Books by and about
Mirandy (That Gal o'Mine)
This Is Ragtime /
Eubie Blake /
Reminiscing with Noble Sissle and Eubie Blake
Sincerely Eubie Blake
Eubie Blake: Keys of Memory /
35 Song Hits by Great Black Songwriters /
Eubie Blake CDs
Memories of You /
The Greatest Ragtime of the Century /
World's Greatest Piano Rags /
Jazz Piano Masters
Piano Jazz: McPartland/Blake /
Pianist and Composer of
Eubie Blake was born in 1883 in Baltimore, Maryland; his parents were both freed
slaves. He began playing the piano at age four, getting his first lessons on a
battered old parlor upright.
"Little Hubie" sneaked out of the house every night to play piano at a bordello in
Baltimore's tenderloin district. "I didn't dare tell my parents about the
job," he said.
"I was still a teenager--but I made more money in one
night than my father made in a week working as a stevedore on the Baltimore
docks. My mother took in washing to earn a few dollars. I hid my earnings under the
linoleum in the parlor. Finally, when the pile got too high, I showed them the
money. It was several hundred dollars. They no longer insisted I only play
His mother disapproved of all secular music, but
Eubie loved ragtime. He was sixteen years old when he wrote "Sounds of
Africa" (later titled "Charleston Rag") in 1899--the same year
Scott Joplin's "Maple Leaf Rag" was published. "I didn't write 'Charleston Rag' then," he said. "I composed it. I learned to write
about fifteen years later."
A Eubie Chronology
1899 -- played first rag, "Sounds of
Africa," published in 1919 as "Charleston Rag."
1905 -- moved to New York City
1910 --married Avis Lee, an accomplished classical pianist.
1914 -- published his first song, Chevy Chase.
1915 -- met lyricist and vocalist Noble Sissle
1919 -- toured the country with Jim Europe's 369th Infantry Jazz
Band when the bandleader was tragically murdered. Noble Sissle assumed
leadership of the band for the remaining bookings, and he and Blake hit the
vaudeville circuit when the tour ended. They billed themselves as the Dixie Duo,
with Sissle singing and Blake at the piano. It was the beginning of a long, very
1921 -- wrote, directed and produced musical
"Shuffle Along" (the first to be done so by blacks),
featured Blake's best remembered song, "I'm Just
Wild About Harry," and introduced three entertainers whose later careers
would be notable: Paul Robeson, Florence Mills, and Josephine Baker; show ran for 504 performances and spawned three "Shuffle
Along" road companies, which broke color barriers in theaters all across
1923 -- Sissle and Blake, the first
blacks, to appear in a "talkie,"
"De Forest Phonofilm."
1924 -- Blake and Sissle Produced
"In Bamville," which was eventually
renamed "The Chocolate Dandies." However, the show failed because it didn't fit
the stereotype of "fast dancing and Negroid humor."
1925 -- break up with Sissle
1926 -- public interest in ragtime waned
1930 -- wrote score of "Blackbirds" with
Andy Razaf, which contained the popular song "Memories of
You," Blake's most successful ballad.
recording a few years later firmly established the tune as a standard.
1933 -- Sissle,
Blake, and Flournoy Miller got back together and attempted an unsuccessful
revival of "Shuffle Along."
1946 -- retired at 63 to study
music composition, transcribe his songs, and compose new songs
1968 -- Blake and Sissle recorded
together on an album entitled "86 Years of Eubie Blake."
1969 -- came out of
retirement to record an album
1975 (December 17) -- Sissle
1976 -- appeared in "Scott
Joplin" film, starring Billy Dee Williams
1978 -- the musical "Eubie,"
based on Blake's songs, opened on Broadway
1981 -- awarded the Medal of Freedom
1982 (June) -- gave last public
1983 (February 12) -- died in Brooklyn, New York
1995 -- Eubie's image appeared on thirty-two cents
* * *
|Mother of a
Composer/Musician, Eubie Blake
Emily Blake, born a
slave, was the mother of musician, composer,
performer Eubie Blake, whose parents were both freed slaves. His
father worked as a stevedore on the Baltimore docks.
Emily, his mother took in washing to earn a few dollars.
To supplement the family income, Eubie the teenager born
in 1883 in Baltimore, Maryland sneaked out of the
house every night to play piano at a bordello in
Baltimore's tenderloin district. he made more in a night
than his father made in a week.
* * *
Eubie Blake on YouTube
Memories of You with Alberta Hunter /
Arkansas Blues /
Baltimore Buzz /
Boll Weevil Blues
* * *
update 19 April 2010