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Bert Williams

Bert Williams (November 12, 1874 – March 4, 1922) was a Bahamian-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 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 American 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 12th, 1874 (Nassau), Died March 4th, 1922 (New York City)

Date Range of DAHR Recordings: 1896 - 1933

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

Recordings

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  
Victor [Pre-matrix A-]996 7-in. 10/11/1901 Good afternoon, Mr. Jenkins George Walker Male vocal solo, with piano instrumentalist, piano  
Victor [Pre-matrix B-]996 10-in. 10/11/1901 Good afternoon, Mr. Jenkins George Walker Male vocal solo, with piano instrumentalist, piano  
Victor [Pre-matrix B-]997 10-in. 10/11/1901 Good morning, Carrie Williams and Walker Male vocal duet, with piano vocalist, baritone vocal, instrumentalist, piano  
Victor [Pre-matrix A-]997 7-in. 10/11/1901 Good morning, Carrie Williams and Walker Male vocal duet, with piano instrumentalist, piano, vocalist, baritone vocal  
Victor [Pre-matrix A-]998 7-in. 10/11/1901 The ghost of a coon Bert Williams Male vocal solo, with piano vocalist, baritone vocal, instrumentalist, piano, songwriter  
Victor [Pre-matrix A-]998[a] 7-in. 10/11/1901 If you love your baby, make dem goo-goo eyes Bert Williams Male vocal solo, with piano vocalist, baritone vocal, instrumentalist, piano, songwriter  
Victor [Pre-matrix B-]998 10-in. 11/8/1901 The ghost of a coon Bert Williams Male vocal solo, with piano vocalist, baritone vocal, instrumentalist, piano, songwriter  
Victor [Pre-matrix B-]998[a] 10-in. 10/11/1901 If you love your baby, make dem goo-goo eyes Bert Williams Male vocal solo, with piano vocalist, baritone vocal, instrumentalist, piano, songwriter  
Victor [Pre-matrix A-]999 7-in. 10/11/1901 Her name's Miss Dinah Fair George Walker Male vocal solo, with piano instrumentalist, piano  
Victor [Pre-matrix B-]999 10-in. 10/11/1901 Her name's Miss Dinah Fair Williams and Walker Male vocal duet, with piano vocalist, baritone vocal, instrumentalist, piano  
Victor [Pre-matrix A-]1083 7-in. 11/8/1901 The fortune-telling man Bert Williams Male vocal solo, with piano vocalist, baritone vocal  
Victor [Pre-matrix B-]1083 10-in. 11/8/1901 The fortune-telling man Bert Williams Male vocal solo, with piano vocalist, baritone vocal  
Victor [Pre-matrix B-]1084 10-in. 11/8/1901 My little Zulu babe Bert Williams Male vocal solo, with piano vocalist, baritone vocal  
Victor [Pre-matrix A-]1085 7-in. 11/8/1901 She's getting more like the white folks every day Bert Williams Male vocal solo, with piano vocalist, baritone vocal, songwriter  
Victor [Pre-matrix B-]1085 10-in. 11/8/1901 She's getting more like the white folks every day Bert Williams Male vocal solo, with piano vocalist, baritone vocal, songwriter  
Victor [Pre-matrix A-]1086 7-in. 10/11/1901 My little Zulu babe Williams and Walker Male vocal duet, with piano vocalist, baritone vocal  
Victor [Pre-matrix B-]1086 10-in. 10/11/1901 My little Zulu babe Williams and Walker Male vocal duet, with piano vocalist, baritone vocal  
Victor [Pre-matrix A-]1126 7-in. 12/4/1901 The fortune-telling man Silas Leachman Male vocal solo songwriter  
Victor [Pre-matrix B-]1126 10-in. 12/4/1901 The fortune-telling man Silas Leachman Male vocal solo songwriter  
Victor [Pre-matrix A-]1894 7-in. 1/14/1903 When it's all goin' out and nothin' comin' in Silas Leachman Male vocal solo, with piano composer  
Victor [Pre-matrix B-]1894 10-in. 1/14/1903 All goin' out and nothin' comin' in Silas Leachman Male vocal solo, with piano composer  
Victor [Pre-matrix B-]3069 10-in. 2/2/1901 If you love your baby, make dem goo-goo eyes Arthur Collins Male vocal solo songwriter  
Victor [Pre-matrix B-]3283 10-in. 4/26/1901 She is getting more like the white folks every day Dan W. Quinn Male vocal solo songwriter  
Victor [Pre-matrix B-]3284 10-in. 4/26/1901 The fortune-telling man Dan W. Quinn Male vocal solo songwriter  
