Wednesday, April 09, 2008
In memoriam: Paul Robeson
Artists should, as I said a propos of Charlton Heston earlier this week, be judged on the quality of their art, and not on their political beliefs. Sadly, that didn't apply to the great American singer Paul Robeson, born 110 years ago today. It was acceptable for Robeson to sing an English version of the Soviet anthem in 1943, when the Soviet Union was a war-time ally of the US, but Robeson carried on praising the Soviet Union after the war had ended, and in the era of McCarthyism and 'reds under the beds', that meant career death. Robeson, one of the greatest singers the world has ever seen, paid a high professional price for his political beliefs. But he wasn't the first artist to do so, and sadly he won't be the last.
Above you can hear Robeson singing the wonderful 'Ol Man River' from 'Showboat'. Enjoy.