Biography of Famous Popular Musician Paul Robeson Part 1

About the famous popular musician Paul Robeson, history and biography of the artist.

Paul Robeson (1898- ). Paul Robeson is a Renaissance man born too late for the actual Renaissance, and too soon for his own country's recognition of the black race.

His father was an ex-slave turned minister. His mother was a schoolteacher. Paul was the youngest of 5 children. Born in Princeton, N.J., he was an honor student at Somerville High School. Additionally, he played football, sang in the glee club, and was top man on the debating team.

It was all preparation for his 4-year scholarship in 1915 to Rutgers College in New Brunswick, N.J. His achievements there included his being named an All-American football player and becoming a 4-letter man about whom sportswriters waxed lyrical, describing him as "the colored giant" or "the dark cloud."

He went on to receive his LL.D. from Columbia University Law School, and then went through an identity crisis. He was undecided whether to be a minister, singer, actor, or lawyer. He combined all those talents when, in 1924, in addition to having accepted a position with a firm, he spent an evening in Greenwich Village singing spirituals with the famous musical arranger Lawrence Brown.

The chance get-together resulted in a series of concert tours being booked for Robeson. In 1925, he went to England to star in Emperor Jones. One musical followed another in the U.S. and abroad. He scored one of his greatest triumphs in 1928, when he opened in Jerome Kern's Showboat at the Drury Lane Theatre in London. When that powerfully pervading basso voice finished the final bars of "Ol' Man River," London was his.

By the 1930s, his repertoire included songs in 25 languages. His inquiring legalistic mind was to lead him into problems unheard of to most blacks. Robeson publicly embraced the warmth that greeted him in the U.S.S.R. He said he regarded the Soviet Union as his 2nd motherland. He also announced that he preferred living in London, because he encountered no racial prejudice there. This did not endear him to Americans who accepted him as an artist but not as a human being.

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