Some Adult Content.
KREATIV BLOGGER AWARD
Simply for being Kreativ in 2010
SPLASH AWARD WINNER
For being Alluring! Amusing! Bewitching! Impressive! And Inspiring!
Historian. Genealogist. Writer. Why not? Ask what you want to know!
From left to right, that might be Arthur "Sweet Soul Music" Conley, Johnnie "Who's Makin' Love" Taylor looking very handsome in the center, Dave Prater and Sam Moore of "Sam and Dave" behind him, with Joe "Skinny Legs & All" Tex looking off to the left. Detroit club manager, Henson West, is at the far right. Eddie "Knock On Wood" Floyd was also one of the pallbearers but is not pictured.
Mrs. Olive Blackwell-Bakay, widow of slain entertainer Hal Bakay (left), collapses into the arms of ushers as she is led from the funeral of her late husband. Bakay, only 21 years of age, was attacked with a knife on Sunday, November 7, 1931 as he left the now legendary Harlem nightclub, Connie's Inn. Bakay was a very popular headlining singer, dancer and emcee with the club's house band. For nearly a week, the entertainer lay in Harlem Hospital unable to identify his attacker whom he encountered in a hallway at 220 W. 131st St. Harold "Hal" Bakay (also spelled Baquet) was of a very well-known musical family of New Orleans. He died on the morning of November 11, 1931.
The murder was originally attributed to the acclaimed singer/actor known as Spencer Williams. The problem is that the news reporters confused Spencer with another popular Williams - the legendary jazz musician, Clarence Williams. They also confounded the issue by listing Clarence William's extraordinary songwriting and Jazz credentials in conjunction with Spencer's name. They often went one step further by stating that the two men were brothers which they were not. Regardless, Spencer Williams went into hiding immediately after the Bakay stabbing but turned himself in when he "learned he was wanted" by the police. Williams was eventually exonerated of any wrongdoing after a supposedly thorough investigation of the crime.
The reason for Bakay's death was a beautiful chorus girl named Consuella Harris. Apparently, someone made an offhand remark about Ms. Harris that may have had lesbian connotations. Was it Spencer Williams? Or was it a man named Jesse Coleman? Both were reported to be "friends" of Bakay's at the time that he stepped between the two men to act as peacemaker. One of the two of them said something about Consuella Harris that the other didn't like and they reacted violently. Supposedly, Williams didn't care for Bakay's interference and set him up after his performance that night. But who was the other chorus girl that Consuella Harris loved "too openly?." Which one of the men objected to her the most and why?
I guess it's just one of those things that make you go .... hmmmmm !
This news clipping from 1930 suggests that Mrs. Thelma Meers, wife and dance partner of popular 1920's - 30's ballroom dancer, Paul Meers, found their marriage to be quite incompatible. Just the year before, he was the subject of newspaper gossip for driving around Harlem in a chic maroon Packard Roadster given to him as a "love token" by a big "YOU'D NEVER GUESS WHO."
Mrs. Meers may have experienced irreconcilable differences with her husband, but by 1932, photographer and Negrophile Carl Van Vechten knew quite well that he wanted to capture the handsome Meers from both the front AND the back!
The resolution on this late 20's image was so crazy that I had to splice it in two parts - top and bottom - in order to copy and post it. Whether you prefer seeing Mr. Meers from the front, back, or as a top or a bottom - here he is, GURLS!
Watching this video is like sitting in a Sunday morning church service and having the preacher break down the sexual, social, religious and historical dynamics of Black Manhood right before your very eyes and ears. That scenario is not likely, but you'd feel as if your spirit had been thoroughly released because you just heard the sermon that you've secretly wanted to hear but never heard anybody preach. Yet, it's not quite a sermon but a conversation; a dialogue with people that you may not always agree with but that you respect.
I AM A MAN: Black Manhood and Sexual Diversity is a 35 minute video filmed during a historic town hall meeting in Harlem. It covers what journalist, radio host and panelist Esther Armah deftly calls the black man's "legacy of untreated trauma." Five minutes into the video, when you hear her say "when I think about masculinity and manhood ... there's what I call the 'wish list' of what we would like for black manhood and masculinity to be and there is the legacy of untreated trauma that is the direct result of colonialism, and slavery and Jim Crow, and for the absolute fight for our lives and our liberty that we have engaged in for these many, many hundreds of years so that at this present time, masculinity and manhood is a combination of contradictions and emotionalities that need to be interrogated and explored in order for us to do more than have an analytical conversaton about it ... I'd say this is the revolution that needs to be internalized" you KNOW it's going to be RIVETING!
