The world lost an icon on this day, January 23, in 1978 when Paul Robeson, American bass baritone, stage and film actor, and political activist, died.
It came as a poignant irony to me that I photographed Paul Robeson the same year that I photographed Winston Churchill.* Churchill had a profound belief in his homeland and its values, while Robeson left the United States for Russia in a personal crisis of conscience… I invited this all-American athlete and gifted performer to be photographed after hearing his concert in Ottawa. His magnificent voice turned the theater into a cathedral. The next day, during our photographic session, he regaled me with spirituals of such surpassing beauty that I wanted to share them with my wife. Robeson was introduced to her over the telephone, and Solange had a private concert all her own.
*Robeson was photographed October 30, 1941. Churchill was photographed December 30, 1941.
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