Johnson, J. Rosamond (John Rosamond), 1873-1954

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American composer and singer, brother of James Weldon Johnson, known for composing the music to "Lift every voice and sing" for which his brother wrote the lyrics.

From the description of Letter of J. Rosamond Johnson to A.J. Hanna, 1944 February 20. (University of Virginia). WorldCat record id: 70259141

Black American composer, singer, and stage performer.

From the description of The J. Rosamond Johnson papers, 1879-1975 (inclusive). (Yale University). WorldCat record id: 702190373

From the description of The John Rosamond Johnson papers, 1879-1975 (inclusive). (Yale University). WorldCat record id: 122548810

John Rosamond Johnson was born in Jacksonville, Florida, on August 11, 1873. He was a composer, pianist, actor, singer, lyricist, author, and educator. Rosamond began playing the piano at the age of four under the tutelage of his mother, Helen Louise Dillet Johnson. His musical training continued with enrollment at the New England Conservatory of Music and with special instruction in piano, organ, composition, and voice. He studied piano with Charles Dennée and Mme. Dietrich Strong, organ with George Whiting, harmony with Carl Reissman and Davenport Kerrison, and voice with William and Clarence B. Ashenden. He also received an honorary M.A. from Atlanta University in 1917.

Rosamond collaborated with his brother James Weldon Johnson and with Bob Cole on more than 200 songs during their seven years of existence as the Cole and Johnson Brothers. Songs such as "Under the Bamboo Tree," "The Maiden with the Dreamy Eyes," "Congo Love Song," and "My Castle on the Nile," were interpolated into several shows and sung by such people as Bert Williams, Anna Held, Marie Cahill, and Lillian Russell. Rosamond and his brother James Weldon composed and wrote the lyrics to "Lift Every Voice and Sing," considered to be the "black national anthem." Rosamond is also the author of two books containing his arrangements of spirituals, which he popularized in his recitals with Taylor Gordon in 1925/1926.

Rosamond appeared in vaudeville with various circuits, and in 1933 he, as well as W.C. Handy, returned in Joe Laurie, Jr.'s, "Memory Lane" review. His acting career sky-rocketed in the 30s and 40s with roles in Porgy and Bess, Mamba's Daughters, Cabin in the Sky, and A Young American .

Johnson held two administrative positions in educational institutions. He was Supervisor of Music in the Jacksonville public schools from 1896 to 1898 and was the Music Director and a trustee at the Music School Settlement for Colored People in New York from 1914 to 1918.

  • 1873: Born 1873 August 11
  • 1877: Piano lessons with mothe begin
  • 1890: To New England Conservatory, Boston
  • 1896: In Oriental America
  • 1896: Supervisor of Music, Jacksonville public schools, 1896-1899
  • 1900: Writes "Lift Ev'ry Voice and Sing" with brother James Weldon, while in Jacksonville.
  • 1901: Cole and Johnson Bros. formed, 1901-1908
  • 1902: "Under the bamboo tree"
  • 1903: Evolution of Ragtime
  • 1904: Campaign song for Roosevelt, "You're all right Teddy"
  • 1906: Shoo-fly Regiment
  • 1906: James Weldon Johnson becomes U.S. consul at Puerto Cabello, Venezuela.
  • 1909: Mr. Lode of Koal with Bert Williams
  • 1910: Bob Cole drowns, suicide?
  • 1912: In the vaudevill circuit with Charles Hart
  • 1912: Director of Oscar Hammerstein's London Opera House
  • 1913: Married to Nora Ethel Floyd
  • 1914: ASCAP formed; 170 members, 6 were black. Rosamond and his brother Jim were among those 6
  • 1914: Returns to the U.S.A. to the New Standard Theatre in Philadelphia
  • 1914: Music Director and trustee at the Music School Settlement for Colored People in New York, 1914-1918
  • 1917: Back with the Orpheum and Keith circuits with the "Rosamond Johnson Quintet"
  • 1918: Becomes 2nd Lieutnant, 15th Infantry, National Guard
  • 1921: Made sub-chief of the Iroquois at Caughawaga, Province of Quebec, Canada
  • 1925: The Book of American Negro Spirituals
  • 1925: Toured with Taylor Gordon, 1925-1926
  • 1926: The Second Book of American Negro Spirituals
  • 1929: Jazz, motion picture including the John Rosamond Johnson Singers
  • 1933: Joe Laurie, Jr.'s, "Memory Lane" review
  • 1935: Plays Lawyer Frazier in Porgy and Bess
  • 1936: Lew Leslie's Blackbirds review, Great Britan tour, 1936-1937
  • 1937: Rolling Along in Song
  • 1939: Plays the Reverend Quintus Whaley in Mamba's Daughters, 1939-1941
  • 1940: Plays Brother Green and directs the J. Rosamond Johnson Singers in Cabin in the Sky
  • 1942: Plays Lawyer Frazier in Porgy and Bess, 1942-1943
  • 1946: Plays Prof. Arnold Harmon in A Young American
  • 1954: Dies 1954 November 11

