Langston Hughes

Missouri-born Langston Hughes used his poetry, novels, plays, and essays to champion his people and voice his concerns about race and social justice. He was a central figure of the flowering of African-American culture in 1920's and 30's known as the Harlem Renaissance.

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About

Langston Hughes’s childhood was marked by poverty, the separation of his parents (his father emigrated to Mexico, where Hughes would later visit), a matriarchal, church-going education, and a nomadic series of moves. Eventually the young man arrived in New York City in 1921. There, with some money sent by his father, he enrolled in Columbia University, wrote his first verse, and began to publish in The Crisis, the historic magazine of the N.A.A.C.P., founded by W.E.B. Du Bois.

When funds for college dried up, Hughes moved to Harlem at the height of its golden era. For the remainder of the decade he would associate with all her prominent figures–Du Bois, Countee Cullen, Zora Neale Hurston, Alain Locke, Jessie Redmon Fauset, Jean Toomer, Arna Bontemps, and Carl Van Vechten. He would receive patronage from the formidable but controlling Charlotte Mason, make voyages of self-discovery to Africa and Europe, and return to the United States with a freer, more confident vision of his own identity as an African-American, an artist, a leftist (he would later spend some time in Russia and answer for it during the McCarthy hearings), and a homosexual.

Hughes’s prolific literary career was launched in 1926 with a volume of jazz poems called The Weary Blues, written for performance with musical accompaniment in the famous Harlem clubs of the era. It captured both the Opportunity Prize and the prestigious Spingarn Award, and financed for Hughes the completion of his education, at Lincoln University in Pennsylvania. Among his many poetry collections, The Negro Mother (1931), The Dream Keeper (1932), and Montage of a Dream Deferred (1951) argue passionately for his belief in human equality, his wish for color-blind brotherhood, and his growing disillusionment with the American dream. His novel Tambourines to Glory (1958) appeared as a musical play (1963), and his two volumes of autobiography, The Big Sea and I Wonder as I Wander, together with his essay about his involvement with the N.A.A.C.P. and the civil rights movement, “Fight for Freedom,” chart Hughes’s long commitment to comradeship and equality. As those dreams began to bear fruit in the tumultuous 60’s, Hughes was lionized with increasing frequency. He continued to devote his pen to the ideals of his youth, and took an increasing interest in the movement toward Afrocentric values for black Americans. Hailed as “the Negro Poet Laureate,” Hughes died in his beloved Harlem on May 22, 1967.

–Thomas Hampson and Carla Maria Verdino-Süllwold, PBS I Hear America Singing

Photo: Academy of American Poets

Related Information

Recordings

Paul Robeson - The Complete EMI Sessions

(Charles Wakefield Cadman, Henry Burleigh, Benjamin Carr, Will Marion Cook, Stephen Foster, Langston Hughes, Carrie Jacobs-Bond, Ethelbert Nevin, Oscar Rasbach, Oley Speaks and Traditional)

1938

Dreamer - A Portrait of Langston Hughes

(Margaret Bonds, William Grant Still, Kurt Weill, Henry Burleigh, Robert Owens, John Musto, Ricky Ian Gordon, Howard Swanson, Jean Berger, Erik Santos and Florence Price)

2001

Music of Elie Siegmeister

(Elie Siegmeister)