Rounding out the panel are Cleo Manago (pictured) founder of The Black Men's Exchange and Founder/CEO of AMASSI Center for Wellness & Culture, Dr. Marc Lamont Hill, writer and T.V. host for Our World, Dr. R. L' eureax Lewis, writer and activist from the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, and Bishop John Selders of the Amistad Church of Christ.
Discussing the fact that black homosexuals ARE and ALWAYS HAVE BEEN, the current horrendous homophobia in Africa, news anchor Don Lemon's recent "coming out" to what comedian Tracy Morgan's recent DYSFUNCTIONAL "joke" REALLY MEANT - it's all here, and you need to watch it.
"Just wait until your daddy get's home ... he's gonna tear that ass up!" When I was a child, I behaved as a child and that's what they used to say once I crossed the line. Papa didn't take no mess and knew how to take care of business once he got home from work; all he had to do was LOOK like he was gonna take his belt off and us kids fell in line quick, fast and in a hurry. The funny thing about it is now that I'm grown, I see that the more things change - the more they stay the same!
Valaida Snow spent most of her peak years abroad! Like so many other African American entertainers forced to leave the country in order to make a living, that's where she found herself at the outset of WWII. To be exact, the year was 1938 and Miss Snow was in Paris, France. So was Adelaide Hall, who decided to cut short a very lucrative engagement in order to get back home to her husband and home in London. Band leader Benny Carter didn't have to be told twice and left a seven month engagement to quickly sail home in April. By 1939, Alberta Hunter and Coleman Hawkins barely made it out in time. Henry Crowder, a musician who'd been in Paris since the 20's decided to stay put and was eventually imprisoned in a Nazi prison camp. So were a few others. Even though Valaida Snow and her new man, Earl Jones, ended up paying the price for not paying attention to the warnings, they were NOT among them!
They were all over the place throughout Scandinavia but the concerts were opening to mostly negative reviews and were not being well attended. Something was wrong with Valaida and the audiences were picking up on it. They were living in Copenhagen when Germany invaded Denmark on April 9, 1940. Obviously trapped without proper fare home, they were also doing drugs. Valaida had been addicted to morphine now for several years.
She still managed to work consistently, but was under observation by the Copenhagen constabulary for buying drugs with the intention to export. The were also being watched by the American Embassy, which alerted the local police about Valaida and Earl's efforts to borrow money to obtain morphine instead of borrowing money to get HOME!
When Valaida kept an August engagement outside of Copenhagen, Earl decided to stay behind and was promptly taken into custody by the police. They found him without means of support and quickly put him on the American Legion, a refugee ship sailing home to New York. Valaida heard about it and refused to break her engagement to sail home with him, thus finding herself strung out and truly stranded, indeed! Somehow, she still managed to continually work but found some new friends along the way. Once again, she steadily regained her title as queen of the tabloids!
One such new friend was Gerhard Flagstad, a local pharmacist who wrote prescriptions for Oxycodone, a morphine derivative dispensed as Eukodal. He said he did it because her other doctor stopped doing it and he did it without charge! There were discrepancies in the paperwork and Valaida was suspected of tampering with the dosages. And then there was the dancer who was found near death in Valaida's hotel room! She later died in the hospital from an overdose; some say suicide. Valaida was arrested but not charged despite the evidence that stolen goods were found in her possession for the second time! What she planned to do with 120 knives, forks, spoons and crystal ware was anybody's guess?
She spent 10 weeks in custody! It was now 1941, the United States had entered the war and Valaida Snow was a black woman now commonly known as a drug addict and thief in war-torn Denmark. She was first taken to a late 19th-century Gothic prison, then out of concern for her health, transferred to the city hospital where she remained under medical care for a month. She was then taken back to the same prison for another five weeks and then taken to the city of Goteborg, where she spent five nights in jail reading Gone With The Wind!
There, she waited until local officials arranged a place for her on the S.S. Gripsholm, a Swedish-American liner used as a refugee ship to carry Americans back home under an agreement of safe passage with Germany and its Axis allies. Twelve days later, on June 9, 1942, the ship docked safely in New Jersey and Valaida was home after six years abroad.
