Mercedes Gilbert

Mercedes Gilbert ((1894-07-26)July 26, 1894 – (1952-03-01)March 1, 1952) was an African-American actress]novelist, and poet. She was a native of Jacksonville, Florida, and attended Edward Waters College, where she had originally trained to be a nurse, before coming to New York and entering the entertainment profession, first as a songwriter and then as a stage actress.

She was known for playing Zipporah, the wife of Moses, in the original touring production of "The Green Pastures" in 1930., and she was still performing in 1950, appearing on Broadway in a new version of the play "Tobacco Road," with an all-black cast. Gilbert appeared on the screen four times: first in the film The Call of His People in year 1921, next in the film Body and Soul in year 1925, in the film Moon Over Harlem in 1939 as Jackie's mother, and finally in the episode "The Green Dress" of the TV series Lights Out. She also appeared on radio, most notably in a 1943 tribute to black women in America called "Heroines in Bronze." She played the role of Sojourner Truth. She performed occasionally on other radio programs, as well as writing and producing several radio skits. In the mid-1940s, she performed a one-woman show at historically black colleges across the United States. In addition, she was the author of a 1938 novel, "Aunt Sara's Wooden God."

Ms. Gilbert died at the age of 57, on Sunday March 1st in Queens General Hospital in New York after a three-week illness. She was survived by her husband Arthur J. Stevenson and a brother Earl Gough who was also an actor.

Birth and Death Data: Born 1889 (Jacksonville), Died March 1st, 1952 (New York)

Date Range of DAHR Recordings: 1922 - 1928

Roles Represented in DAHR: lyricist, songwriter, composer


Company Matrix No. Size First Recording Date Title Primary Performer Description Role Audio
Victor BVE-37819 10-in. 2/16/1927 Stompin' the bug Fats Waller Pipe organ solo composer  
Columbia 80157 10-in. 1/23/1922 Decatur Street blues Leona Williams Female vocal solo, with jazz/dance band lyricist  
Columbia 81198 10-in. 9/6/1923 Don't never tell nobody Fletcher Henderson ; Clara Smith Female vocal solo ("blues singer"), with piano lyricist  
OKeh S-71654 10-in. June 1923 You just can't have no one man by yourself Sara Martin ; Clarence Williams Female vocal solo, with piano songwriter  
OKeh S-71738 10-in. Aug. 1923 Slow down, sweet papa, mama's catching up with you Sara Martin Female vocal solo, with piano songwriter  
Brunswick C2023 10-in. 6/29/1928 Geechie River blues Julia Davis ; Jasper Taylor’s Original Washboard Band Instrumental ensemble, with female vocal solo lyricist  


Discography of American Historical Recordings, s.v. "Gilbert, Mercedes," accessed July 24, 2021,

Gilbert, Mercedes. (2021). In Discography of American Historical Recordings. Retrieved July 24, 2021, from

"Gilbert, Mercedes." Discography of American Historical Recordings. UC Santa Barbara Library, 2021. Web. 24 July 2021.

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