America's first important and enduring Black artist, a popular stage performer who was also a successful, influential songwriter.
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Bert Williams Biography

by AllMusic

b. 12 November 1874, New Providence, Nassau, Bahamas, d. 5 March 1922. After moving to the USA, Williams worked in vaudeville with moderate success. In 1898 he teamed up with George W. Walker, and the two song and dance men became a success in New York City in the show In Dahomey, and also toured overseas. When Walker died in 1907, Williams continued on his own. In 1913 he met impresario Florenz Ziegfeld, who saw his act at the Lafayette in Harlem and was so impressed that he brought Williams into his Ziegfeld Follies. Williams appeared in every Follies until 1920, featuring such songs as ‘You Ain’t So Warm!’ and ‘Nobody’, a number with which he became indelibly identified. Despite his great popularity in these shows, Williams was still subjected to severe racial discrimination; on a mundane if wounding level, he could not buy a drink in the bar of the theatre he helped to fill every night. In March 1922, Williams was onstage at the Shubert-Garrick Theatre in Detroit, in a performance of Under The Bamboo Tree, when he collapsed and died as a result of pneumonia. He was greatly admired by W.C. Fields, Duke Ellington and Jelly Roll Morton and his work was finally made available on an album in 2005.

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