Sterling Brown

Sterling Brown: "Stray Notes on Jazz"

IN 1916 the Victor Company offered a recording contract to the Original Creole Band, a group of New Orleans Negroes which for five years had been touring the country, playing the new "jazz" from Los Angeles to Coney Island. The leader, Freddie Keppard, rejected the offer: "We won't put our stuff on records for everybody to steal." His suspicion was costly. A white band from New Orleans, the Original Dixieland Jass [sic] Band, had just come to New York and was dazzling crowds at Reisenweber’s Cafe. They jumped at the chance to record, and their records sold by the millions.

From Vassar Brew (1946). NOTE: For a further selection of Brown's prose, see Sanders, Mark A. (ed.) A Son's Return: Selected Essays of Sterling A. Brown. Boston, Northeastern UP.

Sterling Brown: "Negro Folk Expression: Spirituals, Seculars, Ballads and Work Songs"

THE SPIRITUALS

THOMAS WENTWORTH HIGGINSON, one of the very first to pay respectful attention to the Negro spiritual; called it a startling flower growing in dark soil. Using his figure, we might think of this flower as a hybrid, as the American Negro is a hybrid. And though flowers of its family grew in Africa, Europe, and other parts of America, this hybrid bloom is uniquely beautiful.

From Phylon (Winter 1953). NOTE: For a further selection of Brown's prose, see Sanders, Mark A. (ed.) A Son's Return: Selected Essays of Sterling A. Brown. Boston, Northeastern UP.