African Americans are integral to American music and have created some of the most wonderful and popular music in this country. Eubie Blake was a contemporary of “King of Ragtime” Scott Joplin’s who outlived all of his peers (he died in 1983, 60 years after Joplin). He had massive hands which could stretch a “twelfth” on the piano, meaning he could simultaneously play notes that were an octave-and-a-half apart (most pianists can only reach an octave, or about 2/3 of what Eubie could reach). He was completely self-taught and couldn’t read or write music when he started out. He was known for giving hilarious concerts where he would talk about his music or tell other stories while he performed. Here he is, talking about and performing The Charleston Rag, his best known piece. It wasn’t originally called The Charleston Rag, he changed the name to capitalize on the Charleston dance craze (the one you may have seen clips of, where flappers bend forward and wave their hands rapidly in front of their knees). His music is all fun and virtuosic -

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