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Bert Williams

Bert Williams (November 12, 1874 – March 4, 1922) was a Bahamian-born American entertainer, one of the pre-eminent entertainers of the Vaudeville era and one of the most popular comedians for all audiences of his time. He is credited as being the first Black man to have the leading role in a film: Darktown Jubilee in 1914.

He was by far the best-selling Black recording artist before 1920. In 1918, the New York Dramatic Mirror called Williams "one of the great comedians of the world."

Williams was a key figure in the development of African-American entertainment. In an age when racial inequality and stereotyping were commonplace, he became the first black person to take a lead role on the Broadway stage, and did much to push back racial barriers during his three-decade-long career. Fellow vaudevillian W. C. Fields, who appeared in productions with Williams, described him as "the funniest man I ever saw—and the saddest man I ever knew."

Birth and Death Data: Born November 12, 1874 (Nassau), Died March 4, 1922 (New York City)

Date Range of DAHR Recordings: 1896 - 1946

Roles Represented in DAHR: baritone vocal, composer, songwriter, piano, speaker, organ, lyricist, author

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

Recordings (Results 1-25 of 142 records)

Company Matrix No. Size First Recording Date Title Primary Performer Description Role Audio
Berliner 1611 7-in. 11/16/1896 I thought I was a winner George J. Gaskin Male vocal solo composer, lyricist  
Berliner 1730 7-in. 5/19/1897 Miss Maria Johnson Dan W. Quinn Male vocal solo songwriter  
Berliner 1964 7-in. Before Apr. 1899 Why don’t you get a lady of your own John Terrell Male vocal solo songwriter  
Berliner 011 7-in. 4/8/1899 I don’t like no cheap man Len Spencer Male vocal solo songwriter  
Berliner 0143 7-in. Before June 1899 He’s up against the real thing now Len Spencer Male vocal solo composer  
Berliner 0989 7-in. 2/17/1900 The medicine man Arthur Collins Male vocal solo songwriter  
Berliner 01002 7-in. 2/19/1900 Why don't you get a lady of your own Arthur Collins Male vocal solo songwriter  
Victor [Pre-matrix A-]647 7-in. 2/2/1901 If you love your baby, make dem goo-goo eyes Arthur Collins Male vocal solo songwriter  
Victor [Pre-matrix B-]647 10-in. 9/19/1902 If you love your baby, make dem goo-goo eyes Arthur Collins Male vocal solo songwriter  
Victor [Pre-matrix A-]741 7-in. 4/26/1901 She's getting more like the white folks every day Dan W. Quinn Male vocal solo songwriter  
Victor [Pre-matrix B-]741 10-in. 4/26/1901 She's getting more like the white folks every day Dan W. Quinn Male vocal solo songwriter  
Victor [Pre-matrix A-]742 7-in. 4/26/1901 My fortune-telling man Dan W. Quinn Male vocal solo songwriter  
Victor [Pre-matrix B-]742 10-in. 4/26/1901 My fortune-telling man Dan W. Quinn Male vocal solo songwriter  
Victor [Pre-matrix A-]987 7-in. 10/11/1901 I don't like that face you wear Williams and Walker Male vocal duet, with piano instrumentalist, piano, vocalist, baritone vocal  
Victor [Pre-matrix B-]987 10-in. 10/11/1901 I don't like that face you wear Williams and Walker Male vocal duet, with piano instrumentalist, piano, vocalist, baritone vocal  
Victor [Pre-matrix A-]991 7-in. 10/11/1901 In my castle on the River Nile Bert Williams Male vocal solo, with piano vocalist, baritone vocal, instrumentalist, piano  
Victor [Pre-matrix B-]991 10-in. 10/11/1901 In my castle on the River Nile Bert Williams Male vocal solo, with piano vocalist, baritone vocal, instrumentalist, piano  
Victor [Pre-matrix A-]992 7-in. 10/11/1901 The phrenologist coon Bert Williams Male vocal solo, with piano vocalist, baritone vocal, instrumentalist, piano  
Victor [Pre-matrix B-]992 10-in. 10/11/1901 The phrenologist coon Bert Williams Male vocal solo, with piano vocalist, baritone vocal, instrumentalist, piano  
Victor [Pre-matrix A-]993 7-in. 10/11/1901 Where was Moses when the lights went out? Bert Williams Male vocal solo, with piano vocalist, baritone vocal, instrumentalist, piano  
Victor [Pre-matrix B-]993 10-in. 10/11/1901 Where was Moses when the light went out? Bert Williams Male vocal solo, with piano vocalist, baritone vocal, instrumentalist, piano  
Victor [Pre-matrix A-]994 7-in. 10/11/1901 When it's all going out and nothing coming in Bert Williams Male vocal solo, with piano vocalist, baritone vocal, instrumentalist, piano, composer  
Victor [Pre-matrix B-]994 10-in. 10/11/1901 All going out and nothing coming in Bert Williams Male vocal solo, with piano vocalist, baritone vocal, instrumentalist, piano, composer  
Victor [Pre-matrix A-]995 7-in. 10/11/1901 Junie George Walker Male vocal solo, with piano instrumentalist, piano  
Victor [Pre-matrix B-]995 10-in. 10/11/1901 Junie George Walker Male vocal solo, with piano instrumentalist, piano  
(Results 1-25 of 142 records)

Citation

Discography of American Historical Recordings, s.v. "Williams, Bert," accessed February 28, 2024, https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/103803.

Williams, Bert. (2024). In Discography of American Historical Recordings. Retrieved February 28, 2024, from https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/103803.

"Williams, Bert." Discography of American Historical Recordings. UC Santa Barbara Library, 2024. Web. 28 February 2024.

DAHR Persistent Identifier

URI: https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/103803

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