HOME AGAIN
BACK NEXT


John Phillip Sousa
Ragtime is a combination of Blues, Gospel and Vaudeville. In the late 1800's, roughly about 1886, white European Americans of the upper and middle classes of society, in those days mostly indulged in Classical Music while the lower middle classes basically enjoyed the marches; at that time John Phillip Sousa was their main man, or attended the vaudeville shows on a regular basis.


VAUDEVILLE


Williams & Walker
People in those days viewed Vaudeville as we view TV. It was their main source of entertainment. Many African American performers took to Vaudeville as well. Williams & Walker (search for it on your browser) were extremely popular at that time. Although, Bert Williams & Walker didn't do ragtime, they did influence allot of performers like Al Jolson. They invented the cake walk.

Other Vaudeville acts of the period of 1900 were performers named Billy Murray and Ada Jones. Each of these artist also performed as solo as well as a team. They performed mostly Novelty songs and rarely indulged in minstrel acts. Billy Murray was well known for his popular version of "In My Merry Oldsmobile" in 1905. Ada Jones' big hit was "By The Light Of The Silvery Moon" in 1906. Both made recordings for all three of the big record labels; Victor, Columbia and Edison Cylinder Records.


Billy Murray
Billy Murray

THE MUSIC OF ADA JONES
If The Man In The Moon Were A Coon - 1906 (Columbia A502)
By The Light Of The Silvey Moon - 1910 (Edison 10362 cylinder)

THE MUSIC OF BILLY MURRAY
In My Merry Oldsmobile - 1905 (Victor 4467)
The Little Ford Rambled Right Along - 1915 (Victor 17755)

 



Bert Williams in blackface
shortly before he died
Even though Vaudeville had been around throughout the early and mid 1800's, the musical shows adopted the Ragtime sound for its acts. Arthur Collins and Byron Harlan had been performing mistral shows since the late 1800 (unsure of the date) but by 1906, they had become the staple of African satire with such songs as "Bake Dat Chicken Pie" in which incorporates the Ragtime mock melody (but it isn't real Ragtime you see). Many white minstrel act consisted of whites portraying blacks using shoe polish for "black face". Even Bert Williams who was black African American was demanded by his producers to "blacken it up".

SOME OF BERT WILLIAMS' MUSIC
Nobody - 1906 (Columbia 3423 cylinder)
Save A Little Dram For Me - 1920 (Columbia A2979)


Scott Joplin
But for the most part, African Americans in that era mostly engaged in Ragtime. Ragtime musicians were influenced by vaudeville from the minstrel shows but mostly the music comes from the Negro Spiritual and Blues.

Scott Joplin was not a minstrel performer although he was the first African American to deliver Ragtime to the ears of the white majority. Scott Joplin's "MAPLE LEAF RAG" (1899) became the best selling "Rag" of all time. This song would be the keystone that would begin a revolution in American music and alter the taste for "white America" paving the way for the New Orleans sound to dominate. That new sound would be known as JAZZ.

NEXT STOP...
    ...JAZZ

DOWNLOAD "MAPLE LEAF RAG WAVE FILE"
Add it to you computer!

 Ragtime Press 
More about Scott Joplin

More about Bert Williams

More about John Phillip Sousa

More about Vaudeville

Other links on "RAGTIME"