Victor [Pre-matrix B-]3609 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 B-]3610 10-in. 10/11/1901 The phrenologist coon Bert Williams Male vocal solo, with piano vocalist, baritone vocal, instrumentalist, piano  
Victor [Pre-matrix B-]3613 10-in. 10/11/1901 Junie George Walker Male vocal solo, with piano instrumentalist, piano  
Victor [Pre-matrix B-]3615 10-in. 10/11/1901 The ghost of a coon Bert Williams Male vocal solo, with piano vocalist, baritone vocal, instrumentalist, piano, songwriter  
Victor [Pre-matrix B-]3616 10-in. 10/11/1901 If you love your baby, make dem goo-goo eyes Bert Williams Male vocal solo, with piano vocalist, baritone vocal, instrumentalist, piano, songwriter  
Victor [Pre-matrix B-]3618 10-in. 10/11/1901 Her name's Miss Dinah Fair Williams and Walker Male vocal duet, with piano vocalist, baritone vocal, instrumentalist, piano  
Victor A-918 7-in. 1/14/1904 She's getting more like the white folks every day Dan W. Quinn Male vocal solo, with piano songwriter  
Victor B-918 10-in. 1/14/1904 She's getting more like the white folks every day Dan W. Quinn Male vocal solo, with piano songwriter  
Victor B-2568 10-in. 5/22/1905 Nobody Arthur Collins Male vocal solo, with orchestra composer  
Victor C-3338 12-in. 4/26/1906 Here it comes again Arthur Collins Male vocal solo, with orchestra composer  
Victor B-8078 10-in. 6/28/1909 That's a plenty Arthur Collins Male vocal solo, with orchestra composer  
Victor B-9043 10-in. 6/2/1910 You're gwine get somethin' what you don't expect Billy Murray Male vocal solo, with orchestra composer  
Victor B-10937 10-in. 9/8/1911 Dat's harmony Arthur Collins Male vocal solo, with orchestra composer  
Victor B-12788 10-in. 1/10/1913 My landlady Arthur Collins Male vocal solo, with orchestra composer  
Victor B-18920 10-in. 12/21/1916 The ghost of a coon Leighton Brothers Male vocal duet, with guitar songwriter  
Victor BS-77173 10-in. 12/4/1933 Nobody Harry Wall Male vocal solo, with piano composer  
Victor PBVE-1307 10-in. 10/14/1931 Constantly Phil Harris Male vocal solo, with instrumental ensemble composer  
Columbia 1358 7-in. ca. 1903-Oct. 1905 When it's all going out and nothing coming in Dan W. Quinn Male vocal duet, with piano songwriter  
Columbia 1358 10-in. ca. 1903 When it's all going out and nothing coming in Artists vary Male vocal duet, with piano songwriter  
Columbia 3264 10-in. ca. Jan.-Oct. 1905 Nobody Arthur Collins Male vocal solo, with orchestra composer  
Columbia 3410 10-in. ca. Jan.-June 1906 Pretty Desdemone George Walker ; Bert Williams Male vocal duet, with orchestra vocalist, baritone vocal  
Columbia 3423 10-in. ca. Jan.-June 1906 Nobody Bert Williams Male vocal solo, with orchestra vocalist, baritone vocal, composer  
Columbia 3454 10-in. ca. Jan.-Aug. 1906 Here it comes again Bert Williams Male vocal solo, with orchestra vocalist, baritone vocal, composer  
Columbia 3504 10-in. ca. Jan.-Nov. 1906 Let it alone Bert Williams Male vocal solo, with orchestra vocalist, baritone vocal, composer  
Columbia 3515 10-in. ca. Jan.-Nov. 1906 I'm tired of eating in the restaurants Bert Williams Male vocal solo, with orchestra vocalist, baritone vocal, composer  
Columbia 3536 10-in. ca. Oct. 1906 He's a cousin of mine Bert Williams Male vocal solo, with orchestra vocalist, baritone vocal  
Columbia 3557 10-in. ca. Nov. 1906 The Mississippi stoker Bert Williams Male vocal solo, with orchestra vocalist, baritone vocal, composer  
Columbia 3574 10-in. ca. Jan.-Sept. 1906 I've such a funny feeling when I look at you Bert Williams Male vocal solo, with orchestra vocalist, baritone vocal  
Columbia 3593 10-in. ca. Jan.-Mar. 1907 Fare thee! On ma way! Jes' gone! Bert Williams Male vocal solo, with orchestra vocalist, baritone vocal  
Columbia 4136 10-in. ca. Jan.-Aug. 1909 That's a plenty Arthur Collins Male vocal solo, with orchestra composer  
Columbia 4682 10-in. ca. June-July 1910 I'll lend you anything Bert Williams Male vocal solo, with orchestra vocalist, baritone vocal  
Columbia 4683 10-in. ca. June-July 1910 Something you don't expect Bert Williams Male vocal solo, with orchestra composer, vocalist, baritone vocal  
