What Makes U Smile?

What makes you smile before you even know you are smiling? It’s a nice thing to have happen. It’s nice to know that in a world where bad things happen, there exists happenings that make me smile, automatically. My lips turn up at the corners by themselves. For instance, a few days ago I got up, turned on my laptop and checked my mail.  There was a message from a friend in England. She started her message with “Hello Dearest Elva”. Since it was early morning I hadn’t had time to become grumpy so I was able to receive this greeting as I know it was meant. My friend is such a nice lady. Someone I met during my book writing journey. She is a good-hearted person. And I know she is genuine. And so it made me feel good to hear from her. It was like an “Awwww” moment. While reading the rest of her message  my lips began to smile of their own accord. She had found an article in a book that was a copy of correspondence my father, Eddie Green had, probably in 1949, with a man by the name of Joe Davis. The article stated:

Early in April, Davis heard from one of his old contacts from the 1920s, Eddie Green. Now managing Sepia Productions in Los Angeles, Green had written to offer a song: “I am sending you this record of ‘You Can Always Believe Your Heart.’ This was taken from the sound track of the picture Mr. Adam’s Bomb’ which I have just produced. This was a short subject produced by us primarily for the Colored theatres. I think I mentioned this to you when I was in New York last summer. This tune should be a great tune for the Mills Brothers or a quartette like them. I am sending it to you because I believe that you, being there in the big City, could reach them better than I can out here.”

Addressing him as Eddie, Davis wrote back immediately: “You know how it always gives me great pleasure to hear from you. As soon as I receive the record of ‘You Can Always Believe Your Heart,’ I will be only too pleased to go over it, and if you have any other songs, please send them to me, as I sure would like to publish a few things more by you.”

The thing is, I have been looking for the copyright of that song since 2014. Or a copy of the lyrics. Or something to prove that Eddie did indeed write the song. So, talk about pleased, I was so happy to see that my friend had actually found a letter from Eddie stating exactly what he did with the song he wrote for his movie! It was amazing to me. When I took my eyes off the page, I realized I had been smiling the whole time. That is such a blessing.

The song was sung in the movie by Margaret Westfield. I snapped this while watching the movie on Youtube from the Internet Archives. Unfortunately I have not been able yet to find anything on her. Though she had a lovely voice.

According to the internet “Joseph M. “Joe” Davis (October 6, 1896 – September 3, 1978[1]) was an American music producer, publisher and promoter in jazz, rhythm and blues and pop music. I might have found him had I known about him in the 70s.

I am in the process of gathering all of Eddie’s songs for possible re-release. Though it is a process. I have to verify copyright and also deal with folks who may claim copyright falsely. I don’t want Eddie’s work to stay hidden. I also want to have the paperwork for my grandson. Any money I make will be minimal-for me, it’s mainly about showcasing my father’s many talents. It’s about what I feel in my Heart. And what makes me Smile.

May you become more aware of what makes YOU smile.

Thanx so much, for stopping by. 🙂

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Respect Will Mitigate Chaos

Welcome. Thank you for visiting my Blog about my father, Eddie Green, and other stories of inspiration. Welcome to my new friends.  I’ve been posting here since 2014 and it has been a wonderful experience on line. Unlike other social media sites, I get to say whatever I want without having to expect “backlash”. I voiced my opinion on a question once on Twitter and I got so many mean responses I almost quit the site. But I realized it was not me or my thinking, just a lot of trolls. I have  good social media connections now and I love it. 

