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Paul Robeson

Paul Leroy Robeson ( ROHB-sən; April 9, 1898 – January 23, 1976) was an American bass-baritone concert artist, stage and film actor, professional football player, and activist who became famous both for his cultural accomplishments and for his political stances.

In 1915, Robeson won an academic scholarship to Rutgers College, where he was the only African-American student. While at Rutgers, he was twice named a consensus All-American in football and was elected class valedictorian. He earned his LL.B. from Columbia Law School, while playing in the National Football League (NFL). After graduation, he became a figure in the Harlem Renaissance, with performances in Eugene O'Neill's The Emperor Jones and All God's Chillun Got Wings.

Robeson performed in Britain in a touring melodrama, Voodoo, in 1922, and in Emperor Jones in 1925. In 1928, he scored a major success in the London premiere of Show Boat. Living in London for several years with his wife Eslanda, Robeson continued to establish himself as a concert artist and starred in a London production of Othello, the first of three productions of the play over the course of his career. He also gained attention in Sanders of the River (1935) and in the film production of Show Boat (1936). Robeson's political activities began with his involvement with unemployed workers and anti-imperialist students in Britain, and it continued with his support for the Republican cause during the Spanish Civil War and his involvement in the Council on African Affairs (CAA).

After returning to the United States in 1939, Robeson supported the American and Allied war efforts during World War II. However, his history of supporting civil rights causes and Soviet policies brought scrutiny from the FBI. After the war ended, the CAA was placed on the Attorney General's List of Subversive Organizations. Robeson was investigated during the McCarthy era. When he refused to recant his public advocacy of left-wing beliefs, the U.S. State Department denied his passport and his income plummeted. He moved to Harlem and published a periodical called Freedom, which was critical of United States policies, from 1950 to 1955. Robeson's right to travel was eventually restored as a result of the 1958 United States Supreme Court decision Kent v. Dulles.

Between 1925 and 1961, Robeson recorded and released some 276 songs. The first of these was the spiritual "Steal Away", backed with "Were You There", in 1925. Robeson's recorded repertoire spanned many styles, including Americana, popular standards, classical music, European folk songs, political songs, poetry and spoken excerpts from plays.

Birth and Death Data: Born April 9, 1898 (Princeton), Died January 23, 1976 (Philadelphia)

Date Range of DAHR Recordings: 1925 - 1940

Roles Represented in DAHR: bass vocal

= Recordings are available for online listening.
= Recordings were issued from this master. No recordings issued from other masters.

Recordings (Results 1-25 of 70 records)

Company Matrix No. Size First Recording Date Title Primary Performer Description Role Audio
Victor BVE-32798 10-in. 7/27/1925 Li'l gal Paul Robeson Bass vocal solo, with piano vocalist, bass vocal  
Victor BVE-32799 10-in. 7/27/1925 I'll hear the trumpet soun' Paul Robeson Bass vocal solo, with piano vocalist, bass vocal  
Victor BVE-33084 10-in. 7/16/1925 Water boy Paul Robeson Bass vocal solo, with piano vocalist, bass vocal  
Victor BVE-33085 10-in. 7/16/1925 Bye and bye (I'm goin' to lay down dis heavy load) Lawrence Brown ; Paul Robeson Vocal duet (tenor and bass), with piano vocalist, bass vocal  
Victor BVE-33086 10-in. 7/16/1925 Were you there? (When they crucified my Lord) Paul Robeson Bass vocal solo, with piano vocalist, bass vocal  
Victor BVE-33087 10-in. 7/16/1925 Steal away Paul Robeson Bass vocal solo, with piano vocalist, bass vocal  
Victor BVE-33088 10-in. 7/16/1925 Joshua fit de battle ob Jericho Lawrence Brown ; Paul Robeson Vocal duet (tenor and bass), with piano vocalist, bass vocal  
Victor BVE-33119 10-in. 7/30/1925 Swing low, sweet chariot Paul Robeson Bass vocal solo, with piano vocalist, bass vocal  
Victor BVE-34077 10-in. 1/7/1926 Sometimes I feel like a motherless child Paul Robeson Bass vocal solo, with piano vocalist, bass vocal  
Victor BVE-34438 10-in. 1/25/1926 Nobody knows de trouble I've seen Paul Robeson Bass vocal solo, with piano vocalist, bass vocal  
Victor BVE-34439 10-in. 1/25/1926 On ma journey Paul Robeson Bass vocal solo, with piano vocalist, bass vocal  
Victor BVE-38414 10-in. 3/30/1927 Down de lover's lane Paul Robeson Bass vocal solo, with piano vocalist, bass vocal  
Victor BVE-38415 10-in. 3/30/1927 Since you went away Paul Robeson Bass vocal solo, with piano vocalist, bass vocal  
Victor BVE-38416 10-in. 3/30/1927 I'm goin' to tell God all o' my troubles Lawrence Brown ; Paul Robeson Bass vocal solo, with piano vocalist, bass vocal  
Victor BVE-38417 10-in. 3/30/1927 I got a home in-a dat rock Paul Robeson Bass vocal solo, with piano vocalist, bass vocal  
Victor BVE-38418 10-in. 3/30/1927 Deep river Lawrence Brown ; Paul Robeson Bass vocal solo, with piano vocalist, bass vocal  
Victor BVE-38419 10-in. 3/30/1927 Hear, de lam's a-cryin' Lawrence Brown ; Paul Robeson Bass vocal duet, with piano vocalist, bass vocal  
Victor BVE-38420 10-in. 3/30/1927 Ezekiel saw de wheel Lawrence Brown ; Paul Robeson Bass vocal duet, with piano vocalist, bass vocal  
Victor BVE-38740 10-in. 5/10/1927 Witness Lawrence Brown ; Paul Robeson Bass vocal duet, with piano vocalist, bass vocal  
Victor CVE-43122 12-in. 3/1/1928 Ol' Man River Paul Whiteman Concert Orchestra ; Paul Robeson Orchestra, with mixed vocal chorus and soloist vocalist, bass vocal  
Victor BS-047035 10-in. 2/9/1940 Ballad for Americans American People's Chorus ; Paul Robeson ; Victor Symphony Orchestra Bass vocal solo and mixed vocal chorus, with orchestra vocalist, bass vocal  
Victor BS-047036 10-in. 2/9/1940 Ballad for Americans American People's Chorus ; Paul Robeson ; Victor Symphony Orchestra Bass vocal solo and mixed vocal chorus, with orchestra vocalist, bass vocal  
Victor BS-047037 10-in. 2/9/1940 Ballad for Americans American People's Chorus ; Paul Robeson ; Victor Symphony Orchestra Bass vocal solo and mixed vocal chorus, with orchestra vocalist, bass vocal  
Victor BS-047038 10-in. 2/9/1940 Ballad for Americans American People's Chorus ; Paul Robeson ; Victor Symphony Orchestra Bass vocal solo and mixed vocal chorus, with orchestra vocalist, bass vocal  
Victor [Trial 1925-04-21-01] 10-in. 4/21/1925 Bye and bye Lawrence Brown ; Paul Robeson Vocal duet (tenor and bass) vocalist, bass vocal  
(Results 1-25 of 70 records)

Citation

Discography of American Historical Recordings, s.v. "Robeson, Paul," accessed March 4, 2024, https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/102809.

Robeson, Paul. (2024). In Discography of American Historical Recordings. Retrieved March 4, 2024, from https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/102809.

"Robeson, Paul." Discography of American Historical Recordings. UC Santa Barbara Library, 2024. Web. 4 March 2024.

DAHR Persistent Identifier

URI: https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/102809

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