Sissle’s early career was spent largely in vaudeville as a singer, and he also sang with the orchestra of James Reese Europe. However, his talents as a songwriter gradually drew him to Broadway where, in collaboration with Eubie Blake, he achieved a major breakthrough. Before Sissle and Blake, it was rare for a black entertainer to gain acceptance along the “Great White Way,” but the success of their 1921 show, “Shuffle Along,” changed all that. “Shuffle Along” starred Florence Mills, and among its memorable tunes were “In Honeysuckle Time,” “Love Will Find a Way,” and the hit of the show, “I’m Just Wild About Harry.”
- "The Chocolate Dandies"
- "Harlem Cavalcade"
- "Shuffle Along"
- Eubie Blake
- George Gershwin
- George White
In this and succeeding shows, such as “Chocolate Dandies,” the collaborators presented a succession of songs, dances, and sketches that were attuned to the new musical sounds of the day — unlike most other Broadway shows, which, also performed by all-black casts, had ignored ragtime and the emergence of jazz. In these and later years Sissle led a number of fine orchestras that featured some of the best musicians available, among them Sidney Bechet, Otto “Toby” Hardwicke, Tommy Ladnier, and Buster Bailey. In the late ’20s Sissle led a band in Paris and London and during the ’30s led successful bands in New York and elsewhere in the USA. He continued touring during the ’40s and ’50s but gradually directed his attention to music publishing.
REMINISCING WITH NOBLE SISSLE AND EUBIE BLAKE, Robert Kimball and William Bolcom.
Source: Biographical information provided by MUZE. Excerpted from the ENCYCLOPEDIA OF POPULAR MUSIC, edited by Colin Larkin. © 2004 MUZE UK Ltd.
Photo credits: Photofest