She made her way to Harlem, checked into the Hotel Theresa, and immediately went to the press where she mentioned a slight "polite imprisonment" by the Germans. The press stated that Valaida was in good spirits just like her old self. They said she was streamlined and that remarked about her "unwrinkled face." In the time that Valaida had been away, new female musicians with a new attitude were on the horizon. New stars like Hazel Scott, Dorothy Donegan and Ernestine "Tiny" Davis from the International Sweethearts of Rhythm were making big waves. But it was the singers who were really holding sway. Billie and Ella were now major stars! Lena was the new media darling in the black press and Dinah and Sarah were just starting out! Valaida was from the old school of entertaining; her roots were in Vaudeville. She hadn't changed her act in years and would basically never do so! Her style was from another era and her recordings were not popular in the States. She needed a gimmick and she found one!
As the public was just beginning to become aware of Adolf Hitler's Nazi death camps, Valaida Snow redoubled back to the black press with stories of atrocities and the vicious beatings she received from "the Germans." The very same newspaper that offered a glowing description of Snow's arrival from Goteberg now offered a new and very different story. Previously, they noted her "unwrinkled face" her streamlined shape and her "good spirits" saying that she was just like her "old self." Now, the spin went a little something like this ......
"She came down the gangplank a wraith of her former self...her eyes were sunk deep in their sockets, the bone shone in her gaunt face" they reported. According to the papers, Snow was now only a 76 lb. shadow of her former self. She reported that she'd been contained for eight sordid months and told stories of starvation and beatings and running into "another casualty" named Josephine Baker! Never mind that she failed to name the camp! Never mind that Baker had been in a convalescent center in Morocco at the exact same time! But the public didn't know that then!
Bookings went through the roof! And the story got more sensational from city to city. The mainstream press picked it up. The public ate it up! Thanks to Valaida, the legend grew into an undisputable truth. It seems everyone wants to know what really happened to Valaida Snow without shoveling through the slosh to get to a clear path. To me, it really doesn't matter what Valaida told the press because it wasn't true! Valaida was just doing Valaida and she was BRILLIANT AT IT! She created a myth and a legend around herself that very few people still bother to research at all. Yes, she was in jail but it was of her own doing and the Nazi's had nothing to do with it!
Mark Miller's High Hat, Trumpet and Rhythm: The Life and Music of Valaida Snow has the reputation of being scrupulously researched beyond the cut and paste and error of writers, historians and bloggers who don't do their research. My name is Corey and I stand by this blog post! This is the last in a series of four posts as it pertains to the legend of Valaida Snow. The forecast is now in the clearing!
What's in a name? Papa Snow knew best! He sure knew how to play the name game with his children and they took their cue from him. I can only guess that Mama Snow went along with it because the legend says that John V. Snow was so fascinated by all things Russian that he originally named Valada, his most famous offspring, after the city of Vladivostock. There is no record to confirm that but maybe that's why she eventually changed her name to ValAIDA! And then came her younger sister Lavada Snow, sometimes called LUvada and alternately known as Lavada Carter.
Lavada Snow was born nine years after Valada (Valaida) in 1912. The whole family consisted of show people and both sisters were child stars on the black vaudeville stage; Valaida by the age of five and Lavada by age three. Supposedly, at the instigation of her sister, she married Herman Carter in Shanghai at the age of 14. Herman was the brother of Jack Carter who was the boyfriend of Valaida who suggested it would be cute if they married brothers. Lavada and Herman got hitched but Valaida soon changed her mind about Jack.
Lavada often appeared onstage in some of the same stage productions that her sister starred in. She sang and danced with the Noble Sissle orchestra and appeared in shows produced by Sissle and Eubie Blake. The younger Miss Snow was supposedly a talented violinist but said she preferred singing and dancing to keep the public from thinking she was copying her sister. Between the two, the public often declared Lavada the lesser in talent but the greater in beauty. At least one early source states that Lavada Carter divorced Herman Carter in 1931 in Baltimore. The same source says that she later married Arthur Russell of The Three Dukes. Both sisters were beautiful and talented and the record seems to indicate that Valaida forever maintained her status as Lavada's idol.
But who were Ovada, Arvada and Aviator?
Ovada was supposedly a brother that died young while Aviator was the natural born name of Arvada aka Avada Snow, the only surviving brother who followed his sisters onto the stage as a dancer and drummer. Sheesh!
This is the third of a series of four posts as it relates to the legend of Valaida Snow.