1999

Books

Before and Beyond Harlem: A Biography of Langston Hughes

By By Faith Berry

Selected Poems of Langston Hughes

By Langston Hughes

The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes

By Langston Hughes

The Dream Keeper and Other Poems

By Langston Hughes

The Collected Works of Langston Hughes

By Langston Hughes

Videos

Songs

A Black Pierrot

William Grant Still

Langston Hughes

American Pierrot: A Langston Hughes Songbook

Song Collection

Robert G. Patterson

Langston Hughes

Angel Wings

Ricky Ian Gordon

Langston Hughes

Song Collection: Only Heaven

April Rain Song

John Stone

Langston Hughes

Song Collection: Daybreak in Alabama

Ballad of the Landlord

William Bolcom

Langston Hughes

Song Collection: Old Addresses

Border Line

Ricky Ian Gordon

Langston Hughes

Song Collection: Genius Child: A Cycle of 10 Songs

Bound No’th Blues

Erik Santos

Langston Hughes

Song Collection: Dreamer: 7 Poems of Langston Hughes

Carolina Cabin

Jean Berger

Langston Hughes

Song Collection: Four Songs

Comment on War

Ned Rorem

Langston Hughes

Song Collection: Evidence of Things Not Seen

Climbing: Poems by African-Americans

Song Collection

Tom Cipullo

Countee Cullen

Paul Laurence Dunbar

Robert Hayden

Langston Hughes

Phillis Wheatley

Could Be

John Musto

Langston Hughes

Song Collection: Shadow of the Blues

Daybreak in Alabama

Song Collection

John Stone

Langston Hughes

Daybreak in Alabama

Ricky Ian Gordon

Langston Hughes

Song Collection: Only Heaven

Daybreak in Alabama

John Stone

Langston Hughes

Song Collection: Daybreak in Alabama

Death of an Old Seaman

Cecil Cohen

Langston Hughes

Delinquent

Ricky Ian Gordon

Langston Hughes

Song Collection: Only Heaven

Demand

Ricky Ian Gordon

Langston Hughes

Song Collection: Only Heaven

Down Where I Am

Erik Santos

Langston Hughes

Song Collection: Dreamer: 7 Poems of Langston Hughes

Dream

Ricky Ian Gordon

Langston Hughes

Song Collection: Only Heaven

Dream Dust / Hold Fast to Dreams

Dave Brubeck

Langston Hughes

Dream Variation

Margaret Bonds

Langston Hughes

Song Collection: Three Dream Portraits

Dream Variations

Ricky Ian Gordon

Langston Hughes

Song Collection: Only Heaven

Dreamer: 7 Poems of Langston Hughes

Song Collection

Erik Santos

Langston Hughes

Drum

Ricky Ian Gordon

Langston Hughes

Song Collection: Only Heaven

Drum

Sergius Kagen

Langston Hughes

Drum

Hermann Reutter

Langston Hughes

Song Collection: My Dark Hands

Drums of Tragedy

H. Leslie Adams

Langston Hughes

Song Collection: Nightsongs

Evidence of Things Not Seen

Song Collection

Ned Rorem

W. H. Auden

Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Robert Browning

Stephen Crane

Mark Doty

Robert Frost

Paul Goodman

A. E. Housman

Langston Hughes

Jane Kenyon

Rudyard Kipling

Edna St. Vincent Millay

Paul Monette

William Penn

Theodore Roethke

Walt Whitman

John Woolman

William Butler Yeats

Faithful One

Robert Owens

Langston Hughes

Fantasy in Purple

Florence Price

Langston Hughes

Song Collection: Five Art Songs

Feet o' Jesus

Florence Price

Langston Hughes

Final Curve / Search

Dave Brubeck

Langston Hughes

Four Negro Songs

Song Collection

John Alden Carpenter

Langston Hughes

Four Songs

Song Collection

Jean Berger

Langston Hughes

Georgia Dusk

John Stone

Langston Hughes

Song Collection: Daybreak in Alabama

Genius Child

Ricky Ian Gordon

Langston Hughes

Song Collection: Genius Child: A Cycle of 10 Songs

Genius Child

Robert Owens

Langston Hughes

Genius Child: A Cycle of 10 Songs

Song Collection

