Churchill Kohlman

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Churchill Kohlman (January 28, 1906 – May 25, 1983) was an African-American songwriter who wrote Johnnie Ray's 1951 hit, "Cry" while working in a Pittsburgh dry cleaning factory as the night watchman.[1][2]

Royalties from "Cry" were the subject of a bitter legal dispute between Kohlman and Perry Alexander, owner of music publisher Mellow Music. Alexander was ordered by arbitrators to pay Kohlman $15,331.24 to settle the dispute in 1953.[3]

Kohlman wrote hundreds of other songs, but none achieved the success of "Cry".

Churchill had the following siblings: Homer Kohlman (1907–1985); and Alyse Kohlman Klaytor. After his success with "Cry", he was a correspondent for Prevue, a Chicago-based show-business magazine. He married Viola (1915–1995) and had the following children: Phyllis Kohlman O'Leary and Eleanor Kohlman Smith; and Carl Kohlman. He died under the name Charles Kohlman of a heart attack in 1983, at 77 years old, in the Point Breeze neighborhood of Pittsburgh.

Popular culture[edit]

Other versions[edit]


  1. ^ American Profile article
  2. ^ Jet, February 14, 1952, p. 56-7
  3. ^ Billboard, March 7, 1953, p. 16

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