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    Jun 9

    Written by: Michael Dalby 6/9/2011 11:43 AM 

    In 1948, Harry S. Truman picked the song I’m Just Wild About Harry as his campaign theme. The song was composed by Eubie Blake and lyrics by Noble Sissle for the musical Shuffle Along.  I’m Just Wild About Harry was the most popular song from the play.  Recognized as a foxtrot, the song was ground breaking because it features an African-American woman singing a song professing love towards an African-American man, this was a taboo in theater.

    The entire musical Shuffle Along was revolutionary in and of itself. This was the first time that an African-American review featured an entire cast of African-Americans in a major successful play on Broadway. It proved that a review of this nature, went beyond the stereotypical burlesque or minstrel roles could be bankable. Even though the subject matter and some of the content of the play would not necessarily appeal to a wide audience today, Shuffle Along filled seats with diverse audience of theater goers.  

    During it’s long run such performers as Josephine Baker, Florence Mills, Paul Robeson, Adelaide Hall,  William Grant Still (the first African-American to conduct a major American symphony orchestra, in addition to being the first to have a symphony of his own) and musical arranger Hall Johnson got their start in this play. I’m Just Wild About Harry became a standard. The song has been performed by everyone from Al Jolson, Paul Whiteman, Judy Garland and Carmen Miranda.

    As part of the historic Eyman sheet music collection, the Special Collections Department of the Cleveland Public Library has a copy of the sheet music. Contact  for more information.


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