Paul Robeson

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Date:February 1949

Description:In 1949 Birmingham was host to two performances by American actor, singer and activist, Paul Robeson. Both concerts took place at Birmingham Town Hall and one was organised in conjunction with the Birmingham branch of the British-Soviet Society.

During his appearance on 25th February 1949 Robeson performed a range of material from Old English and Old French songs to Negro folk songs such as 'I got a Home,' Swing low, sweet chariot,' and 'Ezekiel saw de Wheel.' His programme also contained a Hassidic chant. Robeson's choice of songs from many cultures and his proficiency in many languages reflects his passion for humanity, brotherhood and peace.

A review of the concert praised what was claimed to be "one of the most glorious voices ever heard":

"No-one with feeling can remain aloof before such elemental work. One is swept up with the passion of it; it becomes a thing not of the mind but of the heart. The negro folk songs were almost unbearably poignant and a Hassidic chant seemed to contain the eternal questioning of Israel to the God of the race's beginning. It was an experience the memory of which will not soon pass, for one was hearing not only the singer but the missionary." (Birmingham Mail 26/2/1949.)

Most of the archive resources on Paul Robeson are found in libraries in the United States. To access a web-based resource on Paul Robeson click on the link below:


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