Jazz à la Creole: French Creole Music and the Birth of Jazz

Posted in Arts, Books, Canada, History, Louisiana, Media Archive, Monographs, United States on 2022-11-27 06:11Z by Steven

Jazz à la Creole: French Creole Music and the Birth of Jazz

University Press of Mississippi
November 2022
248 pages
1 table; 29 b&w figures; 20 musical examples
Hardcover ISBN: 9781496842404
Paperback ISBN: 9781496842428

Caroline Vézina
Montréal, Quebec, Canada

The first scholarly volume dedicated to French Creole music and its contribution to the development of jazz in New Orleans

During the formative years of jazz (1890–1917), the Creoles of Color—as they were then called—played a significant role in the development of jazz as teachers, bandleaders, instrumentalists, singers, and composers. Indeed, music penetrated all aspects of the life of this tight-knit community, proud of its French heritage and language. They played and/or sang classical, military, and dance music as well as popular songs and cantiques that incorporated African, European, and Caribbean elements decades before early jazz appeared. In Jazz à la Creole: French Creole Music and the Birth of Jazz, the author describes the music played by the Afro-Creole community since the arrival of enslaved Africans in La Louisiane, then a French colony, at the beginning of the eighteenth century, emphasizing the many cultural exchanges that led to the development of jazz.

Caroline Vézina has compiled and analyzed a broad scope of primary sources found in diverse locations from New Orleans to Quebec City, Washington, DC, New York City, and Chicago. Two previously unpublished interviews add valuable insider knowledge about the music on French plantations and the danses Créoles held in Congo Square after the Civil War. Musical and textual analyses of cantiques provide new information about the process of their appropriation by the Creole Catholics as the French counterpart of the Negro spirituals. Finally, a closer look at their musical practices indicates that the Creoles sang and improvised music and/or lyrics of Creole songs, and that some were part of their professional repertoire. As such, they belong to the Black American and the Franco-American folk music traditions that reflect the rich cultural heritage of Louisiana.

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A Real Negro Girl: Fredi Washington and the New Negro Renaissance

Posted in Arts, Biography, Books, Forthcoming Media, Monographs, Passing, United States, Women on 2022-11-27 05:39Z by Steven

A Real Negro Girl: Fredi Washington and the New Negro Renaissance

Oxford University Press
2023-10-02
320 Pages
25 black and white illustrations
6 1/8 x 9 1/4 inches
Hardcover ISBN: 9780197626214

Laurie A. Woodard, Assistant Professor of History
City College of New York, New York, New York

  • First biography of dancer, actor, and activist Fredi Washington
  • Highlights the role of the performing arts in the history of the New Negro Renaissance, which has tended to be focused on literary arts
  • Focuses on an African American who could have but chose not to “pass

The first biography of performing artist, writer, and civil and human rights activist Fredi Washington.

Following Fredi Washington’s debut in her first dramatic role in 1926, Alfred Spengler of the New York North Side News reported that she was “astonishingly pretty for a real Negro girl.” Throughout her career, Washington was vulnerable to discrimination because her near-white skin and hazel eyes, coupled with her self-identification as Negro, cast her as too physically white to play black and too culturally black to play white. The multifaceted Washington was of course a great deal more than her looks; she was a performing artist, a writer, and a civil and human rights activist. Embracing the genres of dance, theater, and film, she used her talent, creativity, and determination to sustain a thirty-year career in the arts and in labor and political activism during the New Negro Renaissance and beyond.

Although Fredi Washington has been largely forgotten, A Real Negro Girl shows that, at the zenith of her career, she was a household name in the black community, well known in mainstream America, and a darling of the European press. Most famous for her role in the film “Imitation of Life,” she was a part of a cohort that included Paul Robeson, Josephine Baker, and Bill “Bojangles” Robinson. Delving into her professional and personal experiences in Harlem, nationally, and internationally, this book illuminates Washington’s significance to the New Negro Renaissance and reveals the vital influence of black performing artists and of black women on the movement. Over the years, Washington expanded her social and political consciousness and anti-racism activism, encompassing journalism, labor organizing, protests, and support of progressive politics. As a founder and executive director of the Negro Actors Guild of America, she sought to protect black artists from professional exploitation and physical abuse.

Incorporating close readings of images and films, interviews, and fan mail, as well as writings by and about Washington, A Real Negro Girl highlights Fredi Washington as an influential actor in the African American quest for civil and human rights.

