Maceo Pinkard (1897-1962)
Maceo Pinkard avoided fads in his musical compositions and was considered more of a pop music traditionalist. This undemanding style would, no doubt, serve him well as he was teamed up with both black and white lyricists by the publishing houses for which he worked as a staff composer (Jasen, 2013). Pinkard’s work is considered “an excellent example of how vaudeville and early jazz became intertwined during the 1920s” (Kenney, 1986 p238), and eventually he would be called “one of the greatest composers of the Harlem Renaissance (“Maceo Pinkard,”n.d.).
Pinkard, the author, is even more visually absent from his music than many of his contemporaries. He chose to focus on writing music over performing it after a brief foray into stage and live entertainment when he left home to lead a dance band in a tour of the Midwest. At seventeen he founded Pinkard publications, and continued to function as the executive head of this publishing house for years to come, though the catalog was primarily Pinkard’s own work (Jasen, 2013). Pinkard also ran a talent agency for other musicians and performers, and gave music lessons in order to pay the bills while he created and promoted his original compositions. After WWI, his name would show up in newspapers as an agent/advertiser for various songs (Kenney, 1986).
The stock market crash and the great depression had a vast effect on the popularity and careers of vaudeville musicians; Pinkard was no exception. The drastic drop in his publication output reflects this change and he largely vanishes from being mentioned in newspapers (Jasen, 2013).
Maceo Pinkard in the news:
Songs in the USF Libraries digital African American Sheet Music Collection: