Bernard made his bones in Vaudeville and, yes, was one of the most famous of the blackface minstrel show performers. But he was also one of the first white singers to make blues recordings, and WC Handy credited Bernard with the popularity of his early songs.

You’re listening to Bernard ‘s 1927 recording “Well I Swan”. The title refers to a saying used primarily in the mid and southern states. “Swan” is a contraction of “shall warrant”, and is used to express surprise.

Bernard made the first American recording of the classic folk tune “Frankie and Johnny”, and would also play a role in the first Jazz recordings.