Table of Contents

  • Acknowledgments
  • Introduction
  • Chapter 1: Setting the Stage: The Roots of the New Negro Renaissance
  • Chapter 2: Dancing All Day: Reading Blackface and Black Bodies
  • Chapter 3: Boxers, Blacks, and a Real Negro Girl: White Expectations and Imagined Conceptions of Authentic Blackness
  • Chapter 4: Race, Place, and Miscegenation: Fredi Washington in Imitation of Life
  • Chapter 5: Beyond the Footlights: New Negro Performing Artists and More Tangible Forms of Activism
  • Conclusion
  • Notes
  • Select Bibliography
  • Index
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“As if I Were an Illegal”: Racial Passing in Immigrant Russia

Posted in Anthropology, Arts, Europe, Media Archive, Passing on 2022-11-27 02:43Z by Steven

“As if I Were an Illegal”: Racial Passing in Immigrant Russia

Cultural Anthropology
Volume 37, Number 4, November 2022
pages 653–678
DOI:10.14506/ca37.4.03

Lauren Woodard, Assistant Professor of Anthropology
Syracuse University, Syracuse, New York

This article examines how immigrants from post-Soviet countries engage in practices of racial passing to challenge ethnic stereotypes in Russia, the world’s fourth-largest migration destination. Ethnographic research reveals that immigrants shed signs of illegality to pass not necessarily as white, ethnic Russians (russkie) but instead as ethnically heterogeneous Russian citizens (rossiiane). The need to pass points to fundamental tensions within Russian society about belonging, tensions arising from a particular configuration of race, ethnicity, and language that emerged during the Soviet era. I show how ethnic Russianness operates akin to whiteness, the invisible ideal against which racialized bodies are marked, despite Soviet-era anti-racism campaigns and contemporary claims of Russia’s multiethnic diversity. This article contributes to scholarship analyzing migration and citizenship as racial projects by demonstrating how locally nuanced inflections of whiteness interact with global and transnational movements of white supremacy.

Read the entire article here.

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World-premiere recordings honor legacy of William Grant Still

Posted in Articles, Arts, Audio, Interviews, Media Archive, United States on 2022-09-08 02:24Z by Steven

World-premiere recordings honor legacy of William Grant Still

YourClassical
Minnesota Public Radio
2022-06-29

Julie Amacher, Host

Celeste Headlee and her grandfather, William Grant Still, on a visit to Disneyland in Anaheim, Calif. Courtesy Celeste Headlee

”It’s crucial to remember this is not new music. These manuscripts have been around for generations. I’m aware that there are many more pieces from William Grant Sill and other composers who have been neglected over the years,” conductor Avlana Eisenberg said about Still, who has 13 world premieres on her latest release, William Grant Still: Summerland/Violin Suite/Pastorela/American Suite. “I think it’s incumbent upon us to make sure that this is not a passing phase but momentum that gets carried forth.”

Eisenberg is joined by journalist Celeste Headlee, who is the granddaughter of Still…

Read the article here. Listen to the extended interview (00:41:56) here.

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The Groundbreaking Talent of Anne Wiggins Brown

Posted in Arts, Biography, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2022-07-17 21:08Z by Steven

The Groundbreaking Talent of Anne Wiggins Brown

Amistad Research Center
New Orleans, Louisiana
2018-06-04

On September 30, 1935, soprano Anne Wiggins Brown stepped onto the stage at the Colonial Theatre in Boston. It was the much anticipated world premiere of George Gershwin’s new “folk opera,” and a big moment for the young vocalist. Far from just a lucky break, this was a major opportunity that Brown had carved out for herself, the culmination of years of work. For the past two years, she had spent many long days completing her classes as a graduate student at the Juilliard School (she had been the first African American student admitted there after auditioning at age 15), and then traveling down to meet with Gershwin and work on new material for his show. In a bold moment, the twenty-one year old had written the composer a letter after reading news of his new project. Once he heard her sing, Gershwin not only included her in his production, but in his writing process, eventually developing her character into a co-lead and a career-defining role for Brown. And thus the story of DuBose Heyward’s Porgy became known to the world as Porgy and Bess

Read the entire article here.

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Killian & the Comeback Kids, With Taylor A. Purdee, Kassie DePaiva, Shannon O’Boyle, More, Eyes Summer Release

Posted in Articles, Arts, Media Archive, United States on 2022-06-19 22:59Z by Steven

Killian & the Comeback Kids, With Taylor A. Purdee, Kassie DePaiva, Shannon O’Boyle, More, Eyes Summer Release

Playbill
2020-08-03

Andrew Gans, Senior News Editor

Killian & The Comeback Kids

Purdee also wrote and directed the new folk-rock musical film.

Taylor A. Purdee’s folk-rock musical film Killian & the Comeback Kids is currently slated for a theatrical launch in late August, adding new states on a rolling basis as regions reopen.

The film stars Purdee (Gotham) in the title role, with Kassie DePaiva (Days of Our Lives), Nathan Purdee (The Young and the Restless), Shannon O’Boyle (Once), Emily Mest (Spring Awakening national tour), Shane Andries (Tomorrow Ever After), John Donchak, Andrew O’Shanick, Yael Elisheva, Maddi Jane, and Academy Award winner Lee Grant (Shampoo)…

Read the entire article here.

