David Thomas Roberts
Bunker, Missouri
Updated 8/29/04

David Thomas Roberts is a composer-pianist, writer and visual artist and has been hailed by many as New Ragtime's leading figure. Born in Moss Point, Mississippi in 1955, he was composing, painting and writing stories by age eight. He wrote his first rag in 1971, at which time he was especially interested in the music of Erik Satie, Scott Joplin, Charles Ives and Alexander Scriabin, whose work he encountered and studied independently of any teacher. Since then he has composed over eighty-five ragtime related piano pieces while continuing to work in a variety of other musical languages.

This Mississippi native presents a diverse and interesting program of music with styles including Classic and New Ragtime, early jazz, Creole and New World music, and the newly emerging Terra Verde, of which he is a major progenitor.

In his early twenties he wrote some of the piano pieces for which he is best known. His poetry was first published at that time. His first recording, Music For a Pretty Baby, appeared in 1978. By 1984, two albums devoted entirely to his own compositions were internationally available. Pieces such as The Early Life of Larry Hoffer, Roberto Clemente, Pinelands Memoir, Through the Bottomlands, and the eclectic suite, New Orleans Streets led many writers to hail Roberts as the leading contemporary ragtime-based composer. The New Orleans historian Al Rose called him "the most important composer of this half of the century in America".
David Thomas Roberts is the author of entries in The New Grove Dictionary of American Music and is listed in The International Who's Who in Music. He founded and edited The Streetfighting Aesthete, a journal of Surrealist expression and experimental writing. His poetry appears in many U.S. small press periodicals, and his paintings were recently featured in the British magazine of Visionary Art, Raw Vision.

He describes himself as follows: "I call myself a 'terrain wrangler,' a commandeer of the land's visionary potential, a topographical rowdy bent upon revelation-through-landscape. This trait is central to much of my writing and painting, as well as composition. Inevitably, travel has been a crucial feature of my life, and has yielded much of the fodder for my ragtime-based piano pieces."

"Our foremost composer of contemporary ragtime--"
   Trebor Tichenor,
   Co-author of Rags and Ragtime