Ricky Ian Gordon

Langston Hughes

Harlem Sweeties

Dorothy Rudd Moore

Langston Hughes

Song Collection: Flowers of Darkness

Harlem Night Song

Ricky Ian Gordon

Langston Hughes

Song Collection: Only Heaven

Heart

Jean Berger

Langston Hughes

Song Collection: Four Songs

Hold Fast to Dreams

Dave Brubeck

Langston Hughes

Hold Fast To Dreams

Florence Price

Langston Hughes

Song Collection: Five Art Songs

Homesick Blues

H. Leslie Adams

Langston Hughes

Song Collection: The Wider View

I, Too

Margaret Bonds

Langston Hughes

Song Collection: Three Dream Portraits

In Time of Silver Rain

Jean Berger

Langston Hughes

Song Collection: Four Songs

In Time of Silver Rain

Ricky Ian Gordon

Langston Hughes

Song Collection: Only Heaven

In Time of Silver Rain

George Walker

Langston Hughes

Island

John Musto

Langston Hughes

Song Collection: Shadow of the Blues

Jazz-Boys

John Alden Carpenter

Langston Hughes

Song Collection: Four Negro Songs

Joy

Ricky Ian Gordon

Langston Hughes

Song Collection: Genius Child: A Cycle of 10 Songs

Joy

Howard Swanson

Langston Hughes

Kid in the Park

Ricky Ian Gordon

Langston Hughes

Song Collection: Genius Child: A Cycle of 10 Songs

Late Last Night

Ricky Ian Gordon

Langston Hughes

Song Collection: Only Heaven

Litany

Ricky Ian Gordon

Langston Hughes

Song Collection: Only Heaven

Litany

John Musto

Langston Hughes

Song Collection: Shadow of the Blues

Litany

Scott Wheeler

Billy Collins

Lonely People

Jean Berger

Langston Hughes

Song Collection: Four Songs

Lovely, Dark, and Lonely One

Henry Burleigh

Langston Hughes

Luck

Ricky Ian Gordon

Langston Hughes

Song Collection: Only Heaven

Madam To You

Song Collection

Elie Siegmeister

Langston Hughes

Madam and the Census Man

Elie Siegmeister

Langston Hughes

Song Collection: Madam To You

Madam and Daughter

Elie Siegmeister

Langston Hughes

Song Collection: Madam To You

Madam and the Fortune Teller

Elie Siegmeister

Langston Hughes

Song Collection: Madam To You

Madam and the Minister

Elie Siegmeister

Langston Hughes

Song Collection: Madam To You

Madam and the Number Runner

Elie Siegmeister

Langston Hughes

Song Collection: Madam To You

Madam and the Rent Man

Elie Siegmeister

Langston Hughes

Song Collection: Madam To You

Madam and the Wrong Visitor

Elie Siegmeister

Langston Hughes

Song Collection: Madam To You

Minstrel Man

Margaret Bonds

Langston Hughes

Song Collection: Three Dream Portraits

Minstrel Man

Hermann Reutter

Langston Hughes

Song Collection: My Dark Hands

Mother to Son

Hall Johnson

Langston Hughes

Mr. Sandman / Birth

Erik Santos

Langston Hughes

Song Collection: Dreamer: 7 Poems of Langston Hughes

My Dark Hands

Song Collection

Hermann Reutter

Langston Hughes

Arna Bontemps

My Dream

Florence Price

Langston Hughes

My People

Ricky Ian Gordon

Langston Hughes

Song Collection: Genius Child: A Cycle of 10 Songs

New Moon

Ricky Ian Gordon

Langston Hughes

Night: Four Songs

Ricky Ian Gordon

Langston Hughes

Song Collection: Only Heaven

Nightsongs

Song Collection

H. Leslie Adams

Langston Hughes

Georgia Douglas Johnson

Clarissa Scott Delany

James Weldon Johnson

Leslie Morgan Collins

Official Notice

Elie Siegmeister

Langston Hughes

Song Collection: The Face of War

Old Addresses

Song Collection

William Bolcom

Mark Doty

Langston Hughes

Kenneth Koch

Ezra Pound

A.D. Winans

Arnold Weinstein

Only Heaven

Song Collection

Ricky Ian Gordon

Langston Hughes

Peace

Elie Siegmeister

Langston Hughes

Song Collection: The Face of War

Personal

