Arthur Cunningham was born in November of 1928 in New York.
As a child, Cunningham was trained in both jazz and classical music at the Metropolitan Music School of New York. After graduating, he studied classical piano, theory, and composition at Fisk University. His college education was funded by Langston Hughes, along with other benefactors. After graduating from Fisk, he furthered his musical education at The Juilliard School and earned a master’s degree from Columbia Teachers College.
Cunningham made his big debut in 1968 when he was commissioned to create Concentrics, which premiered at the Lincoln Center for Performing Arts. By the 1980’s, he switched focuses and putting his attention on jazz piano playing, vocal coaching and teaching. In 1986, he returned back to composing classical pieces. In 1989, he revised Concentrics.
Cunningham traveled through the United States, Canada, and the Netherlands composing and performing jazz and classical music with his wife, Kate Davidson. He died in March of 1997 after a long battle with cancer.