Life on planet Earth can be troublesome. These days, in America, is seems much more dangerous than in the past. So much anger and depression. Recently I received 2 messages from fans of my father who discovered my book and love the fact that I have shared my father’s life for their enjoyment. I received such positive compliments regarding the good that has come through my book, that I got this idea of a post for today. My father grew up and became successful during a truly dangerous period for Black Americans. Eddie was able to flourish even in this environment because Eddie was a nice guy. He was dependable, helpful, willing, well-read, respectful, hard-working and easy-going. He was kind and able to get along with anybody. He liked people. And he made them laugh. I believe we can have a sweeter life if we strive to show more concern and courtesy to our neighbors. As an example, here is an item from the Billboard from 1920:

“Help Everybody by Distributing Useful Information
The following letter from Eddie (Simp) Green, (he dropped the nickname by 1924) who is with Barney Gerard’s “Girls De Looks.” burlesque show is beyond doubt the most unselfish communication that has come to us since the department has been started. His little note Is an illustration of the many services to one another that actors may accomplish thru the instrumentality of this page. The letter:

Buffalo, N. Y., Nov. 9. Jack—Just a line to tell you that the boys playing this town find it so hard to get rooms that I think it would benefit all of them greatly if you would say  in your notes that when they play Buffalo the most convenient place to stop is the Hotel
Francis  directly opposite the New York City Depot. We re here this week and the show is a “riot as usual.” at the Gayety Theater.

Yours respectfully, EDDIE GREEN

(Editor’s Note—Eddie Green writes something besides letters.  He wrote “A Good Man is Hard To Find,” “Don’t Let No One Man Worry Your Mind,” “You Can’t Keep a Good Girl Down,” “Algiers” and the “Blind Man’s Blues”. He also has written himself into the class of regular fellows with the above letter. Billboard December 4, 1920

Tulsa Race Riot 1921

It must have been very difficult to think of others and to be funny to boot. Life in those days was rough.  While Eddie was at the Gayety in Dec. of 1920 trouble was brewing in St. Louis. The upheaval associated with the transition from a wartime to peacetime economy contributed to a depression in 1920 and 1921. The Tulsa Race Riot took place on May 31st and June 1st of 1921. The attack, carried out on the ground and by air, destroyed more than 35 blocks of the district, at the time the wealthiest black community in the United States. It began over a supposed assault of a White woman by a Black man. A group of armed black men rushed to the police station where the suspect was held; there they encountered a crowd of white men and women. A confrontation developed, (Picture courtesy of The Library of Congress)

How does one stay on point and continue to get along with whoever they encounter and also continue to progress in the business of being a comic. The good news is: In 1996, seventy-five years after the riot, a bi-partisan group in the state legislature authorized formation of the Oklahoma Commission to Study the Tulsa Race Riot of 1921, searching for truth and honesty and respect. Members were appointed to investigate events, interview survivors, hear testimony from the public, and prepare a report of events. There was an effort toward public education about these events through the process. The Commission’s final report, published in 2001, said that the city had conspired with the mob of white citizens against black citizens; it recommended a program of reparations to survivors and their descendants. The state passed legislation to establish some scholarships for descendants of survivors, encourage economic development of Greenwood, and develop a memorial park in Tulsa to the riot victims. Buck Franklin is best known for defending African-American survivors of the 1921 Tulsa race riot, On October 27, 2010, the City of Tulsa renamed Reconciliation Park, established to commemorate the victims of the Tulsa Race Riot of 1921, as John Hope Franklin Reconciliation Park in his honor.The park was dedicated in 2010.

 

Then there is this little item written by Gilbert Swan, of the Saratoga Springs, NY Saratogian “Sidelights of New York”, Jan 27, 1930: “Up to Harlem for a gay party in connection with the opening of the latest swanky way-up-town resort: the Plantation Club. And Eddie Green, the comic, doing an Ad Lib song about the columnists present with a verse about my modest self. . . . Which Is the first time it ever happened and left me trying to hide under my stiff choker”.

Regarding that party, about a month after Eddie’s appearance at this all-White club there was a break-in as per this article:

“THUGS INVADE PLANTATION CLUB New York, Jan. 17 — (UP) — Casting aside the usual method of intimidation and assault, a band of racketeers used pickaxes and crowbars to put Harlem’s newest night club, the Plantation club, out of business. The club was invaded yesterday by ten men who destroyed the furnishings, dance floor, costumes and electrical equipment”.  The Daily Argus, Jan. 1930

 

America was a dangerous place in those days. For a lot of people. And dangerous today. But men like Eddie and Buck  were here to show us how to thrive amid chaos. How we can strive to write ourselves into what the Billboard termed as “the class of regular fellows”. We have the ability to foster a kinder world.

