Eubie Blake

Eubie Blake was born in Baltimore, Maryland on February 7, 1883. Blake started playing the pump organ at age four or five. Blake’s parents noticed his passion for music and signed him up to take piano lessons with a local teacher. Blake began to take a keen interest in ragtime at age 15 and his mother was not pleased. He began his professional career in music by playing the ragtime piano at Baltimore brothels, bars, and honky-tonks, against his mother’s wishes. Later, he played in clubs and saloons. Blake’s work helped him meet some of the most important musicians of that era. Noble Sissle would become his partner. They met in 1915. Sissle was a singer in Blake’s band. Noble Sissle, Eubie Blake and Eubie Sacks created the Dixie Duo, a vaudeville group. They composed songs and performed. Their first song, “It’s All Your Fault,” was performed by Sophie Tucker. It became a huge hit. Blake and Sissle joined forces with another duo to form Shuffle Along. Josephine Baker, Florence Mills, and Paul Robeson were part of the Broadway all-star cast. Shuffle Along is home to many of Blake’s most beloved songs, including “I’m Just Wild about Harry” (above) and “Love Will Find a Way” (below). It was so popular that it was performed by three different touring companies in 1921. Blake and Sissle worked together to create Elsie and Chocolate Dandies after Shuffle Along was a success. Blake also created shows, including Swing It and Blackbirds. Eubie Blake then took a 23-year break from the show business after ragtime lost its popularity. He returned to show business in 1969 at the age 56. Blake traveled the globe playing the piano and giving lectures about ragtime music. He released an album called “The Fifty-six Years of Blake” and started his own company. Eubie Blake, who died in Brooklyn, New York, just over 100 years after his death, was born on February 12, 1983. from

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