ST. LOUIS – Throughout history, the African American community contributed to the arts and even created a slew of music genres.

Scott Joplin spent time in Texas studying piano, attended George R. Smith College for Negroes in Sedalia, Missouri. He then settled in St. Louis after the first songs he published led him to fame. He went on to cultivate his skills for almost a decade in the city before continuing to create a name for himself in ragtime and even classical music. He was known for his unique bass patterns, syncopation, and harmonic ideas. He moved to New York City and composed a three-act opera but you will most likely remember him for the staple tunes “Maple Leaf Rag” and “The Entertainer.” You can hear those tunes while taking a tour through the Scott Joplin House State Historic Site on Delmar Boulevard where he rented a room and worked on his craft.

So when you think of a standard ragtime melody, remember the king of ragtime Scott Joplin composed that music that would go on to be respected and imitated by musicians across the country.

Blair’s Black History Moment highlights the history, success, and contributions of African Americans, both past and present, across the St. Louis region. If you would like to highlight a part of Black History dear to the St. Louis area, please send an email to as we recognize people, places, and events crucial to building the St. Louis community.