Sedalia, the Cradle of Classic Ragtime

Edward A. Berlin

in King of Ragtime

Published in print March 1996 | ISBN: 9780195101089
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199853120 | DOI:
                   Sedalia, the Cradle of Classic Ragtime

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Scott Joplin enjoyed his first real success while living in Sedalia. He became a published composer of ragtime, attaining nationwide fame as creator of the Maple Leaf Rag. Sedalia is in central Missouri and known as the “Queen City of the Prairies”. As the town progressed, it was crowded with men away from home with dispensable money; thus, bars and similar leisure establishments were around and even brothels for prostitution. African-Americans in Sedalia were subject to the many discriminations, restrictions, abuses, and insults common to segregated communities, but compared with other communities in Missouri, race relations in Sedalia were relatively good. It was a town in which Joplin could hear a vast amount of music making, a town that offered opportunities for him to work as a performer and a composer, a town where he could find congenial colleagues and appreciation. It was an ideal setting for him, serving as a springboard for his career.

Keywords: Sedalia; Maple Leaf Rag; prostitution; African-Americans; race relations

Chapter.  3768 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: American Music

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