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Henry Creamer (1879 - 1930)

Singer, Dancer, Producer

Henry Creamer was a singer and dancer who performed on vaudeville in the U.S. and on the continent with his partner, pianist Turner Layton. Two of their most prominent songs, for which Creamer wrote lyrics, have sustained their popularity for over three quarters of a century. “After You’ve Gone” (1918) was popularized by Sophie Tucker, and “Way Down Yonder in New Orleans” (1922) was one of the dance numbers in the Astaire/Rogers film The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle (1939). In 1922 Creamer’s Creole Production Company produced their successful Broadway show Strut Miss Lizzie. And the following year Bessie Smith recorded “Whoa, Tillie, Take Your Time” which shows up in most collections of her work.

The team broke up in 1924 when Layton relocated to England. Creamer teamed with legendary pianist James P. Johnson in 1926 to write “Alabama Stomp,” and in 1930 their “If I Could Be with You” was a hit for Ruth Etting. It became the theme song for (William) McKinney’s Cotton Pickers and was a hit for Louis Armstrong. The stellar Kansas City Six, which included Buck Clayton, Lester Young, Freddie Green, Eddie Durham, Walter Page, and Jo Jones, had a recorded hit with it in 1938.

With James Reese Europe, Creamer founded the Club Clef, a black entertainers group in 1920.

-- Sandra Burlingame

Courtesy of


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