African American Studies


Mario Sprouse, born October 10th, 1948 in Spanish Harlem, is a well-known musician,arranger, composer, and musical director. His parents immigrated to the United States from the Dominican Republic in 1929, and would meet in Harlem and begin their family after the war.

His parents worked hard to provide for their children, but always had a passion for music, which they would instill upon Mario and his siblings. After moving to the Bronx in 1950, the family would begin living on Ritter Place, where each household showcased musical ability, and stars such as Maxine Sullivan, lived just down the street. Though the area where Mario grew up was, for the most part, racially integrated and tolerant, Mario did have some exposure to the racist tensions of the 1950s as a child, when a group of black students, including Mario, were prohibited from entering a movie theatre for no apparent reason, other than the color of their skin. However, this incident would not discourage Mario from flourishing both professionally and academically. Moving from DeWitt Clinton High School to City College, Sprouse was extremely intelligent and gifted, and actually turned down his admissions to schools such as Harvard, Duke, or Columbia. He also utilized his Junior High’s and High School’s bands to learn new instruments such as the double bass, which would lead him to forming his first band, and would, subsequently, lead him into the music industry.

Around the mid-70s, Mario Sprouse would create his first record, entitled The Sounds of the City Experience. This record was just the first in a long line of musical publications and productions for Mario. Sprouse would then go on to become the Musical Director for Hunter College’s SEEK program, while simultaneously continuing to play his music at various venues throughout the Bronx. Some years later, Sprouse would utilize his musicologist degree by transcribing and aiding in the production for Mr. Gordon Parks’ music. Sprouse worked hard as Parks’ musical assistant, and certainly made a name for himself in the music industry, where he is still a success, even today.

Click below to download supplemental content.

Sprouse, Mario Pt 1.mp3 (74769 kB)
Sprouse, Mario Pt 2.mp3 (12876 kB)