Al Jolson

~ Person

Wikipedia

Al Jolson (born Asa Yoelson; May 26, c. 1886 – October 23, 1950) was an American singer, film actor, and comedian. At the peak of his career, he was dubbed "The World's Greatest Entertainer".

His performing style was brash and extroverted, and he popularized a large number of songs that benefited from his "shamelessly sentimental, melodramatic approach". Numerous well-known singers were influenced by his music, including Bing Crosby David Bowie, Bob Dylan and others, Dylan once referred to him as "somebody whose life I can feel". Broadway critic Gilbert Seldes compared him to the Greek god Pan, claiming that Jolson represented "the concentration of our national health and gaiety."

In the 1930s he was America's most famous and highest-paid entertainer. Between 1911 and 1928, Jolson had nine sell-out Winter Garden shows in a row, more than 80 hit records, and 16 national and international tours. Although he is best remembered today as the star of the first 'talking picture', The Jazz Singer (1927), he later starred in a series of successful musical films throughout the 1930s. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, he was the first star to entertain troops overseas during World War II. After a period of inactivity, his stardom returned with The Jolson Story (1946). Larry Parks played Jolson, with the singer dubbing for Parks. The formula was repeated in the sequel, Jolson Sings Again (1949). In 1950 he again became the first star to entertain GIs on active service in the Korean War, performing 42 shows in 16 days. He died just weeks after returning to the U.S., partly owing to the physical exertion of performing. Defense Secretary George Marshall afterward awarded the Medal of Merit to Jolson's family.

According to the St. James Encyclopedia of Popular Culture, "Jolson was to jazz, blues, and ragtime what Elvis Presley was to rock 'n' roll." Being the first popular singer to make a spectacular "event" out of singing a song, he became a “rock star” before the dawn of rock music. His specialty was performing on stage runways extending out into the audience. He would run up and down the runway and across the stage, "teasing, cajoling, and thrilling the audience," often stopping to sing to individual members; all the while the "perspiration would be pouring from his face, and the entire audience would get caught up in the ecstasy of his performance." According to music historian Larry Stempel, "No one had heard anything quite like it before on Broadway." Author Stephen Banfield agreed, writing that Jolson's style was "arguably the single most important factor in defining the modern musical...."

He enjoyed performing in blackface makeup, a theatrical convention since the mid 19th century. With his unique and dynamic style of singing black music, such as jazz and blues, he was later credited with single-handedly introducing African-American music to white audiences. As early as 1911 he became known for fighting against black discrimination on Broadway.

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Discography

Album

Year Title Artist Rating Releases
1990 The Man and the Legend Al Jolson 1
Al Jolson - vintage recordings Al Jolson 1
Mammy Al Jolson 1
The Best of Al Jolson Al Jolson 1

Album + Compilation

Year Title Artist Rating Releases
1985 You Ain't Heard Nothin' Yet! Compilation Al Jolson 1
1987 The Jolson Story, Part 2 (Rock-A-Bye Your Baby) Compilation Al Jolson 1
1988 The Singing Fool: His 30 Greatest Hits Compilation Al Jolson 1
1992 The Best of the Decca Years Compilation Al Jolson 1
1993 The Great Al Jolson Compilation Al Jolson 1
1994 Let Me Sing and I'm Happy Compilation Bing Crosby & Al Jolson 1
1996 Let Me Sing and I'm Happy: Al Jolson at Warner Bros. 1926 - 1936 Compilation Al Jolson 1
1996 The Best of Al Jolson Compilation Al Jolson 1
1999 April Showers Compilation Al Jolson 1
2000 Cocktail Hour Compilation Al Jolson 1
2001 20th Century Masters: The Millennium Collection: The Best of Al Jolson Compilation Al Jolson 1
2005 Bing Crosby Meets Al Jolson: The Complete Radio Duets Compilation Bing Crosby & Al Jolson 1
20 Golden Memories Compilation Al Jolson 1
Al Jolson: Duets Compilation Al Jolson 1
American Legends Compilation Al Jolson 1
My Greatest Songs Compilation Al Jolson 1
Super Hits Compilation Al Jolson 1
The Best of Al Jolson Compilation Al Jolson 1
The Best of Al Jolson Compilation Al Jolson 1
The Very Best of Al Jolson Compilation Al Jolson 1
Volume 1: 1911:-1914 Compilation Al Jolson 1

Single

Year Title Artist Rating Releases
1933 Hallelujah, I'm a Bum / You Are Too Beautiful Al Jolson 1
1946 Avalon / Anniversary Song Al Jolson 1
April Showers / Swanee Al Jolson 1
I’m Goin’ South - Fox-trot Song / California (Here I Come) - Fox-trot Song Al Jolson 1
Mr. Radio Man (Tell My Mammy to Come Back Home) / Home in Pasadena Al Jolson 1
My Papa Doesn’t Two-time No Time / Lazy Al Jolson 1
Never Again / Feeling the Way I Do Al Jolson 1
The One I Love (Belongs to Somebody Else) / Steppin’ Out Al Jolson 1
Toot, Toot, Tootsie! / Back in Your Own Back Yard Al Jolson 1

Unspecified type

Year Title Artist Rating Releases
1994 Jolie's Finest Columbia Recordings Al Jolson 1

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