A closer look into the signature sound behind the Mummers Parade

PHL17 Morning News
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“And Oh Dem Golden Slippers,” the song that beats at the heart of Philadelphia Mummery, but who exactly is the composer behind the iconic tune?

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James A. Bland wrote the song over 130 years ago. He is one of the best-known black composers and performers during a time of minstrel shows in America and abroad.

"In the Murray Comic Club, I use it as a song to dance up the street to and get the crowd involved in the parade. String bands play it and when they do, the crowd usually erupts in loud cheers. It's one of the most popular string band songs out there," said Mummers Museum Volunteer Mark Montanaro.

Though the Mummers had begun playing his song, Bland suffered from discrimination.

"Mr. Bland wrote over 700 songs in his lifetime. He was only credited for 37," said Montanaro.

However a marker now stands at his grave site in Bala Cynwyd and there over the years Mummers have performed ceremonies honoring the composer.

"That's why we have the exhibit here at the Mummers Museum. He contributed to our very long standing tradition and we hope to keep that memory alive," said Montanaro.

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