Paul Robeson Centennial Celebration
Resources About Paul Robeson (1898-1976)


For historical reasons, our goal is to list all recordings by or about Paul Robeson that are currently available. Some of Robeson's early recordings include songs which he would not wish people to hear today; their lyrics make them of interest now only to scholars. Below is a statement about this from Lloyd L. Brown, a friend and coworker of Robeson's, and author of the newly-published biography, The Young Paul Robeson.

As you know, for many years the great voice of Paul Robeson was silenced in our country by political repression and he never once was allowed to appear on television. Happily, during the forthcoming celebration of his centennial, many of Robeson's recordings are being reissued.

However, there are . . . some recordings that Robeson later wished he had never made. These are so-called "darky" songs that were considered as top entertainment in Robeson's early years, a heritage from the time when minstrel shows were a favorite American diversion. . . .

In 1928, in Robeson's first appearance in Show Boat in London, he sang the original lyrics of Ol' Man River: "Niggers all work on the Mississippi, etc." Later, as he developed politically, he would change the lyrics drastically and transform his theme song from a lament into a statement of militant resistance. Seeing himself merely as a performer in the 1920's, Robeson went along with the Jim Crow customs that required Bert Williams, the great Afro-American comedian and Ziegfield Follies star, to appear only in blackface. . . . Along with many traditional and pop songs that Robeson recorded in England were some songs that his later American concert audiences never heard, songs that would be banned now on radio and TV.

As a longtime friend and coworker of Paul Robeson, I am very happy that many of the songs that enchanted his older fans can be heard now by younger people who will marvel at a beautiful voice that was muzzled for so many years in our country.

Over the next months there will be numerous Cds & Tapes added. Many will be from 1950's and 1960's radio recordings. One special prize will be from a unique Robeson concert in the early '50s made with Paul Robeson singing from the state of Washington over the border to 40,000 trade unionist in Canada. The CD will include a 12 minute speach to the audience by Paul Robeson. Another piece will a cleaned up recording of Paul Robeson reciting the Langston Hughes poem Freedom Train -- it's gorgeous!

Most of Robeson's favorite songs are available in choral or vocal solo. Some might be available in sheet music and others only as part of collections.

Keep your ears open for interviews and speeches by Paul Robeson to be added.
Let us know if you make any discoveries of Robeson Audio material.

To find a song, use our song index or use the discography contributed by Norton McColl, collector
For sheet music, try one of the retail dealers we have been able to identify.

Some lyrics can be found in books or in liner notes of recordings. Some possible sources are noted here.
We would welcome information about any additional sources for them.

Pacifica Radio Archive

Below is a unique offering to the Paul Robeson Centennial by Pacifica Radio Archive. If you would like to order cassettes of these historic recordings, call their tape sales department at 800-735-0230.

Other Recordings about Paul Robeson and music he made famous

Recordings featuring Paul Robeson singing

Paul Robeson Centennial Celebration
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