Publication Information


Original Listing

Paul Laurence Dunbar, Li'l' Gal

Biographical Information

(1873-1954) John Rosamond Johnson was a composer, conductor, pianist, and actor. He studied at the New England Conservatory in Boston as well as briefly in Europe. He wrote the tune for "Lift Ev'ry Voice and Sing" (1899), a song written by his brother James Weldon Johnson, which the NAACP adopted as its official song; it later became known as the "Negro national anthem.” He toured as a vocalist with the company of Oriental America. He began his career as a music teacher in the Jacksonville, Florida, public schools but in 1899 moved to New York with brother James to pursue a career in show business. He teamed up with Robert Cole to write and publish more than 200 songs (some along with brother James). In 1912, Oscar Hammerstein appointed Johnson as musical director of the Grand Opera House in London. In 1918 while in New York, he and his wife started the Music School Settlement for Colored People. In 1935, Johnson appeared in the original production of the American opera Porgy and Bess.