Early Black Artists and Composers
The early 20th century was a period of extreme segregation and discrimination in America—the era of the "color line." One of the few arenas in which African-Americans were allowed to demonstrate their talents was in show business, including the then-new recording industry. In this program we hear a selection of popular songs written and/or performed by African-Americans, some folk-based, some spirituals, some from vaudeville, Broadway or, the minstrel show, and some featuring the exciting new music called "ragtime" (which would eventually give birth to jazz). The artists range from George W. Johnson, the first black recording star (in the 1890s), to white vaudevillian Al Bernard, "The Boy from Dixie," who popularized the work of black composers in the 1920s. Also heard are the world-famous Fisk Jubilee Singers in one of their earliest recordings. —Tim Brooks, author of Lost Sounds: Blacks and the Birth of the Recording Industry, 1890-1919. (University of Illinois Press, 2004).
- Nobody: Abyssinia / Bert Williams. Bert Williams. Columbia Phonograph Co.: 33011. 1906.
- Under the bamboo tree / Bob Cole. Arthur Collins. Edison Gold Moulded Record: 8215. 1904?
- Humpty Dumpty rag / Charley Straight. New York Military Band. Edison Blue Amberol: 2458. 1914.
- He's a cousin of mine / Chris Smith. Bob Roberts. Edison Gold Moulded Record: 9412. 1906.
- Shame on you. Chris Smith / Tascott. Edison Gold Moulded Record: 9033. 1905
- Laughing song. George W. Johnson. George W. Johnson. Columbia Phonograph Co: 7601. 1904-1909.
- Strut Miss Lizzie / Henry Creamer. Al Bernard. Edison Blue Amberol: 4248. 1921.
- In the evening by the moonlight / James Allen Bland. Edison Male Quartet. Edison Gold Moulded Record: 9069. 1904.
- Roll them cotton bales / John Rosamond Johnson. American Quartet. Edison Blue Amberol: 2448. 1914.
- Jerusalem mournin'. Polk Miller and his Old South Quartet. Edison Standard Record: 10334. 1910.
- All over this world. Fisk Jubilee Singers. Edison Blue Amberol: 4045. 1920.
- A Christmas basket & Howdy, honey, howdy / Paul Laurence Dunbar. Edward Sterling Wright. Edison Blue Amberol: 2152. 1913.
- What a time / Polk Miller. Polk Miller and his Old South Quartet. Edison Amberol Record: 391. 1910.
- Down home rag / Wilbur C. Sweatman. Van Eps Trio. Edison Blue Amberol: 2377. 1914.
- Bon bon buddie / Will Marion Cook. Billy Murray. Indestructible Record: 794. 1908.
- Oh, didn't he ramble / Will Handy (i.e. Cole & Johnson). Arthur Collins. Edison Gold Moulded Record: 8081. 1902.