From the guide to the The J. Rosamond Johnson Papers, 1879-1975 (inclusive), (Irving S. Gilmore Music Library, Yale University)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Johnson, J. Rosamond (John Rosamond), 1873-1954. You's sweet to yo' mammy jes the same / words by James W. Johnson ; music by J. Rosamund [sic] Johnson. New York Public Library System, NYPL
creatorOf Johnson, J. Rosamond (John Rosamond), 1873-1954. Oh, I want two wings : Negro spiritual / arranged for mixed voices, J. Rosamond Johnson. Library of Congress
creatorOf Johnson, J. Rosamond (John Rosamond), 1873-1954. Done foun' my los' sheep. University of Pennsylvania Libraries, Van Pelt Library
creatorOf Berlin, Irving, 1888-1989. Rare sheet music collection, 1896-1926. Bowie State University, Thurgood Marshall Library
referencedIn Johnson, James Weldon, 1871-1938. James Weldon Johnson collection, 1886-1980 (bulk 1916-1930). Emory University Library, Special Collect Department
creatorOf Johnson, J. Rosamond (John Rosamond), 1873-1954. Letter of J. Rosamond Johnson to A.J. Hanna, 1944 February 20. University of Virginia. Library
creatorOf Johnson, J. Rosamond (John Rosamond), 1873-1954. Stan' still Jordan : American Negro spiritual / arranged by J. Rosamond Johnson. Library of Congress
referencedIn The J. Rosamond Johnson Papers, 1879-1975 (inclusive) Irving S. Gilmore Music Library, Yale University
referencedIn Memorial Library of Music collection Stanford University. Libraries. Dept. of Special Collections and University Archives.
creatorOf Johnson, J. Rosamond (John Rosamond), 1873-1954. Shadow girl / lyrics by Myles McCarthy ; music by J. Rosamond Johnson. Library of Congress
referencedIn Musical composers. African American Sheet Music Collection, 1879-1940 University of Texas Libraries, University of Texas Libraries
creatorOf The J. Rosamond Johnson Papers, 1879-1975 (inclusive) Irving S. Gilmore Music Library, Yale University
creatorOf Van Vechten, Carl, 1880-1964,. George Gershwin memorial collection of music and musical literature, [19--]-1947. Lincoln Memorial University Library, Carnegie-Vincent Library
referencedIn Cuney-Hare, Maud, 1874-1936. Maud Cuney-Hare collection, 1900-1936. Atlanta University Center, Robert W. Woodruff Library
referencedIn African American Sheet Music Collection 2002-063, 2002-264., 1879-1940 Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin .
creatorOf Johnson, J. Rosamond (John Rosamond), 1873-1954. Walk right in an' set down / adapted and arranged from an old Negro spiritual for mixed voices by J. Rosamond Johnson. Library of Congress
creatorOf Roberts, Eugene Percy, 1868-1953. Eugene Percy Roberts papers, 1912-1917. New York Public Library System, NYPL
referencedIn Eugene Percy Roberts papers, 1912-1917 The New York Public Library. Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Manuscripts, Archives and Rare Books Division.
creatorOf Johnson, J. Rosamond (John Rosamond), 1873-1954. Done foun' my los' sheep : Negro spiritual / Rosamund Johnson. University of Pennsylvania Libraries, Van Pelt Library
creatorOf Johnson, J. Rosamond (John Rosamond), 1873-1954. Yours sincerely / words and music by J. Rosamond Johnson. Library of Congress
creatorOf Johnson, J. Rosamond (John Rosamond), 1873-1954. The J. Rosamond Johnson papers, 1879-1975 (inclusive). Yale University, Music Library
creatorOf Johnson, J. Rosamond (John Rosamond), 1873-1954. Done foun' my los' sheep / Rosamond Johnson. University of Pennsylvania Libraries, Van Pelt Library
creatorOf Johnson, J. Rosamond (John Rosamond), 1873-1954. Now let me fly : Negro spiritual / arranged for mixed voices by J. Rosamond Johnson. Library of Congress
referencedIn Frederick Wagner autograph collection, 1917-1961. Harvard Theatre Collection, Houghton Library, Harvard College Library, Harvard University.
referencedIn Alexander, E. R. (Ernest Raymond), 1892-1960. Alexander collection of sheet music, [undated]. Lincoln Memorial University Library, Carnegie-Vincent Library
referencedIn James Weldon Johnson and Grace Nail Johnson papers, circa 1850-2005, 1900-1976 Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
creatorOf Johnson, James Weldon, 1871-1938. James Weldon Johnson papers, 1899-1952. Lincoln Memorial University Library, Carnegie-Vincent Library
creatorOf Johnson, J. Rosamond (John Rosamond), 1873-1954. A little bit of love / words and music by J. Rosamond Johnson. Library of Congress
referencedIn American Vaudeville Museum collection, 1845-2007, (bulk 1910-1940) University of Arizona Libraries, Special Collections
creatorOf Johnson, J. Rosamond (John Rosamond), 1873-1954. Southland / J. Rosamond Johnson. University of Michigan