The blacker the better the sweeter the juice! Especially when it's young, tender & dark-skinned like the teenaged Ananias "Nyas" Berry of the famous dancing Berry Brothers. Valaida Snow certainly thought so! In a move that would hardly draw censure today, she snapped the young Berry off the vine and married him, perhaps bestowing upon him a liberation that he was not otherwise likely to experience so early.
Whatever! This was a move that was nothing less than scandalous in 1931.
Some say that Nyas Berry was 18 years old when he married Valaida Snow, but the documentation suggests that he was just 16 years old when the met. In any case, the world-renowned, already world-weary Valaida Snow was nearing 30. But they had more than a little bit in common and it's likely they were attracted to each other when first they met. They both had been extremely talented & precocious child stars accustomed to public adoration and they could vibe on that level. They had traveled extensively at very early ages throughout the black theater circuit and abroad, and they both had domineering fathers who held them under contract well into adulthood. In Valaida's case, her father died when SHE was a teenager. Nyas had yet to demand his emancipation! Nyas Berry was young, handsome and full of ... juice! Valaida Snow was a lusty young woman willing to help him overflow his cup!
Over in Paris, back in 1929, when Nyas and his brother James were the youngest cast members in Lew Leslie's Blackbirds of 1929, Valaida saw their act at the Moulin Rouge. By 1931, they were working the same stage in another Leslie-produced show, Rhapsody In Black. This show would turn out to be Miss Snow's star turn, but in the meantime, she was also busy turning out young Nyas Berry. In all honesty, he probably wasn't all that innocent. After all, he just happened to be a teenaged boy who happened to be very handsome and who just happened to be around a lot of beautiful young chorus girls everyday. Regardless, when Ananais Berry Sr. found out about it, he wasn't having it!
The elder Berry went on a rampage and declared Snow out of order and out of bounds by messing around with his young son. The summer of 1931 was a rough one for the couple as Father Berry campaigned to destroy the relationship. Backstage whispers say that part of the reason he was so upset was because HE was interested in Miss Snow and she spurned his interests. It's also very likely that he knew if the relationship deepened and continued, his son would soon declare himself a MAN and possibly mess with that contractual mealticket! But let us note that Ananias Sr., also had Valaida Snow under contract at the same time.
If Valaida found Father Berry a formidable presence, she didn't know the meaning of the word until she came up against Miss Ethel Waters, her co-star in Rhapsody In Black. Up until this time, Waters and Snow were close. Valaida was one of Water's few close female friends who wasn't one of her lovers! It wasn't until they appeared on the same stage as co-stars that Waters had a change of mind about the friendship. She was quite vocal, and I'm sure quite demonstrative in her displeasure of Lew Leslie's insistence on making Valaida the STAR of the show! It all seemed to be too much for Valaida; while Rhapsody In Black was in a run at Harlem's Lafayette Theatre, she attempted suicide by drinking iodine at her swank Sugar Hill residence on Edgecomb Avenue.
Three months after having her stomach pumped at Harlem Hospital, she and Nyas were wed in December of 1931. Father Berry was the last to know! Mrs. Valaida Snow-Berry decided to leave Rhapsody In Black and took the Berry Brothers with her!
Nyas Berry took to the press to declare his love and support for his wife despite his father's ongoing mission to destroy the relationship. Papa Berry still had them both under contract and he booked them apart to keep them apart! It was working! On the road, Valaida Snow entered into a well-known affair with pianist and bandleader, Earl Hines. The press took note of it but she denied it. Years later, Earl Hines confirmed it! With the suicide attempt, charges of robbing the cradle, the incessant rumors plied to the press by Father Berry, and now an adulterous affair, Snow's image as a torrid tabloid queen was now under way. In an article titled "Ma Berry has no love for son's wife" Mother Berry soon added to the fracas when she declared "If what we read of Miss Snow's carrying-ons is true, she should be ashamed of herself. We hear that she goes to plenty of wild parties and acts most disgracefully" she told the Baltimore Afro-American.
In a last ditch effort to save their innocent son from the clutches of the immoral Miss Snow, Father Berry reached back in time and found an ex-husband of Valaida's who declared to the press that they were never divorced. He arranged to have Snow summoned before a judge in Media, Pennsylvania - the site of the marriage - on a charge of bigamy. Valiada then took to the press to declare herself the victim! Not to be outdone, the ex-husband, Sam "Nappy" Lanier also took to the press to declare HIMSELF the victim! For the most part, Nyas Berry stayed out of it other than to side with his wife and temporarily break up The Berry Brothers dance duo.
