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The Hall Johnson Choir

Biography

The Hall Johnson Choir is in charge of lots of the greatest choir performances on stage and display screen within the ’30s and ’40s. The group was shaped by Hall Johnson — arranger, composer, article writer, and multi-instrumentalist — to be able to demonstrate the initial sense of tempo and strength that Afro-American lifestyle could provide to a musical efficiency, an element he felt have been previously disregarded by vocal groupings utilizing so what can greatest be referred to as regular white barbershop tranquility. Johnson appears to have attained nothing but achievement in this enterprise, the choir offering climactic occasions in Hollywood’s best-known black-oriented movies from this period, such as for example Cabin in the Sky. Certainly, nevertheless, the choir’s largest viewers has ended up being children, and not simply the ones who have been around once the group was dynamic. The Hall Johnson Choir perform in well-known segments from many of Walt Disney’s cartoon classics through the ’40s, Dumbo and Track from the South. Ironically, the group’s figures in these movies have already been criticized to be demeaning to blacks, a knee-jerk response that inevitably entails passing up on more complex levels of meaning within these sections. Many viewers, for instance, lose out on in-jokes such as for example white vocalist Cliff Edwards — another Disney regular well-known for his Jiminy Cricket characterization — playing a parrot sarcastically called Jim Crow in his moments using the choir, moments where Edwards was the only real white performer included. Looming large on the whole Disney scenario may be the presumption that this proud, highly smart Johnson wouldn’t normally have been ready to endure overt racist content material. His choir originally began as an octet, the Harlem Jubilee Performers, then extended into that which was at first known as the Hall Johnson Negro Choir in nov 1925. The group started documenting for RCA Victor 3 years later on, quickly shifting onto Broadway using a collection of spirituals arranged into a display entitled The Green Pastures, accompanied by a Johnson creation entitled Run Small Chillun in 1933. Within the ’40s Johnson also got an additional, relatively extended choir, the Celebration Negro Chorus of NY. The last main activity relating to the Hall Johnson Choir occurred in the first ’50s, once the group was chosen by the STATE DEPT. for a global festival of great arts kept in Berlin, accompanied by a lengthy Western european tour.

Quick Facts


Died April 30, 1970, New York City, New York, United States
Profession Composer
Education Juilliard School
Nationality American
Music Songs When I See An Elephant Fly, Dumbo: When I See an Elephant Fly, Pink Elephants, Lazy Moon, Let the Rain Pour Down, The Flight Test / When I See An Elephant Fly, Overture: Dumbo Opening Theme, Dumbo's Triumph / Making History / Finale, Save My Child / The Threshold Of Success, Little Black Sheep, Dumbo and Timothy, I'm Gonna Lay Down This Heavy Load, When I See Elephant Fly, Joshua Fit De Battle of Jericho, Ezekiel Saw De Wheel/Swing Low, Sweet Chariot/Keep Yo' Hand On The Plow, Hold On, Great Camp Meeting in the Promised Land, St. Louis Blues, I Just Can't Stay Here by Myself, Water Boy, Shout All over God's Heaven, St James Infirmary Blues; Eastman, Go Down, Moses, Let the Church Roll On, Run on Down to the Jordan River, Good News; Standing in De Need of Prayer; Religion Is a Fortune, Old ship of Zion, I've Heard of a City Called Heaven, Shine, Shine, Lord I Can Ride, Medley: Casey Junior|Song Of The Roustabouts, All I Want
Albums Water Boy, The Best from Dumbo, Lord I Can Ride
Movies In Old Missouri


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Actor

Actor

TitleYearStatusCharacter
The Colgate Comedy Hour 1953 TV Series
The Peanut Man 1947
Cabin in the Sky 1943 Church Choir (as The Hall Johnson Choir)
Heart of the Golden West 1942 Choir
Tales of Manhattan 1942 Offscreen Singers (Robeson sequence) (as The Hall Johnson Choir)
Syncopation 1942 Vocal Ensemble
Lady for a Night 1942 Singers (as The Hall Johnson Choir)
Dumbo 1941 Choral Sounds (uncredited)
Road to Zanzibar 1941 uncredited
Meet John Doe 1941
In Old Missouri 1940 Choir Singers (uncredited)
Swanee River 1939 Musical Ensemble
Way Down South 1939
Zenobia 1939 as The Hall Johnson Choir
St. Louis Blues 1939 Hall Johnson Choir
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs 1937 Finale Chorus (voice, uncredited)
Rainbow on the River 1936 Choral Ensemble
Banjo on My Knee 1936 Vocal Ensemble (as The Hall-Johnson Choir)
Camp Meetin' 1936 Short Musical Ensemble
Dimples 1936 Choir (as The Hall Johnson Choir)
The Green Pastures 1936 Vocal Ensemble
Hearts Divided 1936
Black and Tan 1929 Short Choir
St. Louis Blues 1929 Short Choir

Soundtrack

Soundtrack

TitleYearStatusCharacter
1941 1979 performer: "When I See an Elephant Fly" - uncredited
Song of the South 1946 performer: "Let The Rain Pour Down", "Uncle Remus Said", "All I Want" - uncredited
Heart of the Golden West 1942 performer: "River Robin", "Who's Gonna Help Me Sing?", "Carry Me Back To Old Virginny", "River Chant"
Dumbo 1941 performer: "When I See an Elephant Fly" 1941 - uncredited
Meet John Doe 1941 performer: "THE BATTLE HYMN OF THE REPUBLIC" 1861, "TAKE ME OUT TO THE BALL GAME" 1908, "OH! SUSANNA" 1848, "SILENT NIGHT" 1818, "ODE TO JOY", "Hard Times Come Again No More" 1854 - uncredited
Way Down South 1939 "Nobody Knows De Trouble I've Seen", uncredited / performer: "Good Ground" 1939, "Louisiana" 1939, "Peter, Go Ring Dem Bells" uncredited, "Nobody Pray" uncredited, "Didn't My Lord Deliver Daniel?" uncredited, "Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child" uncredited
Zenobia 1939 performer: "In the Evening by the Moonlight" 1880 - uncredited
My Old Kentucky Home 1938 performer: "My Old Kentucky Home", "Old Black Joe", "Massa's in De Cold Ground"
Banjo on My Knee 1936 performer: "St. Louis Blues" 1914 - uncredited
Dimples 1936 "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot", uncredited / performer: "The Gospel Train", "Dixie-anna" 1936 - uncredited
The Green Pastures 1936 performer: "Have You Got Good Religion Certainly, Lord", "Rise and Shine", "My God Is So High", "In Bright Mansions Above", "I'm So Glad Trouble Don't Last Always", "Dere's No Hiding Place Down Here", "Go Down Moses", "Lord, I Don't Feel Noways Tired", "Joshua Fit de Battle of Jericho", "Hallelujah, King Jesus!" - uncredited
Hearts Divided 1936 performer: "Nobody Knows the Trouble I've Seen" - uncredited
Pardon Us 1931 performer: "Lazy Moon" 1903 - uncredited

Music Department

Music Department

TitleYearStatusCharacter
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs 1937 chorus - uncredited
The Song of a Nation 1936 Short musical settings

Miscellaneous

Miscellaneous

TitleYearStatusCharacter
Lost Horizon 1937 voices

Self

Self

TitleYearStatusCharacter
Mississippi Moods 1937 Themselves
Deep South 1930 Themselves

Archive Footage

Archive Footage

TitleYearStatusCharacter
The Laurel and Hardy Show 1986 TV Series Choir (1986)

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