This is the first lady that I heard sing my father’s song “A Good Man is Hard to Find” on a Los Angeles Jazz radio station in 1988. A friend recorded it to a cassette for me. The song I have placed in this post is different but connected. See, I started to write this post about the difficulty in getting today’s public interested in radio artists from the 20s, 30s, and 40s, unless they are older people or people who are into entertainment nostalgia. And how difficult it has been to get today’s Black people interested in Black entertainers from the same era. Because there are people today (like my younger brother Brian) who have contempt for the “Rochesters” or “Fettchits”. Those slow-talking, yes, sah Blacks, thus making it harder to market the biography I have written about my father who was successful during the early 1900s. They are not proud of these old timers. But I think the fact that these entertainers persevered and succeeded during a time of great hardship for Americans and particularly Black people makes a powerful statement of tenacity that ought to be passed on and on. For instance, our kids today are listening to songs that contain profanity and outright sexual lyrics. But guess what? They need to know that this is not new, they are simply re-stating the same ideas that began back in the 20s with songs like the one below from youtube. Only a bit more subtle.
Yes, Alberta Hunter! 1895-1984. We now have the internet and cable and smartphones and no longer sit around the radio waiting for Amos n Andy or The Hit Parade or Duffy’s Tavern (with Eddie Green as Eddie, the waiter), or The Shadow, but we ought to remember these pioneers and their determination to follow and achieve their dreams. Black or White.
Then, this morning, my focus for this post began to include Racism. I read an article. On March 31, 2017 someone left a noose in the National Museum of African-American History and Culture in Washington, D. C. The world may have moved on technology-wise, but racism and hatred are still with us. For my Black brothers and sisters this may very well prove to be a reason for not wanting to look back at what some see as negative Black images from the 20s, 30s or 40s. Or maybe they see these as simply by-gone days. But remember, these Black entertainers who came before us witnessed lynchings and still chose to pursue their entertainment dreams. Through courage and determination these old timers left legacies of courage and success. They prove that perseverance, love of life and the desire to provide happiness to others can and will stop negativity from overtaking this world, that the desire to harm others can be lessened and a greater desire to help others can be achieved.
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