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The Box: Looking Back At Daytime’s First Black Leading Actress Ellen Holly

Posted in Articles, Arts, Media Archive, United States, Wanted/Research Requests/Call for Papers on 2022-05-13 02:04Z by Steven

The Box: Looking Back At Daytime’s First Black Leading Actress Ellen Holly

A Hot Set
2020-07-21

Hillary Lynch

ABC PHOTO ARCHIVES

Ellen Holly comes from a long line of trailblazers- her family tree includes Susan Smith McKinney Steward, the first Black woman to graduate from medical school in the state of New York (the third in the United States overall) and Sylvanus Smith, the first Black person to address Congress at the Lincoln Memorial– so it’s no surprise that she is a trailblazer herself. Her portrayal of Carla Gray on the Agnes Nixon soap opera One Life to Live marked a major moment in entertainment history, as she became the first Black leading actress in daytime television. Her inclusion on the soap was monumental, giving the daytime television viewing populace a rare opportunity to watch a Black television character in a major, meaningful role.

Carla Gray is first introduced on One Life to Live in 1968 as Carla Benari, an Italian American woman who is on the brink of a complete nervous breakdown. The cause of her mental health issue is later revealed to be from the inner conflict she faces as a light-skinned Black woman who ran away when she was young and has been passing for white ever since. The irony of the role was not lost on Holly, who referenced the fact that Black actresses avoid trying to pass for white. At the same time, this was the only role on camera that was typically awarded to light-skinned Black actresses- and even then, these roles often went to white actresses. Irony aside, Carla Gray was huge. Upon the show’s revelation that the Italian Carla Benari was actually the Black Carla Gray, ratings spiked, and it was clear that Agnes Nixon had struck television gold with her character’s unique storyline…

Read the entire article here.

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Conversations In My Head

Posted in Articles, Arts, Audio, Media Archive on 2022-05-13 00:51Z by Steven

Conversations In My Head | Conversations In My Head

Music Xray: 21st century A&R

Artist: Davina Robinson
Album: The Blazing Heart
Title: Conversations In My Head
Year: 2008
Track number: 3
Total tracks: 4
Genres: Rock / Alternative & Punk / Pop

“Powerhouse Rock and Roll Soul” describes Davina Robinson’s blend of rock, funk, soul and wild woman attitude, creating a powerful, fierce, soulful rock style. Davina released her debut EP The Blazing Heart in May 2008, and her first full album, Black Rock Warrior Queen, in November 2011. Davina is from Philadelphia, USA and based in Osaka, Japan.

Lyrics

Are you watching me from afar
Standing over my shoulder
Are you floating above the floor
Sorry that I can’t speak Italian anymore

Many years ago your daughter had a Black boyfriend
When she got pregnant it caused a stir
Everyone said just get rid of it
You were the only one who told her to give birth…

Listen to the song and read the lyrics here.

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Rhiannon Giddens wins Best Folk Album GRAMMY

Posted in Articles, Arts, Media Archive, United States on 2022-05-05 16:00Z by Steven

Rhiannon Giddens wins Best Folk Album GRAMMY

Guitar Girl Magazine
2022-04-06

GGM Staff

Photo Credit: Ebru Yildiz

Congratulations to Rhiannon Giddens on her Grammy Award win for Best Folk Album for They’re Calling Me Home. Giddens was also nominated for Best American Roots Song for ​​”Avalon” from They’re Calling Me Home, which she made with multi-instrumentalist Francesco Turrisi. Giddens is now a 2-time winner and an 8-time nominee. On Wednesday, Giddens will also perform at Paul Simon’s tribute concert “Homeward Bound: A Grammy Salute to the Songs of Paul Simon,” alongside Brandi Carlile, Brad Paisley, Billy Porter, Dave Matthews, and Paul Simon himself.

The Grammy award-winning album, released by Nonesuch last April, has been widely celebrated by the NY Times, NPR Music, NPR, Rolling Stone, People, Associated Press and far beyond, with No Depression deeming it “a near perfect album…her finest work to date.” Recorded over six days in the early phase of the pandemic in a small studio outside of Dublin, Ireland – where both Giddens and Turrisi live – They’re Calling Me Home manages to effortlessly blend the music of their native and adoptive countries: America, Italy, and Ireland. The album speaks of the longing for the comfort of home as well as the metaphorical “call home” of death…

Read the entire article here.

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Robin Thede Teases ‘Epic’ Return of ‘A Black Lady Sketch Show’ on Variety’s ‘Through Our Lens’

Posted in Arts, Interviews, Media Archive, United States, Videos, Women on 2022-04-21 14:23Z by Steven

Robin Thede Teases ‘Epic’ Return of ‘A Black Lady Sketch Show’ on Variety’s ‘Through Our Lens’

Variety
2022-04-02

Robin Thede, writer, comedian and creator of ‘A Black Lady Sketch Show’, joins Variety’s Angelique Jackson on ‘Through Our Lens’ to discuss how her perspective as a Black woman has shaped her comedy career and outlook as a creator and showrunner.

Watch the interview here. Read the article here.

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