"Ballad For Americans
" (1939) is an American patriotic cantata
with lyrics by John La Touche
and music by Earl Robinson
. Originally titled "The Ballad for Uncle Sam
", it was originally written for a WPA
theatre project called Sing for Your Supper
. Sing For Your Supper opened on April 24, 1939. Congress abolished the Project on June 30, 1939. The “Ballad of Uncle Sam” had been performed 60 times.
Producer Norman Corwin then had Robinson sing “Ballad of Uncle Sam” for the CBS brass. CBS was impressed and hired Paul Robeson
to perform the song. Corwin retitled the song “Ballad for Americans.” Robeson and Robinson rehearsed for a week. On Sunday, November 5, 1939, on the 4:30 pm CBS radio show The Pursuit of Happiness, Robeson sang “Ballad for Americans” (Time, November 20, 1939). Norman Corwin produced and directed, Mark Warnow conducted, Ralph Wilkinson did the orchestration (in Robeson's key), and Lyn Murray handled the chorus. Robeson subsequently began to perform the song, beginning with a repeat on CBS on New Year’s Eve. Robbins Music Corporation published the sheet music.
Victor Records decided to record and release the song. Robinson recommended the American People’s Chorus for the recording and he re-rehearsed them in Robeson’s key. (Robinson had written the song to the key of E.) Nathaniel Shilkret conducted the recording. ... Read More