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Twelve African American Entertainers, 1890–1960


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About the Book

From the early days of minstrelsy to Black Broadway, this book is the story of African American entertainment as seen through the eyes of some of its most famous as well as others of its practitioners. The book moves from the beginning of African American participation in show business up through the present age. Will Marion Cook and Billy McClain are discovered in action at the very dawn of black parity in the entertainment field; six chapters later, the young Sammy Davis, Jr., breaks through the invisible ceiling that has kept those before him “in their place.” In between, the likes of Valaida Snow, Nora Holt, Billy Strayhorn, Hazel Scott, Dinah Washington, and others are found making contributions to the fight against racism both in and out of “the business.”

About the Author(s)

Bill Reed is a journalist and writer whose articles on show business, the arts and popular music have appeared in such publications as Rolling Stone, the San Francisco Examiner and International Documentary. He is a record producer of jazz recordings for SSJ Records (Japan).

Bibliographic Details

Bill Reed
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 271
Bibliographic Info: 20 photos, appendices, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2010
pISBN: 978-0-7864-4467-0
eISBN: 978-0-7864-5726-7
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments      vii

Preface      1

Part One: The Big Picture

1. The Birth of the Black Musical: Will Marion Cook      8

2. The Queens of Toby Time: The Whitman Sisters      29

3. The Color Line: Billy McClain      42

4. Over Here … Over There: Valaida Snow      52

5. Renaissance Woman: Nora Holt      70

6. All That Jazz: Billy Strayhorn      81

7. The Movies: Hazel Scott      97

8. Forcing the Issue: Dinah Washington      115

9. On Broadway: Sammy Davis, Jr.      129

Part Two: Zeroing In

10. Full-Service Showfolk: Leonard Reed, Demas Dean, Frances Williams      150

11. Stops Along the Way: Three Cities      175

12. Some Subjects for Further Research      193

Appendix 1: A Biographical Sketch of Blind Tom Bethune (1876)      209

Appendix 2: A Selected Demas Dean Discography      217

Appendix 3: “Negro Dance,” by Nora Douglas Holt      220

Chapter Notes      225

Bibliography      245

Index      249

Book Reviews & Awards

“large amount of research”—In The Groove.