Hey, thanx-for stopping by 🙂

Peace & Love

On Amazon: Eddie Green The Rise of an Early 1900s Black American Entertainment Pioneer

 

Interview: Guest “Staras” – Willie Tyler and Lester

Hi there you all. Well, I’ve spoken to my first person who guest starred on the tv sitcom, The Jeffersons. Mr. Willie Tyler, ventriloquist. Lester, his dummy, was not available.  I spoke with Willie for about 20 minutes via cell phone regarding this appearance. I got a big kick out of talking with him.  Willie told me he thinks of Lester as real, that way it’s easier to make him real to the audience. About Lester, according to a newspaper article I found on Fulton Postcards: “You would never know that the little fellow is not human once Willie Tyler sets the flashy little man on his knee and commences an act that has been applauded all over the world.”

Writing a book about The Jeffersons is going to give me the opportunity to talk with many more “staras” as my brother would say, and I’m loving it. I get to research these people and bring back an awareness of their works in the entertainment world. A lot of the people who worked on The Jeffersons are gone now. But not all of them.  Some are still doing their gigs to appreciative audiences. As is Willie Tyler and his buddy, Lester. Mr. Tyler is currently preparing to perform on a Cruise Ship. It’s amazing to me how this gentleman has done his ventriloquist act for more than 40 years. And he still loves doing it.

Willie Tyler and Lester appeared on The Jeffersons in 1978. I intend to share more in my book but I will tell you I found an old tv ad that reads: “George’s stockbroker is a ventriloquist, but is he a dummy? Only Louise knows the answer to that one.” Starring Isabel Sanford and Sherman Hemsley. Tarrytown NY Daily News (1978)

Willie Tyler and Lester appeared on the David Letterman show during “Ventriloquist Week” – take a gander, and, please, keep coming back.

 

ELLE VA – “She Goes”

 

1964 Elva Courier

Lately I have taken to signing my emails with my first name italicized, like this. I have also begun to use a different font from what’s used in the body of the message. Today I noticed that italicized letters give the illusion of movement. Elva. Which then reminded me of the fact that at one time the Elva racing car was quite popular. According to Wikipedia, Elva was a sports and racing car manufacturing company based in Bexhill, then Hastings and Rye, East Sussex, United Kingdom. The company was founded in 1955 by Frank G. Nichols. The name comes from the French phrase elle va (“she goes”). I have obviously started to think of myself as someone who is going forward. So my name is appropriate for this time of my life. My mother told me that my father chose my name and I always wondered how he came up with Elva. I know he took my mom to Paris once, maybe he heard it there. And I do love pairing it with a cool racing car.

This past week I had a library presentation in Los Angeles. I shared about the biography I have written about my father, Eddie Green. The book was published in 2016 and I am happy that I am still being asked to do these presentations. When I started writing the book I never even considered the possibility of appearing before a group of people to talk about the book. I just wanted to write it.

I have gone on to do presentations at libraries, Rotary Clubs, and clubs whose members are in the Entertainment business. I have done podcasts and radio interviews. Here I am at Mark Twain Library, still going, doing my thing-I think I am listening to a member of the audience. (I look just like my father!).

 

In the meantime, I have added to the process of going forward by starting the research on my second book by interviewing the producer of the tv sitcom, The Jeffersons. Yes, I had a 20 minute phone convo with Mr. Norman Lear. For those of you who don’t know, Norman Lear is an American television writer and producer who produced such 1970s sitcoms as All in the Family, Sanford and Son, One Day at a Time, The Jeffersons, Good Times, and Maude. I wrote out my questions beforehand, went to the park and made the call. The cell phone didn’t cut off and Mr. Lear was easy to talk with. My second book will be about The Jeffersons 1970s-1980’s television program.

I have started to watch all the episodes of The Jeffersons (DVD), and I have even begun to try and get a cast member to do a foreword for the book. My wonderful publisher thinks I am just right for this book writing project, so I must be! ELVASHE GOES.

