Scott Joplin
Black Facts in Wax:

Scott Joplin fought a lifelong campaign to have ragtime\e music accepted by the American public.  Born in Texas in 1868, Joplin showed enormous musical talent at an early age.  When he was 20 years old, he began to tour the Midwest, demonstrating his command of the piano whenever he could fine work.  He was especially adept at writing and playing ragtime music, a predecessor of jazz, which features a strong syncopation in its jaunty, African-based rhythms.

Before Joplin came along, ragtime music was regarded as low class and unrefined, partly because it had been developed by Blacks and partly because it was played only in saloons and brothels, where it was often accompanied by bawdy lyrics. 


After Joplin became one of the first black composers to get his rags published, his compositions–such as “Maple Leaf Rag” and “The Entertainer”–helped ragtime to attain national prominence, however briefly, in the early 1900s.

Joplin himself never achieved widespread recognition in his own lifetime.  But shortly after ragtime underwent a popular revival in the 1970s, he was posthumously awarded the prestigious Pulitzer Prize for his opera Treemonisha–a resounding tribute to a composer who dedicated his life so completely to music.

Taken from the book Notable Black Americans of Achievement: SCOTT JOPLIN, Grolier Inc., 1988