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The Product of Our SoulsRagtime, Race, and the Birth of the Manhattan Musical Marketplace$
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David Gilbert

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9781469622699

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: January 2016

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469622699.001.0001

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To Promote Greater Efficiency among its Members

To Promote Greater Efficiency among its Members

Ragtime in Times Square and the Clef Club Inc.

(p.132) Chapter Five To Promote Greater Efficiency among its Members
The Product of Our Souls

David Gilbert

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter tells the story of James Reese Europe and his struggles to find a niche as a musician in Jim Crow New York. As his professional opportunities expanded, he would eventually instigate a revolution in both the professional and cultural values of black musicians in New York. The Clef Club Inc., New York's first labor union and booking agency for black ragtime musicians, represented Europe's efforts to raise the value of African American entertainers and their arts. His Clef Club filled the gap left behind by his predecessors in the Hotel Marshall community. Furthermore, his focus on ragtime and other musical indications of blackness had reinforced black modernity and progress, even as the very nature of black music would continue to reinforce notions of black primitiveness in the ears of the whites.

Keywords:   James Reese Europe, Clef Club Inc., ragtime musicians, black modernity, labor union

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