Waco native Julius Bledsoe was among the first African Americans to appear on Broadway. The baritone who first performed the song “Ol’ Man River” in the classic musical Show Boat was once described as “a singer who can pick the heart right out your body­­—if you don’t look out." Bledsoe was a composer as well. His song cycle African Suite premiered in Amsterdam in 1936, and he wrote an opera based on the novel Uncle Tom's Cabin. Bledsoe died in 1943; his tombstone is inscribed with a line from the song that made him a star—"He just keeps rollin' along." More»

Texas Originals is also available on iTunes! Subscribe to the podcast today to download all episodes that have aired to date and to automatically receive future episodes.

Portrait of Julius Bledsoe. Courtesy of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission.