"Shout" About African-American History Month

It’s late, but I’ve been a little busy today. February is African-American History Month so of course I’m going to learn more about music history. On this first day, two influential and talented James Johnsons were born. James P. was born on this day in 1894. He recorded with Black Swan Records (founded by WC Handy’s former partner Harry Pace) composed songs for theater, and was a pioneer in “stride” piano, creating a transition between ragtime and jazz. He influenced and mentored Fats Waller and other pianists perhaps more commonly now known than himself. As a composer, he is responsible for the song behind “The Charleston” dance craze, and songs used in later films like "If I Could Be With You (One Hour Tonight)" from Casablanca and The Roaring Twenties. He continued to write and perform through the 40’s and died in 1955.

Of course I don’t have to tell you about James A. Johnson born on this day in 1948. In addition to his own great songs, he co-wrote Hammer’s “U Can’t Touch This” and wrote the Mary Jane Girls classic “My House.” We lost super freaky Rick James in 2004.

Now that all his great tunes are in your head, let’s step back with James P. Johnson’s “Carolina Shout,” recorded in October 1921, to kick off African-American History Month.

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In my journeys over the last three years, both physical and personal/internal, I have discovered Memphis and a drive to create. This site will display my goals to informally promote and tell stories about Memphis and the surrounding areas - music, culture, history - through my observations, photography, and telling the stories of people I meet along the way.

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