Noble Sissle was born in Indianapolis on July 10, 1889. After attending Butler University, he toured with the Thomas Jubilee Singers and became a protege of James Reese Europe, the great band leader. In 1915 Sissle met James Hubert “Eubie” Blake; they formed a songwriting partnership with Blake focusing on music and Sissle on lyrics. Their first song “It’s All Your Fault” was introduced by Sophie Tucker and became a hit.
In 1916 Sissle, Blake, and Europe planned to create a new black Broadway show in the manner of the Williams and Walker shows of the previous decade. Their plans were interrupted, however, by the outbreak of World War I. Sissle and Europe enlisted and created an all black regimental band which played to much acclaim.
After the war ended, Sissle returned to the United States and formed Sissle’s Sizzling Syncopators Orchestra. He recorded for Emerson Records with this orchestra and with Blake through 1921. Sissle and Blake’s big break was the musical Shuffle Along, which opened at the 63rd Street Theatre on Broadway and became the biggest hit of the 1921 season. This musical introduced such songs as “I’m Just Wild about Harry,” “Love Will Find a Way,” “Baltimore Buzz,” “Bandana Days,” “Gypsy Blues,” and “Simply Full of Jazz.” The show closed in 1924 after touring extensively. After producing another show, Chocolate Dandies (1924-25), the Sissle-Blake team split up in 1926.
Sissle formed another orchestra which toured Europe and the U.S. This band also appeared in some movies with black casts, including Murder with Music.