Johnson, J. Rosamond (John Rosamond), 1873-1954Alternative names
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.
From the guide to the The J. Rosamond Johnson Papers, 1879-1975 (inclusive), (Irving S. Gilmore Music Library, Yale University)