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 Two previously unpublished interviews add valuable insider knowledge about the music on French plantations and the danses Créoles held in Congo Square after the Civil War.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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The Importance of Being Turbaned

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, Passing, Religion, United States on 2022-05-21 22:25Z by Steven

The Importance of Being Turbaned

The Antioch Review
Volume 69, Number 2, Spring 2011
pages 208-221

Paul A. Kramer, Associate Professor of History
Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee

This narrative piece, selected by The Best American Essays 2012 as a “notable essay,” tells the story of Rev. Jesse Routté, an African American Lutheran minister in New York who, in response to racist abuse during a 1943 trip to Mobile, Alabama, returned four years later disguised as a turbaned, Swedish-accented “foreigner.” When he reported positive treatment, it flaunted contradictions in Jim Crow’s racial definitions.

Read the entire article here.

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Amnesia of June Bugs, A Novel

Posted in Books, Media Archive, Novels, United States on 2022-05-13 18:30Z by Steven

Amnesia of June Bugs

7.13 Books
2022-04-25
354 pages
Paperback ISBN-13: 979-8985376203
5.5 x 0.89 x 8.5 inches

Jackson Bliss

Jackson Bliss’s brilliant and moving debut novel redefines what a novel can be. Hurricane Sandy has just smashed into the Eastern Seaboard, trapping four passengers on the C train: a Chinese American graffiti artist grieving his father’s death, a mixed-race graphic designer struggling to become a mom, a Moroccan French translator escaping his heartache in Paris, and an Indian American traveler leaving Chicago to regain control of her life. Amnesia of June Bugs is an ambitious, infatuated, and furious book about the time we lost and the people we could have loved.

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Stories of racial passing, from the pages of Nella Larsen to Detroit’s upper class

Posted in Articles, Audio, Media Archive, Passing, United States, Women on 2022-03-31 22:52Z by Steven

Stories of racial passing, from the pages of Nella Larsen to Detroit’s upper class

Stateside
Michigan Radio
2022-03-25

“Still’s Underground Rail Road Records,” 1886  /Boston African American National Historic Site

To escape slavery in Georgia, light-skinned Ellen Craft and her dark-skinned husband William posed, respectively, as a white gentleman traveling with his enslaved manservant in 1848.

Elsie Roxborough was born in 1914 in Detroit to one of Michigan’s most prominent Black families. When she died in New York City in 1949, her death certificate listed her race as white. She had lived there as a white woman for over a decade, working for a time as a model while aspiring to acclaim as a playwright.

“She almost immediately goes to New York City after graduation from the University of Michigan,” said Ken Coleman, a journalist who has researched the Roxborough family. Elsie Roxborough “at least professionally changed her name to Pat Rico at one point, and then ultimately, Mona Manet, and her brown, brownish-black hair becomes Lucille Ball auburn.”

Roxborough represents one of the few documented historical instances from Michigan of a Black person choosing to live nearly full-time as a member of white society. This phenomenon, known as racial passing, has received renewed popular attention through recent artistic works like Rebecca Hall’s film adaptation of Nella Larsen’s 1929 novel Passing and Britt Bennett’s novel The Vanishing Half

Listen to the story (00:19:36) here.

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Stateside Podcast: “Passing:” The Story of Elsie Roxborough

Posted in Audio, Biography, History, Media Archive, Passing, United States, Women on 2022-03-30 13:51Z by Steven

Stateside Podcast: “Passing:” The Story of Elsie Roxborough

Stateside
Michigan Radio
2022-03-24

University Of Michigan Alumni Association/Bentley Historical Library

Writer and reporter Ken Coleman tells the story of Detroiter Elsie Roxborough, who was born into a wealthy, Black family in Detroit. But when she died in 1939, her death certificate listed her as white.

In 1914, Elsie Roxborough was born into a wealthy, Black family in Detroit. But when she died in 1939, her death certificate listed her as white. Her life was rich, curious and at times, troubled, all while attempting a sort of high-wire-act of living multiple lives, between cities and names and races. Today, we talk about her life, death, and everything in between.

Listen to the story (00:19:36) here. Download the story here.

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Growing up, as a mixed race child, with survivor grandparents

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Biography, Europe, History, Judaism, Media Archive, Religion, United States on 2022-03-15 22:27Z by Steven

Growing up, as a mixed race child, with survivor grandparents

Forward
2022-03-08

Kyla Kupferstein
Oakland, California

Courtesy of Kyla Kupferstein
Kyla with her grandmother Fela and grandfather Hershl

As a child growing up in the 1970s and 80s, my younger brother David and I did everything in Manhattan: it was where we lived, went to school and played with our friends.

Except for the weekends when my parents would take us to visit my grandparents in the Kingsbridge section of the Bronx. Buba Fela and Zayda Hershl lived in the Amalgamated Houses on Sedgwick Avenue – a cooperative apartment complex that functioned like a reassembled shtetl, a Yiddish-speaking community of Jews from Eastern Europe who had somehow escaped or survived the Nazi genocide and lived to tell the tale.

