Noble Sissle (July 10, 1889 – December 17, 1975) was born in Indianapolis, and moved with his family to Cleveland in 1906 when his father became minister of Cory Methodist Church at E. 35th & Scovill. At the age of seventeen he attended Central High where he played baseball and football, and sang with the glee club.
During World War I, Sissle entered the Army and became the drum major of an Army band that caused a sensation in France by playing a form of ragtime music. The 369th Infantry Band, led by Lt. James Reese Europe, began calling itself a "jazz band." Reese’s Army band not only helped popularize the new music among U.S. soldiers, but it was the first exportation of jazz, America’s new art form. Sissle said at the time, "The jazz germ hit France and it spread everywhere" they went. - Joe Mosbrook, Jazzed in HistoryMosbrook also credits Sissle with discovering Sidney Bechet, and being part of a vaudeville act with Eubie Blake. Sissle composed the classic tune I'm Just Wild About Harry, and three years before The Jazz Singer created a short film with Blake called A Phonofilm that was first shown at the Palace Theatre in December, 1923. He had a history of breaking racial barriers, working clubs that had previously hired only all-white ensembles.
In 1935 Sissle hired a young chorus girl from the Cotton Club to sing with his Franco-Harlem Revue, and she was singing for them when they played in Cleveland for a week in October, 1936. Her name was Lena Horne.