John La Touche
Learn more about John La Touche
- This article is about the American musical lyricist. For the UK Member of Parliament see John La Touche (politician).
Born in Baltimore, Maryland, Latouche's family moved to Richmond, Virginia when he was four months old. Much of his work included Rabelaisan humor and was therefore often censored or protested. He attended Columbia University but never graduated.
In 1937 he had two songs in the revue, "Pins and Needles" and in 1939 for the show "Sing For Your Supper" he did the lyrics for "Ballad for Uncle Sam," later retitled "Ballad for Americans" with music by Earl Robinson. It was featured at both the 1939 Republican Convention and the convention of the American Communist Party.
Most famously, he wrote the Ballad for Americans that was extremely popular in 1940s America. This 13-minute cantata to American democracy was written for a soloist and as well as a full orchestra. The music was written by Earl Robinson. When performed on the CBS radio network by singer Paul Robeson, it became a national success. Subsequently, both Robeson and Bing Crosby regularly performed it.
He provided the lyrics for Vernon Duke's "Cabin in the Sky" (1940) and "Banjo Eyes" which starred Eddie Cantor (1941). He wrote the book and lyrics for "The Golden Apple" in 1954 with music by Jerome Moross. For Leonard Bernstein's "Candide" he provided additional lyrics in 1955.
- Walpurgis Eve (1928, play)
- Flair-Flair, the Idol of Paree (1935, musical)
- Ballad for Americans (1939, cantata)