creatorOf Johnson, J. Rosamond (John Rosamond), 1873-1954. Wade in the water : Negro spiritual / arranged for mixed voices by J. Rosamond Johnson. Library of Congress
referencedIn Johnson, J. Rosamond (John Rosamond), 1873-1954. Southland / J. Rosamond Johnson. University of Michigan
creatorOf Johnson, J. Rosamond (John Rosamond), 1873-1954. The John Rosamond Johnson papers, 1879-1975 (inclusive). Yale University, Music Library
referencedIn African-American related sheet music and sheet music written by African-Americans, 1851-1974 Stanford University. Department of Special Collections and University Archives
creatorOf Johnson, J. Rosamond (John Rosamond), 1873-1954. See can't you jump for joy / adapted and arranged from an old Negro spiritual for mixed voices by J. Rosamond Johnson. Library of Congress
referencedIn Johnson, James Weldon, 1871-1938. James Weldon Johnson and Grace Nail Johnson papers, circa 1850-2005 (bulk 1900-1976). Yale University, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
Role Title Holding Repository
Direct Relationships
Relation Name
associatedWith Accooe, Will. person
associatedWith Acheson, Dean, 1893-1971. person
associatedWith Alexander, E. R. (Ernest Raymond), 1892-1960. person
associatedWith American Museum of Vaudeville corporateBody
associatedWith Bemis, Connie and Muse, Clarence. person
associatedWith Bispham, David Scull, 1857-1921. person
associatedWith Burleigh, H. T. (Harry Thacker), 1866-1949. person
associatedWith Cole, Bob, 1863-1911 person
associatedWith Cole, Bob, 1883-1911 person
associatedWith Cullen, Frank, 1936- person
associatedWith Cuney-Hare, Maud, 1874-1936. person
associatedWith Danfield, James. person
associatedWith Dennée, Charles Frederick, 1863-1946. person
associatedWith Duke, Vernon, 1903-1969. person
associatedWith Ellington, Duke, 1899-1974. person
associatedWith Excell, E. O. person
associatedWith Foster, Stephen Collins, 1826-1864 person
associatedWith Gershwin, George, 1898-1937 person
associatedWith Greer, Jesse. person
associatedWith Handy, W. C. (William Christopher), 1873-1958. person
associatedWith Hanna, Alfred Jackson, 1893- person
associatedWith Havez, Jean C. person
associatedWith Johnson, Helen A. person
associatedWith Johnson, James Weldon, 1871-1938. person
associatedWith Johnson, James Weldon, 1871-1938xMusical settings. person
associatedWith Johnson, J. Rosamond (James Rosamond), 1873-1954 person
associatedWith Johnson, Nora Ethel. person
associatedWith Johnson, Nora Ethel. person
associatedWith Keating, George T., b. 1892 person
associatedWith La Guardia, Fiorello H. (Fiorello Henry), 1882-1947. person
associatedWith Marshall, Thurgood, 1908-1993. person
associatedWith Martel de Janville, Sibylle Gabrielle Marie Antoinette de Riquette de Mirabeau, comtesse de, 1850- person
associatedWith Maugham, W. Somerset (William Somerset), 1874-1965. person
associatedWith McCarthy, Myles. person
associatedWith McDonald, Rev. W. and Hartsough, Rev. L. Beulah person
associatedWith McNeilly, Donald, 1945- person
associatedWith Mercer, Johnny, 1909- person
associatedWith Mercer, Johnny, 1909-1976. person
associatedWith Meyers, Ross. person
associatedWith Moses, Robert, 1888- person
associatedWith Muse, Clarence. person
associatedWith Musical composers person
associatedWith Musical composers person
associatedWith Noble, Gilbert Clifford. person
associatedWith Razaf, Andy. person
associatedWith Rimskii-Korsakov, Nicolai Andreevich, 1844-1908 person
associatedWith Roberts, Eugene Percy, 1868-1953. person
associatedWith Robeson, Paul, 1898-1976. person
associatedWith Robinson, Bill, 1878-1949. person
associatedWith Romberg, Sigmund, 1887-1951. person
associatedWith Sayers, W. C. Berwick, 1881- person
associatedWith Sullivan, Arthur, Sir, 1842-1900 person
associatedWith Vallée, Rudy, 1901- person
associatedWith Vallée, Rudy, 1901-1986. person
associatedWith Van Vechten, Carl, 1880-1964, person
associatedWith Verdi, Giuseppe, 1813-1901 person
associatedWith Wagner, Frederick, collector. person
associatedWith Waters, Ethel, 1896-1977. person
Place Name Admin Code Country
United States
United States
Subject
Musicals--Excerpts
Music--20th century
African American composers--Correspondence
Music--United States--19th century
Afro--American composers--Correspondence
Vaudeville--United States
African Americans--Music
Vaudeville
Popular music--1921-1930
Songs
Music--United States--20th century
Afro--American composers--Diaries
Spirituals (Songs)
Music--19th century
Music--Manuscripts
African American composers--Diaries
Songs (medium voice) with piano
Songs (High voice) with piano
Musical revues, comedies, etc.--Excerpts
Occupation
Arrangers
Function

Person

Birth 1873-08-11

Death 1954-11-11

Americans

English

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