Hey, thanx, for stopping by!!!

 

Flawlessness-It Ain’t Gonna Happen

 Once you accept the fact that you’re not perfect, then you develop some confidence. ~Rosalynn Carter.

Perfectionism, in psychology, is a personality trait characterized by a person’s striving for flawlessness and setting high performance standards, accompanied by critical self-evaluations and concerns regarding others’ evaluations. (Me, this is me)

Once in a Psych class we were given an assignment, to question our friends and relatives as to how they view us. One question was “describe my level of self-esteem.” Two people got me spot on. Johnny said that my level of self-esteem was not as high as I would like it to be, and that sometimes I am not happy about it. Karta said “I have seen you consciously make an effort to raise your level of self-esteem, unfortunately you still struggle, because a person cannot live up to impossible standards.”

My self-esteem is tied in with a desire to be flawless. So of course I am never quite satisfied with me. The class assignment was in 2004. Two days ago I fully realized the meaning in Karta’s words. I want to be perfect. A mundane thing opened my eyes to this big realization.

  I called the office of the producer of the tv sitcom The Jeffersons to speak with him to try and get some quotes for the new book I am writing on The Jeffersons. His assistant told me she would get back to me and let me know when he would be available. Thinking they would certainly not call back that same day, and needing groceries, I went to the market. I turn my cellphone off when I drive and when I shop. When I turned it back on later, they had called me and said I had 40 mins. to return their call before the producer went into his next meeting. Of course, that time had passed. Then began my “critical self-evaluation”. What a maroon!! I should’ve known they would call!! I blew it!! I’m a big dummy!!.

Then, from out of the blue, something occurred to me. I had to eat and there was no food in the fridge so I needed to go to the store. They will call again, she said so. This is not a bad thing, it’s simply a timing snafu. And then I realized that I had wanted the situation to work out perfectly. The way it had worked in my head. I want to be perfect in every thing I do. If something involving me does not work out my level of self-esteem plummets. Then it hit me. Aha!! I am not perfect. I will never be perfect. I don’t even know what perfect is, so if I reached it I wouldn’t even know! Right after I acknowledged that fact I DID begin to experience a feeling of confidence as Rosalynn Carter said. Now I will no longer spend 3 hours trying to find the perfect pictures to go with my posts!

So, I called the producer’s office again. I told them I just could not wait for them to call me back. I now have an appointment to speak via cellphone to the producer of The Jeffersons on the 29th of this month for 30 minutes!

I do get to experience things in life that I see as perfect. We have a new in-law and a brand new baby in our family. I think this is a perfect picture. Say hello to Mr. Spivey and his son Kaison.

And thanx, for stopping by. 🙂

FAME, FORTUNE, AND REALITY

Hi there! Welcome and welcome back.

During the past month I have gotten closer to beginning a second book and during my research on other star’s of the entertainment world I was reminded of a resentment I formed while writing the book on my father, Eddie Green. At one point in time Eddie was famous. It said so in the newspaper articles I found. In 1937 he opened his first Bar-Bee-Q shop in New York. According to the Pittsburgh Courier:

“Eddie Green, star of radio and stage and screen (RCA-NBC television program 1936) has entered another field with the opening of his swanky and cozy Bar-Bee-Q shop on Seventh avenue near 126th Street In the heart of the section frequented by sportsmen, actors and artists of all kinds. In the short space that it has been opened, this food emporium has become a rendezvous for celebrities of the theatrical world. Though well-known for his work on the stage and screen, Eddie Green is best remembered as the radio comedian who appeared for a number of weeks as the featured attraction on the full hour Sunday evening- NBC “Echoes of New York Town” program, sponsored by the light and gas companies of New York cities, and won a marked degree of success for his effort in this spot. Besides, his various guest appearances on any number of programs, including Rudy Vallee’s, Mr. Green just recently completed a week’s contract as star comedian (opposite Gee Gee James, of “Gibson Family” fame) of the Fleishmann Yeast Hour, which costarred Louis Armstrong. His portrayal of the characters selected for him to play, won the hearty approval of metropolitan radio critics.”

