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"A Quartette of DUSKY BEAUTIES" London,1903. "Rhoda King, Jessie Ellis, Birdie Williams, Gigas performed in "In Dahomey," the first all black musical comedy, which came to the Shaftesbury Theatre from New York with a cast of over 100. It was a huge success, and its Cakewalk, and Buck and Wing dances became crazes in the UK.
Mabel Mercer (1900-1984) photographed by Carl Van Vechten on April 22, 1952. Ms. Mercer was one of the most influential singers of all time, influencing masters like Nat King Cole, Barbra Streisand, Leontyne Price and Frank Sinatra who once said, “Mabel Mercer taught me everything I know.” Born in Burton-on-Trent, Staffordshire, England, she sang at Bricktop’s fabled Paris nightclub in the 1920s & 1930s. Photo: Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
Joyce Bryant was a blues and jazz singer in the 1940's and 50's. She was referred to as the Black Marilyn Monroe, and "the Voice You'll Always Remember". Remembered as a stunning performer with silvery blond hair offsetting a mahogany complexion, she rocketed to fame within the Black community and was regularly featured in magazines such as Jet and Ebony.
Josephine Baker (6-3-06 to 4-12-75) was an American-born French dancer, singer, and actress. Born Freda Josephine McDonald in St. Louis, Missouri, she became a citizen of France in 1937. Fluent in both English and French, Baker became an international musical and political icon. She is also noted for her contributions to the Civil Rights Movement in the United States, for assisting the French Resistance during World War II, and for receiving the French military honor, the Croix de guerre.
The immortal Alberta Hunter. Lied about her age to start singing in clubs as a teenager (older) lied about her age to become a nurse when her stardom faded (younger and invented a high school diploma.) Forced to retire from nursing when she reached "retirement age" (she was actually over 80) she returned to singing and again recorded, toured Europe, and did weekly sold-out gigs at the Greenwich Village club "The Cookery."
Harry Belefonte | Black Hollywood Series Harold George Belafonte, Jr. (born March 1, 1927) is an American musician, actor and social activist. One of the most successful Jamaican musicians in history, he was dubbed the "King of Calypso" for popularizing the Caribbean musical style in the 1950s. Belafonte is perhaps best known for singing the "Banana Boat Song", with its signature lyric "Day-O".
For more than 50 years, Geoffrey Holder and Carmen de Lavallade, have shared a marriage filled with theater, dance, art, travel, and a true meeting of the minds. She is an iconic dancer, teacher, choreographer and visual artist. He is a dancer, choreographer, painter, avid art collector, actor, Tony Award-winning director and costume designer. Read their story at the link.