The legend of The Pharaohs starts at Crane Junior College on the West side of Chicago. Under the tutelage of James Mack a student band is formed- The Jazzmen- which in 1962 wins the best band category at Chicago's annual Harvest Moon Festival. The band featured a front-line of Charles Handy (trumpet) Louis Satterfield (trombone) and Don Myrick (alto sax) backed by Maurice White (trap drums), RAMANANA (Fred Humphrey) (Piano) and bassist Ernest McCarthy.
At the time Chicago based Chess Records was fast becoming America's premier forum for progressive Black music and jazzmen White, Satterfield and Handy became prominent session players at the label joining an illustrious group which already featured guitarist Pete Cosey, arranger /pianists Phil Wright and the late Charles Stepney.
After a while these musicians moved over to the South Side to the fledgling Affro Arts Theater where they joined the Artistic Heritage Ensemble, under the leadership of Phil Cohran. As the name suggests The Affro Arts Theater was more than just a music venue, offering free concerts and tuition in music, yoga, dance and art with an afrocentric perspective to the local community. Presently Cohran left to teach at Malcolm X Junior College and Chuck Handy and The Pharoahs and the Artistic Heritage Ensemble merged to form The Pharaohs; that's how, narrates Handy the group grew in size from a six piece group to an orchestra.