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James Hubert “Eubie” Blake Bio

Pianist and composer (1883-1983)

Blake began his career as a piano player in Baltimore clubs at the age of sixteen. In 1915, on the advice of James Reese Europe, the African American leader of the 369th Infantry band, Blake teamed with singer Noble Sissle. The act known as the Dixie Duo performed in vaudeville shows and the pair wrote music together.

Blake and Sissle teamed with Flournoy Miller and Aubrey Lyles in 1921 to write the Broadway musical Shuffle Along. The show ran on Broadway until 1928. It was so popular that there were three separate performance companies touring the United States at the same time.

Teaming with Lew Payton in 1924, Sissle and Blake created In Bamville, renamed The Chocolate Dandies. Returning to the vaudeville stage in 1925, Sissle and Blake toured the United States, Great Britain, and France. Their partnership ended in 1927 when Sissle decided to remain in Europe. After his return to the United States, Blake wrote and produced a number of shows but none were as successful as Shuffle Along or Chocolate Dandies.

James Hubert Eubie Blake Bio

Blake went into semi-retirement and studied formal composition. The Eighty-Six Years of Eubie Blake, recorded in 1969 brought him out of retirement. He founded a record company in 1972 to preserve piano rags and piano music of the 1920s. Eubie!!, a revue style show based on his life, was performed on Broadway in 1978.

Blake received many honorary degrees and awards. In 1981, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.