black biography

BESSIE SMITH 1894–1937

One of the greatest American singers of the 20s and 30s, known for her powerful delivery and often called “The Empress of the Blues.” Her parents had both died by the time she was a teenager, and to earn money, Smith began performing on the streets of Chattanooga with her brother. In 1912, she joined a traveling troupe that boasted the successful blues singer Ma Rainey—Rainey would become her good friend and mentor. Though she started as a chorus dancer, Smith soon developed her own act, and in 1923 she signed a record deal with Columbia, releasing the first album on their new “race records” series. With the popularity of her song “Downhearted Blues,” she became the most successful blues singer of the time, earning enough to live lavishly and travel town to town in her own private train. She married her husband Jack Gee around the time her first album was released, but it was a rocky relationship, with affairs on both sides. Most of Smith’s infidelities were with other women in her troupe, which sparked frequent fights, and when Smith discovered her husband had been sleeping with another singer, they separated. During the Great Depression, the recording industry took a hit, as did Smith’s career. She started to make a comeback by transitioning into swing music, but it was cut short when she was killed in a car accident. For years her grave was left unmarked, until Janis Joplin bought her a tombstone in 1970.

I also wonder just how heartfelt Hamilton’s ‘loyalist’ sentiments were in the few years leading up to his pamphlets and the Corsicans. this is the same man who, living in the West Indies where fear of slave revolts and utter reliance on British protection made revolutionary ideas about independence extremely unfashionable, was still talking about how he 'wished there was a war’. I don’t think it’s coincidence- or entirely about his education- when he moved from that environment to the mainland at the time that he did with the ideas that he had. any time Hamilton hit a new station in life he characteristically spent some time laying low and getting the feel for his new position. I don’t think he’d spend his first few years in a place making any wild moves for a war when the idea of violence against the “mother country” was so uncouth and he was so new to the area. idk i just feel like it’s a lot to claim that he was truly loyalist so much as playing both sides of the fence until he could be sure a war was coming.

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Robert DOISNEAU

Robert Doisneau (14 avril 1912 - 1er avril 1994)
est un photographe français, parmi les plus populaires d'après-guerre.
Il fut, aux côtés de Willy Ronis et d'Édouard Boubat, l'un des principaux représentants
du courant de la photographie humaniste française.

Biographie
Robert Doisneau est né le 14 avril 1912, à Gentilly, dans une famille bourgeoise. Il étudie les Arts graphiques à l’école Estienne et obtient son diplôme de graveur et de lithographe en 1929. Un an plus tard, il réussit à intégrer l’Atelier Ullmann en tant que photographe publicitaire. En 1931, Robert Doisneau rencontre Jane avec qui il se mariera deux ans plus tard; il devient aussi cette même année l’opérateur d’André Vigneau où il découvrira la Nouvelle Objectivité photographique. C’est en 1932, qu’il vend son premier reportage photographique, qui sera diffusé dans l’Excelsior. En 1934, Renault de Boulogne-Billancourt, l’embauche comme photographe industriel, Robert Doisneau, du fait de retards répétés, se fait renvoyer cinq ans plus tard, en 1939. Désormais sans emploi, il tente de devenir photographe illustrateur indépendant. Robert Doisneau rencontre, peu avant le début de la Seconde Guerre mondiale Charles Rado, le fondateur de l’agence Rapho. Son premier reportage, sur le canoë en Dordogne, fut interrompu par la déclaration de guerre et la mobilisation générale. Après guerre Robert Doisneau devient photographe indépendant en intégrant officiellement, en 1946, l’agence de photographie Rapho.
Il se mit alors à produire et réaliser de nombreux reportages photographiques sur des sujets très divers : l’actualité parisienne, le Paris populaire, des sujets sur la province ou l’étranger (URSS, États-Unis, Yougoslavie,…). Certains de ses reportages paraîtront dans des magazines comme Life, Paris Match, Réalités, Point de Vue, Regards, etc.
En 1947, il rencontre Robert Giraud, chez l'antiquaire Romi, c’est alors le début d'une longue amitié et d'une fructueuse collaboration. Doisneau publiera une trentaine d’albums dont La Banlieue de Paris, avec des textes de Blaise Cendrars, en 1949. Il travaillera un temps pour Vogue, de 1948 à 1953 en qualité de collaborateur permanent.
Son travail de photographe sera récompensé à diverses reprises : le Prix Kodak en 1947, le Prix Niepce en 1956. En 1960, Doisneau monte une exposition au Musée d'art contemporain de Chicago. Il recevra encore quelque prix pour son travail, le Grand Prix National de la Photographie en 1983 et le Prix Balzac en 1986. En 1992, Doisneau fait une rétrospective au Musée d'art moderne d'Oxford. Ce sera sa dernière exposition, puisqu’il décède à Montrouge en Avril 1994. Doisneau est enterré à Raizeux, aux côtés de sa femme.

Son oeuvre
Robert Doisneau est l'un des photographes français les plus connus à l'étranger notamment grâce à des photos comme « le Baiser de l'hôtel de ville ». Ses photographies noir et blanc des rues de Paris d'après guerre et de sa banlieue ont fait sa renommée…
Doisneau est un passant patient qui conserve toujours une certaine distance vis-à-vis de ses sujets. Il guette l'anecdote, la petite histoire. Ses photos sont souvent empreintes d'humour mais également de nostalgie, d'ironie et de tendresse.
Il travaillait sur Paris, ses faubourgs et ses habitants : artisans, bistrots, clochards, gamins des rues, amoureux, bateleurs, etc. Il enregistra pendant près d'un demi-siècle des milliers de portraits du petit peuple de Paris.
Il a participé au Groupe des XV aux côtés de René-Jacques, de Willy Ronis, de Pierre Jahan, dans les années 1950.

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“My music is addressed to my people… deliberately to provoke this feeling of ‘Who am I? Where did I come from? Do I really like me, and why do I like me? And if I am black and beautiful, I really am and I know it, and I don’t care who says what.’ That’s what my songs are about…Though I hope that in their musical concept, and in their musical form and power, that they will also live on after I die.” - Nina Simone, 1969

From Alan Light comes a biography of incandescent soul singer and Black Power icon Nina Simone, one of the most influential, provocative, and least understood artists of our time. WHAT HAPPENED, MISS SIMONE?, the essential companion to the Oscar-nominated Netflix documentary, is available now everywhere books are sold. Read an excerpt and get the book here.

[Photos courtesy of the Estate of Alfred Wertheimer]

Q4 challenge:


Between Oct-Dec I’m going to listen to an audio book everyday.


By the end of the year, I would’ve listened to 90 books and if I accomplish this, I will reward myself by purchasing them all and buying myself a book shelf.


Can you recommend any books? Self-love, self-help, biographies, spirituality, black history, business and entrepreneurship, origins of religions and culture.


🌻✨💛

Michelle Obama: A Life by Peter Slevin

An inspiring story, richly detailed and written with élan, here is the first comprehensive account of the life and times of Michelle Obama, a woman of achievement and purpose—and the most unlikely first lady in modern American history. With disciplined reporting and a storyteller’s eye for revealing detail, Peter Slevin follows Michelle to the White House from her working-class childhood on Chicago’s largely segregated South Side.  [book link]