Richard Carlin and Ken Bloom, authors of “Eubie: Rags, Rhythm, and Race,” talk about Blake and their insightful and timely book – an important portrait of the man and the musical world his work helped reshape.
The revival of the landmark all-black Broadway musical “Shuffle Along” – originally produced in 1921 and opening at New York’s Music Box Theatre on April 28 – reminds us of the great Noble Sissle/Eubie Blake compositions (most famously “Love Will Find a Way” and “I’m Just Wild About Harry”), but also the challenges (and humiliation) performers, theater owners and audiences faced within a racist American society. “’Shuffle’ wasn’t exactly forward thinking on race,” John Jeremiah Sullivan writes in a recent New York Times feature titled “American Shuffle.” “It broke boundaries, no doubt, but mainly through its success, and by having great pop tunes. Otherwise, it was a blacks-in-blackface production.”
“An area in which the show genuinely pushed things forward,” Sullivan writes, “[was] romance.” This during a time when white America found black sexuality
Lost Sounds is the first in-depth history of the involvement of African Americans in the earliest years of recording. It examines the first three decades of sound recording in the United States, charting the surprising role black artists played in the period leading up to the Jazz Age.
Applying more than thirty years of scholarship, Tim Brooks identifies key black artists who recorded commercially in a wide range of genres and provides revealing biographies of some forty of these audio pioneers. Brooks assesses the careers and recordings of George W. Johnson, Bert Williams, George Walker, Noble Sissle, Eubie Blake, the Fisk Jubilee Singers, W.C. Handy, James Reese Europe, Wilbur Sweatman, boxing champion Jack Johnson, as well as a host of lesser-known voices.