Eddie’s Emporium was listed in the local newspapers under the Café section: Listed under the Cafe Section – Manhattan, under American food:  Eddie Green’s Bar-Bee-Q 2149 8th Ave., New York Specializing in Southern Bar-Bee-Q. Finest South’n hospitality. E. Green. Host. Mind you, Eddie was born in Baltimore and spent most of his years in New York, but he loved “South’n” cooking. (8th and 116th Street today).

My point is that he was well-known in 1937.  By 1939, he had started his own film production company and had made two movie featurettes, Dress Rehearsal and What Goes Up.

My resentment came about as I realized that Eddie’s name was in the newspapers right along with other stars who are still well-known today! What began as an inspirational story morphed into a vehicle to get Eddie out of the shadows and back into the spotlight where he belonged.

Newspapers ran ads like these (minus pictures):

1941Buffalo Courier Express December 14 PLAZA THEATER – Michael Redgrave “SONS of the SEA”

1941 Buffalo Courier Express December 14 SHEA’S BUFFALO – Bette Davis “NOW VOYAGER”

“RIDERS OF THE NORTHLAND” Serial, “OVERLAND MAIL” – Also Eddie Green, Famous Colored Radio Star, in Featurette, “What Goes Up”.

You will notice that he was the last on the bill after the “Serial” and his movie was not in upper-case letters. Even though it says he was Famous. But Eddie was a Black man and the movie was a featurette and this was 1941.

My resentment has faded over time, because as I look at what Eddie accomplished in his life despite any negativity I am proud of him as a person. He was a hard-working man. He loved what he did and he payed it forward in how he got along with others and in helping those less fortunate. He was able, in 1941, to share his profits:

Eddie Green to Play Host To 250 Poor Christmas Eve
“Eddie Green will play host to 250 of New York City’s poor on Christmas eve morning. Along with Arthur Oliver, manager, and about a dozen of the girl employees of Eddie Green’s Bar-Bee-Q, they will assemble at the Eighth avenue link of this popular chain of restaurants where they will pack and hand out Christmas baskets containing roasting chicken and all of the fixings that go to make up a good dinner. Tickets for these baskets have been distributed among quite a few responsible persons who in turn are giving them to families that they know to be in need.”

My father was a Good Man. I only got to know him through writing his biography. And I have been given great insight into what it really is to be “Famous”. I love you, Eddie.

Thanx, for stopping by.

 

 

 

 

LOVE AND HAPPINESS EXIST

These days it is so difficult to write inspirational, motivating posts. Posts that bring smiles and laughter. Posts that are entertaining. The political climate sucks so bad right now it is impossible to ignore. I chose to watch an ad placed by President Trump recently. How disheartening. A Reuters headline read: “Sickening’: New anti-immigrant Trump campaign ad stokes outrage”. And it was sickening. And truly sad, to me. Sad and un-Presidential. Low. An article in the Politico talks about President Trump never being shy about branding female political enemies with “personal and demeaning” insults. How is this presidential? How can he even allow himself to communicate on such a level. He sits on the highest seat in the land, for Heavens sake. And I guess that is the point. He’s the President. He can pretty much do what he wants. Thank goodness he backtracked on that “consider it a rifle” statement about rocks being thrown by migrants towards U. S. military. The newspapers (Politico) printed that he has since said “I didn’t say shoot”.

But, truth be told, chaos, hatred, intolerance and violence are not new to 2018, and can be found in all walks of life, no matter race or gender or age. Mass shootings. Family murders. School shootings. Gangs. Road Rage.

