George M. Cohan – 2013

The Fox Point native threw off the reins of his highly successful family act during the waning days of minstrelsy & became one of the greatest composers, producers & performers of the vaudeville era.

Hailing from the Fox Point neighborhood on the East Side of Providence, George M. Cohan burst onto the national scene when still a young child as a member of his family’s successful traveling variety act, The Four Cohans. By his mid-twenties, he had moved on to presenting his own shows beginning in 1904 with “Little Johnny Jones” which established him as major player on the landscape of American entertainment.

As a composer, producer, actor, singer, and dancer, he became a pivotal performer in the evolution of theatrical presentations from the minstrel show format to the variety offerings of vaudeville as well as a major innovator and early star of the modern era of Broadway stage production. He is considered one of the most important composers in the history of American popular music with songs from his productions regularly becoming across-the-board hits on radio and on record and sheet music sales charts. His most famous compositions, such as “The Yankee Doodle Boy” (a/k/a “I’m A Yankee Doodle Dandy”), “Give My Regards To Broadway,” and “Over There” helped form the basis of what is now called “The Great American Songbook.”

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