In memory of my father who would be 95 today. He loved Paul Robeson and we played Ol’ Man River at Dad’s funeral. I grew up hearing stories about this wonderful man’s life, voice, and commitment to social justice.
This is a fantastic review by Lisa Hill – and here is the cover of one of the records I heard Dad play so often.
There have been some distractions on the domestic front chez moi, so this review may not do this marvellous book justice…
Jeff Sparrow’s biography of Paul Robeson is great reading, even if you have never heard of Paul Robeson. The blurb actually says that Robeson is one of the 20th century’s most accomplished but forgotten figures – but surely not? Could this voice really be forgotten?
His performance of ‘The Song of the Volga Boatman’ is electrifying:
But Paul Robeson, superstar of the early 20th century that he was, was not just an extraordinary bass singer. His father the Reverend William Drew Robeson had been a slave and he was ambitious for his son. He saw to it that Paul transcended the institutional racism all around him under the Jim Crow laws that enforced segregation in America until 1965. Paul became the third ever African-American student at Rutgers University, and he graduated with both academic…
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