Just as an example, I bought a Los Angeles Times this past week and was shocked to read an article about a happening on the Senate floor in 1856. I came home and looked up this affair on Wikipedia:

“The Brooks–Sumner Affair, occurred on May 22, 1856, in the United States Senate when Representative Preston Brooks (D-SC) used a walking cane to attack Senator Charles Sumner (R-MA), an abolitionist, in retaliation for a speech given by Sumner two days earlier in which he fiercely criticized slaveholders, including a relative of Brooks. Brooks beat Sumner severely on the head using a thick gutta-percha cane with a gold head. Brooks didn’t stop when his cane snapped; he continued thrashing Sumner with the piece which held the gold head. Brooks later boasted “[The pieces of my cane] are begged for as sacred relics.” Apparently, his constituents sent him hundreds of new canes. – “Caning of Charles Sumner”; Wikipedia”

One of Brooks buddies stood by and kept the other Senators from interring. One human being caning another, brutally. And getting kudos for doing so.

Another example closer to 2018:

“On February 20, 1939, the American Nazi Organization (The Bund) held an “Americanization” rally in New York’s Madison Square Garden, The rally, attended by 20,000 supporters and members, was protested by huge crowds of anti-Nazis, who were held back by 1,500 NYC police officers.” – June 2017 The Atlantic

My father lived in New York at the time. He had just returned from the Coast after trying out for a part in the movie Gone With The Wind. Three months later he was appearing on Broadway in a new play “Hot Mikado” with Bill “Bojangles” Robinson. He had two bar-bee-que restaurants at the time in New York. As a Black man in 1939, who had been born back in 1891, this must have been a trying time.

Seems that there will always be some form of dis-unity on planet Earth. But we have not destroyed ourselves yet. Is that because the good is still outweighing the bad? Certainly no one man can destroy that which keeps us strong and resilient. Examples like my father show us that. Millions of survivors show us that. Kindness, Joy, Love and Happiness exist. Share it.

And thanx, for stopping by.

 

1939 “NO KITCHEN DOOR FOR ME”


Gee Gee James Refuses To Bow To St. Louis Jim-Crow ‘NO KITCHEN DOOR FOR ME” So said she after being told she had to enter a nightclub through the back door.  In 1939, after being invited to see a play by the general manager of the Whites-Only Club Plantation in St Louis, Gee Gee was unpleasantly surprised to find when she got there that she would have to go in through the back door and through the kitchen.  She said that she “did not see why she should not be allowed to go through the front door like all the other paying guests.” She also said she “just can’t quite get used to prejudice and jim crowism.”

Apparently the Club Plantation was a hot spot in 1939 and was considered one of the outstanding spots In the nation and one of the most pleasing places for Black artists and entertainers to work, however Blacks were not allowed in to see the shows. Gee Gee was invited in because she was in vogue at the time as an actress, but they still would not let her arrive through the front door.

Never having experienced this I tend to forget that Black entertainers of the early 1900s faced blatant racism constantly. Maybe even daily. It had to have been a constant stressor. Yet, actors like Gee Gee and my father, Eddie Green, lit up a room when they walked in.  They were gracious off stage and dedicated to their craft on stage. These trailblazers have, because of their fortitude, become my heroes. I chose to write about Gee Gee James today because she and my father were once comedic partners. But like Eddie before I wrote my book, Gee Gee has pretty much been forgotten or over-looked. In this extremely bad copy you can see her from 1937:  “Luis Russell, Eddie Green, Gee Gee James and Louie Armstrong, who on Friday night, over station WJZ, under the sponsorship of the Fleischman Yeast Company, made show world history.”—Photo by Continental News 1937

I found this wonderful article by Billy Rowe, a well-known Black journalist of the Pittsburgh Courier (1937):

ROWE NEW YORK, April 15,—”A packed house, a wildly enthusiastic audience, an atmosphere of intense joy. A leader with a captivating personality, directing a band, which like himself, knew how to swing . . . Standing before the ears of the nation awaiting the signal to commence *the first all-colored coast to coast radio program. Yes, it was a great achievement, and a personal triumph for all connected with the presentation of Louie Armstrong and his orchestra, Gee Gee James and Eddie Green, for they were the feature players making history in the world of colored show business.”

Barrymore Theatre (1931)
Exterior
Property of Shubert Archive

Gee Gee had been in show business a few years before appearing on the radio program. She and her husband, actor Ernest Whitman, who also performed with my father, were featured in an Old Time Radio program “The Gibsons“. She was also a singer, a dancer and a Broadway star.