The newspapers stated that Father Berry had his son arrested for breach of contract while finally having Valaida arrested for corrupting the morals of his teenaged son. Nyas responded by writing a publicized letter denoting the fact that it was actually his mother who swore out the warrant for his arrest and that his father actually fabricated Snow's arrest to the press to further destroy her reputation. "She was not treated as nicely by my own people as they have treated some strangers" he lamented.
In October of 1933, Valaida was arrested on a second charge of bigamy in New York. She was acquitted later that month, but the first charge in Media, Pennsylvania took another six months and that judge found her guilty! He fined her $100 with a year's probation, declared her first marriage still in effect, rendered her marriage to Nyas VOID, and was warned not to live with him until her first marriage was annulled. Not to be deterred, Mr. and Mrs. Nyas Berry capitalized off their public image and took a brand new show on the road - a show that eventually found her on stage not only with her husband, but with her MAN, Earl Hines! No matter, Nyas and Valaida later remarried in Crown Point, Indiana.
In a matter of a few years, Valaida and Nyas were touring Europe as the stars of yet another Lew Leslie production, Blackbirds of 1935. Once back home, there were reports that Nyas, now in his early 20's, had fallen in love with a chorus girl closer to his own age. There were also rumors that he was seeing Duke Ellington's star vocalist, Ivie Anderson behind her back. He also fell back in step with his brother James, and with the addition of their younger brother Warren, the Berry Brothers were back in business as a trio. Valaida went back to Europe where her success rivaled that of her fellow expatriates, Jo Baker, Adelaide Hall, and Elisabeth Welch. From her new homebase, she announced to the press that she planned to marry again - as soon as she could get rid of Nyas!
Valaida Snow did not return to America again until 1942. While in Europe, she created such a public stir and found herself entangled in a situation that would become forever a part of her legend. A situation that I plan to explore very shortly in another post. But as soon as she did return, Nyas Berry filed for divorce! While she was away, The Berry Brothers experienced perhaps what is known as their peak years of entertaining. In 1938, they participated in a now legendary "dance off" with their friendly rivals, the fabulous Nicholas Brothers ...
At an appearance at the downtown Cotton Club, the Berry's devised a memorable finish that would oddly become MORE associated with the Nicholas Brothers in the latter film, Stormy Weather. Fayard and Harold Nicholas worked the crowd to a frenzy with their tap acrobatics and great polish. More a "flash" act, the Berry Brothers knew how to thrill them as well. However, at the last minute, Nyas and and James started to run up the side stairways onto an elevated balcony over the heads of the Cab Calloway orchestra. They took a flying leap, twelve feet out onto the stage below where Warren was still dancing. Warren completed a backwards, flip-flop twist and in perfect synchronicity they landed simutaneously in splits.
In top hats and tails, The Berry Brothers were the picture of elegance and are remembered as one of the greatest acts of stage and screen. Their brilliance is forever on display in such 40's musicals as Lady Be Good and Panama Hattie with Lena Horne.
As the oldest, Nyas Berry was the heart and soul of the Berry Brothers. He spent some time in WWII, but injury and fast living - the level of which is said to rival his ex-wife's eventually slowed him down. In 1951, the very married Nyas Berry died at the home of a girlfriend, dancer Bertie Pilgrim, after attending a baseball game between the Giants and the Yankees. He had a heart attack in the shower. He was just 39 years old.
This is the second of a series of four posts as it relates to the legend of Valaida Snow.
"Singer, trumpeter and dancer. Child star, jazz pioneer and world traveler. Legend and myth. If Valaida Snow's life wasn't already sensational enough, she sensationalized it further, freely evading and embellishing the truth of her triumphs, trials and tribulations. But even after her life has been measured against the historical record, it remains a grand and compelling tale, and Valaida herself a grand and compelling figure" so reads the blurb on the back cover of Mark Miller's High Hat, Trumpet and Rhythm: The Life And Music Of Valaida Snow (2007)
Valaida Snow was born fabulous! Contrary to various other dates listed for her birth, Snow was virtually born in a suitcase on June 2, 1904, in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Her parents were show people and she made her first stage entrance with the The Pickaninny Troubadors, a vaudeville act that her father managed. A child prodigy, "Valaida The Great" was soon the star performer of a troupe that consisted mainly of children, or those who could pass as children.
