Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man

Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man

by

James Weldon Johnson

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“Singing Johnson” Character Analysis

The short, one-eyed chorus leader at the “big meeting,” who has memorized hundreds of hymns that he begins to sing at appropriate moments in John Brown’s sermon. He offers something of a foil to the narrator: while “Singing Johnson” travels around the South writing music and bringing congregations together, the narrator wants to travel around the South, record other people’s music, and claim it for himself.

“Singing Johnson” Quotes in Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man

The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man quotes below are all either spoken by “Singing Johnson” or refer to “Singing Johnson”. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Racism and the Color Line Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the W.W. Norton edition of Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man published in 2015.
Chapter 10 Quotes

I sat often with the tears rolling down my cheeks and my heart melted within me. Any musical person who has never heard a Negro congregation under the spell of religious fervor sing these old songs, has missed one of the most thrilling emotions which the human heart may experience. Anyone who can listen to Negroes sing, “Nobody knows de trouble I see, Nobody knows but Jesus,” without shedding tears, must indeed have a heart of stone.

Page Number: 95
Explanation and Analysis:
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“Singing Johnson” Character Timeline in Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man

The timeline below shows where the character “Singing Johnson” appears in Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 10
Collective Progress and Individual Achievement Theme Icon
Music, Emotion, and American Culture Theme Icon
Secrecy, Purity, and Origins Theme Icon
...and worship. This meeting centered on the preacher John Brown and the chorus leader “ Singing Johnson ,” whose presence reminded the narrator of religion’s foundational role in black community, despite the... (full context)
Music, Emotion, and American Culture Theme Icon
Secrecy, Purity, and Origins Theme Icon
  Singing Johnson was even more fascinating—he was small and dark, with only one eye and a high-pitched... (full context)