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Remembering Eulis Cathey, A Trusted Voice at WBGO and SiriusXM, Who Has Died at 67

As I reflect on my 50-year friendship with Eulis Cathey, who died on April 27 at his home in Buffalo, NY, what comes to mind is his consistency, his steadiness. He was a private man who lived a public life. An on-air-personality and a veteran record industry professional, whether behind microphone or behind the scenes as an A&R rep, Eulis was humble, unassuming and always in service to the music. It was never about himself but about the people who he engaged to make their lives better.

His advocacy was not limited to jazz. Though he was four years my senior, we graduated from the same high school, so it was no surprise when, after returning to Buffalo, Eulis called me and other Black alumni asking us to speak to the minority student body about our experiences there. A fellow Gemini, Eulis valued friendship and looked forward to our annual birthday celebrations, which became a tradition after our first gathering in 1993. He was a loyal friend — supportive and good about bringing people together, personally and professionally.

Eulis Cathey and Sheila Anderson
courtesy of Sheila Anderson
Sheila Anderson and Eulis Cathey celebrating a birthday at Dizzy's Club on June 12, 2007.

Calm, cool and collected, Eulis was a quiet man with a keen sense of humor, well-liked and always ready to lend an ear. When engaged in conversations that interested him, he could become animated — but if things got heated, he’d politely step away. Always ready with his pleasant smile, he possessed an even temperament and was not easily rattled.

His wealth of experience with artists such as Joe Henderson, Regina Carter and Gary Bartz gave him an insight and passion that frequently emerged in his work. Not only was he a friend and mentor, he was also a colleague. At WBGO, Eulis hosted the Sunday Night Music Mix that I now host as his successor. I learned early on that he had a loyal following, and that I had some large shoes to fill.

Above all, Eulis had a commitment to jazz that ran deep. “It’s something that always affected me on an emotional and artistic level that I think is hard to find in any other artform,” he said in a 2011 interview with Bret Primack at the Jazz Education Network Conference. “It’s historical, it’s educational, it essentially really tracks the history of this country. And so, for that and a number of other reasons, it’s been an integral part of my life. I couldn’t actually imagine not having it as part of my life. And so it’s important to me on so many different levels, and that’s why I enjoy presenting it to people.”

Eulis left his mark on the jazz community, on his family and friends. His body of work speaks for itself. As a keeper of the flame the world is a bit dimmer without his presence. Rest in power, my friend.

Celebration of life:

Saturday, May 8
Viewing from 11 a.m. to noon, Memorial service at noon

Alan Core Funeral Home
1933 Kensington Ave
Buffalo, NY 14215

Sheila E. Anderson, whose moniker, “Queen of Hang,” is a mover and shaker in the world of art, most notably in jazz. Much focus is placed upon the artists and rightfully so, yet Ms. Anderson is feeding and affecting the scene in myriad ways. She has always taken on the challenges of creating opportunities for herself, developing formats that exist outside the box. In addition to being an on-air-host she is an author, a writer, emcee and moderator. In 1995, she was hired by WBGO, Newark, 88.3FM to host Sunday Morning Harmony, where she now hosts Weekend Jazz After Hours, Salon Sessions and the Sunday Night Music Mix. Ms. Anderson has learned from the musicians whom she spins, "I feel as though radio programming should function much like a live performance. My best shows happen when I am feeling completely free to move with a certain flow and program according to my emotions," Ms. Anderson explains. These are not the words of some novice who just likes jazz music.