• J. Rosamond Johnson was born in Jacksonville, Florida, on August 11, 1873. He began playing the piano at age four, studied at the New England Conservatory, and with Samuel Coleridge-Taylor in London. He may have performed in 1896 with Isham Jones' Oriental America show in New York. By the end of the 19th century, Johnson was teaching schoolchildren in the Jacksonville region. Around 1900 Johnson wrote and taught these schoolchildren "Lift Ev'ry Voice and Sing." Its popularity caused it to spread until it became unofficial, then official, Black National Anthem. 

    Johnson moved to New York City in 1900 and plunged into its musical life. After contributing a song to Williams and Walker's Sons of Ham (1900), Johnson teamed up with Robert Cole with whom he began creating a vaudeville act and writing songs, occasionally assisted by his brother James Weldon Johnson. This partnership lasted until Cole's death in 1911. Besides crafting a sophisticated vaudeville style, Cole and Johnson produced two musicals, The Shoo-Fly Regiment (1907) and The Red Moon (1909). 

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