The SoHo Weekly News. In 1979, he became a staff writer for the Voice and remained one until 1988. His writing has also appeared in Harper’s, The New York Times, Vogue, Downbeat, The Amsterdam News,The New Republic, The Partisan Review, The Reading Room, and The New Yorker. He has served as Artistic Consultant for jazz programming at Lincoln Center since 1987 and is a founder of the jazz department, known as Jazz At Lincoln Center. In 1988, Wynton Marsalis asked him to write a sermon for the recording The Majesty of the Blues. It appears as “Premature Autopsies.” In 1996, making history, Jazz at Lincoln Center became a full constituent, the first time a major art center has given the music permanent status equal to the symphony orchestra, the ballet, the opera.
His collection of essays and reviews, Notes of a Hanging Judge, was nominated for an award in criticism by the National Book Critics Circle and was selected by the Enclopedia Britannica Yearbook as the best book of essays published in 1990. Crouch has since appeared on a number of talk shows–Nightline, Night Watch, The Tony Brown Show, Oprah Winfrey, Charlie Rose, and others. In October of 1991, he was one of the recipients of the Whiting Writers’ Award, an award given to “writers of exceptionally promising talent.”
In 1993, he was the recipient of both the Jean Stein Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and a MacArthur Foundation grant. A collection of essays, The All-American Skin Game, was published in the fall of 1995. In 1996, The All-American Skin Game was nominated for an award in criticism by The National Book Critics Circle. In the spring of 1996, he appeared as a commentator on 60 Minutes. The summer of that same year, he guest-hosted the Charlie Rose Show.
Once a week he writes an editorial page column for the New York Daily News. Always In Pursuit, a book of essays, was published in 1998; the paperback, with two new essays, in 1999. On April 25, 2000, his first novel, Don’t The Moon Look Lonesome, was published. In 2002, One Shot Harris: The Photographs of Charles “Teenie” Harris, appeared, which included a long essay by Crouch that examined the epic complexities of black urban Pittsburgh and how well they were captured in Harris’s photograph. October 2004 saw the publication of The Artificial White Man, considered by the The Nation magazine, “A sight for sore eyes. This is Crouch’s best, most expansive collection of essays since his first, Notes of a Hanging Judge.” In June 2006 his first major collection of jazz criticism, Considering Genius: Jazz Writings was published.
On June 12, 2008, Crouch was elected president of the Louis Armstrong Educational Foundation, an organization created by Armstrong himself. Crouch continues to serve as president of the New York based non-profit.
On October 10, 2009, he was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. The ceremony was held in Boston, Massachusetts.
Of Stanley Crouch, Henry Louis Gates, Jr. has written, “Each generation has a moment, or an embodiment, of hard-earned integrity and the keenest insight. Among our generation of writers, Stanley Crouch is that moment.”
In July, 2018, the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) announced that Stanley Crouch was chosen to receive the 2019 A.B. Spellman NEA Jazz Masters Fellowship for Jazz Advocacy!