Ragtime was an immensely popular form of music in the United States prior to World War I. Its toe–tapping style was exactly what a country like America, bursting into the 20th century full of excitement and enthusiasm, desired. Ragtime was uniquely American—just as America was unique among all the nations in the world.
Scott Joplin was the King of Ragtime. His ragtime songs defined the genre and brought it into the homes of millions of people. Yet Joplin wanted more than that. He wanted to be known as a serious artist, a man whose work would elevate him along with the entire African–American community. His struggles in that regard make his life story all the more memorable.