Tom Cipullo

Langston Hughes

Song Collection: Climbing: Poems by African-Americans

Poème d’Automne

Margaret Bonds

Langston Hughes

Song Collection: Songs of the Seasons

Port Town

Ricky Ian Gordon

Langston Hughes

Song Collection: Only Heaven

Prayer

H. Leslie Adams

Langston Hughes

Song Collection: Nightsongs

Prayer

Ricky Ian Gordon

Langston Hughes

Song Collection: Genius Child: A Cycle of 10 Songs

Shadow of the Blues

Song Collection

John Musto

Langston Hughes

Shake Your Brown Feet, Honey!

John Alden Carpenter

Langston Hughes

Song Collection: Four Negro Songs

Silhouette

John Musto

Langston Hughes

Song Collection: Shadow of the Blues

Song For a Dark Girl

Ricky Ian Gordon

Langston Hughes

Song Collection: Only Heaven

Song For a Dark Girl

Hermann Reutter

Langston Hughes

Song Collection: My Dark Hands

Song for Billie Holiday

John Stone

Langston Hughes

Song Collection: Daybreak in Alabama

Songs of the Seasons

Song Collection

Margaret Bonds

Langston Hughes

Songs of Our Time

Song Collection

Ricky Ian Gordon

Gwendolyn Brooks

Langston Hughes

Stanley Kunitz

W. S. Merwin

Howard Moss

Frank O’Hara

Songs to the Dark Virgin

Florence Price

Langston Hughes

Stars

Ricky Ian Gordon

Langston Hughes

Song Collection: Only Heaven

Strange Hurt: Long Version

Ricky Ian Gordon

Langston Hughes

Song Collection: Genius Child: A Cycle of 10 Songs

Strange Hurt: Short Version

Ricky Ian Gordon

Langston Hughes

Song Collection: Genius Child: A Cycle of 10 Songs

That Soothin' Song

John Alden Carpenter

Langston Hughes

Song Collection: Four Negro Songs

The Breath of a Rose

William Grant Still

Langston Hughes

The Cryin' Blues

John Alden Carpenter

Langston Hughes

Song Collection: Four Negro Songs

The Dream Keeper

Dave Brubeck

Langston Hughes

The Dream Keeper / Bouquet

Erik Santos

Langston Hughes

Song Collection: Dreamer: 7 Poems of Langston Hughes

The Face of War

Song Collection

Elie Siegmeister

Langston Hughes

The Negro Speaks of Rivers

Margaret Bonds

Langston Hughes

The Negro Speaks of Rivers

Howard Swanson

Langston Hughes

The Wider View

Song Collection

H. Leslie Adams

Paul Laurence Dunbar

Langston Hughes

Georgia Douglas Johnson

R. H. Grenville

James Dillet Freeman

To Artina

Erik Santos

Langston Hughes

Song Collection: Dreamer: 7 Poems of Langston Hughes

To Be Somebody

Ricky Ian Gordon

Langston Hughes

Song Collection: Genius Child: A Cycle of 10 Songs

Three Dream Portraits

Song Collection

Margaret Bonds

Langston Hughes

Troubled Woman

Ricky Ian Gordon

Langston Hughes

Song Collection: Genius Child: A Cycle of 10 Songs

War

Elie Siegmeister

Langston Hughes

Song Collection: The Face of War

When Sue Wears Red

Ricky Ian Gordon

Langston Hughes

Song Collection: Only Heaven

When Sue Wears Red

Hermann Reutter

Langston Hughes

Song Collection: My Dark Hands

Audio

Langston Hughes

Track:

    Sheet Music

    American Pierrot: A Langston Hughes Songbook

    Composer(s): Robert G. Patterson

    Buy via Sheet Music Plus

    Anthology of Art Songs by Black American Composers, Compiled by Willis C. Patterson

    Composer(s): H. Leslie Adams, David Baker, Margaret Bonds, Charles Brown, Cecil Cohen, Noel de Costa, Mark Fax, Adolphus C. Hailstork, Eugene Hancock, Thomas Kerr, Jr., Charles Lloyd, Jr., Wendell Logan, Maurice McCall, Dorothy Rudd Moore, Undine Smith Moore, Robert Owens, Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson, Florence Price, Hale Smith, William Grant Still, Howard Swanson, George Walker, Olly Wilson, John Work, Jr.

