Charles Leslie Johnson (1876-1950) was an icon of American music and the Ragtime era. His prolific range and diversity set him apart from others of his generation. Clearly a prodigy, he exhibited musical genius as a child and had mastered theory, technique, and composition before adulthood. His talents reflected the trends of the day: cakewalks, rags, waltzes, tangos, marches, and novelty songs. He wrote using his own name and a variety of pseudonyms. He also composed or arranged for other people, often putting their words and music into a full musical arrangement. He wrote for many of the great music houses of the day (Forster, Shapiro, Remick),and he started a publishing company, issuing his own music as well as music for others. Experts believe that had he lived and worked in New York, his name would stand beside those of Scott Joplin, James Scott, and Joseph Lamb. Instead, he lived and worked in or near Kansas City his entire life, contributing to the efforts of many people to make Kansas City a ragtime venue of importance. This website is devoted to the life and music of Charles Leslie Johnson and the works of his authorized biographer, Philip A. Stewart.
Being a collector brings joy in a variety of ways: a new find, a better quality of copy, duplicates for a friend, etc. The most rewarding emails or phone calls are from fellow collectors, or even strangers, bringing information about a previously unknown piece.
The Music of Charles Leslie Johnson is the only book every written about this brilliant and prolific composer. But even after publication, it is not complete -- either in biographical data or in the chronological listing of his works and the issues of Johnson's publishing company. Phil Stewart and Aquila Media Productions invite you, the reader, to prove us wrong! Let us know we don't have it all!
Mysteries abound. There are whole years that are completely unaccounted for in terms of his compositions. Ads on the backs of music issued depicting songs that have never been found by anyone. We invite you to become a collector and enthusiast for yourself. You'll make new friends, laugh at the variety and humor often depicted in the cover art, and find yourself wrapped up in a completely affordable hobby. What could be more fun?
Phil Stewart and Aquila Media Productions are committed to bringing Charles Leslie Johnson and his works to the mainstream public. This website is devoted to his music. As the website grows, we will be posting audio versions of his popular songs and much of the artwork of his covers. Now available at amazon.com is The Music of Charles Leslie Johnson: A Collector's Journey, a soft-cover, full-color presentation of the Stewart collection of Johnson's life and music. This book has only been available on eBay previously. The new edition has full-color representations of every song sheet.
Stewart's companion books, Rags and OtherRiches: Instrumental Selections of Charles Leslie Johnson will present 50 pieces of Johnson's sheet music compositions suitable for propping on a piano or music stand for the musician. This soft-cover, black and white book is now available at amazon.com and other favorite online booksellers.
In addition, A Songbook of Charles Leslie Johnson: War and Other Pieces is also available for purchase at the sites mentioned above. This exciting book features selections never seen before. Check out further information on this site.
Please feel free to contact us at any of the addresses listed on this website if you wish to be on our mailing list or to acquire copies of these products.