Clarence Williams wasn’t just a famous jazz musician he was a artist and a entrepreneur that excelled in both categories. Clarence was very skilled at his work, if that was managing, writing ,publishing, or performing. Williams was a popularize jazz artist that created work for musicians which he had a big impact on this era today.
Williams started his career through singing, dancing and even playing the piano when he was just 12 years old. In the 1920’s and 1930’s, he was the most successful African-American owned seller of sheet music, publisher and music director for some blues and jazz record labels. He also organized some of Louis Armstrong, Virginia Liston, Bessie Smith and many others’ early recording sessions and worked with the top female jazz and blues singers of the 1920’s as their manager and song plugger.
Through most of Williams’ music, he had a melodic flow and syncopation involved in his pieces. His songs differentiated from having a steady rhythm, to adding the saxophone into his songs, to being towards more instrumental rather than vocal. Williams took his jazz from New Orleans to Chicago, and later New York City. He recorded his music under many different bands, where many of the recordings involved Williams playing the jug.
In 1921, Williams married blues singer Eva Taylor. She was one of the first female Blues singers heard on the radio, and her performances and style influenced many future vocal stars. Among the songs she and her husband collaborated on and performed together was “May We Meet Again,” written “in memory of our beloved Florence Mills,” one of the most popular black stage entertainers of the time. In this legendary red-light district, Williams, a man not noted for his modesty, admitted that he was overshadowed by Tony Jackson, the influential rag pianist who wrote Pretty Baby. The song Williams is most known for is “Papa De Da Da”, which was released sometime in December 1930.
“Papa De Da Da” was also called the New Orleans stomp, due to the unison band vocals actually speaking “De Da Da” while the dancers stomp their feet to the rhythm. This was one of few songs that were from his publishing house. Due to the fact that this song, along with others, were from a publishing house, he had to record them numerous times.
This song is a good example of jazz era piece, and just like his other song, “Kiss Me Again” the song has an extra chorus that goes back to the original theme halfway through the song.Williams was born in City of New Orleans, in Plaquemine, Louisiana, on October 8, 1898. He was of Choctaw Indian and Creole heritage. When he was twelve, he left home and joined Billy Kersands’s famous minstrel show as a singer. Shortly thereafter, he became the troupe’s master of ceremonies. He spent most of his time attempting to learn new material, he even went to the length of writing New York for the latest songs.
Sometime during 1915, Williams and Armand Piron started a New Orleans-based publishing company, which was in business for several years. Together they put together a vaudeville act, which in fact ended in success, with Piron playing the violin and Williams playing the piano and singing.