It is said that she learned to play the cello, bass, violin, banjo, mandolin, harp, accordian, clarinet, trumpet and saxophone with astounding virtuosity by the age of 15, but if that's true, Mark Miller makes no mention of it in his book. She was, however, first married at the age of 15, and Miller does clarify that the young Miss Snow wowed audiences with her dancing, singing and coronet playing and that she didn't pick up the trumpet until 1928 as a young adult. Whatever the truth, it was an easy transition and she did it with such aplomb that even her idol, Louis Armstrong, gave her such mad respect that she became known as Little Louis!
Valaida Snow's career really began to take off when she changed the spelling of her name and took off from her family. She had already confounded the gender roles of jazz, and as the 1920's introduced a new, more carefree, less restricted type of female, Valaida embraced the new era with open arms. Anything men could do, she could do too - if not better than! She led orchestras, produced her own shows and was a world traveler before she was 25. And she knew how to love them and leave them in every city just as freely, and as big and bad as any of her male peers were known to do.
Valaida Snow worked consistently throughout the 20's in Harlem, Chicago and throughout the black theater circuit. Like so many other African American entertainers of the 1920's, Valaida traveled abroad and found major success. Unlike them, she didn't go straight to Europe, but to Asia - Shanghai to be specific! She stayed for three years, became the toast of the continent and made that money! When she finally decided to come back home, she did so by way of Egypt, Italy and on Josephine Baker's turf, France. Both she and Baker had their roots in such earlier productions as The Chocolate Dandies, and remained lifelong friends. As the black press did with Baker, they kept readers at home informed of Valaida's triumphs and exploits abroad. In fact, at one point, they asked if she was trying to "out Josephine" Miss Baker herself with her own brand of outrageous antics, fabulosity and eccentricities.
It's in the early black newspapers that the legend (if not the total truth) of Valaida Snow can be found in all its glory and notoriety. There you will find Valaida as Queen of the tabloids as well as the trumpet, her friendship and her feuds with Ethel Waters, the charges of bigamy, drug addiction, supposed suicide attempts, thefts, arrests and subsequent jailtime. They will also say she robbed the cradle when, nearing 30, she whipped it on young 16 year old Ananias "Nyas" Berry of the dancing Berry Brothers and then married him. In the vintage press, you will find Valaida Snow as the original comeback queen! But will you find the real truth about her stint as a prisoner of war in a Nazi prison camp during WWII?
The writers and historians say one of the reasons Valaida Snow has been wiped from our collective consciousness is because she expatriated herself by spending so much of her career in Europe. Valaida Snow's real life wasn't particularly easy and maybe she knew a little bit about the facts of life - namely that if you don't work you don't eat! Maybe the constant work, the fabulous pay and the adoring audiences were just too much to pass up in favor of a country where she was only as good as her last big record or stage show? It also didn't help that Valaida Snow's recordings were not released in the States pre-1946.
Cafe society & cabaret performer, Bobby Short (who knew a little something about everybody) once said that while he met her once, even HE didn't know anyone that really knew (or remembered) Miss Snow all that well. And THAT'S saying something!
Outside of the Mark Miller book, there are very few others; one is a book of fiction by Candace Allen who said she had to reinvent Miss Snow's life because beyond the screaming headlines, the facts just weren't there. They say that's partly Snow's fault, too! She often reimagined the truth for her own gain when the purposes suited her - like when she returned to the United States nearly forgotten in the early 40's to a Black America that was being soothed by the charms of Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald and two teenagers named Sarah Vaughn and Dinah Washington. She needed a gimmick and she found one!
Miss Snow resumed her place in the gossip columns but she also proved she could roll with the times by remixing her musical style many times over through her recordings for small R&B labels like Apollo, Chess, Derby and Bel-Tone. Though she eventually became a sad and bitter woman, she continued to work and influence other up & coming female musicians like Melba Liston and Clora Bryant! You will read a lot of things about Valaida Snow that just isn't true - and that's an exciting part of the legend but some people want to keep it that way. They'll say that she died onstage or backstage at this or that theater, but she passed away at King's County Hospital in Brooklyn, on May 30, 1956 from a cerebral hemorrhage. She was 51 years old.
As I officially declare this Valaida Snow Week on the blog, there will definitely be snow flurries all week. I have at least three other planned posts that deal directly or indirectly with Miss Snow. It looks like snow, indeed!