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Jules Bledsoe

Biography: 

(1898-1943)

One of the great baritones of the early 20th century, Texan Jules Belsoe had a voice that earned him entrance to several institutions of higher education. He emerged in black colleges: Bishop College in Texas and Union in Virginia, before matriculating as a graduate student at Columbia University in New York City. He debuted on Broadway at the moment when black artists had a cachet. In 1926, he appeared in Frank Harling's operetta "Deep River" and became the first Joe in Jerome Kern's "Show Boat."

For ten years he had a career in film shorts and theater. But his dramaturgical presence never matched the elegance of his voice. A discontent with the racism of American theater brought him to London in the early 1930s, and his best recorded performances date from his London theatrical life in the mid-1930s. David S. Shields/ALS