Fame, Respect and Posterity

Frank Johnson's band had a unique way of playing. No one at the time could quite put their finger on it, but this Martinique-born Philadelphia talent knew how to delight audiences, black or white, Saturday night and Sunday morning.

His audiences didn't necessarily know or care, but Johnson combined African-American rhythms with the popular music. And he fit his sounds to each audience, be they Philadelphia's white aristocracy or Philadelphia's free black community. And the band's popularity soared. [Read more...]

Joel Rose, Producer and Editor
Viet Le, Rachael Berenguer and Jennifer Lynn, Associate Producers
Elisabeth Perez-Luna, Executive Producer
Kenneth Finkel, Executive Director, Arts & Culture Service

Funding was provided by The William Penn Foundation.

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Marking Pennsylvania History

ExplorePAHistory.comFrancis Johnson
Philadelphia native Francis Johnson was the first African-American to have his music published. Johnson wrote more than 300 pieces of music, and he was the first American musician of any color to tour Europe. WHYY's Viet Le has this profile of the 19th century bandleader and composer. [Listen]

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