Historic American Sheet Music, Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library, Duke University

African American Composers, Lyricists, and Performers

Duke University coordinated with Brown University's Library of Congress/Ameritech African-American Sheet Music Digitizing Project to avoid duplication of titles between the two projects. As a result, it was sometimes necessary to identify African American composers/lyricists, performers and publishers. While there was no systematic attempt made to find all of the African Americans who contributed to the musical life in the United States, some people were identified who were or might have been of African ancestry. Some of the names were checked in the African American Bibliographic Database (AABD). Quite a few names have [?]. Those are some we suspect might have been African American, but were unable to find more information.

Composers | Performers | Publishers


Bares, Basile -- full name: Basile J. Bares, fl. 1875

AABD says b. 1846, 2 January, New Orleans
Negro musicians and their music, p. 197f
Nos hommes et notre histoire, p. 119
Negro year book 1913

Blind Tom (Thomas Greene Bethune)

Bland, James A. (James Allen), 1854-1911

Pictorial history of the American Negro, p. 204
Negro Year book 1913

Brown, Harry

Burleigh, H. T. (Harry Thacker), 1866-1949

Clifford, Chauncey [?]

Johnson, George W. (singer, composer)

Jordan, Joe [?]

The Library of Congress authority file shows him as co-writer with W.C. Handy but he is not listed in AABD

Lemonier, Tom [?]

Pickett, L. N. D.

Postlewaite, J. W., 1837-1889

From a sound recording, Black music issued in 1990.
The booklet indicates that he was a black Amer. composer and bandleader; lived in St. Louis

Rogers, James H. (James Hotchkiss), 1857-1940 [?]

Spirituals arranger

Skidmore, Will E.

Stout, Clarence A. [?]

Vaughan, James, ca. 1870-ca. 1935

Walker, Marshall

Williams, Ralph (Nigger)


Brown, Harry

Carney, William H.

(Sergt., Civil War. Fort Wagner (S.C.) -- History -- Siege, 1863)

DeLany, Placido R.

Hodges, Mr. M. H.

Larkins & Patterson (John Larkins [?])

White, James (?)

Part of Richards and Pringles Famous Georgia Minstrels - portrait published in Vancouver, WA

Williams & Wilkins

Williams & Walker

Williams, Bert, 1875-1922
Walker, George, 1873-1911


Gotham-Attucks [?]

H.L. Benham & Co. (174 Race Street, Cincinnati)

Pace & Handy

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