We continue our American Popular song series, with a program about composer Will Marion Cook. He was born in 1869 and was part of the first generation born after slavery. Cook was one of the innovators of ragtime song, and helped introduce ragtime to Broadway. Cook wrote In Dahomey the first full-length broadway musical written and performed by African Americans. It opened on Broadway in 1903. Some of Cook's songs reflect the racial stereotypes and dialect of the time.
In this program we hear selections of his music performed by singers Vernel Bagneris and Terry Burrell, and pianist Dick Hyman. We also hear from Marva Carter who is writing a biography of Cook. She is the director of Graduate Studies at the School of Music at Georgia State University.
Conductor Maurice Peress. He specializes in reconstructing historic American concerts. He’s worked with Ellington and Bernstein, and is the author of the forthcoming book, “Living With American Music: Dvorak to Duke Ellington.”
Performances continue and we hear from Tom Riis who compiled and edited a book containing the complete score of “In Dahomey.” Riis directs the American Music Research Center at the University of Colorado and is the author of “Just Before Jazz.”