W. Royal Stokes is a writer and editor specializing in jazz-related topics and media. From 1992 to 2001, he was the editor of Jazz Notes, the quarterly journal of the Jazz Journalists Association. He has also served as the editor of JazzTimes and as the jazz critic of The Washington Post.
Stokes' acquaintance with jazz and blues began in the early 1940s when he was just entering his teens. He continued avidly following it through that decade and the next and through his years as a professor of Greek and Latin languages and literature and ancient history in the 1960s.
In the early 1970s, having departed the academic life, Stokes commenced a fifteen-year presence on public radio, hosting his jazz shows, “I Thought I Heard Buddy Bolden Say…” and “Since Minton’s”, in Washington, D.C. By the mid-70s he was writing for JazzTimes, eventually becoming its editor, 1988-90, and in 1978 he commenced nearly a decade as the jazz critic for The Washington Post. He has also contributed to Down Beat and other jazz magazines.
Stokes edited Jazz Notes, the quarterly publication of the Jazz Journalists Association, from 1992 to 2001 and is a regular contributor to Jazzhouse.org, the organization’s website. His byline has appeared on a hundred or so LP and CD liner notes for prominent artists across the spectrum of jazz from the New Black Eagle Jazz Band to Lionel Hampton to Count Basie to Sun Ra to Jaki Byard to David Murray to Ingrid Jensen.
Stokes' The Jazz Scene: An Informal History from New Orleans to 1990 was published by Oxford University Press in 1991. Two more of his collections of jazz (and a few blues) profiles were published by Oxford, Living the Jazz Life: Conversations with Forty Musicians about Their Careers in Jazz, in 2000, and Growing Up With Jazz: Twenty-Four Musicians Talk About Their Lives and Careers, in 2005. Swing Era New York: The Jazz Photographs of Charles Peterson was published by Temple University Press in 1994.
Recent media coverage of me and my work:
- "Music critic and former classics professor W. Royal Stokes semi-retires to Elkins." (PDF) Charleston Gazette. February 2009.
- "Elkins resident Royal Stokes talks about jazz." West Virginia Public Broadcasting. April 2009.
- "Feminists around the world should burn their bras in support of W. Royal Stokes." Review of Growing Up With Jazz, Jazz Notes, 2005.