Jacques Wolfe

Jacques Leon Wolfe (April 29, 1896 – June 22, 1973) was a Romanian-born American songwriter.

Wolfe was born in Botoşani, Romania. His family emigrated to New York when he was a very young child. He displayed musical talent as a youngster and, at 16, he entered the Institute of Musical Art, now known as Juilliard School. During World War I, he was stationed at Governor’s Island, where he played clarinet in a military band. Transferred south, Wolfe made his first direct contact with African-American music. He was fascinated with the genre and did extensive research on the history of black folk songs and spirituals. He became inspired to write his own music based on the style. His spirituals and “work songs” became very popular in sheet music form in the early 1930s. In 1934 Wolfe collaborated with poet Langston Hughes to write "Sad Song in de Air," published by Robbins Music Corp.

Jacques Wolfe is credited with writing "Short'nin' Bread" in 1928. The song is a vaudeville "blackface" song written for stage during blackface shows. The music was published by Harold Flammer and distributed by G. Schirmer in New York City.

Also set "Three Negro Poems" by Clement Wood to music for "medium or low voice and piano". Published in 1928 by G. Schirmer, the three songs are entitled: "Debil-Foot", "De Glory Road" and "Gwine to Hebb'n". "De Glory Road" appears dedicated to Paul Robeson.

Wolfe wrote the music for the 1931 film The Prodigal and in 1938, composed the music for a Broadway musical based on Roark Bradford’s John Henry, starring Paul Robeson in the title role. The musical opened in January 1940 and, some reviewers thought because of a weak script, closed five days later.

Birth and Death Data: Born April 29th, 1896, Died June 22nd, 1973

Date Range of DAHR Recordings: 1931 - 1938

Roles Represented in DAHR: composer


Company Matrix No. Size First Recording Date Title Primary Performer Description Role Audio
Victor CVE-68331 12-in. 10/29/1931 De glory road Lawrence Tibbett ; Stewart Wille Baritone vocal solo, with piano composer  
Victor PCVE-68332 12-in. 10/29/1931 Short'nin' bread Lawrence Tibbett Baritone vocal solo, with piano composer  
Victor BRC-70274 10-in. 10/7/1931 Gwine to hebb'n (A negro sermon in rhythm) Lester Hodges ; John Charles Thomas Baritone vocal solo, with piano composer  
Victor BS-77648 10-in. 9/12/1933 Short 'nin' bread Ferde Grofé Orchestra ; Conrad Thibault Baritone vocal solo, with orchestra composer  
Victor BS-81979 10-in. 3/26/1934 Sailormen Carroll Hollister ; John Charles Thomas Baritone vocal solo, with piano composer  
Victor CS-02175 12-in. 10/19/1936 Hallelujah rhythm Alexander Smallens ; Lawrence Tibbett Baritone vocal solo, with orchestra composer  
Victor BS-025307 10-in. 8/12/1938 Short'nin' bread Hal Derwin ; Shep Fields ; Rippling Rhythm Orchestra Jazz/dance band, with male vocal solo composer  
Victor PBS-Test-1365 10-in. 10/10/1934 Gwine to hebb'n The Singing Guardsmen Male vocal quartet composer  


Discography of American Historical Recordings, s.v. "Wolfe, Jacques," accessed January 18, 2021, https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/109073.

Wolfe, Jacques. (2021). In Discography of American Historical Recordings. Retrieved January 18, 2021, from https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/109073.

"Wolfe, Jacques." Discography of American Historical Recordings. UC Santa Barbara Library, 2021. Web. 18 January 2021.

DAHR Persistent Identifier

URI: https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/109073


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