His first big break came in 1875 when he landed a job with the Original Black Diamonds of Boston. In 1881 he traveled to London with Haverly’s Genuine Colored Minstrels. There he gained immense success and played for the queen. He stayed for two decades.
He became best known as the composer of the great minstrel show tunes, “Carry Me Back to Old Virginny”, “In the Evening By the Moonlight”, “De Golden Wedding” and “Oh Dem Golden Slippers.”
In 1901, he returned to the United States almost penniless. The popular entertainment had become vaudeville and Bland struggled to find a foothold in that world.
Bland died in 1911 largely forgotten. His grave went unmarked until 1939 when the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP) located his burial spot and erected a headstone there to commemorate his life.
Mixed Experience History Month is the annual blog post series created by writer Heidi Durrow celebrating the history of the Mixed experience. Established in 2007, Mixed Experience History Month is an effort to highlight the long history of folks involved in the Mixed experience. Please look for more profiles of people, places and events of the Mixed experience every weekday of May at Lightskinned-ed Girl, the blog! Thanks for reading. And check out some of the previous year's profiles: 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011.