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date: 25 August 2019

Du Bois, Shirley (Lola) Grahamlocked

  • Josephine Wright


(b Indianapolis, IN, 11 Nov, 1896; d Beijing, March 27, 1977). American composer, playwright and biographer. The daughter of a black American minister, she studied the piano, the organ and singing, and directed her father's church choir. In 1921 she married Shadrach T. McCanns, who died three years later, leaving her with two young sons. She went on to study at the Sorbonne (1926), Howard University (1929), Columbia University (1929), Morgan State College (1929–31) and Oberlin College (BA 1934, MA 1935). While at Oberlin she composed the opera Tom-Tom. The first performance (Cleveland, 8 July 1932) featured baritone Jules Bledsoe and, attracted national attention. She taught at Tennessee A & I State College (1935–6) and supervised the Negro Unit of the Chicago Federal Theater (1936–8), for which she composed the opera Little Black Sambo...

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E. Southern: Biographical Dictionary of Afro-American and African Musicians
Oberlin (OH), Oberlin College Conservatory of Music, Conservatory Library