Texas baritone makes professional debut in New York

April 20th, 1924

On this day in 1924, Julius Lorenzo Cobb Bledsoe made his professional singing debut at Aeolian Hall in New York City. The African-American baritone was born in Waco in 1897. He attended Central Texas Academy in Waco and Bishop College in Marshall. His best-known achievement was his portrayal of Joe in Florenz Ziegfeld's 1927 production of Jerome Kern's Showboat. His interpretation of "Ol' Man River" made the song an American classic. A highlight of his career was his performance in the title role for the European premiere, in Amsterdam, of Louis Gruenberg's opera The Emperor Jones (1934). Bledsoe also wrote an opera, Bondage (1939), based on Uncle Tom's Cabin. He died in 1943, in Hollywood, of a cerebral hemorrhage.

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Texas baritone makes professional debut in New York

April 20th, 1924

On this day in 1924, Julius Lorenzo Cobb Bledsoe made his professional singing debut at Aeolian Hall in New York City. The African-American baritone was born in Waco in 1897. He attended Central Texas Academy in Waco and Bishop College in Marshall. His best-known achievement was his portrayal of Joe in Florenz Ziegfeld's 1927 production of Jerome Kern's Showboat. His interpretation of "Ol' Man River" made the song an American classic. A highlight of his career was his performance in the title role for the European premiere, in Amsterdam, of Louis Gruenberg's opera The Emperor Jones (1934). Bledsoe also wrote an opera, Bondage (1939), based on Uncle Tom's Cabin. He died in 1943, in Hollywood, of a cerebral hemorrhage.

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Related Handbook of Texas Articles

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With more than 27,000 articles about Texas history, the Texas State Historical Association's Handbook of Texas is the largest online encyclopedia about all things Texas. Now you can celebrate the history of Texas every day by activating your free subscription to Texas Day by Day. Each day's email tells a little bit more of the story of Texas and links to our collection of more than 27,000 articles. It's one of the best ways to learn more about Texas history — in only 15 minutes a day!

Activate your free subscription to Texas Day by Day and you can:

  • Explore Texas history each day in bite-sized pieces conveniently delivered to your inbox each morning
  • Astound your friends with your Texas history prowess
  • Get in-depth looks at some of the overlooked events and landmarks in Texas history
  • Discover new places to explore in the Lone Star State
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