As my brother and I (known at our grandparents’ home as Kylashi and Davittle) sat at our grandparents’ kitchen table, we were fed a steady diet of Holocaust talk. “The war,” they called it, when they spoke English, which they did only for us. Hitler, Stalin, the camps – all these were a part of their normal vocabulary. And their neighbors, some who had been my grandparents’ friends back in Warsaw, most of them Bundists ranging from agnostic to atheist, were the closest thing to an extended family that we had.

Unlike many other survivors who kept silent because they couldn’t bear to revisit the atrocities, everyone in this community told their stories openly; we waited for those stories, just as we waited for Buba’s misshapen cookies and trips to the sprinklers in Van Cortlandt Park. Countless times we heard the story of how they left: when young men were urged to leave Warsaw because of Hitler’s imminent arrival, my Zayda, Herschel, decided he couldn’t leave without his love, Fela. Her grandfather quickly married them, and they fled to Russia, innocently believing it would be safe for them as socialists. But they were arrested at the Russian border, and then jailed separately in Stalin’s prisons in Siberia

Read the entire article here.

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Your Attention Please: Initiative 29 – Tao Leigh Goffe • Hulu

Posted in Arts, Asian Diaspora, Autobiography, Caribbean/Latin America, Media Archive, United Kingdom, United States, Videos on 2022-03-11 04:04Z by Steven

Your Attention Please: Initiative 29 – Tao Leigh Goffe • Hulu

Hulu
2021-05-29

Tao Leigh Goffe, Assistant Professor of Literary Theory and Cultural History
Cornell University, Ithaca, New York

Journey through time with professor and DJ Tao Leigh Goffe as she uncovers her story at the intersection of Black and Chinese culture in this month’s #Initiative29 episode.

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A Drop of Midnight: A Memoir

Posted in Autobiography, Biography, Books, Europe, History, Media Archive, Monographs, Slavery on 2022-02-26 21:15Z by Steven

A Drop of Midnight: A Memoir

Amazon Crossing
2020-03-01
304 pages
5.5 x 1 x 8.25 inches
Hardcover ISBN-13: 978-1542017077
Paperback ISBN-13: 978-1542016704
Audio CD ISBN: 978-1799726296

Jason Diakité

Rachel Willson-Broyles (Translator)

World-renowned hip-hop artist Jason “Timbuktu” Diakité’s vivid and intimate journey through his own and his family’s history―from South Carolina slavery to twenty-first-century Sweden.

Born to interracial American parents in Sweden, Jason Diakité grew up between worlds―part Swedish, American, black, white, Cherokee, Slovak, and German, riding a delicate cultural and racial divide. It was a no-man’s-land that left him in constant search of self. Even after his hip-hop career took off, Jason fought to unify a complex system of family roots that branched across continents, ethnicities, classes, colors, and eras to find a sense of belonging.

In A Drop of Midnight, Jason draws on conversations with his parents, personal experiences, long-lost letters, and pilgrimages to South Carolina and New York to paint a vivid picture of race, discrimination, family, and ambition. His ancestors’ origins as slaves in the antebellum South, his parents’ struggles as an interracial couple, and his own world-expanding connection to hip-hop helped him fashion a strong black identity in Sweden.

What unfolds in Jason’s remarkable voyage of discovery is a complex and unflinching look at not only his own history but also that of generations affected by the trauma of the African diaspora, then and now.

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Why Chinese Americans Are Talking About Eileen Gu

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, United States on 2022-02-21 18:20Z by Steven

Why Chinese Americans Are Talking About Eileen Gu

The New York Times
2022-02-18

Ashley Wong

Whether or not they agreed with her choices, many Chinese Americans said Eileen Gu’s comments about her identity resonated with them. Chang W. Lee/The New York Times

The critical crossfire Ms. Gu has faced has implications that go far beyond the Olympic slopes, Chinese Americans say. And some see themselves in the duality she has embraced.

When it comes to Eileen Gu, the 18-year-old Olympic gold medalist freestyle skier who was born in San Francisco but competed for China, Chinese Americans have lots of opinions.

There are those who love her, moved by her ability to soar over treacherous slopes with ease. Others are inspired by her efforts to navigate the uneasy political tension between two countries and cultures. Some believe she chose to represent China simply to cash in on the lucrative opportunities it has afforded her.

But like her or not, many Chinese Americans interviewed in the New York region this week agreed on one thing: When Ms. Gu says, as she often does, “When I’m in the U.S., I’m American, but when I’m in China, I’m Chinese,” it resonates with them.

“I think what I’m seeing is somebody who isn’t afraid to love her identities and share that with people,” said Sarah Belle Lin, 28, a Harlem resident. “I think it’s so brave, actually, for her to speak about that on a public platform.”…

Read the entire article here.

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