William Grant Still

William Grant Still Exhibition

Shuffle Along Orchestra

Along Orchestra William Grant Still in Eubie's Blake's "Shuffle Along" Orchestra. This historic show ran for many years and traveled throughout the country. Still is seated fourth from the right, Eubie Blake is at the piano, and Hall Johnson, who would later be known as a great choral director and spiritual arranger, is seated to the right of Still.

When Eubie Blake and Noble Sissle's "Shuffle Along" traveled to Boston, Still had an opportunity to study composition with the composer George W. Chadwick at the New England Conservatory. Since the show ran for such a long time, the players would improvise on their parts to keep from being bored. According to Judith Anne Still, the composer's daughter, Eubie Blake was speaking to Still on the telephone and began to whistle what Still thought was George Gershwin's, "I Got Rhythm." When Still asked him why he was whistling the Gershwin tune, Blake informed him that it was not the Gershwin tune but an improvised part that Still had come up with many years ago while playing in "Shuffle Along" Gershwin heard the tune while attending a performance of the show.

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Materials from Special Collections Library, Duke University

A project of The Digital Scriptorium, Special Collections Library, Duke University. September 1995