JOHNSON, J. ROSAMUND

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JOHNSON, J. ROSAMUND - Inscribed Photograph by the Composer of the “Negro National Anthem,” “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” to his Future Wife
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JOHNSON, J. ROSAMUND - Inscribed Photograph by the Composer of the “Negro National Anthem,” “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” to his Future Wife

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JOHNSON, J. ROSAMUND. (1873-1954). American composer best remembered for “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” known as the “Negro National Anthem.” SP. (“Mr. Rosamond”). 1p. 4to. N.p., June 25, 1912. A sepia bust portrait of an elegantly attired Johnson taken by Broadway’s famed theatrical photographer, White Studio, and inscribed on the lower mount “To Miss Nora –” his student and future wife NORA ETHEL FLOYD.

 

Trained at the New England Conservatory, Johnson came to prominence as a composer during the Harlem Renaissance. In 1900, he set to music “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” a poem composed by his brother James Weldon Johnson, a lawyer, writer and civil rights activist. First performed at a Jacksonville, Florida, birthday celebration for Abraham Lincoln to honor Booker T. Washington, the song grew in popularity and was dubbed “the Negro National Anthem” by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored Persons (NAACP) in 1919. “Black communities across the Jim Crow South were… embracing the soaring, aspirational lyrics of ‘Lift Every Voice and Sing’ -- otherwise known as the Negro National Anthem -- which was sung in churches, at civic events and even in schools, where substituting the song for ‘The Star Spangled Banner’ was a quiet act of rebellion against the racist status quo… ‘Lift Every Voice and Sing’ became what the Princeton University scholar Imani Perry describes as a tale ‘of endurance, lament and supplication’ that acknowledges the cruelties of racism while also pointing toward transcendence,’” (“Colin Kaepernick and the Legacy of the Negro National Anthem,” The New York Times, Staples).

 

Active on the Vaudeville Circuit as well as in London,Johnson also made a name for himself with lighter works such as “The Evolution of Ragtime” and “Under the Bamboo Tree” and produced several popular operettas including Shoo-Fly Regiment and Red Moon. In addition to his work as a composer, Johnson originated the role of Frazier in the premier of Porgy and Bess and compiled several volumes of Negro spirituals and folksongs.

 

Johnson married Floyd, a former piano student from Jacksonville, on July 3, 1913 in London. Together, they had two children.

 

Accompanied by a program from Columbia University’s “Commemoration of the Life and Achievements of James Weldon Johnson.” Photographer’s mount is dust stained with nominal wear at the edges. In very good condition. Archivally matted and framed with an offprint of the lyrics of “Lift Every Voice and Sing” from the program in pristine condition. Very rare!

 

Item #20345


This autograph will be auctioned live on May 23, 2018. For more information and to place your bid click the "BID NOW!" button above.
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