Todd Duncan was a College professor when Gershwin approach him to play Porgy in Porgy and Bess, and while he was initially reluctant, he allowed Gershwin to perform the score for him. According to Duncan’s own accounts, by the time they got to “I Got Plenty O’ Nuttin”, he was in tears, and knew he had to do this show. He would return to it for the Broadway revival in the Forties that at last made the show successful as a Broadway musical, and he is still considered by most to be the definitive Porgy. His “I Got Plenty O’ Nuttin” was one of the most powerful expressions of joy in music ever heard, his “Buzzard Song” a defiant cry of life and freedom, his “Bess, Oh Where’s My Bess?” gut-wrenching beyond compare, and his “Bess, You Is My Woman Now” indescribably beautiful. Later recordings would show he had a bit of trouble delivering spoken dialogue, but he was the very first Broadway musical actor in the modern sense, and the sheer depth of emotion that he could put into a song was staggering (and must have been even more so at the time, when basically no-one else was doing it). It’s worth noting that when Kurt Weill and his collaborators were casting lost in the stars, they knew they had only two really choices for an opera-weight Black male singer who could really and truly act, and when Paul Robeson turned them down, they immediately turned to Duncan, who was glorious in that role as well.