Eubie Blake was born at 319 Forrest Street in Baltimore, Maryland on Feb 7, 1883, to John Summer Blake and Emily Johnstone. Eubie’s nickname was originally “Hubie” and was soon changed to be “Eubie”.With the encouragement of his mother as a child, Eubie began playing the pump organ. Although he played for the church, he was drawn to the free-flowing musical style of ragtime and would sneak out to play at a nearby brothel “Aggie Shelton’s Bawdy House” at the age of 15. His biggest influence was Jim Europe. He was also educated at New York University where he studied the Schillinger system. In 1945 Blake enrolled in a music program at NYU and graduated at the age of 67.
Eubie toured and played at night clubs in the early 1900’s and in 1907 he started playing at the Golfield Hotel in Baltimore. He established a reputation as a stellar performer and composer. In May 1915, while in Baltimore, Blake met singer and lyricist Noble Sissle. They composed “It’s All Your Fault” which became a smash for vaudeville vocalist Sophic Tucker. During the 1950’s, ragtime once again began to be appreciated by the public and over the years Eubie Blake would be recognized as one of the great living purveyors of the form. He became a regular guest on The Tonight Show during the 70’s he received many award. Blake also collaborated with Andy Razaf on “Memories of You”, Henry Creamer, and other writers, composing more than 350 songs.
He received the Presidential Medal of Honor, and performed until he was in his late 90’s, having composed 350 songs. In 1978, the show “Eubie!” premiered on Broadway, which was a hit musical overview of the pioneers life. Ragtime allowed Africans Amercians to express happiness, and freedom through singing and/or dancing. It also opened doors to other genres for African Americans.On his 100th birthday the Kennedy Center presented the televised “Eubie blake: A Century of Music”, which in 1983 won an Emmy Award. He passed a few days after turning 100 on Feb 12,1983, in Brooklyn, NY
The legendary Eubie Blake has been a great influence during ragtime. Ragtime allowed African Americans to express happiness and freedom through singing and/or dancing. It also opened doors to other genres for African Americans. It is evident that Eubie Blake was very influential and talented through his many accolades that he received for his award winning songs.
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