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date: 11 December 2019

Brooks, Shelton (Leroy )locked

  • Sam Dennison
  • , revised by Tim Smolko

Extract

(Leroy )

(b Amesburg, ON, May 4, 1886; d Los Angeles, CA, Sept 6, 1975). Songwriter, pianist, and vaudeville entertainer of Canadian birth. He grew up in Detroit, where he taught himself music. For nearly half a century he toured the United States and Canada as an entertainer; he visited Europe with Lew Leslie’s Blackbirds of 1923 and appeared in a command performance for King George V and Queen Mary. Later he was a member of Ken Murray’s successful revue Blackouts (1949). Although he never learned to read music, in the years around World War I he wrote a number of songs popularized by artists such as Sophie Tucker, Al Jolson, Mae West, Benny Goodman, and Ella Fitzgerald, including the highly successful “Some of these Days” (1910) and “Darktown Strutters’ Ball” (1917). The brash, often sexually suggestive style of these songs appealed to an age looking for relief from the stuffiness of Victorian morality. Although many of his early works fit the mold of coon and minstrel songs, his later work breaks free from these genres. Brooks continued to compose songs until late in life, and long after the demand for his particular type of song had disappeared; by the time of his death he was almost completely forgotten as one of the most innovative and original songwriters of the early part of the century....

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Journal of the Society for American Music
E. Southern: Biographical Dictionary of Afro-American and African Musicians