Columbia 4684 10-in. ca. June-July 1910 Constantly Bert Williams Male vocal solo, with orchestra composer, vocalist, baritone vocal  
Columbia 4849 10-in. ca. Aug. 1910 Play that barber-shop chord Bert Williams Male vocal solo, with orchestra vocalist, baritone vocal  
Columbia 38525 10-in. 1/3/1913 My landlady Bert Williams Male vocal solo, with orchestra vocalist, baritone vocal, composer  
Columbia 38539 10-in. 1/7/1913 Woodman, spare that tree Bert Williams Male vocal solo, with orchestra vocalist, baritone vocal  
Columbia 38540 10-in. 1/7/1913 Nobody Bert Williams Male vocal solo, with orchestra vocalist, baritone vocal, composer  
Columbia 38553 10-in. 1/13/1913 Borrow from me Bert Williams Male vocal solo, with orchestra vocalist, baritone vocal, composer  
Columbia 38554 10-in. 1/14/1913 On the right road Bert Williams Male vocal solo, with orchestra vocalist, baritone vocal, composer  
Columbia 38576 10-in. 1/21/1913 I certainly was going some Bert Williams Male vocal solo, with orchestra vocalist, baritone vocal  
Columbia 39204 10-in. 2/4/1914 You can't get away from it Bert Williams Male vocal solo, with orchestra vocalist, baritone vocal  
Columbia 39205 10-in. 2/4/1914 The Darktown Poker Club Bert Williams Male vocal solo, with orchestra composer, vocalist, baritone vocal  
Columbia 45906 10-in. 8/2/1915 I'm neutral Bert Williams Male vocal solo and monologue, with orchestra vocalist, baritone vocal, composer  
Columbia 45907 10-in. 8/2/1915 Everybody Bert Williams Male vocal solo and monologue, with orchestra vocalist, baritone vocal, author, speaker  
Columbia 45911 10-in. 8/4/1915 Indoor sports Bert Williams Male vocal solo and monologue, with orchestra vocalist, baritone vocal  
Columbia 45925 10-in. 8/7/1915 Samuel Bert Williams Male vocal solo and monologue, with orchestra vocalist, baritone vocal  
Columbia 45986 10-in. 9/7/1915 Hard times Bert Williams Male vocal solo and monologue, with orchestra vocalist, baritone vocal  
Columbia 46004 10-in. 9/9/1915 Purpostus Bert Williams Male vocal solo and monologue, with orchestra vocalist, baritone vocal, composer  
Columbia 46005 10-in. 9/9/1915 Never mo' Bert Williams Male vocal solo and monologue, with orchestra vocalist, baritone vocal, songwriter  
Columbia 46006 10-in. 9/9/1915 Eph calls up the boss Bert Williams Male vocal solo, with orchestra vocalist, baritone vocal  
Columbia 46944 10-in. 7/22/1916 The Lee family Bert Williams Male vocal solo, with orchestra vocalist, baritone vocal  
Columbia 46945 10-in. 7/22/1916 I'm gone before I go Bert Williams Male vocal solo, with orchestra vocalist, baritone vocal  
Columbia 77341 10-in. 9/14/1917 No place like home Bert Williams Comic monologue, with orchestra vocalist, baritone vocal  
Columbia 77344 10-in. 9/14/1917 Twenty years Bert Williams Male vocal solo, with orchestra vocalist, baritone vocal  
Columbia 78025 10-in. 8/26/1918 O death where is thy sting Bert Williams Male vocal solo, with orchestra vocalist, baritone vocal  
Columbia 78030 10-in. 8/29/1918 You'll find old Dixieland in France Bert Williams Male vocal solo, with orchestra vocalist, baritone vocal  
Columbia 78031 10-in. 8/29/1918 When I return Bert Williams Male vocal solo, with orchestra vocalist, baritone vocal  
Columbia 78298 10-in. 2/13/1919 Oh! Lawdy (Something's done got between Ebecaneezer and me) Bert Williams Male vocal solo, with orchestra vocalist, baritone vocal  
Columbia 78299 10-in. 2/13/1919 Bring back those wonderful days Bert Williams Male vocal solo, with orchestra vocalist, baritone vocal  
Columbia 78380 10-in. 4/4/1919 Everybody wants a key to my cellar Bert Williams Male vocal solo, with orchestra vocalist, baritone vocal  
Columbia 78394 10-in. 4/16/1919 It's nobody's business but my own Bert Williams Male vocal solo, with orchestra vocalist, baritone vocal  
Columbia 78411 10-in. 4/29/1919 Elder Eatmore's sermon on generosity Bert Williams Comic monologue speaker  
Columbia 78828 10-in. 11/24/1919 I'm sorry I ain't got it you could have it if I had it blues Bert Williams Male vocal solo, with orchestra vocalist, baritone vocal  
Columbia 78833 10-in. 12/1/1919 The moon shines on the moonshine Bert Williams Male vocal solo, with orchestra vocalist, baritone vocal  