    Buy via Classical Vocal Reprints

    Climbing: Poems by African-Americans

    Composer(s): Tom Cipullo

    Buy via Classical Vocal Reprints

    Drum

    Composer(s): Hermann Reutter

    Buy via Schott Music

    Evidence of Things Not Seen

    Composer(s): Ned Rorem

    Buy via Boosey & Hawkes

    Five Art Songs

    Composer(s): Florence Price

    Voice Type: Medium High

    Buy via Classical Vocal Reprints

    Five Art Songs (JW Pepper)

    Composer(s): Florence Price

    Voice Type: Medium-High

    Buy via JW Pepper

    Flowers of Darkness

    Composer(s): Dorothy Rudd Moore

    Voice Type: tenor

    Buy via American Composers Alliance

    Four Negro Songs

    Composer(s): John Alden Carpenter

    Song(s): 1. Shake Your Brown Feet, Honey!
    2. The Cryin' Blues
    3. Jazz-Boys
    4. That Soothin' Song

    View via WorldCat

    Genius Child

    Composer(s): Ricky Ian Gordon

    Song(s): 1. Winter Moon
    2. Genius Child
    3. Kid in the Park
    4. To Be Somebody
    5. Troubled Woman
    6. Strange Hurt: Long Version
    7. Strange Hurt: Short Version
    8. Prayer
    9. Border Line
    10. My People
    11. Joy

    Buy via Hal Leonard

    Genius Child

    Composer(s): Robert Owens

    Voice Type: Baritone

    Buy via Classical Vocal Reprints

    Madam To You

    Composer(s): Elie Siegmeister

    Buy via Sheet Music Plus

    Minstrel Man

    Composer(s): Hermann Reutter

    Buy via Schott Music

    Mother to Son

    Composer(s): Hall Johnson

    Buy via Carl Fischer Music

    Only Heaven

    Composer(s): Ricky Ian Gordon

    Song(s): Harlem Night Song
    Daybreak In Alabama
    When Sue Wears Red
    Late Last Night
    Port Town
    Angel Wings
    Luck
    Delinquent
    Dream Variations
    In Time Of Silver Rain
    Song For A Dark Girl
    Drum
    Litany
    Dream
    Night: Four Songs
    Demand
    Stars

    Buy via Hal Leonard

    Shadow of the Blues

    Composer(s): John Musto

    Song(s): 1. Silhouette
    2. Litany
    3. Island
    4. Could Be

    Buy via Hal Leonard

    Song for a Dark Girl

    Composer(s): Hermann Reutter

    Buy via Schott Music

    Songs of Our Time

    Composer(s): Ricky Ian Gordon

    Song(s): Virginia Woolf
    Friend
    Little Horse
    Spell against Sorrow
    The Light Comes on by Itself
    Pont Mirabeau
    A Poem of Unrest
    This Room
    If You Can
    Aspen Tree
    Three Floors
    The Crazy Woman
    Child
    Dreams / Feet o' Jesus

    Buy via Carl Fischer Music

    Songs of Separation

    Composer(s): William Grant Still

    Buy via William Grant Still Music

    The Breath of a Rose

    Composer(s): William Grant Still

    Voice Type: High

    Buy via Sheet Music Plus

    The Face of War

    Composer(s): Elie Siegmeister

    Voice Type: Low

    Find it at your Local Library

    When Sue Wears Red

    Composer(s): Hermann Reutter

    Buy via Schott Music

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