Jules Bledsoe (Julius Lorenzo Cobb Bledsoe, 1897-1943), was an operatic baritone, one of the first African Americans to gain acclaim on the American stage. Much like Paul Robeson, in addition to having been a trained singer, he was also distinguished academically in other subjects. He was his class valedictorian at Bishop College in 1918; he studied medicine at Columbia University from 1920 to 1924. Sol Hurok presented him in his first professional concert at Aeolian Hall in 1924. While he went on to star in operas like Aida and Boris Godunov, he is best known for having been the first “Joe” in the original 1927 production of Show Boat. Like many big stars of the 20s, he also played big time vaudeville, including the Palace.
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