Columbia 78834 10-in. 12/2/1919 Checkers (It's your move now) Bert Williams Male vocal solo, with orchestra vocalist, baritone vocal  
Columbia 78835 10-in. 12/2/1919 Somebody Bert Williams Male vocal solo, with orchestra vocalist, baritone vocal  
Columbia 79126 10-in. 4/18/1920 Ten little bottles Bert Williams Male vocal solo, with orchestra vocalist, baritone vocal  
Columbia 79127 10-in. 4/18/1920 Unlucky blues Bert Williams Male vocal solo, with orchestra vocalist, baritone vocal  
Columbia 79163 10-in. 5/6/1920 Lonesome alimony blues Bert Williams Male vocal solo, with orchestra vocalist, baritone vocal  
Columbia 79164 10-in. 5/6/1920 Get up Bert Williams Male vocal solo, with orchestra vocalist, baritone vocal  
Columbia 79318 10-in. 6/28/1920 Save a little dram for me Bert Williams Male vocal solo, with orchestra vocalist, baritone vocal  
Columbia 79402 10-in. 9/7/1920 I want to know where Tosti went (when he said goodbye) Bert Williams Male vocal solo, with orchestra vocalist, baritone vocal  
Columbia 79484 10-in. 10/25/1920 You can't trust nobody Bert Williams Male vocal solo, with orchestra vocalist, baritone vocal  
Columbia 79515 10-in. 11/12/1920 Eve cost Adam just one bone Bert Williams Male vocal solo, with orchestra vocalist, baritone vocal  
Columbia 79516 10-in. 11/12/1920 You'll never need a doctor no more Bert Williams Male vocal solo, with orchestra vocalist, baritone vocal  
Columbia 79566 10-in. 12/10/1920 My last dollar Bert Williams Male vocal solo, with orchestra vocalist, baritone vocal  
Columbia 79567 10-in. 12/10/1920 I'm gonna quit Saturday Bert Williams Male vocal solo, with orchestra vocalist, baritone vocal  
Columbia 79934 10-in. 7/12/1921 'Tain't no disgrace to run when you're skeered Bert Williams Male vocal solo, with orchestra vocalist, baritone vocal  
Columbia 79940 10-in. 7/13/1921 I ain't afraid of nuthin' dat's alive Bert Williams Male vocal solo, with orchestra vocalist, baritone vocal  
Columbia 80038 10-in. 10/24/1921 Brother low down Bert Williams Male vocal solo, with orchestra vocalist, baritone vocal  
Columbia 80040 10-in. 10/28/1921 Unexpectedly Bert Williams Male vocal solo, with orchestra vocalist, baritone vocal  
Columbia 80191 10-in. 2/24/1922 Not lately Bert Williams Male vocal solo, with orchestra vocalist, baritone vocal  
Columbia 30039 12-in. 9/26/1906 All in, out and down Bert Williams Male vocal solo, with orchestra vocalist, baritone vocal  
Columbia 36538 12-in. 1/3/1913 You can't do nothing till Martin gets here Bert Williams Comic monologue speaker  
Columbia 36539 12-in. 1/3/1913 How? Fried Bert Williams Comic monologue speaker  
Columbia 49643 12-in. 6/27/1919 Elder Eatmore's sermon on "Generosity" Bert Williams Comic monologue, with mixed vocal trio and organ speaker  
Columbia 49644 12-in. 6/27/1919 Elder Eatmore's sermon on throwing stones Bert Williams Sermon, with male vocal solo and organ speaker  
Columbia W142420 10-in. 7/12/1926 Let it alone J. L. Bischof Male vocal solo, with piano composer  
Columbia W143772 10-in. 3/26/1927 Let it alone Chris Bouchillon Male vocal solo, with guitar composer  
OKeh W404628 10-in. 12/9/1930 You gonna get something you don’t expect Fiddlin' John Carson ; Virginia Reelers Instrumental ensemble, with vocal songwriter  
Edison 8957 10-in. 5/3/1923 Constantly Kaplan's Melodists Jazz/dance band composer  
Edison 9836 10-in. 11/7/1924 You're gwine to get somethin' what you don't expect Guy Hunter Male vocal solo, with orchestra songwriter  

Citation

Discography of American Historical Recordings, s.v. "Williams, Bert," accessed February 27, 2021, https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/103803.

Williams, Bert. (2021). In Discography of American Historical Recordings. Retrieved February 27, 2021, from https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/103803.

"Williams, Bert." Discography of American Historical Recordings. UC Santa Barbara Library, 2021. Web. 27 February 2021.

DAHR Persistent Identifier

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

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