african singers

Happy Birthday Ida Cox! (February 26, 1896 – November 10, 1967)

 African-American singer and vaudeville performer, best known for her blues performances and recordings. She was billed as “The Uncrowned Queen of the Blues”. (Wikipedia)

Portrait of singer Ida Prather Cox. Brief biography printed on back. Printed on back: “Photo courtesy of Duncan Schiedt. Stride Card Company, 115 W. 16 St., N.Y. 10011.”

  • Courtesy of the E. Azalia Hackley Collection of African Americans in the Performing Arts, Detroit Public Library
youtube

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QTIPDE58wtQ

Hidden Figures: Esther Jones (Baby Esther) #BlackHERstoryMonth 24/28

Esther Jones, known by her stage name “Baby Esther”, was an African American singer and entertainer of the late 1920s, known for her “baby” singing style. She performed regularly at the Cotton Club in Harlem, and theatrical manager Lou Walton testified during the Fleischer v. Kane trial that Helen Kane saw Baby Esther’s cabaret act in 1928 with him and appropriated Jones’ style of singing, changing the interpolated words “boo-boo-boo” and “doo-doo-doo” to “boop-boop-a-doop” in a recording of “I Wanna Be Loved By You”. Kane never publicly admitted this. Jones’ style, as imitated by Kane, went on to become the inspiration for the voice of the cartoon character Betty Boop.

When Kane attempted to sue Fleischer Studios for using her persona, the studios defended themselves by arguing that Kane herself had taken it from “Baby Esther” Jones. An early test sound film of Baby Esther’s performance was used as evidence. In court, it was presumed that Jones had since died.

#HiddenFigures #BlackHERstoryMonth

View of soprano Leontyne Price in Puccini’s opera, “Tosca.” Stamped on back: “NBC photo.” Handwritten on back: “Miss Price in Act II.”

  • Courtesy of the E. Azalia Hackley Collection of African Americans in the Performing Arts, Detroit Public Library

View of mezzo-soprano Shirley Verrett performing in Gluck’s opera, “Iphigenie en Tauride.” Label on back: “Iphigenie in Tauride, Paris Opera.” Handwritten on back: “[copyright] Daniel Cande. 8, avenue Charles de Gaulle, 92100 Boulogne.”

  • Courtesy of the E. Azalia Hackley Collection of African Americans in the Performing Arts, Detroit Public Library

Portrait of soprano Veronica Tyler. Printed on front: “James J. Kriegsmann, N.Y.” Stamped on back: “Veronica Tyler, soprano.”

  • Courtesy of the E. Azalia Hackley Collection of African Americans in the Performing Arts, Detroit Public Library

Josephine Baker was a famous African American dancer, singer, and actress born in 1906 St. Louis, Missouri. Sadly she was not appreciated in the US, so she went to Paris in the 1920s, where her amazing talent, charm, and charisma were such a smashing success that she became a movie star there. Oh, and she had a pet cheetah named Chiquita, who often escaped the stage to terrorize the musicians.

Even more badass - during WWII, she served as a spy to the French military intelligence, collecting info about German troop locations at all the fancy parties she went to. She pinned those notes, written in invisible ink on her sheet music, inside her underwear. How cool is that.

She also contributed to the Civil Rights movement, and refused to perform for segregated audiences during her tours in the US.