WEARY BLUES About the composer: a music and civil rights pioneer
Dernière mise à jour : 26 nov. 2018
Listen to the Weary blues: https://youtu.be/GgGhLUaZMJI
Artie Matthews (1888-1958) is an American pianist and composer. He was taught music by his mother. In 1905 he was marked with the piano sound of Art Dillingham and Banty Morgan playing rag-times at Saint Louis, Missouri.
In 1908 he decided to move to Saint Louis where he worked as an arranger for Tom Turpin's Booker T. Washington Theater. There he wrote music for local theater productions.
In Saint Louis he also studied in the Keeton School of Music and played piano in Tom Turpin’s Rosebud Café. In 1911 he had the opportunity and privilege to ear the French Creole pianist Jelly Roll Morton!
In 1912, his Baby seals blues is the first piece in which the title mentions the word “blues”.
In 1913, the music publisher John Stark organized a sort of contest among the Saint Louis’ piano composers, it was on that occasion that Artie Matthews wrote the Weary blues and won it! John Stark even proposed to pay him beforehand 50$ each rag-time.
From 1913 to 1916, Artie Matthews made several trips to Chicago where he met Tony Jackson, another great pianist and singer. In Chicago, he played J-S Bach in the Berea Presbyterian church. He also worked with Charles Thompson, Robert Hampton, two great rag-time pianists.
In 1916, he moved to Cincinnati (Ohio) where he worked as an organist in the Saint Andrews Episcopal Church and studied organ and choir direction.
In 1918 he married Anna Howard. In 1921, in reaction against racism, they founded together the Cosmopolitan School of Music, the first black owned school in the USA! Thanks to it, many African American pupils have been able to learn all forms of music, and one of them, Franck Foster, became the arranger of the Count Basie big band!
Artie Mathews gave us a great legacy with his compositions and with his school of black and white music. Among his most famous compositions are the Pastime rags from 1 to 5 (composed between 1913 and 1920) and the Weary blues (recorded by Sidney Bechet in 1938) which remains a standard for New Orleans and Dixieland bands.