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Famous Like Me > Composer > J > Rosamond Johnson

Profile of Rosamond Johnson on Famous Like Me

Name: Rosamond Johnson  
Also Know As:
Date of Birth: 11th August 1873
Place of Birth: Jacksonville, Florida, USA
Profession: Composer
From Wikipedia, the free Encyclopedia
1933 photograph of J. Rosamond Johnson by Carl Van Vechten

John Rosamond Johnson (1873–1954), most often referred to as J. Rosamond Johnson, was a composer and singer during the Harlem Renaissance. Johnson, from the United States, is most notable as the composer of Lift Every Voice and Sing which has come to be known in the United States as the "Black National Anthem". His brother, poet James Weldon Johnson, wrote the lyrics of the famous piece.


Johnson was trained at the New England Conservatory and then studied in London. His career began as a public school teacher in his hometown of Jacksonville, Florida. Traveling to New York, he began his show business career along with his brother and with Bob Cole. As a songwriting team, they wrote works such as The Evolution of Ragtime (1903); among the earliest works by the group, the piece was a suite of six songs of 'Negro' music. They produced two successful Broadway operettas with casts of black actors: Shoo-Fly Regiment of 1906 and The Red Moon of 1904. They also created and produced several "white" musicals: Sleeping Beauty and the Beast in 1901, In Newport in 1904 and Humpty Dumpty in 1904. Rosamond would write also collaborate to create Hello, Paris with J. Leubrie Hill in 1911.

J. Rosamond Johnson was active in various musical roles during his career. Vaudeville was toured by Johnson and, after Cole's 1911 death, he began a successful tour with Charles Hart and Tom Brown. In London, he wrote music for a theater review from 1912 to 1913 serving a long residency. After returning to the United States, New York's Music School Settlement for Colored in—founded by the New York Symphony Orchestra's David Mannes—appointed him as director where he served from 1914 to 1919. With his own ensembles—The Harlem Rounders and The Inimitable Five—he toured as well as performing in Negro spiritual concerts with Taylor Gordon. The London production of Lew Leslie Blackbirds of 1936 had Johnson as musical director. During the 1930s, Johnson also sang as the lawyer in the original production of Gershwin's Porgy and Bess; he took roles in other dramas as well.

As an editor, he collected four important works. The first of the two of these song collections, he compiled along with his brother James: The Book of American Negro Spirituals (1925) and The Second Book of Negro Spirituals (1926). In addition, Johnson edited Shoutsongs (1936) and the folksong anthology Rolling Along in Song (1937).

John Rosamond Johnson

Musical Works

  • Shoo-Fly Regiment (1906), Broadway operetta
  • The Red Moon (1904), Broadway operetta
  • Sleeping Beauty and the Beast (1901), musical
  • In Newport (1904), musical
  • Humpty Dumpty (1904), musical
  • Mr. Lode of Koal (1909), musical
  • Come Over Here (1912), musical
  • The Maiden with the Dreamy Eyes, song
  • Didn't He Ramble, song
  • Li'l Gal, song
  • Since You Went Away, song
  • Lift Every Voice and Sing, song

This content from Wikipedia is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article Rosamond Johnson