Black Swans: Earliest African-American Classical Stars

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This CD contains the first recordings made by black classical performers, singers and instrumentalists, dating from approximately 1917-1922. Only 5 of them have ever been reissued before. Together they provide a demonstration of the forgotten culture of black performers in classical music from the early 20th century.

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• Harry Burleigh (baritone): Go Down Moses (arr. Burleigh)
(piano accomp. probably Burleigh)
Broome Special 51-A (matrix 45-1-1) (Fall 1919)

• Edward H.S. Boatner: (bass-baritone) I Don’t Feel Noways Tired
(probably arr. Burleigh)
Broome Special 54-A (matrix 85-3-2) (Fall 1919)

• Edward H.S. Boatner: Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child
(probably arr. Burleigh)
Broome Special 51-B (matrix 85-2-1) (Fall 1919)

• R. Nathaniel Dett (piano): Dett: In the Bottoms–Barcarolle
Broome Special 54-B (matrix 86-2-1) (Fall 1919)

• R. Nathanial Dett (piano): Dett: Magnolia Suite–Mammy
Broome Special 55-b (matrix 86-1-1) (Fall 1919)

• Florence Cole-Talbert: (soprano) Delibes: Lakme–Bell Song (in French)
National Music Lovers 1028-A (matrix Black Swan 7103) (late 1921-early 1922)

• Florence Cole-Talbert: The Last Rose of Summer (anon.-Moore)
Black Swan 7104-B (matrix 7104-B) (late 1921-early 1922)

• Florence Cole-Talbert: Dell’Acqua: Vilanelle
(William Leonard King, piano)
Broome Special 52-A (matrix 34-3-2) (Fall 1919)

• Florence Cole-Talbert: Arditi: Il Baccio
Black Swan 7104-A (matrix 7104-A) (late 1921-early 1922)

• Florence Cole-Talbert: Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen
Anon. (arr. C.C. White)
Broome Special 55-A (matrix 34-2-1) (Fall 1919)

• Clarence Cameron White: (violin) White: Cradle Song
(William Leonard King, piano)
Broome Special 53-B (matrix 35-4-1) (Fall 1919)

• Clarence Cameron White: White: Lament (William L King, piano)
Broome Special 52-B (no visible matrix) (Fall 1919)

• Hattie King Reavis: (contralto) Make More Room Anon.(arr.Dett)
Black Swan 7106-B (matrix 7106-B) (late 1921-early 1922)

• Hattie King Reavis: Gounod: There Is a Green Hill
Black Swan 7106-A (matrix 7106-A) (late 1921-early 1922)

• Roland Hayes: (tenor) Leoncavallo: Pagliacci–Vesti la giubba
(labelled “Arioso”) (in Italian)
Columbia Personal 62281 (matrix 62281-) (May 4, 1918)

• Roland Hayes: Donizetti: L’elisir d-amore–Una furtiva lagrima (in Italian)
Columbia Personal 91503 (12") (matrix 91503) (May 25, 1918)

• Roland Hayes: Verdi: La forza del destino–Sollenne in quest’ ora
(with G. Sumner Wormley, baritone)
Columbia Personal 91508-1 (12") May 26 or June 14, 1918)

• Roland Hayes: Katherine A. Glen: Twilight
Columbia Personal 62282 (no visible matrix) May 4, 1918)

• Roland Hayes: Anon.: Bye and Bye
Columbia Personal 91512 (matrix 91012-) (June 15, 1918)

• Roland Hayes: Anon.: Steal Away to Jesus
(probably Lawrence Brown, piano)
Columbia Personal 91502 (12") (matrix 91502-) (June 25, 1918)

• Roland Hayes: Anon.: Swing Low, Sweet Chariot
Columbia Personal 62050 (approx. Dec. 21, 1917)

• Antoinette Garnes (soprano): Verdi: Rigoletto–Caro Nome
Black Swan 7101 (no visible matrix) (late 1921-early 1922)

• Antoinette Garnes: Verdi: La Traviata–Ah! Fors’ e lui (exc.) (in Italian)
Black Swan 7102 (no visible matrix) (late 1921-early 1922)

• Antoinette Garnes: Haydn: My Mother Bids Me Bind My Hair
Broome Special 53-B (matrix 77-1-1) (probably 1921)

• Harry Burleigh: Jean-Baptiste Fauré: Les Rameaux
(in English, as “The Palms”) WNYC broadcast, April 2, 1944, “Mayor La Guardia Talks to the People”



The engineering and re-mastering, along with the exquisitely researched and annotated accompanying booklet are the joint labor of love from the folks at Parnassus.

- (Rafael de Acha)

With the release of this album, their voices can be heard again and their place in history can be appreciated and celebrated.< br>
- Opera News (Steven Jude Tietjen)

Product Description:

  • Release Date: November 12, 2020

  • Catalog Number: 96067

  • UPC: 602003687310

  • Label: Parnassus

  • Number of Discs: 1

  • Composer: Henry Thacker Burleigh, Robert Nathaniel Dett, Leo Delibes, Eva Dell'Acqua, Luigi Arditi, Clarence Cameron White, Charles Gounod, Ruggero Leoncavallo, Gaetano Donizetti, Giuseppe Verdi, Katherine Glen, Joseph Haydn