22 AUGUST 1958, Page 18

SIR,—I do not know why Paul Robeson's rewrite on 'OP

Man River' should have bothered Pharos. The original lyric has its merits, but it also imposes upon the singer the persona of an Uncle Tom, something American Negro artists would nowadays rather avoid. As Pharos was able to distinguish the Reds from the music-lovers at the Albert Hall, he must also have observed how embarrassed Robeson ap- peared at the repeated screeched requests for the song. There was, of course, a certain irony in the situation : after having spent years out of the artistic limelight for a political attitude stemming from a well-publicised hatred of colour prejudice, Robeson made his English comeback before an audience which associated him above all with a song that perpetuates the white-paternalist stereotype of the Negro as strong, child-like and irresponsible.—Yours faith-

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