As a matter of fact, Gee Gee was performing on Broadway when she got the invite to the Club Plantation.  The play was No Time for Comedy at the Barrymore Theatre in 1939, and ran for 179 performances. The cast included Laurence Olivier as Gaylord Esterbrook and Katharine Cornell. Gee Gee was cast as “Clementine” and “has been received in millions of American homes via the airwaves and who is savoring success after success.”

Gee Gee James refused to be treated as less than any other human being just because she happened to be Black. In 1939. And she was successful. She helped pave the way for other Black people, other minorities, and other women to be treated with respect and dignity. I believe we must remember and uphold these trailblazers, and not let them fade out of view. Because though they are no longer here, they are still role-models and worthy of continued attention.

Well, after writing this I feel like I have just made a speech. So I will bow and say thank you, for stopping by.

Check me out on Facebook, too.

And thanx greg at dejawho

You Better Recognize!

Everyone can enjoy music. Any race or gender. It’s not normally about who is playing it. It really does not matter who is performing the music, only the notes matter. I think, however, what does matter is, who writes the notes and the lyrics. Who gets the recognition. I am happy that despite the fact that my father wrote his first song way back in 1917 his name is still listed as the writer. It’s pretty much a well known fact. And many, many people have recorded or performed Eddie’s song. Just recently a friend played it in a hotel where he works as a pianist. He was surprised how many people recognized the song, “A Good Man is Hard to Find” is still being played by someone, somewhere in the world.

The song was made popular in 1919 by a White woman, Marion Harris, the first widely known White woman to sing jazz and blues. Then Sophie Tucker (the Red Hot Mama) fell in love with the song and sung it night after night in her nightclub act. Alberta Hunter took it after that. Bessie Smith, Louie Prima, and on and on. It’s been a fox trot, it’s been played with a ukulele. It was sung by Frank Sinatra in a movie joined by Shelley Winters. However, until I wrote Eddie’s biography most people were unaware that the writer of “A Good Man is Hard to Find” was a Black man.

What I have known for a long time is that there are many songs written and/or performed first by African-Americans that became widely popular through White singers who wound up getting the kudos (think Elvis and “Hound Dog”).

John Turner Layton, Jr., was an African-American songwriter, singer and pianist. Born 1894, he died in 1978. Turner Layton’s buddy, Harry Sterling Creamer, born 1879, died 1930, was also an African-American song lyricist. He co-wrote many popular songs in the years from 1900 to 1929. These men were talented, dedicated, and also patriotic as you can see by their first album. And like my father, Eddie, also appeared in vaudeville.

These two men wrote the song “After You’ve Gone” in 1918. Like Eddie’s song, Marion Harris helped make this song popular, as did Sophie Tucker. Edyie Gorme has sung the song, Tony Bennett and Frank Sinatra.

“Way Down Yonder in New Orleans” was also a popular song with music by John Turner Layton, lyrics by Harry  Creamer. Sung by The Andrews Sisters (1950) Freddie Cannon, Bing Crosby, Jan and Dean (1963!) among others. Yet, how many people are aware of the fact that these songs were written by African-American men? Where is their recognition?

Layton and Creamer were even commissioned to do a play. ” COBURNS PLAN MUSICAL SHOW: Mr. and Mrs. Coburn. it was learned last week, have practically completed negotiations for a new musical play which they plan to produce. The play is called “The Three Showers,” and the book, lyrics and music were written Jointly by Harry S. Creamer and Turner Layton. If George M. Cohan consents to fix up the book of “The Three Showers,” as is contemplated by the Coburns.”

About 1924 Turner Layton went to Europe. He teamed up with a Mr. Clarence “Tandy” Johnstone and enjoyed a great deal of success. Per the Pittsburgh Courier, 1927: “Turner Layton, Clarence Johnstone Are Playing To Big Crowds In London.”

