Spreadin' Rhythm Around: Black Popular Songwriters, 1880-1930

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9780028647425: Spreadin' Rhythm Around: Black Popular Songwriters, 1880-1930

Spreadin' Rhythm Around: Black Popular Songwriters, 1880-1930 is a classic work on a little-studied subject in American music history: the contribution of African-American songwriters to the world of popular song. Hailed by Publishers Weekly as "thoroughly researched and entertainingly written," this work documents the careers of songwriters like James A. Bland ("Carry Me Back to Ole Virginny"), Bert Williams ("Nobody"), W. C. Handy ("St. Louis Blues"), Noble Sissle, Eubie Blake ("I'm Just Wild About Harry"), and many more. Richly illustrated with rare photographs from sheet music, newspapers, and other unique sources, the book documents an entire era of performance when black singers, dancers, and actors were active on the New York stage.

In sheer depth of research, new information, and full coverage, Spreadin' Rhythm Around offers a comprehensive picture of the contributions of black musicians to American popular song. For anyone interested in the history of jazz, pop song, or Broadway, this book will be a revelation.

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About the Author:

Dave Jasen and Gene Jones are the authors of Black Bottom Stomp (Routledge, 2001) and That American Rag (1998). Well-known as authorities on jazz and blues, each is recognized as a leader in the field. On his own, Jasen authored for Routledge Tin Pan Alley7: An Encyclopedia (2003) and A Century of American Pop (2002). They live in New York City.

From Kirkus Reviews:

Jasen, an accomplished ragtime pianist and historian (Rags and Ragtime, 1978) and Jones, an actor and amateur jazz historian, offer an entertaining and thoughtful history of great but neglected African-American tunesmiths from the vaudeville and early jazz eras. In this highly intelligent and stylishly written volume, Jasen and Jones virtually recount the history of the pivotal era in American popular entertainmentfrom the minstrel show to the talkies and radiothrough the lives and works of 27 black composers, producers, performers, and music publishers. Some of the namesFats Waller, W.C. Handy, Bert Williams, Eubie Blakewill be familiar to a general readership, and a few others may ring a bell for buffs, but most have been lost in the murk to which too many black artists have been consigned by the racism of their era, ill luck, and the vagaries of passing time. Readers will be surprised to learn of James A. Bland, often called ``the black Stephen Foster,'' whose most famous composition is ``Carry Me Back to Old Virginny,'' or the wildly prolific Perry Bradford, whose discovery of Mamie Smith triggered the '20s blues craze. More significantly, Jasen and Jones document the ways in which racism in the budding entertainment industry deprived many of these men (for they were all males) of the opportunity to join the ranks of the Gershwins, Kerns, and Porters in the pantheon of American song and, in some cases, cost them the most basic credit for their work. By focusing on these key but mostly forgotten figures, the authors have added an absolutely necessary chapter to the history of show business. Although it occasionally drifts into ``and then he wrote . . .'' cataloguing, this is for the most part an excellent study of neglected creators. (b&w photos, not seen) -- Copyright 1998, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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