Sun Ra was a prolific jazz composer, bandleader, piano and synthesizer player, poet and philosopher known for his "cosmic philosophy," musical compositions and performances. He was born in Birmingham, Alabama. He is a 1979 inductee of the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame.
Controversial because of his eclectic music and unorthodox lifestyle, and claiming that he was of the "Angel Race," and not from Earth but from Saturn, Sun Ra developed a complex persona, using "cosmic" philosophies and lyrical poetry that made him a pioneer of afrofuturism. He preached awareness and peace above all. He abandoned his birth name and took on the name and persona of Sun Ra, and used several other names throughout his career, including Le Sonra and Sonny Lee. Sun Ra denied any connection with his birth name, saying "That's an imaginary person, never existed … Any name that I use other than Ra is a pseudonym."
From the mid-1950s to his death, Sun Ra led "The Arkestra", an ensemble with an ever-changing name and flexible line-up, although certain core members remained with the group through its various incarnations.