Like Eddie, Turner Layton was often mentioned in the Black newspapers even as late as 1950, Pittsburgh Courier, 1950: “The Turner Laytons with daughter Alelia vacationing in usual swank style on French Riviera. Turner Layton happy at relief of gas rationing . . . Rolls Royces do less than 8 miles to the gallon. ” The man had a Rolls Royce.

We hear the songs and even recognize the people who sing them and that’s cool. But the recognition of the fact that there is much widely popular music that was written by African-Americans is absent in America. There, I’ve said it. Which is why who wrote the music matters, today. Music is universal. As is the African-American contribution.

Hey, thanks, for stopping by.

Check out my book: Eddie Green The Rise of an Early 1900s Black American Entertainment Pioneer.

 

 

 

 

The Blues Can Be Fun-And Other Swirling Thoughts

Happy September 13th! No special reason, just feeling good today. I joined a couple of Facebook Blues Groups and found a whole ‘nuther group of folks who remember my father, Eddie Green, because of some of the songs he wrote. I love the Blues. I love music, period. Music is the one thing that can help me snap out of a funk. Haha, especially funky music. I have been listening to George Clinton and James Brown lately. And the Blues. The groups I found are basically into the Blues from the 20s, 30s and 40s. Down Home Blues. Blues. Butterbeans and Susie were a comedy team from 1917 until she died 47 years later. The typical act featured a duet, a blues song by Susie (often a “double entendre`” blues song), a cakewalk dance, and a comedy sketch.  One of their more popular double entendre` songs was “I Want a Hot Dog for My Roll”, performed by Susie.

 

https://archive.org/details/78_a-married-mans-a-fool_butterbeans-eddie-green-janie-edwards-clarence-williams_gbia0039656b

Eddie did not write the hot dog song but he did collaborate with Janie Edwards to write “A Married Man’s a Fool” which was sung by Butterbeans. “A Married Man’s a Fool If He Thinks His Wife Don’t Love Nobody but Him”, was also a favorite back in 1924. I enjoy sharing these pictures with groups because I found out that there are many people who want to not just read about different subjects, they also are more than willing to share the knowledge they have gained with others. Someone sent me the photo I have here. Eddie actually wrote a play with the same title. I thought that was all there was.

The biography I have written about my father, though well researched and full of interesting stories and articles about his life, could have been twice as long. Wrapping my head around beginning a second book about my father, “Eddie Green-Back By Popular Demand”, is still in the “Should I or Shouldn’t I” stage.

One of the other ideas I have been considering was suggested to me by a few friends. They think my book would make a good teaching tool in a college or university. Because it is an example of a Black man’s rags-to-riches climb through early 1900s America. What motivated him, how he sustained himself at nine years of age after leaving home. How he interacted with others that made them want him around. That made them keep calling him back to perform on their radio shows more than any other Black person at the time in the 1930s. How he used comedy to propel him to Hollywood. I did not even consider getting my book into schools until it was suggested. But, just last week someone mentioned it to me again. This week I asked for advice. I found out about curriculum development and matching it to the grade level and state learning objectives. I copied a paragraph from a friend to help me flesh out objectives:  “The book delves into his professional life, analyzing step by step his path through times in which few black entertainers could reach the kind of success he had. There’s also as much as possible about his personal life to give a sense of who and where he was while climbing the ladder to Fame”. I don’t know what the hell I’m doing. But, by golly, I am Eddie Green’s daughter! And my mother’s daughter! Talk about inspiration. She lived ’till she was 87 and had been told she was going to die at age 36. She bought her first computer at age 80 when she came out of her first Hospice as a breast cancer survivor. Tenacity, Determination. An optimistic outlook. Or in my mother’s case, stubbornness.

My thoughts are swirling today. The anniversary of my mom’s death is coming up. She started out on this book writing journey with me but she did not see the published book, nor did she get to see even half of what I unearthed about Eddie’s life. Mom was 30 years his junior and was only married to him five years. During the time he was most famous. Of course, she had the real thing. Good thing Eddie didn’t believe that “A married man’s a fool” stuff. Mom was his 4th wife!

Hey, thank you, for continuing to stop by.