Rhapsody in Black

Singer Paul Robeson risked it all for social change

American singer, actor, political activist and civil rights campaigner Paul Robeson rehearses at a piano.Getty

Rhapsody in Black - Paul Robeson


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May 12, 2022

Singer Paul Robeson had a commanding presence at over 6 feet tall. It was only overshadowed by his intense bass voice that led him to popularity. He had a successful career as an actor, singer and Socialist activist. As America’s relationship with the Soviet Union turned sour after World War II; Robeson’s career was ruined because of political scandals.

Robeson was most famous for his popularization of Negro spirituals — often used to describe spirituals that stem from the slavery era — and theatrical performances. Here is his smooth voice singing ‘Ol' Man River’ from the musical Show Boat.

Ol' Man River (Remastered) · Paul Robeson


Host: Tesfa Wondemagegnehu

Producer: Dan Nass

Writers: Andrea Blain and Scott Blankenship

Executive Producer: Julie Amacher