A Pioneering Black Singer’s Compositions, Long Forgotten, May Finally Have an Audience
On May 11, 1941, the NBC radio network broadcast a concert from Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s home in Hyde Park, New York. In the presence of the president’s family, a baritone soloist and backing choir performed a new work titled “Ode to America,” dedicated to Roosevelt and introduced with remarks by his wife, Eleanor. Across the country, African Americans tuned in, aware of the moment’s significance. The lead singer performing for the president, and for national airwaves, was one of the leading musical talents of the era: a Black man from Waco named Jules Bledsoe. And “Ode to America” wasn’t just his big solo. He wrote it. At its peak, Bledsoe’s career was a dizzying series of triumphs across continents and disciplines. He was the first…View Original Post
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Source: Texas Monthly